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Shouting At The Ship Men by Tim Geary - Book Review


Shouting At The Ship Men
Tim Geary

Fiction-Net Rating 3 Star Rated Book

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Cover Story

Still haunted by the death of her English father, Portia Mills decides to leave Canada for London in search of happiness and love. At first, Portia feels blessed to have the charming Luke Bingham introduce her to a world of privilege and wealth but she soon realises that England is not the seductive land she had imagined. When Luke's friends fail to offer Portia the acceptance she craves, she begins an obsessive affair that is as doomed as it is predictable. As Portia's world unravels, she comes face-to-face with a secret about her father's past, forcing her to accept the difficult truth about her family and herself.

Shouting At The Ship Men is both a compelling portrait of a restless young woman searching for her place in the world and a funny and acerbic look at contemporary London through the eyes of a stranger.

We Say

Writing this particular book review presented me with a problem. The truth is, I can't decide whether I like the book or not. As a reviewer for Fiction-Net, this puts me in an awkward situation. So I've decided to come clean and tell it like it is. I'm about to contradict myself several times but in the name of candour, I hope you'll forgive me.

Shouting at the Ship Men was fairly enjoyable and slightly dull. When Portia meets Luke after a spontaneous flirtation in her home country of Canada, they fall for each other and she moves to London to be with him. As the homeland of her beloved father who killed himself when she was thirteen, Portia has a rose tinted view of England. When she enters the world of the upper middle classes, Portia finds herself struggling to fit in with the chattering Charlies and Camillas as they drink white wine and play croquet on the lawn. The author, Tim Geary, writes about these characters with a kind of sneering sarcasm. It's clear that he is not fond of them and has therefore presented them in a deliberately shallow way. However, this has the effect that they appear caricature-like and are consequently quite irritating. On the other hand, their presence serves to illustrate Portia's feelings of displacement very effectively.

Portia herself is full of contradictions. At times she is intelligent and sharp whilst at others, she is self-indulgent and lazy. She is the only truly realistic character in the story but she is not easy to like. That said, her journey of self-discovery is a valid one and perhaps more moving at times because of her faults.

The plot does have some surprises, mainly because Portia's nature is so entirely unpredictable. Unfortunately, there are also times when it meanders far too slowly and you begin to wonder if anything of real consequence will ever happen again. Overall though, the writing style is good and there are some very powerful images used.

The best recommendation I can make is to say that Shouting at the Ship Men is definitely worth a look so that you can decide for yourself.

Review by: Rachel Taylor

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