It’s not often that a book about WWII can be considered light or enjoyable, but “In Farleigh Field” manages to be a lighter take on the subject that provides enjoyable reading. While it’s not as deep as “In a Field of Blue” or as heart felt as The Light Between Oceans or The Book Thief, In Farleigh Field provides a bit of a feminist slant ala Beantown Girls, a little bit of mystery and a little bit of romance.
Everything about In Farleigh Field reads like a TV period drama, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Bowen is extremely consistent in her characters with each growing in depth and breadth as the story unfolds. There could have been a few less characters to help keep things flowing smoother, and the swapping of narrators for various chapters disrupted the story flow a bit.
Bowen manages to keep the classic poor boy loves rich out-of-reach girl fresh in a way that feels honest and sweet, rather than cliché or overdone. Her character’s take on feminism, freedom and women in the work force feels true to the time period and never felt like Bowen was forcing modern ideals into the past.
The mystery itself and the main character’s work as a decoder was a bit of fun. This is where In Farleigh Field headed more towards TV show as it took off in a wild direction full of random escapades the characters would most likely never find themselves in real life. While this book isn’t high literature and won’t cause any deep visceral reactions, it was an enjoyable way to pass the time and a “lighter” WWII historical fiction than we’re used to reading.
My first impression of The Deadly Mystery of the Missing Diamonds was that it read like walking into the middle of a dinner party conversation. A lot of background information was missing and characters were referred to by multiple names, making the story hard to keep track of. What I didn’t know was that this book is a spin-off series of another series called “The Lady Hardcastle Mysteries”. If you’d read that series, you’d have already been introduced to the characters and have a handle on the backstory missing from this book. Unfortunately, the author didn’t write this book in a way that lets it stand alone and left the reader patching in way too many holes on top of a mystery.
The characters themselves are lively and full of personality, but there’s just way too many of them, and as mentioned earlier, they were referred to by multiple names which caused a bit of confusion when reading. There’s even a portion of the book where the characters can’t remember another group’s set of names, so they rename then. From that point on, that 2nd group of people are referred to by multiple names. WHY? It only served to complicate unnecessarily.
The story itself is fun and a bit silly. Set in 1925 in Scotland yard, a band of jazz musicians must help Scotland Yard solve a mystery. The entire plot line of The Deadly Mystery of the Missing Diamonds depends heavily on the banter between the characters, which gets annoying when it stops moving the story forward and becomes a barrier to the plotline actually proceeding. The mystery is intriguing and I would have loved to see more time spent on developing that part of the story and less on the “witty” banter. With some heavy editing, this would be an excellent story. As currently written, it’s a light read that doesn’t require much investment.