Official Review: Heaven alone knows by Eileen Bird Levett

Please use this forum to discuss historical fiction books. Common definitions define historical fiction as novels written at least 25-50 years after the book's setting.
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Kelebogile Mbangi
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Official Review: Heaven alone knows by Eileen Bird Levett

Post by Kelebogile Mbangi » 11 Feb 2018, 04:14

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "Heaven alone knows" by Eileen Bird Levett.]
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2 out of 4 stars
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Heaven Alone Knows, by Eileen Bird Levett, is a historical fiction book set in the early 1900s. It depicts some of the unfortunate circumstances that women and children had to face in England. Poverty, oppression, abuse - the situation was dire for most lower class citizens.

Maggie refuses to believe that her father would willingly abandon his children. Something must have delayed him. Perhaps, he has met up with an accident. Abandon them? Impossible! Especially not after the death of her mother. Her grandmother, Alice Fletcher, begs to differ. She has always known that Sam Johnson is a good-for-nothing man! With a heavy heart, Alice makes a tough decision, one that will alter the rest of Maggie's life. Alice makes arrangements for Maggie and her siblings to be sent to Green Bank Institute, a home for orphaned and abandoned children. Once there, Maggie is subjected to constant abuse. Eventually, she snaps and retaliates. To punish her, the mistress sends her away to a detention centre. It will be decades before Maggie sees her loved ones again. Alone in the world, Maggie must learn to fend for herself and survive.

I loved Maggie's stubbornness. Despite being a loving, selfless person, she is not overly meek. She is able to stand up for herself, although this puts her in a lot of trouble at times. Her qualities make her likeable. Thus, it became unbearable to read about her perpetual struggle. It seemed like her hard work, determination, and strength were repaid with sorrow. Maggie endures loss, abuse, and rape. It just was not fair!

The author focused mainly on the emotions felt by Maggie. I feel that not enough attention was given to the background - especially for a historical fiction book. For example, I did not know what time period the book was set in until the middle of the book. Only then did I realise that the story begins in the 1920s. Any historical events mentioned in the book are given briefly and vaguely.

The story of Maggie's life is eventful and unpredictable. There were a number of twists I did not foresee. However, the details surrounding these twists were not clearly given. I still need clarity on a few details. For example, what happened to certain characters? How did certain events occur? These questions went unanswered, giving the book a rushed feeling.

I rate Heaven Alone Knows 2 out of 4 stars. It has an interesting plot. Unfortunately, it contains a number of punctuation and spelling errors. This prevents me from giving it a higher rating.

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Post by kandscreeley » 13 Feb 2018, 08:52

It's too bad about the errors and leaving out certain details that would be helpful to the plot. That makes it hard to follow the story sometimes. Sounds like this needs a bit of editing and then will be a good story. Thanks for the information!
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Post by Lest92 » 13 Feb 2018, 16:07

Pity the era wasn't as layered and detailed as it could have been. That's rather the appeal of historical fiction for me, and if it's too lightly sketched in I'll lose interest. Articulate review, though:)

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Post by Kalin Adi » 13 Feb 2018, 18:04

Many women have borne distressful experiences in life which caused them deep scars. This story based on these atrocities is not for me. If I start reading about this, I won't stop crying. Also, I do not like unresolved situations. I want to know what exactly happened in the story and why this happened; otherwise, I don't enjoy the read. This book is missing this important element. Thanks for the review!

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Post by cristinaro » 15 Feb 2018, 06:07

The book sounds a bit mushy for me, but maybe it's just my impression. Thank you for your review.
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Post by CommMayo » 16 Feb 2018, 14:59

This sounds like a really interesting read. Hopefully the author beefs up the plot and invests in a good editor to fix some of the issues you pointed out.

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Post by KFree_Reads » 17 Feb 2018, 21:50

Sounds like a great story despite the low rating. I think I'll give it a shot. Thanks for your fair review!

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Post by dreamsheaven » 22 Feb 2018, 07:42

KFree_Reads wrote:
17 Feb 2018, 21:50
Sounds like a great story despite the low rating. I think I'll give it a shot. Thanks for your fair review!
hope you enjoy :lol:

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Post by KFree_Reads » 22 Feb 2018, 09:02

dreamsheaven wrote:
22 Feb 2018, 07:42
KFree_Reads wrote:
17 Feb 2018, 21:50
Sounds like a great story despite the low rating. I think I'll give it a shot. Thanks for your fair review!
hope you enjoy :lol:
Me too ! :)

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Post by RebeccasReading » 23 Feb 2018, 13:52

I also recently read a "historical fiction" book that did a poor job of establishing the background. It made it a frustrating read! It's a shame this author didn't do a better job explaining the setting.

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Post by prettysmart » 02 Mar 2018, 15:33

A potential plot gone to waste...hope you garner a more flow-oriented book in your next review!

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