I read Julia by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles for 20 Books of Summer 2021. It’s a book I’ve had for years and just never got around to reading it. I hadn’t ever read anything else by the author and I’m sorry to have to say that I won’t be reading any more as I really did not enjoy it. I hate slating a book and rarely do it, especially if the author is still alive.
At the beginning Julia is a 15 year old schoolgirl, a bit of an odd bod with no friends – not that she actually wanted any – seemingly even disliked by her very strict parents and not particularly close to her sister. When she takes on a job as a baby-sitter to a local family it’s just for the money, but soon she’s a part of the family, counts Joyce the mother as a friend and is adored by the two young boys. But from the very beginning she is interested in Peter, the husband and father. Peter is a violinist with an orchestra and a serial adulterer, so it isn’t long before he’s grooming Julia to be his next squeeze. She is besotted with him.
So begins a 20 odd year long on off relationship which does involves divorce then Julia and Peter getting married, losing a child, Peter resuming his usual bad behaviour in the worst way, more divorce, another marriage for Julia, the crazy and highly unlikely death of that husband who was a high ranking army officer, which was also totally unlikely as NCOs never get promoted to colonel, they only get as far as major according to an army friend of mine. Than Julia is supposed to be short of money – the author obviously didn’t know how much Julia would have got as the widow of a colonel!
For me the whole tale was just full of holes, badly written and included far too much sex – keep it off the pages please – I’m sure that others must like that though. The ending was so unlikely, I suspect that the author was going for an unusual and shocking twist, but it just wasn’t feasible if you read the book carefully as I did, while rolling my eyes. The author had Julia behaving in a way that I just couldn’t imagine any human being behaving, given the circumstances. It’s always difficult for me when there are no likeable characters in a book and in this one there were just a couple of very minor characters whose company I could have enjoyed.
I believe that lots of people are really keen on this author, particularly a long series that she wrote but I was so disappointed with this one and annoyed with myself for ploughing my way through it in the hope that it would improve – it didn’t – it got worse.
Perhaps it was my fault for buying a book solely because of the title, it hasn’t put me off the name Julia though. I had a sneeky peek on Goodreads and nobody has written a review of this book but lots of people have rated it with just one 5 star rating I think, but mainly threes or less. I will give it two, and that’s me being generous.