Wednesday, 13 September 2017

An Editorial Review for "Downunder," by Diana Milne of The Review...

I'm so pleased that I'm even going to include the introduction that Diana wrote on her facebook page:

"A review of one of the most exciting books I have read this millennium, written by that master story teller, CW Lovatt.
Even the font used for the words CHARLIE SMITHERS is contemporaneous with the narrative. A clever and unusual touch!"

I couldn't agree with her more about the font, by the way; as well as being a talented writer in her own right, Poppet is an amazing cover designer.

Click here for the link, or just read on...

  Charlie Smithers, or should I say C W Lovatt? has done it again, bringing us the best adventure yet in the series about this remarkable and lovable character. Following a raid by pirates and a serious wound from the ever helpful, but sadly unskilled marksman, Lord Brampton, Smithers finds himself washed up and stranded in a place that he later knows to be Australia. The story follows his rescue and travels with a foul mouthed and enigmatic woman, who he comes to respect and love, and is held together by a tune that haunts him throughout the narrative.

Written in a friendly first person, the book grabs hold of its readers and lures them from page to page, tugging at the edges of the consciousness whilst one is not reading, urging one to go back. Lovatt’s skilled narrative and exceptional story telling ensure that no reader gets away without this book becoming a part of themselves. It is, to me, a mark of true genius, when a character becomes so important that the reader becomes slightly infatuated with them, and this is true of Charlie. I cared, and cared deeply, what happened to him.

The amount of research that the author has accomplished to ensure every facet of this story is accurate is phenomenal, ranging from the flora and fauna of the Antipodes, through Waler horses, to folk history, Aboriginal people and traditions and that most elusive of Australian native phenomenon, ‘Dream Time’.

Smithers is his usual very British, stiff upper lip self, where fair play rules, right is right and wrong is everything else. His sense of indignity when confronted by someone who did not play by the unwritten British rule book, is so funny, and yet not too out of the ordinary for a certain type of Englishman – (think Jacob Rees-Mogg or Boris Johnson!) :

“Well, something had to be done, and no error. This was really too bad, but there was nothing else for it. My defiant glare transformed into an indignant frown. 

Gasping, I managed to wheeze, “Hold on,” spluttering out a mouthful of the ocean, “this ain’t cricket!” 

When this failed to stop him, or indeed, slow him down one iota, my indignation became quite severe, let me tell you, and I declared, “You, sir, are not a gentleman!” 

No doubt your surprise is as great as mine, upon finding that this also produced no effect, and I could see that things were looking pretty grim. 

“But dammit, you’re British!” I cried. 
Then, with a final gasp, I took what little air that I could swallow into my poor starving lungs, and sank beneath the waves. I could hear his enraged fists pummelling the spot ...” 

In this adventure, Smithers, whether as a result of a greater maturity or as a result of a severe bang on the head, begins to experience the gift of ‘sight’, inherited from his mother, which has been touched on in previous works, but never thoroughly examined. In this place, where real time and dream time go hand in hand, he finds a perfect avenue to get to know this other side of his psyche and a lot of the book is about the metaphysical, within the context of Charlie’s own exploration and experience of the theme. This is a brave undertaking for any author and CW Lovatt accomplishes this with exceptional understanding and tact and manages to explain paranormal events in a way that the lay person can understand and which would also be recognisable to a practitioner.

Dream Time is an anomaly in the space time continuum that is experienced by Aboriginal people and it is a subject that I have tried to understand in greater depth since the 1970s. Although this quote comes from the previous book in the series, it more than sums up Charlie’s tentative grasping at the subject: "There was more to our existence than met the eye. Whether it was through some sort of deity, or something else, there was a force at work beyond our capabilities of reckoning, and it defied reason."

This book stretches Charlie as a character and stretches the CW Lovatt as an author, to new levels of greatness and storytelling, weaving a magic spell around Smithers and Mattie as they dance to their music of time, that maybe, just maybe, only they can hear. Charlie probably will never get better from the loss of his wife Loiyan, but he has become better at it and is now able to confidently move on and face his life in all its dimensions. 

With his exceptional use of words, Lovatt paints pictures of the mysterious and beautiful land that is Australia, getting under the skin of the country to its very soul and carrying the reader along in his wake.

And in an after word, the author posits a possible explanation for the lilting music that Charlie hears throughout the adventure tying the story together very cleverly, combining fact, folklore and fiction, a skill at which Lovatt excels.

And did Charlie learn to forgive? Read the book and find out! You won’t be disappointed.

Click here to purchase your own copy of "Charlie Smithers: Adventures Downunder."

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