Book Review: Miss Treadway and the Field of Stars

And suddenly it’s been over a week since I posted. How did that happen? Turns out getting ill and losing the energy to do anything but read is great for your Goodreads challenge, but not so good for productivity elsewhere. Never mind eh?

miss-treadway-cover

How do you find a missing actress in a city where everyone’s playing a role?

A mystery, a love-story and a darkly beguiling tale of secrets and reinvention set in 1960s London.

Soho, 1965.

In a tiny two-bed flat above a Turkish café on Neal Street lives Anna Treadway, a young dresser at the Galaxy Theatre.

When the American actress Iolanthe Green disappears after an evening’s performance at the Galaxy, the newspapers are wild with speculation about her fate.

But as the news grows old and the case grows colder, it seems Anna is the only person left determined to find out the truth.

Her search for the missing actress will take her into an England she did not know existed: an England of jazz clubs and prison cells, backstreet doctors and seaside ghost towns, where her carefully calibrated existence will be upended by violence but also, perhaps, by love.

For in order to uncover Iolanthe’s secrets, Anna is going to have to face up to a few of her own.

Miss Treadway and the Field of Stars was one of the books that I read when I was ill. Or finished, rather, as I’d already started it, and boy did it take me a long time to get through it. That’s not because it was bad – I enjoyed it while I was reading it – it just seemed very dense. I definitely felt it didn’t live up to its promise, and it seemed to be trying a bit too hard.

I did think that some things were done well. The racism that Aloysius faces as a black man in 1960s London is portrayed as the horrendous thing it was, and Anna’s reluctance to get involved with him rang true for that character, although I’m not sure I could ever forgive her for abandoning him in the police station. I also liked the way the detective was introduced as a ‘good’ man and then we saw all the compromises he has made, and how his family has suffered, so that by the end of the book I seriously disliked him.

Talking about the end of the book – what was that?! It suddenly refers back to two characters who have barely been mentioned as if we’re supposed to care about them, but what it did was completely throw me out of the story. If it had ended with the first part of the epilogue, I suspect this review would have been more positive. I assume it’s being set up for some sort of sequel or companion novel, but I’m not sure I’ll be bothering with it.

My main problem with Miss Treadway was that I thought it could have been so much more. A missing film star and her secrets should have been a thrilling story, and it wasn’t. I can understand that Miranda Emmerson probably wasn’t trying to write a thrilling story, as she’s clearly more focused on the characters, but I personally would have preferred a stronger plot.

3/5

ARC received via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

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