Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Miss Treadway & the Field of Stars by Miranda Emmerson

Book Review

Miss Treadway & the Field of Stars by Miranda Emmerson

"I haven't met a woman or man in my life - not even the wisest soul - who wasn't an idiot in some way or another."

Miss Treadway & the Field of Stars will be released on January 12th. It is written by Miranda Emmerson and published by HarperCollins.

I mentioned this book in my December Favourite Reads as it was one that really stood out for me. It was not what I was expecting at all. It starts as a sort of Agatha Christie, or Ngaio Marsh mystery, but goes in a completely different direction.


Soho, 1965

In a tiny two-bed flat above a Turkish cafe on Neal Street lives Anna Treadway, a young dresser at the Galaxy Theatre.

When the American actress Iolanthe Green disappears after an evening's performance at the Galaxy, the newspapers are wild with speculation about her fate.

But as the news grows old and the case grows colder, it seems Anna is the only person left determined to find out the truth.

Her search for the missing actress will take her into an England she did not know existed: an England of jazz clubs and prison cells, backstreet doctors and seaside ghost towns, where her carefully calibrated existence will be upended by violence but also, perhaps, by love.

For in order to uncover Iolanthe's secrets, Anna is going to have to face up to a few of her own.

Miss Treadway & the Field of Stars delves into the real London of the Swinging Sixties. Under the veil of peace and love there is racism and hatred brewing. It reminds me a little of Zadie Smith's writing; dealing with issues of race and what it is to be English.

The book covers several more difficult themes, including sexism, war, abortion and depression. The sad thing is that we are still dealing today with a lot of these issues.

This makes it sound like a really heavy read but, though it is very dark in places, Miss Treadway & the Field of Stars is also laced with humour and has a dry way of looking at the world.

"'The government is defecating in its collective knickers, Hayes.'
'I'm sure it is, sir.'"

The book also benefits from original and well-drawn characters. I particularly liked Anna and Aloysius and could feel the connection between the two. Anna Treadway is more than just the typical girl with gumption character who you know is going to fall in love and settle down by the end of the book.

"Her temperament seemed to fall into phases, like seasons of the year. She would blossom for a little while, establish friendships and socialise and then she would retreat and regroup, becoming watchful, even fearful, for months at a time."

Miss Treadway & the Field of Stars is also just wonderfully written. Emmerson's writing is almost poetic, yet it is not difficult to wade through, the perfect balance.

"London seemed romantic, with its twisting parks and grime covered frontages; its dark-stained river flanked by rictus-mouthed fish who held with their tails a trail of softly glowing lights: the epitome of grand metropolitan strangeness."

At some points the story was a little difficult to keep up with and there were a couple of coincidences in the plot that do stretch the belief. But these are only small issues. Overall Miss Treadway & the Field of Stars is a strong, surprising and beautifully written book.

My Rating: 4/5

I received an ARC of the book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. My thanks to the author and publisher.

Follow Me On Bloglovin'

No comments:

Post a Comment