Sunday, 30 June 2013

Book Review: Yesterday’s Child Barbara Wood

I just finished reading Yesterday’s Child by Barbara Wood. Read on to find out how I liked it.

“Andrea travels from Los Angeles to her ancestral home in England to meet her relatives and confront her mysterious heritage. But from the first moment she steps foot in her grandmother's cold Victorian house in Warrington, she senses an awesome, unsettling presence. She knows that a rendezvous awaits her: a terrifying journey into the past, and a shattering encounter that will mark her and change her forever. Andrea soon learns how terribly right her instincts have been. Waiting for her is Victor Townsend, a man who reaches out to embrace her from beyond the grave, a man for whom she hungers-even though she knows of his past evil deeds. But Andrea also discovers the lingering horrors of the old house, its carefully buried secrets, and a timeless, tragic passion still burning within its aging walls.”

Andrea is a 27 year old who travels from Los Angeles to her ancestral home in England at the bid of her mother, when her maternal grandfather is taken ill and is not expected to live much longer. Going back to a country where she spent only the first two years of her life, having no memory of the place or of her relatives, she is not exactly thrilled about making the trip or getting to know her family. The moment she crosses the threshold of the ancestral house, however, Andrea senses something disturbing, a haunting power, emanating from within. Initially dismissing her unsettling feelings about the old house, she gradually starts realizing that the supernatural pull and indescribable power the house has exerted over her is not a product of jetlag, or her imagination. She soon finds that she has access to snippets of the past, of the Townsend family who are the ancestors of her dying grandfather, and finds herself increasingly drawn into the lives of those long dead. Of particular interest to her is Victor Townsend, her grandfather’s father, who, it is alleged, committed crimes too horrendous to speak of, had a heart so dark he was the Devil himself. And yet, Andrea finds herself feeling a deep, inexplicable attraction and attachment towards her great-grandfather, the man who made life living hell for everyone in the Townsend family, ultimately ripping the family apart. There seems to be a reason she has to partake in the scenes of days gone by. She knows the horrifying story of the family as told by her reluctant grandmother; she fears, yet she desires. Andrea comes to realize the shocking events which rocked the Townsend family, gets to know the family members better than anyone else ever did, and discovers the even more shocking truths.

I found Yesterday’s Child immensely engaging and compelling.  The plot focuses mainly on past events; nothing much of interest happens in the present. It is very well written, as I have come to expect of Barbara Wood. The lead character, Andrea, makes up for not having a companion to interact with apart from her grandmother by giving us readers a lot of insight into her thought process and her inner turmoils.

I am usually one who reads a book all in one go. With this novel, I read at a complacent pace, and finished it over a few days’ time. That relatively slower pace sat well with me on this. One reason was the lack of free time on my side. Another, the details. I felt like I couldn’t take too many descriptive details from the novel at once. That could have been because the main character is almost always by herself; I like a little more character-interaction. However, this could be because the main focus in the novel is on the past, in Victor Townsend’s time, and not on Andrea’s time.

This is an unconventional love story, spanning life-times, withstanding the test of time, tragic, intense, and beautiful. It has touches of the supernatural which don’t overwhelm or take the beauty away from the story. You won’t regret reading this novel!

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