#BookReview Becoming Alfie by Neil Patterson

Becoming Alfie

Welcome to today’s stop on the blog tour for Becoming Alfie by Neil Patterson. My thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part in the tour and to the author for my digital review copy. Do check out the posts by my tour buddies for today, Jasmine at Jazzy Book Reviews and Vikkie at Little Miss Book Lover.

Becoming AlfieAbout the Book

Alfie Norrington was born into poverty in London’s East End in the first minute of the twentieth century. His life was a battle. From the Brick Lane markets where young Alfie pilfered and pick-pocketed, to the trenches of Flanders, Alfie fought every step of the way.

​Almost killed by a trench bomb he battled to recover and while in a military hospital Alfie made a promise that dramatically changes his life. A true East End hero, Alfie begins his journey away from poverty armed with a robust moral compass and an open heart.

Becoming Alfie is the first in the Alfie Norrington series. It follows the life of a man who positively influenced thousands of people. The world needs more individuals like Alfie Norrington, that give much more than they take.

Format: Paperback, ebook (288 pages)  Publisher: Green Hill Publishing
Publication date: 24th August 2020       Genre: Historical Fiction

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My Review

The first in a planned four book series, Becoming Alfie tells the story of Alfie from the very moment of his birth in a tenement in the East End of London to his departure for pastures new.

The Norringtons are an East End family typical of similar novels: the matriarch who’s a “diamond”, the feckless father, and the brother whose moneymaking schemes risk coming to the notice of the ‘Old Bill’ or unfriendly rivals. The author tells the story with gusto, creating a distinctive narrative voice for Alfie, complete with Cockney accent and liberal use of slang. This is a feature not only of the dialogue but also some of the descriptive passages; people visit one another’s “gaff” or get “dolled up” for a night out.

Alfie makes a plucky and resilient hero who has to overcome many challenges and setbacks. I did wonder if, even with the benefit of modern medicine, Alfie could have survived the sort of injury he suffers in Flanders and resumed his life with such energy. However, I placed my trust in the author’s research and that soldiers of the First World War did suffer injuries of that severity and still make a full recovery. I liked that the author incorporated into the storyline the psychological impact of war, the lack of recognition and understanding this received at the time, and the benefit of more enlightened therapies in aiding recovery. The book also recounts the up and downs of Alfie’s love life, although some of his amorous adventures were described a little too explicitly for my taste.

The end of the book sees Alfie setting off to fulfil a promise. “What next? What lay around the corner? Alfie didn’t know, but he did know that it would be exciting, that he would be successful, and that whatever life threw at him, he could handle it.” Writing a saga is an ambitious undertaking but, in Alfie Norrington, the author has created a character whose future exploits I’m sure many readers will wish to follow.

In three words: Spirited, dramatic, optimistic

Try something similar: Fred’s Funeral by Sandy Day

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Neil PattersonAbout the Author

Neil writes: ‘Born in South Essex close to the River Thames and directly East of London, my childhood was peppered with memories of the mighty river itself. We would swim, fish and discover hidden treasure in the tidal mudflats with the fragments of clay pipes we found taking us back to another era. It was here that my inspiration for writing was born. I began to keep a diary of my observations from life and documented my feelings and thoughts.

My wife was twenty two and I was twenty four when we migrated to Australia with a glorious expectation. The sun was shining, the people were friendly and Sydney Harbour simply magnificent. Together we were committed to making the most of this opportunity beginning the next step in our lives. Everything was new which gave me endless writing opportunities that I recorded in my diary which had spilled over into a number of books. We travelled around this incredible country meeting people from all walks of life and from many nationalities. We lived and worked in a variety of capital cities enjoying each and every experience. All this was tremendous fodder for my writing. I began to write short stories and poetry, none of which I sought to publish. By my fifty second birthday I was able to finish working and focus full time on my writing.’

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