Saturday, 12 March 2016

Josiah Stubb - A Review - "This Is An Outstanding Novel That Deserves Many, Many Readers"

Josiah Stubb is a controversial book, no question. It was meant to be, and that has been reflected in the reviews it's received. Therefore it's doubly welcome when I see a review by a reader who gets it. Not all of them do.
Thanks very much, Stephen, this was most welcome.

on March 7, 2016
In this novel historical facts abound, all well-researched and interesting. The same must be said about military procedures, practice and paraphernalia. I realise that this is what some readers seek first and foremost in historical fiction. For me, however, the greatest interest in this book lies in the relationships and psychological functioning of the characters, as well as the moral issues they encounter. This narrative embeds all of that in the circumstances of a past era, but they are basically timeless.

The search for one’s unique identity involves disentangling the tentacles of falsity, fear and coercion in whose grip one is born. This is a lifetime’s battle, and it demands of the warrior courage, faith and honesty. And even then we might find the goal is not completely won before death. Such is the task of very likeable warrior Josiah Stubbs, a finely etched character who narrates his own story in C.W. Lovatt’s novel. His war must be fought both on the military battleground and in private life.

There are plenty of other very interesting and diverse secondary characters who come alive with their own stories. The author manages them superbly with his understanding of people, fine grasp of the written word and narrative craft.

I had moments of tears on the way through this story: Josiah’s path through a very difficult world is heart-breaking at times. Yet there were other moments of joy when I was inspired with hope for him and humankind. It’s a very gritty tale, leavened with dollops of real love and goodness. The grittiness—violence, sexual compulsion, ruthless wielding of power and other unpleasant behaviour of the human species—needs frank but skilled handling by an author if it is to be accepted by the reader. For me, Mr Lovatt has proved himself able to manage this aspect very well indeed.

By contrast with that appalling background, goodness and the possibility of betterment shine through all the brighter. And that is what I was left with at the end.

This is an outstanding novel that deserves many, many readers.