To paraphrase the old song: kind words, like little things, mean a lot. Not least when they come in the form of praise. After all, who doesn’t enjoy a little of that? We’re only human. Well it’s certainly true for creative people, like writers. It’s all very well working in your garret, stubbornly plugging away year after year, ignored and unrecognised, but you need a strong streak of masochism (and possibly a rich, encouraging and supportive aunt who thinks your work is wonderful) for that.
Authors are solitary creatures used to working alone concocting their imaginary worlds. But that doesn’t mean they exist in a vacuum aloof from the real, outside world. Unless they are really self-contained and have the benefit of enormous self-belief, they care about the reading public’s opinion.
It’s painful when that public rejects, or is indifferent, or unfairly criticises, but when approbation (for which read ‘encouragement’) comes along, it really makes all the creative blood, sweat and tears worthwhile.
Here, blowing my own proverbial trumpet a bit (sorry!) are four reviews I have had in the last few months for my novel The Flautist (or ‘Flutist’ if you are in America). The novel is a tender, poignant tale of music, deliverance from despair, belonging and the power and unforeseen consequences of a simple act of kindness. And a story about love in all its manifestations. Unashamedly emotional, it may tug your heartstrings a little, in the manner of, for example (if I may be so presumptive) the books of Jojo Moyes. Perhaps you would like to give it a try?
My huge appreciation and thanks to you, reviewers. It’s very gratifying that my writing seems to have resonated with you. To feel that I’ve touched someone’s soul a little, which is what I try to do, rather than simply entertained, means just as much as selling mega-copies. The reviews are in most recently-posted order.
Review 1 by Robsrose
Remember when your dreams were all shiny and new? Leah Weisman’s dreams are glowing like this on the evening of her graduation from the prestigious Juilliard School of Music. The daughter of a wealthy businessman, Leah wants to make it in the music world without any influence from her father’s money.
Moving to England because of her husband’s job, she’s sure that she’ll be able to make her dreams come true in her adopted country. Unfortunately, jobs in her field aren’t as plentiful as she’d hoped and she ends up doing session work, in which jobs are few and far between. When a series of disappointments ensues and a surprising betrayal occurs, she’s left bereft.
After the failure of her marriage, she’s left in limbo for several years. Meeting and falling in love with someone new, her life exists in uneasy stability for a while. When the relationship ends, her life spirals out of control. Now in dire straits and refusing any help from her rich parents, she resorts to an unlikely way to earn a living. One rainy evening while she’s working, a friendly gesture is extended and accepted. What will this mean for Leah’s life … if anything?
This lovely story reads like a well crafted tapestry. Each chapter flows seamlessly and perfectly into the next one so flawlessly. As the characters lives begin to mesh, they are like beautiful threads slowly becoming softly entwined, inextricably wound together and forever forged in friendship, family and love. I loved this story and hated for it to end. It will definitely be one of the books that I’ll read and enjoy over and over again.
Review 2 by Susan Keefe
When Leah Weisman graduates from the Juilliard School of Music, the gifted daughter of rich parents, and marries, she believes that it’s for life.
Still starry eyed, she goes with her husband to England for his work. However, finding work herself proves difficult, a chance friendship blossoms and she is happy, until she discovers she has been betrayed, and this changes her life forever.
Suddenly she finds herself alone, with no support from family, and she must make her own way in the world, and what a world it is. No longer the cosseted daughter, or loved wife, but a woman alone, she must make her own decisions and suffer the consequences, as they say.
There are a rich variety of characters in this book, all with their own interesting and very varied lives. As their stories unfold, and become entwined, the reader has first-hand experience of John Needham’s real gift of picking the reader up and settling them firmly in the story. We watch as they struggle with the highs and lows of everyday life. Feel the sensations as they enjoy moments of pleasure, and their grief when they deal with its tragedies.
At the end of the story we fast forward to 2021, and see what the future holds, which is lovely, and brings back for the characters, and the reader, memories…
And generously, the author has given the lucky reader a chance to sample another of his wonderful stories before you go.
This is a book of love, passion, devotion, betrayal and a myriad of emotions in between which I for one will want to read more than once, as, like any good story, there will be, I am sure, hidden snippets which I have missed the first time around.
Review 3 by Fluffytroos
This is a tale of relationships, fortune and hardship, the emotion sings through. Hope and sadness. Laughter and tears. Human nature. It’s vivid.
The Flautist is perhaps a little different from John Needham’s previous works, stretching across the pond. But if you’ve read John’s previous works where characters from book to book are all linked, happily the same occurs with this book. I love this about his writing? The more he writes, the more each member of the family in his novels is revealed to you.
The musical theme for me is pure brilliance. I want to listen to the pieces mentioned. I love music but my knowledge (particularly when it comes to the flute) is limited so thank you to John for sparking an interest!
Very highly recommended!
Review 4 by Truth 42
This is just a lovely book. The story of a young American girl forced into a loveless marriage and her subsequent misadventures in London.
I won’t spoil the ending, other than to say that this is quite frankly one of the best things I’ve read this year. John Needham is a very accomplished storyteller who writes beautifully. I started this book thinking that it wouldn’t be ‘my’ kind of thing but by the second half of the book, when the narrative unexpectedly switches from third to first person I really wanted to know how the story would end.
There are a lot of people out there who try to write. Some can’t write and somehow manage to achieve fame. In John Needham’s case I simply cannot believe that his work is not appreciated by a wider audience.
Really. Really. Excellent.
Thank you again, reviewers! If you would like to pick up (well, download) a bargain-priced ebook copy of it, The Flautist will be on special ‘countdown’ promotion (whereby it begins priced very cheap but then the clock begins to run . . .) on Amazon UK for seven days, beginning this coming weekend, November 19. You can check it out here.
Or it’s available on all other Amazon platforms worldwide at the normal, still inexpensive price. It’s also available in paperback in The US and UK, if you prefer a proper book.