Some people say that it is easier to write reviews of things you don’t care for. Perhaps that is true if it’s something that is clearly bad, but when I read a story that falls flat I tend to assume it was mostly my fault as a reader. I was distracted or missed some key point. Perhaps the symbolism went over my head. In the case of Nora’s Song by Cecelia Holland I am almost certain that I missed a lot of what was happening . Part of this I because I’m not all that versed on this part of European history. That said I didn’t really care for this story.
The biggest problem is that I shouldn’t need to know who these character are or what happened in order to enjoy this story. This is a fault I have found in other historical fiction I have read, but it’s not entirely unreasonable to assume that people who are reading historical fiction are in general interested in history and looking up a few things about the character in the story was interesting and if you were in a history class or reading books about this time it could certainly give you a better feeling of what it might actually be like to be there rather than just dates and battles.
The other questionable point for me was the choice of viewpoint character. I see the value in having it be a girl who cares for both her father and mother, but she doesn’t really seem central to the story that is going on. She is more interested in the friend she just made than any of the bigger context. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but in a short story I am generally interested in getting to the point which this story didn’t really seem to do.
I kept waiting for this story to get to the point and in the end it seemed to be implied what was happening rather than actually telling me because the character didn’t really know. More importantly it never really made me care what was happening to any of the characters.