Emmerdale: Their Finest Hour.

Books Lately I've been linking to the old Eighth Doctor novel posts in Twitter which prompted Allyn Gibson to reveal to me that Lance Parkin had included an Eighth Doctor cameo into this Emmerdale tie-in novel, as the author himself mentions on his website. So yes, I've read it and yes, I did spend it's entire duration looking out for a someone who didn't quite fit the narrative landscape.

 Not having seen an episode of Emmerdale since it had Farm in the title, probably some time in the early eighties, and so only a hazy notion of who any of the characters in this are or the how carefully Lance and worked the soap's back story into this flashback about the village of Beckindale during WWII, I'm probably not the right audience.  How does it fit with with the other Emmerdale Farm novels?

The cover promises "the stormy loves of Annie Sugden and Betty Eagleton" and it certainly delivers, there are few characters who don't have sex with each other at some point.  The structure of the book  is designed to replicate a soap, with mainly short scenes and dozens of characters and love and marriage.  The effect is dizzying and it's sometimes difficult to keep track of who everyone is and their connections, just like its television counterparts.

The best chapter, about Annie taking an illicit trip to London, throws out that approach in favour of less dialogue and more descriptive passages.  Her observations really captures the contrast the place has even now with so-called "everyday life" and how you become anonymous as people care more about their own business than yours (which is something which has drawn me there this past few months).  Like her, I often feel like a different version of myself without the illusory expectations of who I'm supposed to be.

And the Doctor?  He's there, on page thirty-eight.  There's a public meeting about plans for an airfield just outside the village and one of the local land girls is glancing around the room assessing the local talent.  Amongst the ineligible candidates, she spots "a man in a long dark coat with light brown hair stood at the back, keeping himself to himself."  Couldn't be anyone else, really.  Perhaps he's investigating the increased romantic activity in the area.  Not sure it was worth reading the whole book just for these few lines, but fans eh?

Placement:  Wolfsbane is set in 1936 and The Turing Test at the other end of WW2.  This happens in the middle so let's put it there, for what it's worth.

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