Hi ForeverBookers, I've just finished Larchfield. It was a good story of hope, loss, finding oneself and redemption. I believe this is a standalone also.
I got Larchfield through NetGalley so thanks to NetGalley for giving me the opportunity to read it! It releases on March 23rd 2017!
NOTE: there are adult situations in Larchfield!
Larchfield tells the story of two characters. One, Wystan is a relative of WH Auden. He's also a writer. He's going to Scotland to work at Larchfield, a boys school. We see him struggle with who he's meant to be throughout the novel. The other character is called Dora, also a writer. She's a married, pregnant woman at the beginning of Larchfield. Her and her husband have just moved house, to a place on the sea. However, not all is right with Dora who experiences set backs throughout Larchfield.
Wystan is gay. We see this quite early on in the novel. Working at a boys school puts temptation in his way, quite often. However, he never acts on it with any of the students. He does have a few affairs. A couple in Germany, when he visits with friends, as well as Gregory in Scotland, with whom he thinks is his true love. The parents of Gregory, don't agree, however. It was good to see diversity in Larchfield.
Dora has a hard time getting on with people. Mainly because of her neighbours, who don't like her. I felt sorry for Dora, because she was just a mother, trying to do the best thing for her daughter. I didn't like the bullying neighbours. They went so far as to try and poison Dora's dog, to prove her unstable and just, no. I don't like reading about animal cruelty. It's really not a big part of the story, just a few pages really but still I didn't like reading it. Towards the end of Larchfield, we see Dora's mental health brought into question. I'm not going to say why but I thought the author did well covering the topic of mental health in a non condescending way.
Larchfield is told from 3rd person narrative. However, the chapters are titled either Wystan, Dora or Wystan and Dora. This made it easy to follow. Wystan's chapters are present tense and Dora's chapters are past tense. The characters sometimes overlapped, so Dora would be in Wystan's chapters and vice versa but only in thoughts. They only appear together in the chapters with both of their names, and there aren't many of those. I certainly enjoyed Dora's chapters more than Wystan's. I think this is because I'm female so I can see Dora's struggles more clearly than Wystan's.
What I liked about Larchfield...having two characters primarily focused on. I think anyone could find something to relate to in this story. I thought that mental health was dealt with well in the last part of the book. Dora didn't appear to have to do anything she didn't really want to. There was only the incidence of leaving her daughter with her husband that could be classed as this. Nothing more.
What I didn't like about Larchfield...how the two main characters don't end up together. As Wystan is gay, he obviously doesn't end up with Dora. I went into Larchfield thinking that this would probably happen so I'm a little annoyed that it didn't. Although, I did still like the story.
I was also unsure of the time that Larchfield was supposed to be set. At the beginning, the book mentions 1930's. But then later it mentions both Barack Obama as well as Scooby Doo. My rating went down one star just for this. As it's necessary to know the time a story is set in.
I'm giving Larchfield 3 stars because while it was a good book, I won't ever want to reread it. I knew the story wouldn't grab me the same way a fantasy, for example would but I wanted a little more from the plot because while the characters weren't boring, the plot was a little repetitive. While I really would have liked to have seen Wystan and Dora get together, it was nice to just see friends in a book, too. While I preferred Dora's story over Wystan's, I still see that Wystan was just as necessary to the story as Dora, maybe more so. I could just see myself in Dora more so.
Look forward to my next review, coming soon!