I first came across this book after it was mentioned by a couple of YouTubers (or, rather, BookTubers) who had really enjoyed it. A few weeks later it appeared in Fopp for £3, so I picked it up, intending to read it during EIFF. That didn’t quite pan out, and in retrospect I think it was because I knew it didn’t have the lasting power to keep me going. (I read Girlfriend in a Coma instead.)
Resistance is set in the 1940s in a tiny Welsh valley inhabited by a small farming community. One morning the women wake up to discover that the men disappeared in the night, and it soon comes out that, despite being exempt from military service, they have been formed a resistance mission.
To say more than that would spoil what little plot is present in this book. Sheers’ writing style is sumptuous, as if stringing an intricate selection of words in fine thread without allowing them to become entangled. His language echoes thoughts, feelings, atmosphere; simple where it counts and striking where it matters. What lets it down is that it’s simple too often to distract from, well, the distractions.
The points of view switch continuously, which I found irritating rather than encompassing. Most, particularly Sarah (a protagonist of sorts) and the elder Maggie – both wives of the missing men – were interesting in that somewhat cheating way where authors don’t give too much away in order for you to fill in the blanks. The few character traits they were given to hold us over resembled the plot: a skeleton of a character fleshed out with artful yet simplistic strips of flesh patted on at will.
Resistance is, allegedly, described as a thriller, but there were only a couple of moments where I felt that the pace picked up and enough mystery was set out for that to feel accurate. My main issue with the book was a lack of plot and pacing and real sense of anticipation – which apparently others haven’t failed to find.
A book club friend and I were discussing how World War II is often tacked onto stories to give them credence. I couldn’t say this is one of those – in fact, it’s an alternate history (and I’m sure you can guess what that means) – but the war is such a distant cry that I felt it alienated me as a the reader more than its characters from the main point of action.
In sum, I’ve given this one 2 stars for being an endless chore.
Book #37: ★★★★★
Check out capsule reviews of everything I’ve read this year on the 52 Books page. You can also friend me on Goodreads.