We Visit Post-War Brighton with England Expects

Published On March 17, 2014 | By Tom Sayer | Theatre & Arts Reviews & Previews

England Expects – By Sara Sheridan
Published 3rd April by Polygon

England Expects is the third in a set of novels by established fiction and children’s author Sara Sheridan. The books are set in and around Brighton in the post-World War II early 1950s. The books follow on from one another, with Brighton Belle set in 1951 and London Calling set in 1952 before England Expects which is set in 1953, however having not read the rest of the series did not prevent me from understanding the story in any way, although I am sure that the character development of the preceding books would have only enhanced the reading experience further.

England Expects2The leading lady Mirabelle Bevan works for McGuigan & McGuigan Debt Collectors, although it becomes clear very soon in the book that she has other interests which she likes to pursue, namely trying to solve police cases. Her character reminds me somewhat of Dick Van Dyke’s Dr Mark Sloan, a doctor and police consultant who solves murders on the side in the TV series Diagnosis Murder; she has ties to the police, she likes to go about things her own way and seems often oblivious or unperturbed by the dangerous situations which she puts herself in. Mirabelle is confident, curious and direct, a combination which quickly gets the attention of the local police Detective Superintendent McGregor whose best attempts to keep her out of harm’s way are somewhat feebled by Mirabelle’s drive to find the truth at all costs.

The book is fantastically stylised; having not read anything set in this period before it is refreshing and intriguing to find out the similarities between current Brighton and in the 1950’s; the buildings, the street names and the people. Considering its modest size of 280 pages, the book goes into a great level of detail which I am sure will take any fellow Brightonians on a very visual journey back 60 years ago.

Each chapter begins with a quote which seems to be a commonly used phrase which loosely applied to the chapter, although I prefer to think of them as single line interludes, to make you think for a little bit before going into the next chapter.  The chapters were generally around 10 pages long, which means that you could easily polish off a couple on your lunch break, without worry of getting too lost when you return to it later.

The overall plot of the book was quite meaty, with a lot of things happening throughout it was by no means a small portion of butter spread over a whole loaf of bread! I found the start of the book far more engaging than the end and my only real criticism would be that things perhaps rounded off a little too neatly and quickly in the final chapters, although perhaps that is what readers of the previous two books felt was due. Most importantly though, I am keen to read the other books in the series and would recommend it to a friend.

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About The Writer

Tom Sayer is a Music and Creative Writing graduate from Bangor University, born and raised in Hove. After completing an MA in Composition for Film he returned to his hometown and dived back into the local music scene, seeking out the best and freshest music to write about for welovebrighton. Tom's musical interests range from Acoustic and Indie to Film Music and Jazz and he hopes to one day write for a music magazine, so feel free to send in your job offers!