Book Review: It Never Was You by William E. Thomas


This is another book I reviewed for I Read a Book

This is book number 2 in the Cypress Branches Trilogy, following  Pegasus Falling.  As before, this author does an excellent job in hijacking emotions.  Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

Harry Williamson is an ex-merchant seaman, a successful businessman and a loving family man. When he disappears from a ferry in the middle of the Irish Sea, his grieving family are left with more questions than answers. 

Who on earth is Mary Robinson? 
Why did Harry leave her a small fortune in his will? 
Had he been unfaithful to his beloved late wife, Lesley?

As they delve into his past, they discover he’s been harbouring a secret which threatens to tear apart the very 
fabric of their family history. 

What unfolds is the heartbreaking story of a quiet, middle class merchant seaman and his unexpected, tragic relationship with a beautiful and exuberant waitress from the Liverpool docks as they struggle to reconcile their feelings for each other with the ever changing attitudes of post-war Britain. 

The follow up to the acclaimed Pegasus Falling, It Never Was You continues Thomas’s epic and panoramic saga of how ordinary people coped with some of the most extraordinary and devastating events of the 20th century.

I read the first book, Pegasus Falling in a few days.  The characters, the writing and the emotion packed into that book absolutely enthralled me.  Here is the link for the review of Pegasus Falling.

As it was billed as a “trilogy”, I expected book two to pick up where book one ended.

Not so.  This book starts in modern day as Harry’s children are attempting to figure out what led to the death of their father and why he bequeathed part of his estate to a woman they have never heard of before.

Then there is a jump to the past.  Harry is a merchant seaman during WWII.  Harry rescues three other seamen before collapsing and nearly dying in the frigid water.  You learn just enough about two of the rescued seamen to hate them.

Then the character of Mary is introduced.  Her ordeal is tragic.  I had always heard about the class divisions in the U.K., but this book illustrates it perfectly.

Mary meets Harry, and the love story begins.

But can their passion for one another survive the class differences so prevalent during this time period?

Hampering their efforts to maintain a solid relationship, Harry is scheduled to be out at sea for a long period of time.

During one particularly long voyage, Harry meets Lesley, who was prominently featured in book one of the trilogy.  They seem perfect for each other.  Of the same class and education, they get along famously and begin an affair.  But when their ship docks, they agree to part as friends.

Reuniting with Mary, they both visit the hometowns of the other party and their class differences stand out starkly.

And here is where the emotion comes in.

While visiting Harry’s parents, Mary learns of a particular harrowing ordeal in her fiance’s past.  This ordeal also featured someone prominent in her past as well.  Up until this time, she had no idea that this person was known to the both of them.

This information sets in motion complete chaos in their relationship.

Mary and Harry don’t effectively discuss the common piece to both of their pasts.  Harry makes assumptions and ends up hurting Mary very deeply.  Mary makes assumptions as to Harry’s desires and makes the decision to effectively cut off ties.

The end of the book leaves more questions unanswered.

The way this book was written, you already know some pieces to the puzzle.  You know that one of the prominent characters from the first book eventually met and married Harry but it is unknown how their relationship evolved.  Hopefully this mystery is answered in the next book.

The strong emotion that featured prominently in the first book is back.  Again, Mr. Thomas had me crying toward the end of this book.

My only criticisms are again with the language.  As an America, I am not accustomed to reading dialogue that features English accents.  Mary’s “scuse” vernacular was very difficult to follow at times.  I could decipher most of the slang and the idioms used, but it was difficult at first.

I enjoyed learning about a place in the world that I don’t know much about.  I knew there were class differences that plague virtually every society since the dawn of time, including my own family, but I didn’t know how dramatic the differences were until I started reading about Mary and Harry.

It is unlike any other “historical fiction” type novels out there as it weaves in elements from the first book without it being a continuation of the story featured in the first.  I love how known characters from the first book pop up in the second.  I also loved seeing another dimension to a featured character from the first book.

You do not have to read Pegasus Falling to enjoy this book.  It can stand alone as a novel.  But I do recommend reading it in order to get familiar with the writing style of Mr. Harris, and to understand fully the characters that show up in the second installment.

Again, I will be eagerly awaiting the final installment.


4 Comments (+add yours?)

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  3. Mike Harris
    May 25, 2013 @ 06:05:43

    Hi Amanda,

    Thank you so much for posting your wonderful review of my grandfather’s book. He’d be so proud to know that it is being read and enjoyed by readers all over the world. I’m so pleased that you enjoyed it, and that Mary’s “scouse” vernacular wasn’t too off-putting!

    I can’t wait to get book three into your hands. It does indeed wrap up the loose ends, but takes us on a further unexpected journey first! I’m sure you’ll love it, and I can’t wait to hear your thoughts.

    All the best,


    • Mommabel
      May 29, 2013 @ 16:54:25

      Thank you for allowing me to review your grandfather’s book. It is very emotional and engaging. I can’t wait to read the next book either.

      Thank you!!


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