Lucy Davis is eight years old in 1940 during the children’s evacuation of London. Although she is upset and frightened to leave everything she knows behind, being sent to her uncle’s farm in Cornwall also represents an escape from her cold, overbearing parents. The next five years, in fact, represent the only respite Lucy will get for a long time from the parental influences which will nearly destroy her.
Anne Blythe Daley’s historical novella, The Tin Box, is a tale of an ordinary life filled with extraordinary tragedy. Its greatest strength lies in her frank, simple writing style. Daley never flinches from laying out the tragic circumstances Lucy finds herself in or her own role in bringing them to pass, nor does she resort to melodrama. Her straightforward approach appropriately reflects the stoicism of an English generation that made it through the Second World War with spirit and determination, none of them emerging on the other side unscathed. It also feels true to the inner strength of the main character, which sees her through the fierce battles of her own life.
Unfortunately, while the story’s style is its strong point, its weakness is a lack of depth. The fast pace denies us the opportunity to really occupy Lucy’s life, to be emotionally invested in her challenges. Daley’s narration is spare to a fault; more attention to the ordinary moments in her character’s life would have pulled the reader in and given her tale the impact it truly deserves. This is that most rare of things- a book that would have been better if it had been longer.
My final criticism is of the formatting. The choice of font makes the book appear slightly amateurish and dated. Clearer chapter separations and a full table of contents would have also given it a more professional air.
I do recommend this book for what it is- a glimpse into the pain and hope of our near history- while regretting the unrealized potential of what it could have been.
Title: The Tin Box
Author: Anne Blythe Daley
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publication: May 11, 1011, Smashwords.com
Author’s Website: http://www.abdaley.net