Although I’m American, I find myself drawn to lots of British literature with 20th century settings and plots. Scripting the Truth
showed up on someone’s blog as a recently added book, so I had to look up more about it. That’s when I discovered the author, T.A. Henry
, is also a blogger. I began following her blog and learning more about her, then decided to add a few of her books to my collection last month. I’m so glad I did… this one I started with is a wonderful novel that carried along with great ease and interest. And it came about at the right time given the topics covered in the story about the film business which is where I find myself focusing the last few weeks. But first a quick overview of the story:
Lady Margaret Leighton served in World War II administering to injured soldiers coming back for rest and treatment. She fell in love with one of the patients, but lost the opportunity to stay connected with him. After Margaret arrived home, her mother wanted to find a suitable husband while her father wanted her to work for his company. Margaret wanted nothing to do with that! She learned that the soldier she had met became an actor, which pushed her to try to become an actress (to meet him). When that didn’t work, she decided to become a scriptwriter. It all began to come together, but then it soon all fell apart. Throw in a few side stories with her best friend, Lila, her two brothers and their wives, and a couple of other characters she meets in the film business, and you’ve got a nice romantic historical drama with levity and charm.
Henry’s writing style is witty and seamless. I wouldn’t call it a classic ‘page-turner’ (as I think that’s more for suspense and thriller books), but there’s something about the story and characters that push you to read just a bit more than you planned each day — in that respect, it’s a new kind of page-turner! I read the book over two days, sitting for about an hour each time, finding myself wanting to read more but also wanting to let some of the actions and themes settle in for analysis and thought. Margaret is probably a very typical woman of her time, but she’s also got an energy and a drive that you don’t often see in people. She’s persistent and will make her re-connection to the soldier happen no matter what. But it’s the surprises life has in store for her that make this extra special.
Henry’s characters are charming. The mother is definitely not a character we’re supposed to like. She’s not awful, but there’s enough of a wall and attitude that we have good conflict for Margaret to face. The relationship with her father is charming and has both ups-and-downs, which is very typical of someone in her situation — that’s what makes the book so readable. You care just as much about her family life as you do her professional life. It’s in her professional life where we see her shine, but when her heart is broken, you feel the sadness over the loss just as much as she does.
Much of the detail in the book is very well-thought out and intricate. Given the time frames are ~70 years ago, the film business is way more complicated than an average reader probably knows, and the specifics of the war are frequently referred to, it’s obvious how much energy and effort went into researching this novel — it’s also what makes it all the more appealing for a reader when there’s something to learn but also truly transport you to the historical place and time.
Kudos to Henry for gaining a new fan with this 4.5 star book. I’m looking forward to picking up more of her work later this year. She’s even nominated for a RONE award on one of her latest pieces. Nice!