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#TuesdayBookBlog The Vanished Days (Book 3 Slains) by Susanna Kearsley (@SusannaKearsley) (@simonschusterUK) Beautiful Scottish-themed historical fiction with a twist in the tale

Hi all:

I bring you a book I enjoyed enormously, and I hope you find it interesting as well.

The Vanished Days (Book 3 Slains) by Susanna Kearsley

The Vanished Days (Book 3 Slains) by Susanna Kearsley

A sweeping love story set against the Jacobite revolution from much-loved, million copy bestselling author Susanna Kearsley

There are many who believe they know what happened, but they do not know the whole of it. The rumours spread, and grow, and take their hold, and so to end them I have been persuaded now to take my pen in hand and tell the story as it should be told…

Autumn, 1707. Old enemies from the Highlands to the Borders are finding common ground as they join to protest the new Union with England, the French are preparing to launch an invasion to carry the young exiled Jacobite king back to Scotland to reclaim his throne, and in Edinburgh the streets are filled with discontent and danger.

Queen Anne’s commissioners, seeking to calm the situation, have begun settling the losses and wages owed to those Scots who took part in the disastrous Darien expedition eight years earlier.

When Lily, the young widow of a Darien sailor, comes forward to collect her husband’s wages, her claim is challenged, and one of the men who’s assigned to examine her has only days to decide if she’s honest, or if his own feelings are making him blind to the truth, and if he’s being used as a pawn in an even more treacherous game.

A story of intrigue, adventure, endurance, romance…and the courage to hope.

‘A hugely engrossing book and a complete world created’ Ian Rankin

Praise for Susanna Kearsley’s books:

‘A thrilling, haunting and deeply romantic story powerfully told by an engaging heroine…enchanting and beautifully evoked.’

‘I’ve loved every one of her books! She has bedrock research and a butterfly’s delicate touch with characters?sure recipe for historical fiction that sucks you in and won’t let go!’
DIANA GABALDON, bestselling author of Outlander

‘A deeply-engaging romance and a compelling historical novel… a marvellous book.’

Author Susanna Kearsley

About the author:

I‘m a former museum curator, avid amateur genealogist, and writer of modern gothic novels that interweave contemporary suspense and romance with historical adventure, meaning they don’t fit neatly into any category and are therefore a marketer’s nightmare.

The Bookseller once said of me, in a review, “She has a poetic sensibility and a sense of mystery; she could write the modern Rebecca.”

So that’s what I strive for.

My review:

I thank NetGalley and Simon & Schuster UK for providing me an early ARC copy of this novel, which I freely chose to review.

I read so many great comments and recommendations of this novel that I decided to request it, even though I normally avoid starting to read a series in the middle (or the end, as seems to be the case here, because this is the third novel in Susanna Kearsley’s Slain Series: The Winter Sea and the Firebird are books 1 and 2), but as this was described as a ‘prequel’, I thought it should work for me even if I hadn’t read the others, and it would be a good way to get introduced to the author, whom, although very popular, I had never read before. And yes, I was right. It worked for me, beautifully, I might add. But, of course, now I feel very intrigued by the other two books in the trilogy, and by the rest of Kearsley’s novels as well.

Although I will try not to go on and on (I’m known for doing precisely that), for those of you who are in a hurry, I will summarise my opinion straight on. Yes, I loved it. I loved the setting (I love Scotland and stories that take place there as well), the historical period (not one I knew much about, but now I am pretty intrigued by it), the characters (I’ll keep thinking about them for a long time), the quality of the writing (beautifully descriptive, full of detail but never over the top, and packed with scenes that pop out of the page), and a final twist that makes us reconsider (and better understand) what has previously gone on.

Having never read this author’s work before, I cannot comment on how this novel might compare to the others she has written. I checked the reviews to get some sense of what her fans thought, and most seem to love it as well, although others complained that there was far too much historical detail, and also that it differed from most of her other novels, as there wasn’t a dual timeline (there sort of is, but not how most people think of it) or any paranormal elements. I have seen her work recommended to readers who love Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander (I’ve never read it or watched the series, so, again, I can’t comment), and Gabaldon herself recommends it, so, if you like that series and others similar, you know what to expect.

The story is set, as the description explains, in Scotland (mostly Edinburgh and Leith, although other places are mentioned as well) in 1707, but the book moves back and forth between the late XVII century and the action taking place in 1707, as the narrator, Adam, gets involved in an investigation that makes him have to dig into the past of a woman, Lily, who claims to have been married to a sailor who lost his life during the Darien expedition and is seeking compensation. I must confess to knowing nothing about the Darien expedition —a Scottish attempt at setting up a colony in America— before reading this novel, and only a little about the Jacobite revolution and the twists and turns that resulted from the fights between the different claimants to the throne of Scotland, the unification with England, and the important role religion played in those events. The author couldn’t have chosen a most fascinating historical period, and although it can be confusing at times (I’m not sure I always knew exactly who was supporting who), I think she manages quite well to incorporate the historical detail into the story and also to weave real characters into the novel, without shoehorning them into narratives that would have been alien to the real people. I recommend the author’s notes at the end, as she explains her process of creation, how the novel changed in the writing (and she quotes Robert Louis Stevenson, a favourite of mine), and also her method in trying to ensure historical accuracy while at the same time making sure the reading experience is an enjoyable one. I think she made the right choices, at least as far as I’m concerned.

I have visited Edinburgh but I am not a great expert on the place, and I appreciated the feeling of walking through its streets as they must have been at the time, the atmosphere of the place, the way the people behaved and talked, the different social classes, their habits, customs, and expectations, and this worked to make the book come alive for me, and I felt immersed in the place and the period, thanks to her descriptions and the reflections of the character. Some of the themes discussed in the book are: the nature of identity (what makes us who we are), legacy and the importance/weight of family history, self-made people versus those who have inherited their positions/wealth, truth and lies (and the grey area around them), how to judge other people’s characters, loyalty and betrayal, beliefs and convictions and how far we’d go to defend them, different kinds of love, the power of literature and stories to keep us sane and hopeful in dreadful situations, and more.

One of the things that I most enjoyed was the way the story is told. Adam, the narrator, put me in mind of other narrators in other novels (Heart of Darkness, The Great Gatsby), although I eventually decided that, perhaps, he reminds me most of Ishmael in Moby Dick, as he at times is talking in the first person about himself and his actions (when investigating the case), addressing the reader directly, and at other times, mostly when he goes back in time to narrate parts of the story of Lily, he seems to disappear and the story is narrating itself, although we have the odd authorial comment, where he might include something akin to an author’s note, or realise that some of the things he has narrated do not make sense as he has written them and adds a little clarification. The only thing that bothered me for much of the narration was the fact that Lily’s story was being told by another, and a man at that, rather than herself (cherchez la femme once more), but the final twist puts a spin on things and brings a new perspective into what had gone before (and no, of course, I am not going to mention it). It also helped me make sense of some of the events and behaviours narrated, which I had felt seemed out of character.

I don’t want to talk too much about the characters, as I don’t want to risk revealing anything that might affect the enjoyment of readers, but I liked Lily from the beginning (even if the revelations kept making me change my mind about what she might be like and her circumstances), and Adam was an intriguing character from the beginning and he grew more and more on me as the book progressed (and I love him now, for sure). There were many other memorable characters (servants, the family Lily grows up with, in Leith, who become very important for the story), including the historical ones, and from the notes, I understand that readers of the author’s previous novels will recognise many of them from before, so that will be an added appeal. However, let me reassure you that it is not necessary to have read the previous novels to understand or enjoy this one (and yes, I can easily imagine previous followers of the author will enjoy it even more). There are some bad characters, truly horrible ones, and some that are somewhat suspect but we don’t get to know well enough to pass judgement Oh, and don’t let me forget Gilroy, who has many surprises up his sleeve as well. The book is full of characters, and we don’t get to know them all in detail, but the main characters are well-drawn and feel real and true. They had become friends and companions by the end of the story.

I’ve already talked about the beauty of the writing; there is a lot of history and stories told, and there is a degree of telling as pertains to this type of story, the writing is vivid, and although the narration meanders at times, it never dragged for me, and I was always eager to keep reading.

Because I read an ARC copy I am not keen on sharing too many quotes, in case they have changed, and, as usual, I recommend anybody interested to check a sample of the book to see if it suits their taste. To give you a taster, I share a few of the fragments I highlighted (and there were many): 

Here, Adam is addressing the reader directly, and explaining his method of narration:

And you are right. She did not tell it to us in that way. She told it haltingly. We asked her questions, and she answered, and from there the story took its shape. Some details I did not learn till long afterwards, but since my purpose is to write things down for you in all their fullness I have woven everything in place as best I can, that you may have the clearest picture.

 It is no small thing, hope. Without it, darkness wins. My mother used to set me on my feet again and tell me, ‘Were it not for hope, the heart would break,’ and she was right. Sometimes, when all seems darkness and despair, hope is the only thing that does remain for us to grasp —a tree branch beating at the ice within a child’s hand.

And so we make an opening, and day by day press forward, and we hold that hope.

And therein lies its power.

 I have a certain memory of that night, held in the way one holds a seashell gathered on the shore —time dulls its brightness, and wears down its sharper edges, yet we only have to hold it to our ear and we can once more hear the singing of the sea. And so it is with memory.

 The ending… I haven’t mentioned that there is a love story at the heart of the book (aren’t I forgetful!), and yes, the ending more than lives up to my expectations. As I’ve already mentioned the twist in the tale, I won’t talk about it again, and no, in my case I didn’t see it coming (some people did), although there were details and things that gave me pause, I think it works beautifully.

They were not included in my ARC copy, but from the author’s note, I guess that there were plans to include a family tree/list of characters, and also a map or several of the different settings mentioned in the story. I don’t know if they appear in the final version, but I am sure they would enhance the reading experience if they do.

In sum, my first experience with one of Susanna Kearsley’s novels couldn’t have been better. I loved the story, the setting, the characters, the writing style, and learned a lot about the historical period. So, I recommend it to anybody keen on historical fiction, particularly Scottish historical fiction, to anybody looking for a great story, full of unforgettable characters, adventures, and perhaps, eager to discover an author new to them.

Thanks to the publisher, to NetGalley, and to Susanna Kearsley for this wonderful book, thanks to all of you for reading, and remember to keep safe, to do things you enjoy, to always keep going, keep reading, and keep smiling. 

Oh, a quick note, when I was trying to share the review of the book on Amazon, I realised that the book is only available in a paper version at the moment, and the Kindle version won’t be out until April, but you might want to add it to your wish list if you prefer to read an electronic version.

Book review Book reviews Tuesday Book Blog

#TuesdayBookBlog THE FREQUENCY OF US: A BBC2 Between the Covers book club pick by Keith Stuart (@keefstuart) (@LittleBrownUK) A story with magic, imagination, a hopeful ending and a big heart

Dear all:

I bring you the review of a new book by an author I’ve become a fan of in recent years.

The Frequency of Us by Keith Stuart

The Frequency of Us: A BBC2 Between the Covers book club pick by Keith Stuart 


‘A fascinating, beautiful, heartwarming novel. It kept me gripped from the very first chapter’ — BETH O’LEARY

In Second World War Bath, young, naïve wireless engineer Will meets Austrian refugee Elsa Klein: she is sophisticated, witty and worldly, and at last his life seems to make sense . . . until, soon after, the newly married couple’s home is bombed, and Will awakes from the wreckage to find himself alone.

No one has heard of Elsa Klein. They say he was never married.

Seventy years later, social worker Laura is battling her way out of depression and off medication. Her new case is a strange, isolated old man whose house hasn’t changed since the war. A man who insists his wife vanished many, many years before. Everyone thinks he’s suffering dementia. But Laura begins to suspect otherwise . . .

From Keith Stuart, author of the much-loved Richard & Judy bestseller A Boy Made of Blocks, comes a stunning, emotional novel about an impossible mystery and a true love that refuses to die.

‘Enthralling, a real thing of beauty. Dazzling’ — JOSIE SILVER

‘The Frequency of Us is a novel with a bit of everything: a sweeping love story, wonderfully complex characters, and a sprinkling of the supernatural. I loved it, and know it’ll stay with me for some time’ — CLARE POOLEY

‘A complete joy! An intelligent, intricate and emotive mystery’ — LOUISE JENSON

Author Keith Stuart

About the author:

KEITH STUART, author of A Boy Made of Blocks, is games editor at the Guardian. He started out as writer and features editor on the highly influential magazine Edge, before going freelance in 2000 to cover games culture for publications such as The Official PlayStation MagazinePC Gamer, and T3, as well as investigating digital and interactive art for Frieze. He also writes about music, film and media for the Guardian, and is a regular on the Tech Weekly podcast. He is married with two sons.

My review:

Thanks to NetGalley and to Little, Brown, and Company UK (Clara Díaz in particular) for providing me an ARC copy of this book that I freely chose to review.

I have read and reviewed Keith Stuart’s previous two novels, both wonderful: A Boy Made of Blocks (check here) and Days of Wonder (you can find the review here), and I was pleased to be offered the opportunity to read this one as well. Although in some ways this is a pretty different reading experience, less reassuring and more puzzling at times, I’ve enjoyed it as well.

It is difficult to talk about the plot of this novel without revealing too much of what happens, and although this is not a conventional mystery, a lot of the story hinges on what is real and what is not, on different versions of events and of people’s lives, on how the past makes us what we are, and on how a small decision can change many things and send our lives in totally different directions. The story is set in the historical city of Bath, in two different eras, in 2008 (the present, as far as the novel is concerned) and during WWII (mostly 1942). There are many themes explored in this novel: the nature of memory, depression and anxiety, PTSD, the changes in the city of Bath over the years, old-age care, wartime (WWII) in the UK, and the experience of German/Austrian refugees there, the development of radio technology, family relationships, psychological abuse, love in wartime… There are strange happenings in the book that at times can make us think of a paranormal element, although they can also be explained away in totally rational ways (almost), and there is also a science-fiction background (very light on the science part) that might feel almost an afterthought (but it probably is anything but).

When trying to come up with a category or definition that truly fitted my reading experience I only came up with movies and plays that popped into my mind as I read, but I wouldn’t say that is because they are closely related. In any case, here they go, in case they might give you a clue: Frequency (a movie from 2000, where radios played an important part and different generations managed to communicate), Sliding Doors, Match Point (those two about the effect a small decision can have), and J.B. Priestley’s time plays, particularly two I’ve watched: An Inspector Calls, and Time and the Conways.

Ultimately, this is a book about two people, Will (an old man when we meet him first, living alone and holding on to a love story nobody else seems to think was ever real), and Laura (a woman in her late twenties), who seemingly have nothing in common but quickly connect. Laura, who suffers from anxiety and depression as a result of years of psychological abuse from her father (we come to learn some of the reasons for his behaviour later, but that is no justification), has to visit Will for work, and trying to confirm his life story, one that doesn’t seem to match facts, gives her a reason to live. In the process of trying to learn about him, she gains confidence, confronts some truths about her life and her family, and learns to trust in herself. The connection between these two people, who never felt they quite belonged in their current lives, becomes clearer as the novel progresses.

Apart from the two main characters, who narrate the story in the first person each one in a different time frame (and Stuart is as good as ever at getting inside of the characters’ minds and making us experience both, Laura’s anxiety symptoms, her insecurity, and her dread, and Wills’ sense of wonder and excitement on meeting Elsa and falling in love with her), we also have Elsa Klein, a wonderful character, colourful, vibrant, magical, who haunts much of the novel, and whose voice we also hear, if only occasionally, and many other secondary characters (Laura’s boss, her mother, her father, Will’s neighbours and his friends from youth…) who play smaller parts but are also convincingly and realistically portrayed.

The novel flows well. The descriptions of Bath in the past and in the present don’t disrupt the narrative, giving it, instead, an anchor and a privileged setting that help carry the story along. The action takes place along different historical times, but these are clearly indicated in the novel and aren’t confusing to readers, and although some of the events are not easy to explain, this is not due to the way the story is told. The love story between Will and Elsa is very moving, and I was touched by the story and on the verge of tears more than once. I highlighted so much of the novel that I’d find it difficult to choose only one or two quotes. I recommend future readers check a sample of the book to see if it would be a good fit for their taste.

I’ve talked about mysterious goings-on when referring to the plot, and there are some false endings, when you think that is it and feel disappointed (at least I did), but don’t worry, it is not. I know some readers weren’t totally convinced by the ending, and well, I’m still thinking about it (and will probably be thinking about it for a long time), but I liked it. I won’t go into suspension of disbelief, etc., etc. Yes, depending on how you look at it, it might not make sense from a conventional point of view, but that is not what this novel is about.

In sum, this is another great novel by Keith Stuart, perhaps his most ambitious to date, where he goes exploring not only historical fiction, but also speculative Physics, the nature of time and memory, multiverses, enduring love, and a world full of wonderful characters. If you need a story with a little bit of magic, imagination, a hopeful ending, and a lot of heart, I recommend it.

Book review Book reviews Tuesday Book Blog

#TuesdayBookBlog 1932: PRIDE AND PREJUDICE REVISITED by Karen M Cox (@karenmcox1932) P&P set in the Depression Era with some major parts for minor players #RBRT #Blogtour

Hi all:

I bring you another book by a writer who has become a firm favourite of mine. And I couldn’t miss the opportunity to participate in the blog tour as well. This is a second edition of the novel.

1932: Pride and Prejudice Revisited by Karen M. Cox
1932: Pride and Prejudice Revisited by Karen M. Cox

1932: Pride and Prejudice Revisited by Karen M Cox (@karenmcox1932)Pride and Prejudice set in the Depression Era with some major parts for minor players

…do anything rather than marry without affection.”
—Pride and Prejudice

During the upheaval of the Great Depression, Elizabeth Bennet’s life is torn asunder. Her family’s relocation from the bustle of the big city to a quiet family farm has changed her future, and now, she must build a new life in rural Meryton, Kentucky.
William Darcy suffered family turmoil of his own, but he has settled into a peaceful life at Pemberley, the largest farm in the county. Single, rich, and seemingly content, he remains aloof—immune to any woman’s charms.
Until Elizabeth Bennet moves to town.
As Darcy begins to yearn for something he knows is missing, Elizabeth’s circumstances become more dire. Can the two put aside their pride and prejudices long enough to find their way to each other?

1932, Karen M Cox’s award-winning debut novel, is a matchless variation on Jane Austen’s classic tale.


Author Karen M. Cox
Author Karen M. Cox

About the author:

Karen M Cox is an award-winning author of five novels accented with history and romance, a novella, and several short stories.

Karen was born in Everett WA, the daughter of a United States Air Force Officer. She had a nomadic childhood, with stints in North Dakota, Tennessee, and New York State before settling in her family’s home state of Kentucky at age eleven. She lives in a quiet town with her husband and works as a pediatric speech pathologist.

If you would like periodic bits of authorly goodness delivered to your inbox, be sure to get Karen’s News and Muse Letter. Updates, sales, book recommendations, etc. are yours for the asking.

News and Muse Letter

Connect with Karen:

My review:

I am writing this review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team (authors, if you’re looking for reviews, I recommend you check her amazing site here).

I have read several novels, short stories, and novellas written by Karen M. Cox, many of them variations of Jane Austen’s novels or inspired by them, most recently Find Wonder in All Things (you can read my review here), and like that one, 1932 is a new edition of a novel the author published a few years back. As I hadn’t read it before, I was grateful to get an ARC copy, which I freely decided to review.  It is not necessary to have read Pride and Prejudice to enjoy this book, but because in this case, I am much more familiar with the original, I can confirm that there is much to enjoy from comparing the —sometimes subtle and at others, quite major— differences between the two and I thought the new setting suits it very well.

The story is narrated in the third person mostly from Elizabeth’s point of view, but also at times we see William Darcy’s viewpoint, and we get a much better understanding of how the feelings between them, especially when it comes to Elizabeth, develop. I think the historical period works very well to explain the changed circumstances for the Bennet family, who until then had lived a comfortable life in Chicago, but due to the Depression find themselves in a tight spot when Dr. Bennet loses his teaching position at the university and is unable to find a job that will feed the seven mouths under his charge. The whole family gets uprooted to a small farm in rural Kentucky, and the rather desperate circumstances have a deep effect on Elizabeth’s ideas and decisions. Do not worry, there are pride and prejudices aplenty, but there are major changes in respect of the original novel, although I’ll keep my mouth shut so you can discover them yourselves if you are a fan, or enjoy this version without spoilers if you haven’t read P&P before.

The author has a great skill, as I have mentioned before, at making any historical period come to life, and we are immersed in the Thirties in rural Kentucky as we read, without being overwhelmed by lengthy descriptions and tonnes of unnecessary details. Characters behave according to the era and to their social positions, while at the same time remaining faithful to the spirit of the original.

If I had to name one of the things I enjoyed the most, was the increased role played by some of the secondary characters, like the girls’ aunt and uncle, who offer them their help; Georgiana (whose new version of the story and how that affects Darcy’s character I loved in particular); Fitzwilliam (he’s a sheriff!); and also the subtle changes to some others, like Mrs. Bennet, Elizabeth’s mother, who although loud and overbearing at times, also shows more backbone and her true devotion as a mother, which I found endearing. And there are some new characters that I love, but no, I won’t tell you about them.

Are there changes to the main couple? Well, yes, although they also retain the main qualities devoted fans love. Elizabeth is strong and determined, but seems more willing to put other people’s needs (especially her family’s) before her own convictions and is more practical. We also see her try to behave as is expected of her; she doubts and questions her decisions and wakes to the pleasures of love. (As I’ve often said, I’m not a big fan of sex scenes or erotica but must admit the very early scenes here are quite sweet and funny, and they are far from extreme or too graphic, but I thought I’d better warn you). Darcy shows his pride and his prejudices too, especially at the beginning of the novel, and he finds it difficult to fully trust Elizabeth, although we get to understand why as the story advances.  I don’t want to reveal too many details of the plot, especially where it differs from the original, but I should mention that we do get to see more of the relationship between Elizabeth and Darcy, rather than only the early period of courtship, in this version.

Do not worry, we still have the witty dialogue, a baddy true to form, and there is an action scene that sets many things in motion and I thoroughly enjoyed. The writing flows easily, and it manages to plunge readers into the subtleties of the minds of the characters whilst, at the same time, sharing with them the landscapes and the settings. And yes, there is a happy ending.

Here, a taster of the writing, but, as usual, I’d recommend readers to check a sample to see what they think:

Here, we have the couple conversing.

“You seem to have a great faith in your judgement.”

“I suppose I do. I believe I’ve lived a sufficient amount of time and seen enough of the world to earn that confidence.”

“So, you’re infallible?”

“Of course not. That would be impossible for anyone.”

“I see.”

“But I do make it a priority to weigh my decisions carefully. For example, I didn’t build Pemberley by following the latest fads in agriculture without thinking them through.”

“My understanding was that you didn’t build Pemberley. It was left to you, was it not?”

I recommend this novel to lovers of classical or historical romance, especially those fond of Jane Austen, and to anybody who enjoys a well-written story full of compelling characters. Fans of the author won’t be disappointed, and I was particularly touched by her dedication of the novel to her grandmothers, women who had lived through that historical period and had plenty to say and lots to teach future generations. And I’m sure Austen would approve.

Oh, and there is also the giveaway!

To celebrate the 10th anniversary edition of 1932, Karen is giving away a signed copy of the book and some Jane Austen swag: fun notecards from The Quill Ink, What Would Jane Do? book of quotes, and Austen coffee mug (if US winner) or an ebook copy of the book and 25$ Amazon Gift Card (if International Winner – cause #shipping 🙂


Feb 10        Karen M Cox

Feb 12        More Agreeably Engaged

Feb 15        My Love for Jane Austen

Feb 16        Diary of an Eccentric

Feb 17        The Reading Frenzy

Feb 17        From Pemberley to Milton

Feb 18        Olga: Author, Translator

Feb 19        My Jane Austen Book Club

Feb 20        Austenesque Reviews

Feb 21        Rosie Amber Book Reviews

Feb 21        Babblings of a Bookworm

Feb 25        So Little Time

Thanks to Rosie and her group of reviewers for their tireless work, thanks to the author for this wonderful book, thanks to all of you for reading, and remember to like, share, comment, click, review, and always keep smiling! 










Book review Book reviews Tuesday Book Blog

#TuesdayBookBlog LITERATURE® by Guillermo Stitch (@GuillermoStitch) #Bookreview #RBRT Short but perfectly formed. Highly recommended.

Hi all:

Today I bring you a book that is due for release early next month (the first of July) but is already available in preorder, and as there is a Goodreads giveaway you can access here, if you live in the USA, I thought I’d share it ahead of time, so you can be prepared. I hope to read more books by this new author, and I wonder if there will be more books about this very peculiar world he introduces us to in this novella.

But now, without further ado:

Literature by Guillermo Stitch

Literature® by Guillermo Stitch.

We don’t know exactly when Literature® takes place and we don’t know exactly where. All we know is that Philip Marlowe would fit right in.

We don’t get Marlowe though. We get Billy Stringer. And Billy is on nobody’s trail.

He’s the prey.

The day hasn’t begun very well for Billy. He just messed up his first big assignment, he’s definitely going to be late for work, his girlfriend won’t get back to him and, for reasons she has something to do with, he’s dressed like a clown.

Also, he’s pretty sure someone is going to kill him today. But then, that’s an occupational hazard, when you’re a terrorist.

He’s a bookworm too, which wouldn’t be a problem–or particularly interesting–except that in Billy’s world, fiction is banned. Reading it is what makes him an outlaw.

Why? Because people need to get to work.

It’s fight or flight time for Billy and he’s made his choice. But he has to see Jane, even if it’s for the last time–to explain it all to her before she finds out what he has become. That means staying alive for a little while.

And the odds are against him.


Editorial and early reviews:

Literature®: a speculative noir that wraps the razor wit of Raymond Chandler around the extraordinary vision of Philip K. Dick…

“Wonderfully written…a beautifully rendered story, mixing the cynicism and moral ambiguity of classic noir fiction with startling flashes of humour and disarmingly tender moments.”

“A clever interweaving of speculative fiction, dystopian vision, and classic noir, what’s most striking about Literature® is the quality of the writing…lean and spare with moments of beauty fizzing through…it is also very funny.”

“A futuristic look into a land where book-burning ceremonies are embraced and those who rebel are punished. Protagonist Billy Stringer is both vulnerably lovable and irritatingly suffocating all at once in his mission to save his future. Brave New World meets 1984 in this Big Brother masterpiece.”

Literature® speaks to the industrialization of art and also to the link between alienation and radicalization in consumerist societies. Mainly, though, it speaks to our need for great stories. By providing one. There is heart here, and heartache. And, crucially, a chase scene.

“To put it in its simplest terms, “Literature®” is one of the most entertaining books I’ve had the pleasure to read, anywhere, at any time.”

“I was enraptured from the start. A beautifully balanced piece of writing. I love his style.”

“This is satire in the grand tradition: Fahrenheit 451 but with better jokes.”

“Here we have a classic treatise in the making.”

Author Guillermo Stitch?

About the author:

Although the author provided me with a copy of his book, I haven’t found any personal information about him and after reading the book, I wondered if there was a good reason for that, or if it is only an oversight. Just in case, I decided not to dig. It seems, from this article (check here) that he lives in Spain, in Tarifa of all places. I live you some links, as you might want to investigate further.





My review:

I write this review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team (author, check here if you’re looking for reviews) and thank Rosie and the author for providing me an ARC copy of this novella, which I freely chose to review.

It is difficult to describe the reading experience of Literature. I have read reviews comparing it to noir novels (absolutely, especially the voice of the characters and some of the situations), to Fahrenheit 451 (inevitable due to the plot, where fiction has been banned and nobody can possess or read books) and 1984 (although we don’t get a lot of detail of the way the world is being run, the sense of claustrophobia and continuous surveillance, and the way terrorism is defined are definitely there), and even Blade Runner (perhaps, although Literature is far less detailed and much more humorous). I did think about all of those while I read it, is true, although it is a pretty different experience to all of them.

Billy Stringer is a mixture of the reluctant hero and the looser/anti-hero type. The novella shares only one day of his life, but, what a day! Let’s say it starts badly (things hadn’t been going right for Billy for a while at the point when we meet him) and it goes downhill from there. The story is told in the third-person but solely from Billy’s point of view, and we are thrown right in. There is no world-building or background information. We just share in Billy’s experiences from the start, and although he evidently knows the era better than we do, he is far from an expert when it comes to the actual topic he is supposed to cover for his newspaper that day. He is a sports journalist covering an important item of news about a technological/transportation innovation.  We share in his confusion and easily identify with him. Apart from the action, he is involved in, which increases exponentially as the day moves on, there are also flashbacks of his past. There is his failed love story, his friendship with his girlfriend’s brother, and his love for books.

The story is set in a future that sounds technologically quite different to our present, but not so ideologically different (and that is what makes it poignant and scary, as well as funny). People smoke, but you can get different versions of something equivalent to cigarettes, but they are all registered (it seems everything is registered). And you can drink alcohol as well (and Billy does, as it pertains to a hero in a noir novel). Transportation has become fundamental and it has developed its own fascinating-sounding technology (the descriptions of both, the vehicles and the process are riveting). It has to be fed by stories, by fiction, although literature itself has been banned. We get to know how this works and, let me tell you that it’s quite beautiful.

The book is short and I don’t want to spoil the story for readers, but I can tell you the writing is excellent and it is exquisitely edited. Despite its brevity, I could not help but share a couple of snippets.

“You like her?” he said. He was looking at the knife like a person might look at an especially favored kitten. “Been with me a long time,” he said. “She’s an old lady now. But she’s still sharp.” He looked up at Billy. “I keep her that way.”

In a day very generously populated with problems, Jane’s kid brother was Billy’s newest.

I loved the ending of the book. It is perhaps not standard noir, but nothing is standard in this book.

I recommend it to anybody interested in discovering a new and talented writer, with a love for language and for stories that are challenging, playful, and fascinating. A treat.

Thanks to Rosie and to all the members of her team, to the author, for the book, and to all of you for reading. Remember to like, share, comment, click, review, and keep smiling!



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