Friday, 23 September 2016

"Charlie Smithers: Adventures in India" - A Review - d.arcadian

A simply lovely review of "Charlie Smithers: Adventures in India."
Thank you, d.arcadian!

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I did not think that it would be possible to follow Charlie Smithers first adventure with anything that was as totally all engrossing and engaging, but CW Lovatt has not only succeeded in bringing us a second book that was as enjoyable, but has actually surpassed the first book in range, scope and utter brilliance.

When authors seek to maintain stability within an established series, there is sometimes a danger that stories can become diluted, but this is not the case with the Charlie Smithers books, which, although we are only on book two of a three part series, seems to go from strength to strength. Maintaining continuity, whilst at the same time giving readers something new to discover is what makes reading Lovatt's work so appealing.

This quote is from Lovatt's exceptional book of short stories, 'And then It Rained' but I feel it is relevant to my comments here :
''But writers aren’t about straight lines; they love to amble along, twisting and turning through life’s pathways, making sure that nothing is left behind...''
Charlie Smithers is as loyal and faithful to his master and to the British Empire as ever and his sense of fair play and decency has not been diminished by the tragic death of his wife in the first book, although her shadow stretches long over his soul throughout his adventure to Bhutan.
Her loss and the pain that Charlie feels is handled with great skill and sensitivity and the reader can really feel his loss without it getting in the way of the story. The plot is a complex story of the Raj versus the local people, which in less expert hands could perhaps have been rather tedious, but here it shines with life and dark humour and real living breathing people. I can never think of the people in this author's books as characters; they are living breathing people who we know and love. Mostly love.

Smithers is a complicated man with very deep emotions that he rarely shows (he is British after all and must maintain that stiff upper lip!) and this quote, relevant perhaps to so many people, sums up his deep and thoughtful nature for me: "Once, in an ill-starred moment, I had trusted a man, and as a result had lost everything. Was it wrong ever to trust again, or should I cling to the safety of caution so much that I would sacrifice happiness to maintain it? With the question placed thus, there could only be one answer, and I saw that a part of me had known this all along."

Conversation is lively and natural:
"Then, “D’you mean to tell me,” milord began, scandalized (reflecting all of our sentiments, I’m sure), “that when he…that is to say…when he approaches his…what I mean is when he’s about to…to…”
“Achieve orgasm?” she supplied helpfully."
Now even milord fell silent. Instead he ended lamely with a half-hearted interrogative tug at an imaginary cord around his throat.
“Quite so,” madam confirmed, with what I thought was a note of relief. A relief, I might add, that was not shared by any of us, and even less so with my master.
After a great deal of effort, he managed to stammer, “But…but…” before finally coming out with it, “but what the deuce for?” To which the widow replied,
“I am told that it greatly enhances the experience during the act of…”
“Yes…quite,” my lord managed to interrupt her just in time, and attempted to cover his embarrassment by clearing his throat, over and over again, quite volubly, I thought."

I cannot praise the book highly enough and can only look forward to having the time to read 'Charlie Smithers: Adventures Downunder'.

Josiah Stubb - A Review - Superb!

With the second book of the Josiah Stubb trilogy well under way (look for its release, hopefully early in 2017) it's extremely gratifying that the first book is still doing so well.

Thank you Helen!

on 15 September 2016
If you are a lover of historical fiction, or if like me you've never read this genre before, then this really is the book for you. I cannot recommend it highly enough. Packed full of historical fact and absolutely crammed full of truly believable characters I have to say I am very much looking forward to the next book. I think I have felt every emotion going through this amazing story, but what I felt most of all was the sympathetic way in which Chuck described the lives of some of the less fortunate in the tale, with Josiah's mum being a prime example. I also roared with laughter at some bits and welled up at others. I don't want to say too much about what happens in the book as the description given on Amazon is ample enough. I would happily read this book again. It would also make a superb film. Where is Peter Weir? Must give him the nod on this Josiah chap ! Maybe Josiah Stubb could be the new 'Sharpe' ? Just a thought.


Just returned from my latest adventure in the beautiful Canadian province of Quebec, gathering research for my next two novels (books two and three of the Josiah Stubb Trilogy) and I thought I might share just a few of the gazillions of photos I took along the way.

 First stop was Quebec City and the Old Town, of which a visit is never complete without taking a picture of the most photographed hotel in the world - Chateau Frontenac.

The streets in Old Town are narrow, and chock full of old world charm. Many of these houses were present during the siege of 1758-59, the time of the novels.

Just a very small part of the fortifications of the Citadel. Built by the British after the American Revolution, they have no part to play in the novels, but are impressive, nevertheless.

For the history buffs out there, I purchased a miniature of a cannon at the museum of the Royal 22nd Regiment - the famous Van Doos - and mounted it on a piece of slate I picked up at L'Anse au Foulon, where the British landed in the dark of night, on September 13, 1759, just six hours prior to the Battle of the Plains of Abraham. As a footnote I'll add that I walked over the site on September 13th, exactly 257 years after the famous battle.

Prior to that, General Wolfe had tried to pierce the French defences at Monmorency Falls, and got his nose bloodied for him. As you can see, I was able to get quite close (and got soaked for my pains.) 

 With Quebec in my rearview mirror, I followed scenic Highway 320 out to the city of Gaspe, out on the eastern tip of the Gaspe Peninsula.


While there, I stayed at William Wakeham House. Very old and quaint by our standards out here on the prairies, my room was the one in the middle with the large dormer. Joking, I asked the desk clerk if it was haunted. After some hesitation, he assured me that my room was safe....

 Part of my research included viewing the shoreline from the sea. What better way of doing that than in a whale watching tour...?

 And with that it was a six hour drive back to the airport, overnighting in beautiful Riviere de Loup, and the sun setting on my most excellent adventure.