Khanh the Killjoy

The Walnut Tree - Charles Todd I've read and loved every single book written by Charles Todd, but this didn't do it for me. I think the problem is with the length of the novel, and the pacing. There was too much story crammed into too little story.Usually in a Charles Todd novel, the major strength is in the characterization. The plot is usually good to excellent, but I've always found it to be secondary to the characters themselves. The characters, be they major or minor players, typically display complexity which slowly unfolds in subtle ways throughout the novel. It is never obvious, the writing is such high quality, but slowly the tiniest hints of behavior impresses itself upon you. Bit by bit, each character develops a distinct character throughout the book that is deeply and subtly complex.Unfortunately for me, this was not done to the greatest extent in this novel. I did not find in Elspeth a character that I could understand. I think the problem is that this is such a short story compared to Charles Todd's previous works; it's a bit unfair of me to complain about one main character in a novella when I've had over ten novels to grow to love the characters of Ian Rutledge and Bess Crawford.The other characters in the book were also not fleshed out. I didn't like the main or the projected love interest, and I couldn't understand Elspeth's attraction to the latter. I felt Alain's fate was a cheap and easy way out for the author, as a plot device. I am not diminishing his fate or his actions; I understand that it is completely believable that Alain chose to do what he did, I understand the impact of war, I am not judging him; what I meant was that within the pacing of the novel, his actions didn't feel right.I found Peter to be a rogue; this may be my own prejudice speaking, I'm not too fond of rogues and playboys and characters who don't take themselves too seriously. I know that Peter is this way because it is his way of coping with the pain of his experience with the war, but his character is never fleshed out enough for me to see beyond the superficial.I suspect it might be better if this book were written as a full length novel instead of a very short story. There was too much action going on, and I didn't find myself developing an attachment or empathy to any of the characters. It was just really boring despite the pacing and excitement/danger intrinsic to the atmosphere of the war.