~ What I Saw and How I Lied: Vintage Book Reviewer ~
by Tam Francis
In my vintage book review of What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell (Scholastic 2010), we follow Evie as she comes of age after World War II and her father returning from war. Murder and intrigue surround the teen in this mystery set in America in the aftermath of WWII.
When Evie’s father returned home from World War II, the family fell back into its normal life pretty quickly. But Joe Spooner brought more back with him than just good war stories. When movie-star handsome Peter Coleridge, a young ex-GI who served in Joe’s company in postwar Austria, shows up. Evie is suddenly caught in a complicated web of lies that she only slowly recognizes. She finds herself falling for Peter, ignoring the secrets that surround him . . . until a tragedy occurs that shatters her family and breaks her life in two.
What I liked about it
- Set in post WWII with wartime flashbacks.
- Being able to relate to the mother and the daughter and how well the writer fleshed out the nuances of their relationship.
- The coming-of-age romance aspect.
- Blundell captured the dichotomy of having one foot left in childhood and the other in adulthood.
- Compelling plot twists, that although predictable for an older reader would be very satisfying for its target audience.
- The use of music, dance, and fashion helped capture the mood and atmosphere of the era for a vintage book review.
- Her descriptions of the fashions had me drooling and wanting to run to the nearest vintage shop to buy a new dress.
- Blundell’s use of language, imagery, and metaphor worked well and often flirted with brilliance.
- The character of Peter is so exactly what every mother and father fears for their budding daughter and what so many naive girls want.
What I didn’t like about it
- Evie was a little too naive at times.
- Although I enjoy this era, I think it might be hard to get young adults interested in this vintage book as it really moved slowly like a Merchant Ivory film.
- I liked the relationship of Evie and her mother, although the mother’s selfishness made it very hard to have sympathy for her.
- The back story of Peter and Joe’s relationship needed a bit more foreshadowing and hints. It felt a little like a rushed, throw-in explanation.
- The cover did not say vintage book and did not make me want to pick it up. If one of the gal’s at the book fair had not suggested it, I wouldn’t have looked twice at it. The cover needed a more vintage book look.
Don’t be in such a hurry to grow up, baby. It’s not all polka dots and moonbeams, you know.
But while I’d be their daughter, while I’d eat the roast and come home from dates and wash the dishes, I would also be myself. I would love my mother, but I’d never want to be her again. I would never be what someone else wanted me to be. I would never laugh at a joke I didn’t think was funny. I would never tell another lie. I would be the truth-teller, starting today. That would be tough.
But I was tougher.
I understood the word ‘swoon’. It felt that way, like ‘sweep’ and ‘moon’ and ‘woo’, all those words smashed together in one word that stood for that feeling, right then.
I breathed in and out, perfume and smoke, perfume and smoke, and we lay like that for a long time, until I heard the seagulls crying, sadder than a funeral, and I knew it was almost morning.
Just one dance. Just one. That’s all I wanted. I know now how you can take one step and you can’t stop yourself from taking another. I know now what it means to want. I know it can get you to a place where there’s no way out. I know now that there’s no such thing as just one. But I didn’t know it then.
I found the writing of this vintage book quite good, the story compelling, and the main character very likeable. Although it’s young adult historical fiction, with all the fashion references and description, there’s enough here to satisfy any vintage enthusiast.
Vintage Enthusiast Rating
- Fashion: ♥♥♥♥♥
- Music: ♥♥♥
- Dance: ♥♥♥
Do you like a little romance mixed in your historical fiction? Do you read much Young Adult fiction? If so why or why not? Would you lie to protect your family? Have you read or written a book you’d like reviewed by the Vintage Reviewer. Please contact me!
Tam Francis is a writer, blogger, swing dance teacher, avid vintage collector, and seamstress. She shares her love of this genre through her novels, blog, and short stories. She enjoys hearing from you, sharing ideas, forging friendships, and exchanging guest blogs. For all the Girl in the Jitterbug Dress news, give-aways, events, and excitement, make sure to join her list and like her FB page! Join my list ~ Facebook page