Monday, May 2, 2016

REVIEW: A Plum Job by Cenarth Fox

A Plum Job
by Cenarth Fox

Publisher: Self published
Page Count: 249
Release Date: August 4, 2015
Format: Kindle

How got: free copy from author

First attention getter: description

Synopsis:

From GoodReads:

It’s 1940. Germany’s military might is smashing through the Low Countries and the British, Belgian and French forces are trapped at Dunkirk. The Nazis will soon be in Gay Paree.

Louise Wellesley is a gorgeous and aristocratic young Englishwoman desperate to become an actress. But her upbringing demands that young women of her class go to finishing school, the Buckingham Palace debutante ball and then remain at home until the right chap comes along. Such young ladies most definitely do not cavort semi-naked upon the wicked stage. 

But war brings change. People tell lies. Rules are broken. So when you’re in a foreign country and living by your wits while facing arrest, torture and death from the French police, Resistance, Gestapo and a double-agent, you bloody well better remember your lines, act out of your skin and never ever bump into the furniture. 

Oh and it helps if your new best friend is Edith Piaf.

My Thoughts:

Star Rating - 2.5

This book started with a good premise and had no shortage of skill in scene-setting. When the author approached me for a review, the description sounded right up my alley (WWII being a big weakness of mine in historical fiction). Yet, I found myself growing more irritated and bored as the story went along due to a variety of factors. I think I have to disagree with the majority of reviewers who are handing out 4 and 5 stars.

I’ve read an English gal caught in Nazi occupied Paris before and found it done well. The author does please in the scene setting department, matching up to those previous portrayals of this plotline. I could picture everything perfectly from the beginning rumblings of the war to Louise’s early years in the theater. Her encounters in France, while not exactly as I expected, were still vivid and suspenseful enough to keep me going.

However, after the scene setting is discussed, this book goes downhill fast, in my humble opinion. First off, the main character is far too perfect. She’s beautiful, courageous, desired by all, talented, and the best actress to ever come out of England….. You get the drift. She’s far too perfect to be relatable to your average gal on the street; I got sick of her real quick, myself. That impacted my caring later in the story on what happened to her ultimately, and my enjoyment of the story overall.

Kurt and Max were a bit better, but they were still flat and two-dimensional. They were characterized by bland, straight forward statements rather than developing through what happened and changed. They became mirrors of different aspects of Nazi Germany and didn’t change much.

Another issue is the amount of told scenes in the book. In the beginning, they’re rife. “This happened here” and “that happened on this date” made more than once appearance. “This person is so-and-so”, because I say so. As the book gets further into the action, the amount of told stuff does diminish, as we get to know the characters and their actions more. Yet, they still crop up more often than is palatable.

For a book whose description touts the action set in Nazi Occupied Paris and the suspense that all entails, Louise takes way too long in getting there. I think it was something like 59% in before Louise even got to the continent and then 70% before the war even started. Way too much time was spent on Louise’s early years acting and in college. She could still have been established as a talented and intelligent actress in far less time, with the remaining spent in a Paris in turmoil, at war. Then once in Paris, at least half the remaining time is spent on plot B threads like a murder/mystery that came out of nowhere.

The book had good bones, thoughts, and intentions. Yet, the meat of the book went bad real fast. Characters are either too perfect or too flat. Storytelling and action flows choppy between sedate tales of the theater and fast paced murder plots that went off on a tangent. The book took too long in getting where it could have shone and once there, just whimpered. This book could do with some polish.

Note: Book received for free from the author in exchange for an honest review.

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