Last month I embarked on a 9.5 hour plane ride home from England. Around a hour into the flight, we were informed that there was a problem with the film feed. Thankfully I had one book in my hand and another twelve in my carry-on.
Did I say I was a book hoarder?
Annie Wilkinson's novel No Price Too High was my source of entertainment during a trans-Atlantic flight. Wilkinson's work illustrates the plight of a woman on England's home front during World War I. Wilkinson uses the background of war and social upheaval to explore issues of gender, sexual orientation, and sexual promiscuity.
Wilkinson tells the tale of Lizzie, a poor girl from northern England, who moves to London at the outbreak of war to become a stage actress. Lizzie confronts the close relationship between the professions of stage acting and prostitution, male homosexuality, and her belief that all men should not be trusted as they are driven by sexual desire alone. In turn, Lizzie decides to use her sexuality to manipulate rich men for her advantage. A central theme in No Price Too High is a woman's choice to marry for love or for money.
Wilkinson portrays the hardships of life in England (both in the north east and London), stage life, and trauma on the war-front through the use of extensive description, poetry, and letters from the trenches. Characters did evolve throughout the story. However, I found it very hard to like the main characters. Wilkinson's plot also lacked suspense and at times was hard to follow.
No Price Too High does provide readers with an interesting glimpse into the lives of the war torn English during the 1910s. While this book does not stand up to other tales of European war, it does provide enough entertainment to get you through a long flight.
Wilkinson, Annie. No Price Too High. London: Simon & Schuster, 2006.