Wednesday, January 26, 2011

[Review] Whisper My Name by Jane Eagland

Title: Whisper My Name
Author: Jane Eagland
Publication: 1st October 2010
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Source: For Review (sent by publisher)
Pages: 400
My Rating:

A young girl discovers a terrible secret about her past in Victorian London.

Since she was twelve, Meriel Garland has lived with her grandfather in London, exiled from her beloved India following the death of her mother. Now sixteen, Meriel chafes against the strict regime of tests and study that her grandfather imposes on her. Escaping, she discovers a world outside her narrow existence – one that promises admiration for her acting skills, social success and the excitement of seances. But what should have been a game turns serious as the young medium Sophie Casson passes on a message from Meriel's dead mother – and Meriel begins to suspect she might not be alone in the world after all. In searching for the truth about her past, Meriel uncovers a sinister scheme – and soon it's hard to know who she can really trust...
My thoughts: 

Whisper My Name is about a young girl, Meriel, whose father takes her away from her home in India, to live in England, after her mother has died. There, her grandfather performs all these strange tests, to which she knows not the meaning, and anytime she asks, she is left with more questions than she'd begun with. Kept in captivity and sheltered for years, Meriel finally seeks escape, and ventures out, meeting more people, and ultimately finding out much more than she bargained for. And that's how she discovers a deep conspiracy that has been going on for years and years: one that cost both her and her family's happiness.

The summary on MY edition (different to given above) gave me the impression that Whisper My Name was going to be a historical thriller. Or maybe it was just me, I don't know. Anyway, this book was good. Not amazing, not bad; just good. At the beginning, we are launched straight into clads of information. Right from the get-go we understand what kind of relationship Meriel has with her father, how her life in India was, in essence. Then she is whisked away to London, where "all she could see through the veils of cold rain [were] grey docks, grey buildings, under a grey sky." For the first few chapters, the book is written in third-perspective, but without even realising, it morphed gradually to first, which worked well to understand her better, and her perspective.

The novel kept true to the historical elements that existed in the scope of this book (1881-1885): the clothing and styles of the day, theatre, ettiquette and prestige, reputations, etc. I appreciated this. Eagland has surely done a fair amount of research on the time era. Anyway, for the most part, the plot moves along pretty slowly. Eagland sets up every single setting, which helped paint a clear picture of Meriel's surroundings. Her detailings are well done, which I think is really important with historical novels.

Since the novel is told in Meriel's perspective, the developments of characters were a bit limited, but also when I was reading, it was obvious that there were things that lay just under the surface, that was waiting to be discovered. I felt a connection with most of the characters for their warm and troubled tendencies, and for their caring and understanding, as well as for their bad and cunning. Meriel was a bit of a brat, who throughout the novel complained that her life was terrible, that she was lonely and no one cared about her. When truly, everyone else had their own problems, and it is when those problems are revealed to her, to us, that she finally begins to realised how selfish and unreasonable she's been. So while I didn't love Meriel, I could easily relate to her, because who has never been caught up in their own bad situations?

Jane Eagland was able to captivate me in Meriel's story; although it was lacking in a romance arc, the characters and mystery elements kept me interested right up until the ending.

I would recommend this for historical YA fans, or people who are fascinated with the Victorian Era.

First Line

"Meriel decided to place her deckchair as far as she could from Mrs Fitzgerald's, but within earshot."

Favourite Quote

"I stared into the mirror, almost willing her to appear there, but only one reflection, my own, stared back. But then it came . . . the sense of someone just behind me, so close I could feel their warmth, feel them slowly touching my head. Tears pricked my eyes, though I didn't know why I was crying, because my heart was filled with gladness."

(pg 197)


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I have received this review copy in return for an honest review.

Challenge: Historical Challenge 2011
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