Title: Towards the Vanishing Point
Author: Jan Turk Petrie
Published: 1st of January 2020 – Pintail Press
Format: Paperback – 268 pages
Hello Hello! How are you?
I’m still quite bored and starting to get fed up, but I have a lot of books to keep me company and some university work to finish before the end of term, so the days are going quite fast!
Today is my blog stop for Towards the Vanishing Point by Jan Turk Petrie, the tour is organised by Anne Cater for #RandomThingsTours. Thank you so much to Anne and Jan for the copy of the book. All opinions are my own.
Historical fiction is a genre that I read a lot of, I really like reading books set in the past, especially about WWII or linked to this time period, so when Anne approached me about this book, I couldn’t turn it down! I was also intrigued about how this book seemed more than just historical fiction, it seemed that there was some mystery intertwined within the plot too, so I decided to give it a go, and I’m really glad I did! Read on to find out what I thought!
What would you do if your best friend was about to risk everything?
In the North of England in1938, two ten-year-old girls, Lily Hetherington and Stella Marsden, form a close if unlikely friendship that endures despite their wartime experiences. After the war, the two women are working as nursing auxiliaries when Lily meets male nurse Will Bagshaw. Stella begins to hear sinister rumours about the man, but the besotted Lily won’t listen to a word said against him. Can Stella make her see sense before it’s too late?
Building to a tense, dramatic climax, this is a story of friendship, love, loyalty and the ultimate betrayal.
A must for fans of Daphne Du Maurier, Patricia Highsmith, James Neff and Lisa Gardner.
Towards the Vanishing Point is a historical fiction novel that follows Lily Hetherington and Stella Marsden from the start of their friendship when they are 10, through WWII and up to 1957. This is a standalone, written in a third-person narrative.
This book is set in the North of England, although we are never told where exactly. I really liked this setting, I haven’t read many books set in the North of England, and especially not many historical fiction books if any.
I really like books set in the past, specifically around WWII and I was captivated by this world from page 1. The author did a really good job of sending us “back to the past”, it was fast-paced, but also emotional and believable. I also really liked how we follow Lily and Stella, but also a few other characters, from 1938, until 1957, going in chronological order and reliving their memories.
One of my favourite parts of this novel was to see how each character lived through what was happening, more specifically, when the girls are teenagers during WWII. Having the perspective of younger people during the war was actually a nice change and I was totally immersed in their lives.
I liked all the characters and they all seemed very real to me. One of the things I like in historical fiction novels is that you know that people like this have already lived, and most certainly gone through the same experiences as the people in these books, and I think that this makes them even more realistic.
I really liked both Lily and Stella. They don’t start out as friends, but as the years go by, you can see them growing closer and closer, especially through hardships and they turn out to be the best of friends, always looking out for one another. Their relationship was really lovely to read about, and through it, they linked both their families together as well.
The other characters in the book are definitely secondary characters, but you can’t say that the book would work without them because they each bring something special to it. I also really enjoyed reading about Nobby (Norbert, Stella’s brother), he is very loyal to his family, has a thing for Lily, but he stands up for Stella no matter what and this really warmed my heart.
I loved reading about how the girls went from childhood to teenage years, to adulthood and the experiences they went through alone and together throughout their lives, how it shaped them but also how they grew and became their own people. You couldn’t really tell them apart at the start of the novel, but by the end, they are very different but also still the same little girls.
I don’t read many books with strong friendship ties, so this was especially nice and it truly warmed my heart. I think I prefer books about WWII with friendships instead of romances, because most of the time, inevitably, something bad will happen, and even though something does happen in this novel, the author didn’t concentrate on this, instead she concentrated on Lily and Stella and I really appreciated this focus because it made a real difference to the story.
I’m not going to go over each theme in detail, but I do want to highlight a few that I found interesting.
Obviously, the war is at the forefront of this book, however, once the war is over, it seems like life goes on. The characters don’t forget what happened to them during the war years, but they don’t dwell on the past either.
I feel like this book had a type of time-lapse to it, and even though we go from 1938 to 1957 in a quick succession of chapters, I was able to follow along the years, didn’t lose track and I felt like I had seen these characters grow up and mature. I think that the way the chapters were set up, each with a new date or a new character was really well done, we fast-forward a few months or years each time, but it’s not as if the characters’ lives have dramatically changed, you can still tell who is who and it’s like you come back to visit them!
I think that one of the most obvious themes in this book is domestic abuse, it isn’t explicitly talked about or shown, but you can tell it’s there. The start of the book concentrates on the girls’ childhood and teenage years, but as they grow up, it feels like time slows down, until the last couple of chapters are only separated by mere months or weeks. I really liked how time slowed down at the end because this is where the mystery/thriller bit comes into the plot and it allows the reader to really concentrate on what’s happening.
Friendship is the most important theme, and it’s the one that follows the girls from start to finish. When I first started reading the book and Stella and Lily were not yet friends, I was expecting them to be archenemies because it didn’t start out very well, and even though in the next few chapters there still seems to be some tension or holding back from each girl, you can see that as the years go by, they really become very good friends. They both help each other out and stay loyal to each other, the end especially proves just how much Lily means to Stella.
MY THOUGHTS AND RATING
Overall, this book was very well written, fast-paced, and very good. It wasn’t flowery so the writing style never detracted from what was happening, but at the same time it was really captivating and it kept me hooked from start to finish.
The girls’ friendship was such a lovely touch to this story and I don’t think I would have liked it as much had it focused on a romance instead. The “romance” is in the distance, but it is never the focus. I liked how things moved forward in the plot because it gave the reader an opportunity to piece things together and realise what was happening before or immediately after it did in the book.
It’s definitely more a historical fiction than a mystery/thriller, but the little bits of “mystery” added in really made this one unique and made me appreciate it more for its originality. I’ll read any historical fiction because I can’t get enough, but it’s true that sometimes things repeat themselves and it’s hard to distinguish one book from another, but I know that this one will remain in my thoughts for a long time without getting tarnished by any other story that could be similar.
I’m giving this one 4 stars. I really enjoyed the flow of the story, how the chapters were set up and how things seem to progress, but I would have liked a bit more relationship between Stella and Lily. I feel like their friendship was at the forefront of the story, and sometimes it seemed as if they were distant to one another, I also think that they both had underlying feelings and I would have liked to see a bit more of that. But I did really enjoy reading this book and would highly recommend to any historical fiction buff. I think that you don’t necessarily have to like historical fiction for this one either so it has the potential to please a lot of different readers!
Thank you once again to Anne and Jan for this book, I loved reading it and participating in the blog tour, as always, it’s been fab working with you Anne and I’m looking forward to reading some more books by Jan Turk Petrie because she has really caught my attention with Towards the Vanishing Point!
That’s all for now, I hope you enjoyed this review, see you soon, stay safe,
ABOUT THE AUTHOR – JAN TURK PETRIE
Jan Turk Petrie lives in the Cotswolds, S.W. England. She is the author of the fast-paced Nordic thriller series: the Eldísvík novels. All three of these novels are set in 2068 in a fictional city-state just below the arctic circle. ‘Until the Ice Cracks’ – the first of the trilogy was published in July 2018. Volume Two – ‘No God for a Warrior’ was published in November 2018 The third and final volume – ‘Within Each Other’s Shadow’ was published in April 2019. The eBook boxset – The Eldísvík Trilogy was published in August 2019. Jan’s fourth novel – ‘Too Many Heroes’ – a gripping new post-war thriller set in the East End of London was published in August 2019. A former English teacher with an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Gloucestershire, Jan has also written numerous, prize-winning short stories.
Twitter handle: @TurkPetrie
If you would like to purchase this book, you can find it here: Amazon UK (affiliate link) – Amazon FR (affiliate link) – AbeBooks (affiliate link) – The Book Depository (affiliate link) – Waterstones – Amazon US – Barnes and Noble