These character journeys were set against themes of growing apart and the Chartist political movement respectively.
I do love a good bit of historical fiction, so I am sad to have been so disappointed by the book.
My greatest issue with it was the modern day narrative. I simply found no pace, intrigue or endearment in it. I hated Rachel, the contemporary narrator - hated her, and didn't warm to her a bit, despite being told of all her hardships. She was cold, unfairly mean to her supportive husband, detached, aloof, selfish and generally not a "nice" person, in my opinion. It mostly felt like she was dying to have a teenage strop the whole time, and to be honest, if she did it would have been welcome. This storyline needed some excitement.
I was frustrated to the point of skipping pages at the writing style of this narrative. It felt desperate on account of its boring-ness. Between dreary Rachel-monologues of woe and her weird trips to interrogate her poor neighbours/wonder aimlessly around church grounds, the reader is drip fed minute, mildly tantalising, morsels of intrigue - as if to say "hey guys, come on, stick with me because I have history - but err, you can't know it": allusions to mental illness, family breakdown and hallucinations - does this explain her behaviour? Is she still suffering postnatal depression? Is she imagining is there a presence in the house with her? Do I even care?... Ultimately, however, these pieces of information are left cold and unexplored. Very unsatisfying. And as such, I still hate Rachel.
Unfortunately another disappointment lay ahead in this book - although perhaps this time it was of my own making. The two stories did not come to a neat, or linked, conclusion. I had hoped my struggles with the Rachel storyline would be rewarded with a nice denouement that brought the two women together across time somehow, but alas, I was not. Although we knew the way the two women's lives would continue I did think the endings both felt a bit hollow, as if they had ended too soon.
It is hard for me to recommend this book - there are just too many frustrations with the modern narrative. However, I think you could skip Rachel's story line completely and have a lovely novella of chartists and English village life... Perhaps worth considering if you find the ebook cheap somewhere :)
5/10 for The Telling.