The Glory is the second instalment in Katie Flynn’s Neyler Quartet series, following the Neyler family from 1912 -1927. This historical novel focuses on the effects World War One has on the Neylers and how they pull through.
Ted and Tina love their family life, but when the war breaks out they realise things won’t stay perfect forever. Their children are growing up, and sooner or later they’ll have to contribute to the war effort. 16-year-old Frank decides to join the army without telling his parents because he looks older than his age, but nothing can prepare him for the appalling conditions he has to deal with. The terrible events change him forever; no matter how hard his family tries to engage him in normal activities, he can’t go back to the care-free schoolboy he was before.
The conflict doesn’t have the same effect on Frank’s womanising brother Desmond, who lives in the moment and refuses to take anything in life seriously. Desmond’s despicable behaviour adds an element of surprise to the plot, but the slow pace takes away some of the impact. The striking contrast between Frank and Desmond is one of the strengths of this book.Tina’s brother, Louis, is another womaniser in the Neyler family; Louis alone provides us with more twists and turns than an episode of Downton Abbey. He has countless affairs with girls around the town and somehow keeps his mistress and son hidden from his wife, but when he’s involved in an accident during battle it gets harder to maintain this double life. Louis is an archetypal scoundrel, and his chaotic life blends some much-needed humour into the doom and gloom.
There are several characters that don’t seem to play any role in the overall narrative (for example Frank’s childhood friend Suzie and Ted’s estranged brother Mark). Some of them go unmentioned for a large proportion of the story, and life-changing experiences are either too rushed or skipped over entirely. The long timespan covered in The Glory also doesn’t allow for any major character development and most of the dramatic events are described so briefly they don’t have any impact. Katie Flynn’s historical fiction does a brilliant job of capturing broad wartime themes, but in general is let down by lack of depth and direction.
The Glory is published by Arrow on 10 March 2016.