Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Review: 'Tiny Little Thing' by Beatriz Williams

Sometimes novels really attract you and you're not quite sure what it is about them that pulls you in. Tiny Little Thing was that kind of novel for me. The blurb got me really curious about Tiny's story and I was extremely happy when I got a chance to read it. Thanks to Netgalley and Penguin Group for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Pub. Date: 23/06/2015
Publisher: Penguin Group Putnam
In the summer of 1966, Christina Hardcastle—“Tiny” to her illustrious family—stands on the brink of a breathtaking future. Of the three Schuyler sisters, she’s the one raised to marry a man destined for leadership, and with her elegance and impeccable style, she presents a perfect camera-ready image in the dawning age of television politics. Together she and her husband, Frank, make the ultimate power couple: intelligent, rich, and impossibly attractive. It seems nothing can stop Frank from rising to national office, and he’s got his sights set on a senate seat in November. But as the season gets underway at the family estate on Cape Cod, three unwelcome visitors appear in Tiny’s perfect life: her volatile sister Pepper, an envelope containing incriminating photograph, and the intimidating figure of Frank’s cousin Vietnam-war hero Caspian, who knows more about Tiny’s rich inner life than anyone else. As she struggles to maintain the glossy façade on which the Hardcastle family’s ambitions are built, Tiny begins to suspect that Frank is hiding a reckless entanglement of his own…one that may unravel both her own ordered life and her husband’s promising career.
The part of this novel that I enjoyed the most was Williams' intent attention to the family dynamics within not only the Schuyler family but also the Hardcastle family. People are forged by the people that surround them and as their environment gets more intense, so do they. Father and sons, mothers and daughters, sisters and brothers, it was fascinating to see how they all came together and went separate ways throughout the novel. Moving between different characters in the narration was also interesting, although Williams keeps it restricted to Tiny and one other. It is especially interesting in Tiny's case, where there is a real development of voice throughout the novel as she becomes more aware and independent. There is a snark between what she says and what she thinks and her interior monologue was one which I actually, for a change, found interesting. Although some of the characters are pretty much stock-characters, each is given an edge which brings about some very interesting twists throughout the novel.

Tiny, or Christina, is a really interesting character. On the one hand she is all about appearances, but as Williams' attention and narration switches between two different time periods the reader gets to see different sides of Tiny. She is a woman with a lot of pressure placed upon her, not only by her surroundings but also by herself. In Tiny Williams creates a very interesting character who is quite representative of how a lot of women nowadays still feel. In the 60s women's public roles were very restricted and although there are now more liberties and possibilities, the public, and social, expectations of women seem to have hardly changed. A novel such as this, which is clearly meant to be set in a historical period, manages to starkly bring some of the similarities between then and now to the foreground.

I really enjoyed reading Tiny Little Thing although at times I wished for a bit more depth. The novel addresses some really interesting topics which aren't typical, necessarily, for historical novels. I don't want to give any of them away because spoilers, but some of them could have been explored more deeply, accepting the gravity of the situations. This is partly to do with the fact that the writing of the novel is chock-full of atmosphere and style. This is partly what makes the novel so enticing. Williams' writing style is beautiful and subtle, hinting enough at things without having to spell them out while also stating some things in an honestly stark way. It means that her characters at times jump off the page and that Tiny Little Thing is a constantly engaging read.

I give this novel...

3 Universes!

Tiny Little Thing is a very entertaining read, one which is beautiful and interesting at the same time. Williams fashions a really interesting character in Tiny, one with whom the reader can identify and empathize. The novel has its twists and turns which means that every chapter will have something to keep pushing the reader forward. I recommend this to fans of historical fiction and of women's fiction.


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