10 December 2016
I have already had many delightful and complimentary comments from people who have read my first novel and I have been humbled by their kindness and their faith in me. However, the latest addition to the ranks of these comments has virtually left even my fingers “type-struck” about what to say in reply.
Richard Wallace, whom I hope will not mind me adding the fact that he is the former Senior Lecturer in Classics at Keele University, has written this of my work:
This man can write!
I was half way down the third page when it suddenly came to me – “This man can write!” It is a beautifully written book – the narrative carries you effortlessly on – a real “page turner” as they say; the evocation of the landscape and the local people is wonderfully vivid; and the mixture of drama, humour, and the facts of real life makes for a very rich read.
The subject is the experiences of a police constable in Cumbria in the 70s. The reader does need to keep the time-frame in mind, otherwise some of the policing practices and social attitudes seem very odd indeed (and I am prepared to bet the processes whereby these practices and attitudes change will be a rich source of material in later books in the series). Inevitably it consists of a series of episodes, linked by recurring themes. The challenge for an author using this format is to fill out the characters in the brief space available. Shearwater does this well (but leaves the reader eager to find out more about these fascinating individuals in later books). Some have compared the book to James Herriot’s “All Creatures Great and Small” books, which is fair enough, though Shearwater’s novel is, to my mind, a little darker, a little more real, and a little less “feel good”. I like that.
One of the most attractive features of the novel is the lively and evocative scenes of Cumbria, its people, and its landscape. I particularly enjoyed a marvellous description of a winter walk over High Street. You could feel the crunch of the snow under your boots, the cold wind on your face, and the exhilaration of getting to the top and just looking at the views. I wanted to be there!
In short, this is a great read, and I strongly recommend it. I am looking forward eagerly to the next episode. And it would make a superb television series!
Saying a mere “thank you” to Richard for these remarks feels remarkly inadequate.