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Sheila Stevenson has sent me the reviews published by The Friend last week, by two prisoners at HMP Grendon about ONLY A SIGNAL SHOWN. There’s also a piece by Sheila herself, about a couple of my earlier books, MATHISON and KINGFISHER BLUE.  Here first is what Sheila wrote:


‘Kingfisher Blue’ Pub. 1996. ISBN 0 9529782 1 0

‘Mathison’ Pub. 1996. ISBN 09529782 0 2

‘Only a Signal Shown’ Pub 2012.

Kingfisher Blue is a book of short stories in which the author explores topics close to Quaker hearts, for example, ‘Pebbles in a Jar’ tells of protest action against the manufacture of a compound that could cause pollution, or the value of Quaker membership provides the conclusion in ‘A Question of Belonging’.  My favourite is ‘I Shall Spend my Pension on Brandy’ about the wisdom and acceptance that can come later in life; it also rings so true about some of the trials that the elderly have to endure.  The stories all relate to Quaker issues and relationships that are explored with sensitivity and humour.

‘Mathison’ tells the story of one family throughout the twentieth century involving an Indian home in Calcutta before the First World War, a Jewish dentist in Nuremberg in the 1930s and a Quaker weekend gathering in the mid-1990s. The two parallel story lines starting either end of the century gradually converge. The author uses the premise of an imaginary computer programme that can write a novel as the reason for exploring this family’s history that clearly draws on her own.

Both ‘Kingfisher Blue’ and ‘Mathison’ are related to Leela Dutt’s Quaker life experiences but her most recent novel, ‘Only a Signal Shown’, is different in that it is simply a love story that weaves around the world as it draws the reader into the story and its conclusion. It grips the reader with its twists and turns between people and places.  Her descriptions are vividly first-hand and she credits her husband for giving her the reason to travel to so many different parts of the world. All Leela’s books would make ideal travel or holiday reading although some concentration is needed to keep track of who is who amongst all the characters!

Sheila M. Stevenson,

High Wycombe Meeting, Chiltern Area.

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