Advance reader reviews of Before the War

Before the War

by Fay Weldon

Before the War by Fay Weldon X
Before the War by Fay Weldon
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  • Published in USA  Mar 2017
    304 pages
    Genre: Historical Fiction

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  • LesleyF

    Have I Got a Story for YOU!
    This story was a great deal of fun, once I caught on to the idea that the "author" was telling this story to ME, NOW. These days, many authors are playing with time and characters to tell a story from different angles. This was fresh! - straight from the horse's mouth, so to speak....heehee.

    Fay Weldon has an excellent feeling for Britain between the wars - its people and its politics.

    You think you know the whole story right off the bat because the author gives you some solid information, but NO, wait, there's more! There is a satisfying, if somewhat surprising ending, and a fascinating look at sex from a very different "angle" that was at once satire, irony, and informative. I picked it up and could not put it down, so I will be looking for more by this author.
  • Mary M.

    What is the problem?
    I absolutely loved this book. Apparently, several BookBrowse reviewers disliked it very much and I can't understand why. It's very funny, very witty. Fay Weldon is at her acid-tongued best. The book jacket describes the writing as reminiscent of Oscar Wilde and that is true. She perfectly portrays, and accurately satirizes a certain class of people, and their attempts to negotiate a changing England between the wars. But she loves her characters too, and so even the most venal and self-centered of them, such as Adela and Sherwyn, have a streak of decency and humanity that somewhat redeems them in the end. (Well, maybe not Adela.) I didn't find that the novel jumped around, as some readers complained. This book is perfectly charming.
  • Anna S

    Before the War
    A wonderful book that is at the same time both funny and other words, typical Fay Weldon. It took me a while to warm up to it but once I did I could scarcely put it down. The story mirrors the period: frenetic pace and gloomy foreboding. Definitely worth re-reading!
  • Priscilla Magnuson

    A mixed bag
    As character driven as I usually am, I find it hard to admit that I enjoyed a book whose characters were, as a whole, unlikable. The book, Before the War, is narrated, rather than told from one character's point of view, and that device was a bit off-putting in the beginning. The reader is informed in the first few pages that the main character will die withing the year. I did like Vivian, referred to as "the giantess." The story takes place between 1922 and 1939, and Vivian, nearly six feet tall, frumpy, and highly intelligent, is trying to make a way for herself at in a time period not kind to women such as she. She decides that she is marriageable only because she is wealthy, and proposes to someone who will see the advantage to both parties if he accepts, and he does. Poor Vivian, already pregnant by someone else, dies in childbirth.

    The rest of the story involves a cast of characters with few, if any, redeeming characteristics. The skill of the author in fleshing out these people and telling the rest of Vivian's story is all that saves the book, in my opinion. I did appreciate the dry humor and observations about human character. Life today is different in appearance, but these people exist today in every level of society. I doubt this book will appeal to many readers, but I did like the writing.
  • Marie D.

    Before the War should have been a better book
    This was a difficult book for me to read for a few reasons. I found the unidentified interloper, who offers descriptive commentary throughout the book, irritating rather than helpful; several unattractive characters – virtually everyone in the book - were described bed-hopping over several decades. I found it prurient rather than provocative. I may be in the minority here, but I thought the book an unpleasant read.

    There very well may be a sequel in the works, however, as the author appears to offer a hint that Sheldon may have a redeemable future in store for him.

    “Before the War,” might have offered much more to the reader had the author let the characters out of the boudoir once in awhile!
  • Randi H. (Bronx, NY)

    Not my cup of tea
    I think there might have been an interesting story in Before the War by Fay Weldon, but the manner in which it was told was distracting. The author interrupts the narrative frequently to speak to the reader, and the tone used to during these interruptions is often very snarky. The narrative skips back and forth between different time periods and, especially in the first quarter of the book, makes it difficult to follow along. Additionally, the author reveals a major plot development very early in the book, which for me was a disappointment. Finally, in my opinion, there was an overly heavy emphasis on the physical looks of the characters. All of these factors combined to create a serious hindrance to my enjoyment of the book.
  • Molly K. (San Jose, CA)

    Actually, I give this book a rating of 2plus. I haven't read any of Fay Waldon's previous works. However, she is the main character in this novel, and she certainly seems to enjoy herself.

    Waldon writes as if she is composing the book as she goes along--lots of parenthetical comments as she tells her story. I rather liked that approach as I began the read. However, there is no story--just a sorry lot of uninteresting and unlikeable characters.

    Mind you, I don't need to like the characters, but I do need to care about them. And, maybe the story and characters develop after 100 pages or so. I will never know. I hope others find more joy in this piece.

    I'll check other reviews in a week or so. If there are some positive reviews, I may go back and give this book and second try.
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