Book Summary: “Deep in the woods of northern England, somewhere between a dilapidated estate and an abandoned Victorian asylum, fifteen-year-old Jane Standen lived through a nightmare. She was babysitting a sweet young girl named Lily, and in one fleeting moment, lost her. The little girl was never found, leaving her family and Jane devastated.
Twenty years later, Jane is an archivist at a small London museum that is about to close for lack of funding. As a final research project–an endeavor inspired in part by her painful past–Jane surveys the archives for information related to another missing person: a woman who disappeared over one hundred years ago in the same woods where Lily was lost. As Jane pieces moments in history together, a portrait of a fascinating group of people starts to unfurl. Inexplicably tied to the mysterious disappearance of long ago, Jane finds tender details of their lives at the country estate and in the asylum that are linked to her own heartbroken world, and their story from all those years ago may now help Jane find a way to move on.
In riveting, beautiful prose, The World Before Us explores the powerful notion that history is a closely connected part of us–kept alive by the resonance of our daily choices–reminding us of the possibility that we are less alone than we might think.”
Right off the bat, I thought the writing in this book was BEAUTIFUL. The language and the flow of it was so fluid and engaging. Take this quote from page 9 for example:
This is the problem with imagination: it is prone to filling in gaps, takes what it knows from one set of experiences and sinks them into another to create some semblance of truth, bridge time.
I loved the way this book was written. That being said, about half-way through the book I got to the point where I just wanted the plot to move along and it felt like the language was holding it back a bit. Obviously not all books are or need to be plot-driven, but I find myself enjoying the type of book that does have a driving plot more than ones that don’t–especially since I found myself wanting to call this book a mystery. There’s a mystery solving feel to it, but the fact that the plot unrolls so slowly makes it a not very engaging one.
I really liked the characters in this book. Jane was very real. She was complicated and had a lot of emotions going on–which was very understandable given the circumstances. It really made me reflect how I would have reacted if I had lost someone that I was supposed to be watching. It was obviously a very hard thing that she went through when she was younger and the reader can still see the effects into her adulthood. I also liked that the book changed perspectives from young Jane to older Jane to way back in the past to the “ghosts” in the present. I liked that it gave the reader a perspective that none of the individual characters had. The reader is given a more full picture than anyone else in the book.
Overall, I thought the book was okay but I probably would not read it again. Like I said earlier, it was beautifully written and the characters were well-written, but I don’t think I’d be able to make my way through that slow-moving plot a second time. If you are interesting in finding out more, though, here are some links to additional info as well as an author bio.
Overall Rating: 3
Sexual Content: Moderate
Note: I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.