The Petticoat Men by Barbara Ewing

STATUS: Completed

It’s very cutesy.  Very.  Our protagonist, Mattie, is an “I don’t care what anyone thinks” simple type of creature with a big heart and a tragic past.  She fights the cause of the Petticoat Men with fervour and a childlike single-mindedness; resolute in her motivations.  She manages, only just, not to come across as a supercilious activist.  Her mother and brother are the ones I felt for; particularly the latter.  Worked in the Palace of Westminster, but because his home, a lodging house, was used by Freddie and Earnest (the Petticoat Men) he loses his job and must find new employment with a tainted, infamous address.  I didn’t like the men the book was about.  They were pathetic and tragic in great melodramatic flare.  Quite literally, my only sympathy was for Billy (the brother) – a subplot in this tale based on actual events.  I also detested the use of different fonts to signal a change in who was narrating: Ewing, Mattie, or mother Mrs Stacey.  The whole experience felt like an ITV special: not bad, but neither memorable nor moving.  The writing might also be accused of being a little lazy.  The characters were stock and the settings, had they actually been on ITV, read like they would have wobbled.  But, it’s not bad.  It’s good enough – for a forgettable, feel good hug of a book.

2 out of 5

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