Released: March 2014
Mary Fitzgerald’s When I was Young is the tale of a young girl, Eleanor, who lives in the Pennines on a dismal farm with her parents until she gets a chance to escape the drudgery of day-to-day life through a French Exchange programme.
The grey monotony of her home includes a Mother who feeds her basic food but rarely encourages her in any way and a Father who, it would seem, doesn’t even know she’s there. It’s hardly a surprise that Eleanor wants to escape.
She heads off to the Loire Valley where she stays with a family who at first come across as very colourful, but Eleanor soon discovers there are hidden secrets amongst them. Her time in France is extended indefinitely and she goes from being a girl to a woman.
When I Was Young is set in the 1950’s, where memories of the war were still strong in people’s minds, sending ripples throughout the book. Despite a potentially interesting subject matter, the tale becomes monotonous and, as a result, was very hard to get into. If you like basic stories that potter along at their own pace and don’t go any further than what you see on the surface then you might enjoy this novel. For a summer read it’s very appropriate but it’s not one of those books that you never want to put down.