Doesn’t Everyone Have a Debut Novel?

A look at the book ‘Doesn’t Everyone have a Secret?’ by Sue Shepherd.

Let’s not beat about the bush here; just about everyone and their cats has a debut novel these days. So to hear about yet another one doesn’t do anything to get me excited. Add to that that this one started off as an eBook-only download. Don’t get me started on this one.

Too late… I’m started…

Whilst I think it’s a good thing that up and coming talent can get their books out there, I do think that it is the beginning of the end for written literature as it’s just going to pollute the writers gene-pool with loads of self-published, unedited junk and make it nigh on impossible to find the quality goods.

Hell, even some of the proper eBook releases that have gone through the vetting process have been pretty poor. Finding good stuff is hard, but it doesn’t need to keep getting harder.

It was only when a physical copy of the book got printed that I began to pay notice. If an eBook is popular enough to go into print, dammit, this eBook might just be doing something right.

As if it hadn’t had a hard enough time taking my attention in the first place, I’m not a rom-com person. And this was a rom-com book.

As a thirty-something male, I feel fairly comfortable saying that I’m probably not the demographic this book was aimed at. Add some guardian angels to the mix and you’ve got a recipe for something that I would want to avoid as much as a re-run of the less than stellar 90’s soap ‘Eldorado’.

But I persevered and I’m actually glad I did. None of the above was able to stop me enjoying the book from beginning to end. in fact, when you give it a chance, what is there not to enjoy?

Great characters I actually cared about, interest and intrigue without silly and preposterous plot driven nonsense, realistic dialogue and good attention to detail; even down to the types of cars people have which is something – as a car person – I always appreciate when people do it right.

I genuinely laughed. I genuinely cried. I felt the characters joy and their pain. I feel like I celebrated and mourned with them. Like old friends, my life is better for having known them and, as the book comes to an end and you have to consider putting it down, it hurts to say goodbye to them.

There are some elements that I would have liked to see given more page space. Despite what I said just now about being a bit put-off by the idea of a book that uses angels and such, the guardian angels in this story are given personalities and mannerisms that make them a little more relatable.

Unlike the aloof and glowing apparitions that they have been stereotypes as for so long, we’re shown a selection of individuals who think and behave like we do but have a greater responsibility to us mere mortals on the Earthly plane. I’d go as far as to say that it offered a great alternative angle on otherwise very domestic lives and I’d have quite liked to get to know some of them much better than I did.

Debut novels are often shaky and awkward affairs while writers learn to discover their identity… As an aspiring novelist myself, I can safely say that some of my early attempts have been a bit car-crash. But this is such a confident break into writing that I sense a stellar and celebrated career as a novelist is happening before us. With an impressive and effortlessly easy-to-read writing style, Sue Shepherd has given us a book I would, and will at any opportunity that arises, recommend to others.

I’ve read many books, some leave a bit of an impression, others really touch me; congratulations must go to the author for producing a tome that has gone right up there with my favourites as a book I will treasure and remember and revisit to read again from time to time.

A reason why should you read it? Because you want something intelligent but light-hearted and witty to kill a few hours with.

A reason why why shouldn’t you read it? Because you’re overly-sensitive about your macho image and can’t bear to be seen with anything other than a Tom Clancy novel.


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