Book Review: And Then There Were Three

Book Review: And Then There Were Three: Sixty-Seven Letters to Sasha by Julia G. Fox
West Yorkshire, April 2016. On Amazon, here.

I find well-written memoirs fascinating, I enjoy novels written in epistolary form, and I’ve complained more than once elsewhere about the lack of stories in which poly relationships are portrayed in ways that feel real – i.e. the people and situations mirror the experiences of my friends and me. On the other hand, memoirs, as well as novels written in forms other than the conventional style, need some kind of context to tell us who these people are, where they are, and why we should care what happens to them next. This is true for memoirs about famous people just as much as for stories of people whose names and reputations I’ve never encountered before.

All I wanted was some kind of introduction. Either an author’s note telling us who she and her partners were and when and where their story took place, or – possibly even better – something at the beginning of each letter to ground us) I believe it’s traditional to begin a letter with the date and place of writing, even in the 21st Century) followed by a brief aside introducing the topic of the letter with another date and place (e.g. ‘do you remember when we were in PLACE during SEASON, YEAR’). Or there are always foot notes; they aren’t exactly difficult to include in these days of auto-formatting.

Having got that off my chest, let’s move onto unreliable and/or unlikable narrators. I like a good antihero every bit as much as the next Blake’s 7 fan, but they generally only work in the written when the author is aware of what they’re creating. The author in this case comes across as selfish, spoiled and immature during the time of the poly relationship, and at no point is this acknowledged by her future letter-writing self. Again, with the lack of date stamps – I had no inkling of how long the relationship lasted, nor how it ended or how much time elapsed between the end of the trio and the sending of the first letter. A lot of these issues, could I suspect, have been fixed by a half-decent editor, as could some of the language issues.

I’ve picked up from elsewhere that English may not be the author’s first language. In which case, I have a healthy amount of respect for her writing the book, but also have to reiterate the value of editors. Editors are great; they fix things. Sometimes they drive authors up the wall too, but it’s worth it in the end.

All in all, not an author I’m planning to revisit, which is rather a disappointment really as this book could have turned out very differently with the right development team.
Reviewer’s Note
Stevie Carroll reads, reviews, and occasionally writes, across a wide range of genres.
Examples of words Stevie has written can be found at The Good, the Bad and the Unread (www.goodbadandunread.com) Women and Words (www.womenwords.org) and in the anthologies British Flash (www.smashwords.com/books/view/65264) and Tea and Crumpet (tinyurl.com/teaandcrumpet).