Lead Review (A Complicated Matter)

  • Book: A Complicated Matter
  • Location: Gibraltar, London, Witney
  • Author: Anne Youngson

Review Author: tripfiction




A Complicated Matter by Anne Youngson, novel set during WW2 mainly in London and Witney.

Rose Dunbar is a daughter of mixed heritage and feels very much at home in Gibraltar. She cares for her mother who suffered life-changing damage after Rose’s birth, spending her day in great pain. Rose cares for her.

War on mainland Europe has broken out and Gibraltarians are being evacuated, first to Morocco and then to London where Rose, her mother and other members of the community are given lodging in a hotel. The sense of London during the war years is vibrantly brought to life in the careful and thoughtful hands of this author.

Rose’s heritage means that she is not a shoe-in into London life, even though she is a dual national;  much of the story is centred around her finding her place and skills, and understanding the ‘new’ culture in which she finds herself. She is a quiet and unassuming person, who is naturally drawn to books – she finds access to novels to while away the hours, especially in the bomb shelters.

Once her circumstances change, she heads for a job based in Oxfordshire, where she is to work as a secretary to Major Inchbold, an archly plain speaking man who is without his sight. Here she continues to learn more about English society and how she can assimilate and grow as a young woman.

This is a rich and slow-paced novel that takes its time to explore the character of Rose in her context of time and place. It can feel quite languorous at times but the quality of prose can make this feel as familiar and comfortable as a pair of well-worn slippers.

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