First published by David Fickling in July 2002.
I registered my copy of this book on BookCrossing
Where to buy this book:
Buy from independent booksellers via Abebooks
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How I got this book:
Swapped for in the book exchange at Serro da Bica campsite, Ourique, Portugal
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
The Shell House is a beautifully-written and sensitive portrayal of love, sexuality and spirituality over two generations. Greg’s casual interest in the history of a ruined mansion becomes more personal as he slowly discovers the tragic events that overwhelmed its last inhabitants. Set against a background of the modern day and the first World War, Greg’s contemporary beliefs become intertwined with those of Edmund, a foot soldier whose confusion about his sexuality and identity mirrors Greg’s own feelings of insecurity. This is a complex and thought-provoking book, written with elegance and subtlety. It will change the way you think.
I thought that The Shell House had a good premise for a novel and the device of modern teenagers coming of age juxtaposed against their First World War contemporaries worked well. The novel mainly discusses themes of homosexuality and Christianity and, while it is to be applauded for doing so openly and seemingly without judgement, I thought that this was also its weakest point because Newbury does go on, and on, and on. I found the discussions that her protagonists have to be generic with no real sense of genuine teenage speech. Mostly however, I disliked the abrupt ending. While I can understand perhaps why Newbury might have wanted to leave so much up to her readers' imaginations, for me after having read all that philosophising, to be left without a strong sense of a conclusion felt like being cheated!
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Books by Linda Newbery / Historical fiction / Books from England