Miss Treadway & the Field of Stars by Miranda Emmerson
Published by 4th Estate
Released 12th January 2017
Thank you to the publisher for sending me this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
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…
I love discovering new books and styles to read, so when I came across Miss Treadway & the Field of Stars I instantly knew it was going to be something completely new to me and I was okay with that. If I'm being honest it was the cover that drew me in. It's stunning! But also the idea of reading about London in 1960's intrigued me. I adore London, so really wanted to see how it was brought to life through this novel.
London, 1965. Anne Treadway, a dresser at the Galaxy Theatre lives above a Turkish cafe. When actress Iolanthe Green, whom Anna helps dress at the theatre goes missing without a trace, the whole media goes wild about the fate of the American. However, as the case grows old Anna seems to the only one left who is determined to find out that truth about what happened to Iolanthe. Her search takes her on a journey through prison cells, seaside towns, illegal doctors and jazz clubs and she sees a side of England that she has never seen before. Throughout this journey Anna starts to realise that in order to uncover Iolanthe's secrets and find her safe, she is going to have to face up to some secrets of her own.
At first I thought this was going to be a crime novel, from the premise of the first few pages. However, my thoughts were completely wrong and I soon realised that this was a mystery novel. Which is something I haven't had the pleasure of reading before. However, my pleasure was to be turned around as I found the plot to be rather predictable. There were times when I wasn't shocked about the reveals at all. It was all rather anti-climatic. It was really hard for me to stay engaged when reading and at times I'm sad to say I did feel like giving up. Not something I want to happen when I'm reading a book. Rather disappointing I must say.
With regards to characters I found it really hard to connect to any of them. I really wanted to connect with Anna, but this wasn't possible. She had the potential to be a really interesting, three dimensional character but in my opinion she was just flat and at times rather boring. Although, towards the end we did get a look into why she was like what she was and that did interest me ever so slightly. I just wish that it'd been earlier on in the story. I liked learning about Iolanthe's backstory, and some of it was quite shocking. If I was going to have a favourite character it would probably have to be her. You could even go as far as to say she was a tragic heroine. There were too many characters in the story, and with each of them having a point of view I did get quite lost at times.
The setting was by far my favourite bit. I loved reading about London in 1960's and it was great to have some of my favourite landmarks mentioned. Whenever a description of the setting was mentioned I automatically imagined myself there, in on the action. It was also fascinating to read about how different views on race, sex, love etc were viewed in that era of time. Totally different to what it's like today.
Despite the few good elements, I just couldn't connect with this story. It had the premise to be a great mystery, but it just fell short. The plot wasn't engaging and it ended rather abruptly in a way which could confuse readers. Overall, I'm rather disappointed as I was really hoping to enjoy this novel.
She grew up in south-west London before studying English at Oxford and Playwriting Studies at Birmingham. In her twenties she edited and wrote for charity and magazine websites, and scripted audio magazines for people with a learning disability. She has travelled extensively in Europe, North America and Asia. She lives in Wales with her husband and their two daughters.
She's a regular contributor to BBC Radio 4 and BBC Radio 4 Extra (sometimes as Miranda Davies) where she specialises in adapting books for dramatic serialisation.
She is currently undertaking a PhD at Cardiff University in the history of BBC radio adaptation examining the dramatic adaptation of un-English writers originating from Wales, Ireland, Nigeria and India.
Her travel memoir Fragrant Heart was published by Summersdale in 2014. Her first novel Miss Treadway and the Field of Stars will be published by 4th Estate in the UK and HarperCollins in the US and Canada in 2017.