Friday, 13 June 2014

The Small Book - Zina Rohan

I first heard about this book some time ago, when a bookie friend brought it to my attention.  When it arrived in my house, it went straight to the bookshelf - I could not bring myself to read it, it looked so boring.  So now, in the year celebrating (if that is the right word, should be remembering I think) 100 years since the  outbreak of WW1, I have read it.  I'm sorry I left it so long, but perhaps this was the best year to read it.  The cover does not represent the book and therefore I have not reproduced a picture of the cover, which shows 4 soldiers walking on duckboards above the slime and mud of France.  Yes, the book does start with a short chapter set in WW1.  But it is not about that war, but about the effect of something that happened in that war on three generations of a small family.  A small and rather disfunctional family too.  Each chapter is headed by the name of the character that it's about.  So as you work your way through the book you will come to know the character of each of the family members, and why they are as they are.  The  "small book" of the title is not explained until near the end of the book, but that is no matter, in fact it is working towards that ending that racks up the tension here.  This is simply a wonderful book by a wonderful wordsmith.  Why is this book not more well known?  And why, oh why, did the publisher choose this cover, which has nothing going for it at all, the title and author are shown in a too-plain typeface, and, (as a reviewer on Amazon states) has Australian soldiers on it and the scene depicted bears no resemblance to any part of the book.  That aside, I urge you to read this "small book" ( 240 pages) and not be put off by the cover.