It’s a huge treat when one of my novels gets reviewed and (let’s be honest) it isn’t something that happens every day. So I was delighted when Bluerabella chose to review my novel Glade and Ivory on a website called LibraryThing which is “a community of 1,900,000 book lovers” that “connects you to people who read what you do“. And an excellent thing it is too.
Bluerabella’s review can be found here, so there’s no need for me to quote her review in this blog. She is a fan of reading and as she makes clear in her review, Jean M. Auel‘s series of novels about the Stone Age are a particular favourite of hers. So, inevitably she compares Glade and Ivory to the Earth’s Children series and, perhaps not surprisingly, my novel is found wanting. On the other hand, it has never been my ambition to write a novel in the style of Jean M. Auel (whose fiction I’ve still not been bothered to read), so I don’t feel too bad about that.
However, Bluerabella makes a number of points which I guess I ought to respond to, but by doing so I don’t wish to give the impression that her review isn’t considered, reasonable or worth reading in its own right. She quite rightly says that Glade is the more roundly drawn character of she and Ivory, and though it was never my intention for that to be the case I can’t deny that this is almost certainly true. She also says that the end of the story was “a little too abrupt” which again may be the case. I suppose I was worried that the kind of end I wanted—which was to conclude with Glade’s death, Glade’s remembered acceptance into Ivory’s tribe, and the direction Ivory subsequently takes her people—might have been diluted by too much wordy exposition.
The only part of Bluerabella’s review that I found disturbing was when she says that “To call the novel satirical is stretching the definition of that word a bit too far”. She admits that it contrasted with the “honey-glazed sweetness like the Jean M. Auel novels are”, but that “satire has at its heart caustic wit” and that this is “wanting in this novel”
As no one has ever accused me of not being sufficiently satirical before, I think I should give Bluerabella’s view the consideration it deserves. I think she may well be right. I’m so used to thinking of my fiction as satirical, because so much of it is, that I suppose I assumed that Glade and Ivory, because I wrote it, must also be satirical.
In truth, the satire is not as obvious or as prevalent as it is in most of my fiction. It isn’t parody (even of Jean M. Auel), it doesn’t present a dystopian society, and it makes no obvious comments about the present day world. I suppose it presents a set of alternative societies and attitudes which could be seen as social commentary, but then that may not be of enough force to be considered a “satire”. It certainly isn’t Jonathan Swift, George Orwell, William Makepeace Thackeray, Alexander Pope or even Jane Austen. So, I may well be guilty as charged however much I might protest.
Still, as Bluerabella is so kind to say, Glade and Ivory is “Recommended for those looking for a rather more depraved version of Jean M. Auel’s Clan of the Cave Bear series”. This may never have been my original ambition, but I am of the opinion that an author’s intention is less significant than what the reader makes of what they’ve read.