Thursday 7 July 2011

Alice Bliss by Laura Harrington

Laura Harrington is from New York and a well established writer for the theatre, her work has been performed across the US, as well as in Canada and Europe.

Her first novel ~ Alice Bliss, will be published by Picador (part of the Pan MacMillan group) in the UK and released for general sale on July 15 2011.

Alice Bliss is fifteen. She's smart, funny, and clever. Not afraid to stand up for the things she believes in. She also idolises her father and, when he leaves home to fight a war she doesn't believe in, Alice is distraught. She and her mother negotiate his absence as best they can -- waiting impatiently for his letters, throwing themselves into school and work respectively, bickering intermittently and, in Alice's case, falling for the boy next door -- but then they're told that he's missing in action and have to face up to the fact that he may never return.

Claire from Pan Macmillan was kind enough to send me a pre-publication of Alice Bliss for review.

I've been online and read some of the existing reviews of the book and these range from 'outstanding, wonderful, life-changing' to 'boring and uninspiring', although, to be fair, the majority of reviewers have really raved about the story.

I'm finding myself in the middle of these reviews, I neither loved it, or hated it.
Alice herself is a great character; a teenage girl whose beloved father has gone off to fight in the Middle East.  

Alice has her feelings of loss and fear to deal with, alongside the usual teenage problems that any girl has to face.  Alice's relationship with her mother Angie is not the best, she's a Daddy's girl and wants to blame Angie for everything that she thinks is wrong with her life.  Alice also takes on a lot of responsibility for her younger sister Ellie - a quirky little girl who deals with family life in her own unique way

This is an adult novel, and there lies my main problem, I feel that the story, with Alice as the main character would be better enjoyed by Young Adult readers.  I felt more in tune with Angie, the mother, than with Alice herself.  As an adult, I can understand, if not condone, Angie's reaction to her husband going to war more than I can relate to Alice.

There is no doubt that Laura Harrington is a skilled writer and has some real insight into the lives of military families, but there is something about the narration of the story, with quite sparse diaglogue that did not work so well for me.

I'm sure that Alice Bliss will be a great success, it's relevant and topical and many readers will relate wholly to the story


  1. I am always interested in books that generate reviews that are all over the map in terms of favorability. Your comment about this appealing more to a YA audience makes sense.

  2. I guess it would appeal to adult women who are 'forces wives' too, but on the whole, I'd think a YA target would work best.
    Have you read it? Interested to hear your comments on it.