Monday, December 9, 2013

The Iron Road by Jane Jackson

The Iron RoadIf you're looking for Jane Austen, look elsewhere. If you like Catherine Cookson, Hardy, Dickens, or other authors who deal with the grittier side of "life among the dregs" you'll probably love "The Iron Road". I did.

The story is set in England during the building of the railroads.The reader finds himself in the temporary shanty village where workers and their families live while the rails are being laid. It's a hard life and at times a coarse life. There's no getting around that. Drunken brawls, poverty and its resultant vices,lousy loving arrangements, child workers, accidents on the job etc build the background for the story which centers on two couples: one on this side of the tracks and one on the other (the privileged side).

One reviewer criticized the author for having too many characters, too many themes. I disagree. Having two couples from two sides builds the contrast necessary for the the story. (and they and their stories interconnect). As for too many themes, well life is rarely simple and our minds are marvelously designed so we can keep up with it. Honestly, has no one read "War and Peace"? "The Count of Monte Cristo"? "Anna Karenina"? Yes, we can handle multiple POV's and ENJOY it!

One thing I loved about this book is the descriptions. Let me give you a taste of my favorites:

"She had worn the same clothes for a fortnight. Beneath stringy greying hair scraped into an untidy bun, her greasy skin shone."

 "..she felt his eyes on her like sticky fingers"

"the warmth of the sun released the scents of wet earth and primroses, the buttery perfume of gorse, and the sweet mustiness of leaf mould."

"he saw a massive enbankment of dark earth lying like a giant scab across the undulating hillside."

"you can't be too careful around here. They'd have the fillings out of your teeth before you finished yawning."

"fat sheep like blobs of cream nibbled in the patchwork of small fields divided by stone walls."

 "Two ladies had fainted. Lying in bright puddles of frilled and beribboned taffeta at the side of the track they looked like collapsed balloons."

This is what I call gourmet reading. The characters also were real and fleshed out. I cared about what happened to them and I could picture them clearly in my mind's eye. I loved this story.

For rating, I would say it's PG-13 for some "British" language and thematic elements. Yes, there is prostitution (though not described) and an attempted rape (but it doesn't actually HAPPEN so again, apart from the scuffle there is nothing to describe) and homosexuality. (also not described~ one character is a "closeted" homosexual, a "gentlemen" and as such the facts must never be known). So
personally, it didn't sicken me to have these three elements in the story.They were THERE (think: Oliver Twist) but that's not the crux of the story.

The ebook could benefit from a bit more editing. I was puzzled with one description of "but-toned" cushions. I was picturing something in a creamy color before it dawned on me "they meant buttoned.". lol

For a complete synopsis read the write up on Amazon, but if you just want to know if it's a good book, yes it is!!!

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