Harmony – Richard Yaxley – Omnibus Book – Published 1 March 2021
In 1914, Tom Stott falls in love with Gracie O’Donnell, but their love is thwarted by circumstance and war. Tom finds himself part of the blood-soaked landings at Gallipoli, while Gracie marries another. A deception, born in a place and time on the brink of war, traverses the world as successive generations seek freedom in a century of change. It isn’t until American teen Noah Clifford joins his mother Deborah, his grandfather Will and his great-grandmother Gracie in Australia that the secrets of the past are revealed, secrets that will take them back to the beaches of Gallipoli…
Harmony is a unique novel than spans multiple generations. Rich with a variety of character voices and a writing style that makes you pay attention to every single line, Harmony is a novel that compels the reader as much as it disorientates.
I don’t usually read historical YA fiction. I’m even less likely to pick up a war novel. And while Harmony could easily be believed to fit easily in either of these genres, it is not so easily categorised. Harmony does begin with a tale of heroism and a young boy heading off to war. Our first in a line of characters is Tom Stott. Farm boy, brother, son. Also the sweetheart to Gracie O’Donnell. However, when Tom answers the call to arms he leaves behind a pregnant Gracie who must marry another man.
We read Tom’s chapters in the first section of this book. Upon his death at Gallipoli, the book jumps to Will, Gracie’s son. We spend a short time with Will as he leaves his home and searches for adventure and love across the world. Again, the book ends these few short chapters with Will and jumps to the next generation and we hear from both Will’s daughters. Another jump and another generation. The book continues in this way through the entire novel and we pass through multiple generations. In this way we experience the passing of time, the patterns that each generation repeats and reflect on how each decision impacts the lives of the next generation.
The writing style is quite rich and detailed, yet economical, using just a few words to convey very big events. It made me pay attention as a reader and I would find myself returning to sentences that seems innocent enough and yet their meaning was huge and carried big impacts for the characters. Every line and word is precious and so in this way Yaxley is able to fit a lot of story into this book. It’s not a quick book Tor was though, with limited dialogue and more reflection between narrator and reader.
Category: Young adult fiction
Genre: Historical fiction
Themes: Family, generations, coming of age, war, ancestors, heritage, relationships.
Reading age guide: Ages 13 and up.
Advisory: Violence and reference to war and death during combat. Sexual references and references to sexual relationships.
Published: 1 March 2021 by Omnibus Books
Format: Paperback. 272 pages.