Pandora by Susan Stokes-Chapman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I think, more than anything, this book encapsulates what I see with one of the most problematic aspects of modern publishing’s obsession with the debut novel. Heavily hyped (and indeed a book that caught the attention of both the Cavendish Prize and the Bath Novel Award), the book is presented beautifully, with both a captivating cover and an enticing premise.
But as a work of fiction, as historical fiction, the book was a bit of a disappointment, with badly characterised minor characters, an implausible plot (the book’s starting point is the retrieval of an ancient artefact from the wreckage of a shipwreck on the sea-bed, which would have been impossible at the time), and an inconceivably independent heroine for her time period.
I was really disappointed with a book that I had been looking forward to reading. I think, for me, this genre of historical fiction, is rapidly going the way of psychological thrillers. I just got tired of the banality and predictability of them all, and this compulsion with having some kind of twist in the tale of the plot. At the moment, I have read quite a few recently published historical fiction similar to Pandora. I am growing weary of the sameness of it all.
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