I have one more Perry book on loan from the library, one of the Victorian ones, I think. I'll read it, even though her style wears me down.
The one I'm only after finishing is Shoulder The Sky. It's no. 2 in a series, I believe. Since she recapped all the drama parts of the first one i don't have to read it. Which is good for making the book easy to follow on it's own, but bad from a literary point of view - makes for heavy reading. Here's a typical quote from the book:
"Joseph drew in his breath to answer, then did not know what to say. It was his job here to make sense of the chaotic, to justify the descent into hell, even to make intolerable suffering bearable because it had meaning, to insist that there was a God behind it who would make even this all right in the end. [...] If personal murder for vengeance, or to rid oneself of embarrassment or pain, were acceptable, what exactly was it they were fighting for? Bert had spoken of country things like the church and the pub, a village whose people you knew, the certainty of seasons, but what he meant was the goodness of it, the belief in a moral justice that endured.
To allow Prentice to be murdered, and do nothing, would be a betrayal of that, and Joseph would not do it."
There's pages of this stuff. Seriously. If it's not said every second page, it hasn't been said at all, apparently. WE GET IT! God, woman. On it's own that quote is fine, but multiplied it's sleep-inducing.
The moral issue of the book is "is it always right to be a pacifist and avoid war?" Perry, or at least the main characters, say "no". You have to fight for what you believe in, and even when you discover that you're fighting under people who have made massive mistakes that have cost thousands of young men's lives, you still fight, for the soldiers who've gone before you. I'm not sure I agree, even though I understand the emotive sentiment behind it - but more importantly it gets repeated so often I'm thoroughly sick of this thesis before the (unsatisfying) end of the book.
So. One more Anne, then no more. I really want to like her writing, if nothing else for her compassion for all those people in history who have fought and died in muddy trenches and on cold seas, and for her excellent research (as far as I can tell anyway). But I can't. But don't get me wrong, it's not terrible. It's miles and miles and MILES better than Dan Brown, who should not make another dime off his rotten excuses for novels.
I also read The Miserable Mill by Lemony Snicket. WHat can I say, it's a Lemony Snicket... About four hours' worth of amusement. I would have adored these as a child, now I think they're cute, mostly. But keep writing, mr Snicket! We want to hear the end. Although if you kill them all off I'll be very upset.