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Archive for November, 2012

Rhiwbina Living

Where I live, we have a glossy free magazine delivered to every home four times a year and in the winter edition just out there’s an interview with me about my books: the latest is Only a Signal Shown available on kindle and in paperback from Amazon, but I can send you one of the others post-free for £3.50 if you send me your postal address and pay PayPal using leeladutt@hotmail.com    Rubik’s Cube, Mathison and Kingfisher Blue are still available.

Check out Rhiwbina Living if you live in the Cardiff area!

More good news: Helen Snooks has invited me to read a short passage from Only a Signal Shown at an evening gathering in December in Swansea.

Oh, and notice that I have at last learnt how to add images to the same post that they are about…


Buying earlier books

The latest reviewer of Only a Signal Shown wrote that she would have to check out my earlier books, so here they are.  Each of them is available post free for £3.50 if you email your address to me at leeladutt@hotmail.com and pay the money to me via PayPal using leeladutt@hotmail.com for payment.

Mathison is inspired by Alan Turing’s famous proposition that a computer program could one day be written that was so intelligent that it could fool someone into thinking that it was itself human. 2012 is the centenary of Turing’s birth – a good time to read this novel, which is supposedly written by a computer program called Mathison. It addresses a child born in 2000, telling her the story of her ancestors throughout the twentieth century. Two stories intertwine cleverly, the first telling of two of her great-grandfathers (one born in Kolkata in 1900, the other a Jew in Nazi Germany) and the second parallel story a century later at a British university computing department. It has been well-reviewed on Amazon.

Kingfisher Blue is an affectionate collection of short stories about fictitious Quakers dealing with divorce, death and drains, told by a wide variety of men and women ranging in age from 22 to 90, set in Canada and Wales, in England and Outer Space. It was written in response to a request from the national body of Quakers for new Quaker fiction. They liked the first four stories I sent them and asked for more. One particular story was inspired by police misunderstanding about what Quakers do, in an infamous case in Orkney; characters in all the stories are eccentric, moving and colourful – and totally made up: at least that’s my story…

Rubik’s Cube arose from the mingling of the different strands of life I saw around me in Cardiff in the 1980s: the local Quaker group I belonged to, the most peculiar people who lived next door in Lon-y-deri, all set against the background of the geopolitical situation of the time – the Cold War, American cruise missiles based in Britain and the threat to life on earth itself. It was shortlisted in a Welsh Arts Council competition.

Review of Only a Signal Shown

1 cover of book

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!

Another great review!

Rob Coles of Wonderbookland.com has just posted this review on Amazon and on Wonderbookland:

Essentially a tale of unrequited love between Eleanor and Alec over continents and decades, Only A Signal Shown is a compelling read for some very good reasons. Grounded in the facts of daily life Leela Dutt’s latest novel never leaves you scratching your head at events. Likewise, the principal characters’ estranged romance is perfectly understandable given their personal idiosyncrasies and, I’d say, a few major flaws. What makes this novel so surprising then is it’s ability to not only engage the reader in believable characters and settings but to transport them to equally grounded but exotic locations: Helsinki, South Africa, India, and more. The intimate knowledge of these places and their people speaks of an extraordinarily well-travelled author with a Miss Marple eye for cultural detail and nuance. It all makes for a splendid read and one which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Whether or not Eleanor and Alec’s unrequited love remains so, shall only fittingly, be left to you to discover.

More good news!

More responses to Only a Signal Shown by Leela Dutt (paperback £7.99 and kindle £2.06 from Amazon) today. Liz Muir writes in the Cardiff Quaker Meeting newsletter: “It is a love story played out from Cardiff to the rich backdrops of many countries. It portrays a mix of modern global lifestyles, marriage fault lines, Quaker meetings and life in the media. It is a great read and would make a good Christmas present.”

Also Suchismita Datta, a cousin of mine in Kolkata, writes: “Your book is amazing, I loved it!” Kolkata and Darjeeling feature significantly in the novel.

And on the same day, Ibeawuchi Ngozi Lilian of Abuja, Nigeria, writes
“The book is nice to read.”   Since Nigeria also features strongly in the novel,   I was hoping that it would be enjoyed there as well as in the USA, Denmark,   South Africa and elsewhere.

More encouraging comments…

Had a great response from Doreen Denny of Essex who writes: “I’ve just finished reading Only a Signal Shown – and thoroughly enjoyed it. Thank you. I liked the way you intertwined romance with family relationships alongside the more serious content of the book. It was fascinating to follow your travels around the world – mostly to places you and your family have spent time in.
Well done!”

Also Suchismita Datta of Kolkata tells me she really liked the cover design, the blurb and the way the book is presented; she has nearly finished reading it.

More orders coming…

Only a Signal Shown has been dispatched to my cousin in Gujarat by the Book Depository, who say they deliver world-wide; looking forward to hearing what he and his family think. Meanwhile an old friend in Nairobi is asking how she can buy it so let’s hope the book shops there can order it.

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