Reckless By William Nicholson

When I started this book, I was not particularly impressed. While the historical setting was certainly interesting, spanning the end of the second world war up to the Cuban Missile Crisis and including something of the intrigues of Stephen Ward and Cliveden, the pacing was rather slow and the main protagonists a little vapid and uninteresting.

However by the books close I started to see an underlying significance to the most bland and inane of the works characters.

Pamela Avenell, whose beauty is as staggering as her lack of defined personality, dreams at the start of the book of a great love that will shake her world. What she discovers, however, is the frailty of man and the insignificance of herself and everyone around her.

She makes a choice at the end of the work to plant her future ‘like a bomb’ and choose a man that we are not really certain she loves, but who is pleasant enough and familiar enough to her for them to have a stable future.

While in itself this little romance is rather played out, it serves as a perfect reflection of the more important storyline, that of the psychology of the nuclear deterrent.

Our second protagonist, Rupert Blundell expresses the most engaging points in the book as he explicitly voices aspects of the philosophy of the nuclear deterrent. However it is in Pamela, rather than Rupert that we see these philosophies fully expressed.

At the very start of the story we see three young men, a Russian, an American and an Englishman, all worn out by the war vow that they shall never allow such bloodshed to happen again. At the end we see that such vows are difficult to uphold. The dream of a better humanity that would allow for an end to war purely on agreement is lost to the reality outlined in the historical note at the close. Humanity has to settle, as Pamela does in her love life, for the nuclear deterrent as a means of ending war and this only on a limited scale.

In the end I found that these revelations lent so much to the work that I am still questioning it days after finishing reading.

Of course, with love and intrigue rife within the book, and the easy manner in which it is written, these deeper meanings can be overlooked and the book enjoyed for its basic scandals. If that is what you enjoy in historical fiction then this book is certainly for you. But be assured that there is more here than meets the eye and as such, despite a shaky start I rather enjoyed ‘Reckless’.

 

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