Saturday, January 31, 2015

Down Lambeth Way by Mary Jane Staples

Down Lambeth Way by Mary Jane Staples"Down Lambeth Way" is the first book in a 29 book series of the Adams saga. The covers in the series look YA but they're really not. By that, I don't mean to say they're neccesarily inappropriate, but it depends on the age of the reader, some subject matter may be a little mature or intense for very young readers. (I'll explain in the content section below).

I think first books in a series are very much like pilot episodes on TV. Some time is by neccesity taken up in the introduction of characters, setting the scenes, the backgrounds, the personalities etc. For the first 80-100 pages you might just assume its a cheeky cockney YA story with lots of playful characters but not much substance. But its so much more. Just give it time.

In this series, we start with a cockney family, fatherless since the Boer war, a mother who makes due with the help of "Uncle" (the pawn broker) and her enterprising children. When the story begins, the children are quite young, the oldest being 14 or 15, but over the course of the book, about five years elapse and everyone is forced to grow up.

The first serious thing (well, aside from getting head lice) that the family experiences, is a murder in the neighborhood, and their good friend and neighbor is being tried. There is a court trial with several characters being cross examined.

Around the same time, war is declared and we experience the reality of life on the front as well as its aftermath.

Between that there is love, courtship, marriage, political intrigue, and plenty of tea and cockney humor.

I always love Mary Jane Staples books (aka Robert Tyler Stevens), he manages to combine just the right amount of serious subject matter with humor and action to keep me engrossed page after page and leaving me with a warm fuzzy feeling. I don't understand why his books never really "made it" in the US but I'm happy they can still be found through online sites.

SEX: Fade to black, mentioned frankly but not explicitly [ for example, one character is taught the "mysteries " by a female ambulance driver on the front. There is also frequent mention of underclothing and particularly breasts being either firm, pouty, perky, overflowing, soft as pillows, nipples showing through, as well as one touch and some cheeky innuendo ]
VIOLENCE: War time violence, nothing gory but people are injured. A woman is murdered.
PROFANITY: Some, mostly British in nature

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