Quarantine came and disrupted every plan I had for December. Hooray. I wanted to file away a good stack of books, schedule my reviews until mid-January, and concentrate on different projects for about a month.
E invece no. (cit.)
Let’s just say I’m thankful I can read a book in 24h if need be. Anyway!
The Dissent of Annie Lang came to me as an audiobook, a feature that improved the novel as a whole—I’m still not a fan of slow-paced stories, and listening to it rather than reading it diluted the slowness somehow.
“My story starts and ends at railway stations, though of course I can’t know this yet as I clamber off the boat-train at Victoria that warm May afternoon…”
Growing up in a strict religious family in the 1920s, Annie Lang is witness to disturbing events that no one will explain. Only the family dog may know the answers.
Six years on, student Annie returns from France to find her beloved brother in a mental hospital and her ally, the Sunday school teacher, vanished without trace. With the help of her childhood diary, and sister Beatrice, Annie turns detective to unearth the truth.
Her journey leads to a discovery so disturbing that she believes it will ruin all their lives, unless they can atone for the past.
Ros Franey beautifully captures that point when a child can sense, and indeed dissent against, secrets that adults think they are too young to grasp. Impulsive, brave and lovable, Annie Lang is formidable when she takes matters into her own hands.
9h, 7 minutes
Historical, psychological thriller
Saga Egmont Audio
Cover: I like it a lot.
Narrator: Whoa. It took me a moment to get used to Joanna Ruiz’s pacing, as it’s quite fast. As soon as my ears caught up with her, though, I was blown away.
- The Dissent of Annie Lang recounts the life of Annie, the youngest of the Lang family. Her background is religious to the point of being cult-like, and given the historical setting, her upbringing is stricter than most. Personal tragedies and a controlling environment shape her personality, but don’t break her spirit.
- Historical settings require adaptation. Judging something through modern lenses is wrong, as it doesn’t take the general context into consideration. For that reason, while I recoil at the behavior of Annie’s stepmother, I appreciate Franey’s accuracy in portraying her. A pious lady with bigoted beliefs can only act as a pious lady with bigoted beliefs. Annie’s father is despicable through and through, and again, kudos to Franey for writing him as such.
- The double timeline confused me at the beginning, but then it grew on me. I have to say that both parts read strong and they suit the story Franey wants to tell. The one I like best is the diary: there’s a slow progression in Annie, she picks up details as she matures, and that’s character growth for you. Once again, the historical setting doesn’t give much leeway.
- I scored a third limited POV at long last. I’m so glad! Personal preference aside, it strengthens the plot and doesn’t give away unnecessary details. *chef kiss*
- Characterization-wise, both Annie and the cast of characters are well-crafted and well-written. Ignoring Mr. Lang, everyone is given a chance to grow, even Agnes.
- The ending is weak. I’m sorry to say it, but the Sins of the Father theme reads less poignant than intended.
- There are some details I’m not happy with, as I don’t find them believable enough. The issue with Nana, for example, puzzles me a lot. Furthermore, I’m not quite sure about the part of the missing girls. It feels like some ties remain loose, and that reflects on the plot.
3.5 stars on GR, rounded up to 4.
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