The Evening Chorus Helen Humphreys, 2015

When Ms. Humphreys spoke recently about writing fiction vs. poetry, she claimed you can have a perfect poem but not a novel. She may be right about poetry and also about her new novel, The Evening Chorus. It is as distinguished by its originality and by its often beautiful and lyrical language as it is by its imperfections.  At its best: the novel’s premise and the setting (POW survives by studying redstarts) are captivating and memorable. The offset plot and ill-fated wartime and post-war romances of the characters in England can feel less satisfying and somewhat contrived, as does the neatness of the ending. Also, the free use of free indirect style approaches the ‘no-no’ of telling rather than showing at times.     7/10


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