This is my review of The Girl Who Fell From The Sky by Simon Mawer.
My expectations raised by the originality of "The Glass House", this novel proved a disappointment. The adventures of a British woman parachuted into occupied France to work for the Resistance offer the scope for a gripping drama, but it is as if the author has been forced to write for a deadline when he did not feel in the mood.
Why was I so soon and often bored by what should have been by turns exciting and moving? I think it was the lack of a clear evocation of time and place – I never really felt I was in Scotland, or rural France, or Paris during the war of the 1940s. Similarly the characters rarely came alive in my imagination as convincing people. The creation of tension and expression of real feeling are obscured rather than enhanced by a veil of would-be literary writing which stumbles quite often over clunky phrasing. Much of the dialogue is quite dull.
I found myself niggling over minor points, such as the repetition on page 57 (hardback) of "She shrugged the question away". Why did no editor pick this up? Plus the language used in conversation often sounded too modern.
Even when Marian at last gets to France, the narrative drive is too weak to maintain the necessary sense of tension. The potential drama is continually defused by her introspection. This is evident as early as the opening chapter, clearly intended to hook the reader, yet we find her mulling over things like her father's classical allusions which she likes to call illusions when she is about to make her first parachute jump into France! Her lack of motivation to work in Special Operations makes you wonder why on earth she was selected for the role. When a reason is supplied, it seems implausible, and is not sufficiently developed in the plot. Marian does not seem quite real, so I do not care as I should when she is in danger.