Here is a review Liz Muir wrote for Calon, the newsletter of Quakers in Wales:
This book was the first that I have read on my new Kindle. Hence I am not sure the extent to which the slow start was related to the story telling or to my developing Kindle skills. However, this beautifully crafted love story soon picked up its pace to a ‘can’t put it down’ level. I could hardly wait to turn the page and know what was happening next – always a sign of a good book.
The main characters meet in Cardiff, where one lives with his family. It is unusual but pleasing then to relate to local places such as Lisvane suburb and Llandough hospital and to hear of the familiar such as attending Quaker meetings. Leela’s own personal experience being the daughter of people from very different cultures and living in many parts of the world are clearly used as the book’s characters try to build ordinary careers, manage relationships, develop parenting skills whilst living and travelling in a global environment. The reader visits not just Wales, but Africa, Denmark, Italy, India, America, Australia and New Zealand where the sights, sounds and tastes of these very different countries are vividly described, bringing depth, pace and colour to the book. Not many books can move effortlessly between digging the garden in Wales to African politics with stops at archaeological digs in Italy and visits to the Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen and award ceremonies in India. The characters’ moving through these locations provide opportunity for Leela’s descriptive skills to come to the fore, without seeming contrived and give the reader both pleasure and knowledge.
Although I guess it indicated cultural variance, I found the use of ‘Hallo’ mildly irritating and would have preferred the customary ‘Hello’. But, I loved other writing techniques such as the use of italics for unsaid thoughts and the clever use of e-mail communications as a, now commonplace, alternative to verbal conversations. I also loved the fact that passionate feelings were clearly expressed, but without the need for lurid scenes; making the book suitable for young and older adults alike.
On one level there is a sense of inevitability as to the future of the two main characters, Alec and Eleanor. But as the story unfolds with twists and turns, that certainty is challenged and the reader cannot be sure, until the last pages, what the future holds for them. This makes the book an exciting read.
‘Only a Signal Shown’ cleverly portrays ordinary people who, in certain circumstances do extraordinary things. The interlinking of three generations of one family sympathetically shows how the heroes and heroines of one decade become background actors in another era, as they settle for a quiet life. Similarly the shallow, fun seekers of youth can easily become shrewd and deeply, intuitively, sensitive adults. Because of this, I feel that there is plenty more scope for deeper development of some of the characters. I would love to know more of Norman’s younger life as a soldier, lover and husband. Charlie and David could come out of the shadows and have the spotlight on them for a good read. And of course, I can’t wait to know the futures for Alec, Eleanor, Milly and Tamsin.
This has been a great read and leads me to look out for more of Leela Dutt’s work. ‘Only a Signal Shown’ is available via Kindle and as a paperback on Amazon. Given the time of the year, it would make a great gift for anyone, young or old.
Liz says she will look out for more of my work – I’d better blog about Rubik’s Cube, Mathison and Kingfisher Blue next time!