Eric J. Drysdale

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The Mystique of Time Gone By

This is a fine novel. It is a character-driven work in that it examines the relationships and inter-relationships of eight young adults in their 20s. It could have been set anywhere, and, with adjustments, at various times. The author has chosen to set it in 1964, immediately after the assassination of JFK on November 22nd 1963. The locale is rural Maine. To me the time is inspired on a number of levels: this is a time the majority of readers will relate to because we lived the 60s, or are aware of the assassination historically; it anchors the novel with one of the major events of the century; and the characters’ lives and their sharpened perceptions are examined by themselves and the reader within that context.
Let me enumerate the numerous excellent features of this story:


It is told in the First Person Viewpoint, which is right and appropriate as it allows Sully to indulge in a certain amount of introspection and observation, and, quietly foreshadow events, as, in telling the story he is reflecting on a time and events long gone.


Personification. I like the way Jim uses Personification to engage the reader and place them in the time and place.


Imagery. The book is strengthened by the repeated images that show Sully’s unity and connection with the land, with his world.
• I also liked the way the story was ‘Book Ended’ by the introduction of and reference to Sam Mitchell. Because of who and what he was this added a quiet touch of mysticism for the alert reader.



I love the sense that Jim conveys of Sully being at one with nature, with the evocation of the land, the natural world and the seasons. I believe that Jim is very much this type of man, for it is his voice I hear. In some ways it reminded me of William Humphrey’s HOME FROM THE HILL, and that, as someone who has read over 5,000 books and counts Humphrey’s masterwork as being in my 10 favourites, is high praise indeed.

COMMENTS – OBSERVATIONS – THOUGHTS:



I felt that in the first two chapters there was too much exposition, however, Jim is such a fine writer that integration of dialogue replacing some of the exposition would be at a cost.



The novel doesn’t really have a plot, it is more a beautifully detailed revelation of the coming together of 8 friends over a short time. I kept feeling there should be a dramatic event in the last chapter which would, or would not be resolved, but, in itself, would be a denouement. Would that have made the book better? I am not sure. Maybe the book as it is, is more like Life often is, and that was what Jim wanted to depict. Anyway, that was why I only gave 4 stars for ‘Plot’.



The title – it seemed to me that this fine, fine novel deserved a stronger, more evocative, more symbolic title. I am not sure what that is, and it is not for me, but Jim to think about, consider and agonise over.

CONCLUSION: I believe that anyone who is a discerning reader, who appreciates excellent construction of sentences, full, richly developed characters, and a carefully honed evocation of time and place, will consider the time they spend with Sully and his friends on Duckpuddle Road will not only be worthwhile, but a pleasure because of their Gentleman guide, James T. Kenny.

Thank you, Jim, for the pleasure you have provided in introducing me to Sully and his friends, and the Maine countryside. Thank you also for the excellent review you did of my novel THE PRICE TO PAY.
All the very best in all the ways, Eric -- Eric J Drysdale -- Email: ericjdrysdale@gmail.com

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WHO IS TRIUMPHANT - AND WHAT IS THE PRICE?

This is a powerful and powerfully confronting novel. The reader is drawn in from the first chapter when a strong tri-dimensional picture is painted of Bruno, his psychological problems and his obsession with Katherine. You just KNOW something terrible and shocking is going to happen to this innocent teenage girl and the unsuspecting family.
Good flashback sequences filling in JM and Barbara’s studies to become a dentist and a psychiatrist, their romance, marriage and success, Mrs. K as part of the ‘family’ and then the birth of their daughter, Katherine.
Move forward to present day – Katherine is in her mid teens, a talented violinist and artist. A happy, healthy young girl with all the good things of life on the plate before her, but the deranged, obsessive Bruno is about to snatch the plate from her grasp, smash it and proceed to carve up her body and mind with the broken shards.
I have a fascination with what I refer to as ‘The Fork in the Road Syndrome’, and Bruno encapsulates the Fork in the Road for the Harris family. To me, with over 5,000 books read, probably 60% fiction, the best books are the ones that unfold in a logical sequence with credible tri-dimensional characters you love or love to hate. The best plot twists emerge as a natural outgrowth of events, of stimulus – response, and just because the character appears to be a major player does not mean they will survive to see the sun rise on the last chapter. Congratulations to Mr. Ling for capturing all of these elements in this shocking, dramatic, yet credible novel.
After Bruno’s vicious, deranged attack the reader has no idea where the story will turn, and what is around the next turn in the road. You will not be disappointed. On reflection you think, that wouldn’t have occurred to me, but given the events and the characters driving them, it makes perfect sense. I really like the fact that because of his history of violence, of being the victim, the court orders Bruno to undergo psychiatric assessment. Barbara takes it on as a pro bono case, and from there their fate is sealed.
I could not help but be reminded of some of Patricia Highsmith’s great books, or elements that are common to all her work: novels that are peopled with ordinary and less than heroic characters, villains who are major characters, and good people who fall foul of villainy.
The ending, literally the last few paragraphs, was excellent, and definitely emerged from the shadows of Patricia Highsmith and Alfred Hitchcock.
Lastly the title. This is a great title! The title is the first thing that we, the reader, sees, and the writer’s best opportunity to create a strong first impression. I love titles that are symbolic, are drawn from, or are quotes from the Bible, Shakespeare or noted poets; titles that suggest the pleasure, satisfaction and reward that awaits the reader. For example, THE GRAPES OF WRATH, GONE WITH THE WIND, EAST OF EDEN, PLOUGH THE SEA, HOME FROM THE HILL, A QUIET BELIEF IN ANGELS, THE WINTER OF OUR DISCONTENT, and my own novel, THE PRICE TO PAY.
There are parts of this book that I would have developed or written differently, but that is ever the case, and is completely subjective. Each of us writers bring to the page a vision of the story we want to tell, but this is informed, shaped and moulded by who we are and where we have come from; of the forces that have moulded us and the journey we have travelled. Full marks to Mr. Ling for extracting the fragments from his journey and prodigious imagination the components of which he then used to form this powerful, disturbing and ultimately rewarding novel. A big 'Thank You' to the author, keep right on writing. Eric.

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FRACTURED AND INTROSPECTED TIME

Firstly, Pixie, presuming even half of the poem is personal I feel for you. Let me make a few comments and observations. My novel, THE PRICE TO PAY is on the Inkitt site, but I have always loved poetry - reading it and writing it. Personally I most appreciate 'real poetry' with metre and rhyme, but I acknowledge that poetry is the most subjective of writing forms, and in their various structures they can touch the reader and convey all the emotions. For me it is an excellent discipline where the idea, or its essence, is distilled into a box and then opened in the most meaningful way to you, the poet. Impossible to really use a star rating designed for novels to examine a poem, which is why I put 3 stars for all. I liked many of the ideas you expressed, the emotions you raised and questioned, and it seemed in some way your own examination has been cathartic and in confronting your own feelings and the background you have risen above at least some of the pain. I wish you peace and happiness and self acceptance. Eric.

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Past and Future Melded

Eric J Drysdale - Ericj_999 - Hi William, Thank you for the opportunity to read, and now review your most interesting novel. The essence of the novel: mortality, immortality, death and youth regained are concepts and ideas to which we can all relate. You dealt with this well, with various twists and turns along the way, and ultimately a satisfying denouement. Let's look at my ratings in order: 'Overall' - 4 stars is a good fit. 'Plot' - The Plot and the idea is excellent - readers will be pleased they accompanied you on the journey - Deserves 5 stars. 'Writing Style' - This should be 4 stars, but I have only put three because I feel you can do better. I loved some of your prose and images, but at other times the sentences seemed they could, and should have been formed better. You can do that. Go back and revisit some of them. 'Punctuation - Grammar' - 3 stars - various reviewers have commented on the grammar, and especially the Capitalization used extensively throughout the book. I don't really have a problem with that in some ways - there are various classics (now) that have broken barriers, however, I feel nothing should interrupt the forward flow or progression of the story, and that clearly has happened again and again, and I don't feel there is a lot gained by having the capitals. This is a good novel, and Readers, you will be pleased you accompanied William on the Journey. Lastly, thank you, William for your kind review of my novel THE PRICE TO PAY, Eric.

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A FANTASY KINGDOM BROUGHT POWERFULLY TO LIFE

Congratulations Gracie on a number of levels: the creation of a kingdom, a land and a society caught in the thrall of war; an array of tri-dimensional characters with wonderful appropriate names – both strong Anglo-Saxon and newly minted; vigorous, detailed battle scenes, and, I really liked the sense of unity you showed with horse and rider (I had the feeling you have spent time on and around horses and have a love of these fine animals). Regarding the creation the kingdom of Gelbraun and the society of the time I acknowledge a job well done. A lot of work, thought and cross-referencing of detail goes into this; it does not happen by chance. In my novel, THE PRICE TO PAY, I have created a fictional island off the east coast of Australia, the unicameral political structure and the portfolios of office, and I know the amount of time, effort and close attention required.
Your prose and writing style is robust and vigorous, and most appropriate for the unfolding of this excellently crafted story. The mysticism and the fortunes told that overlays the sequence of events as they unfold, especially as nothing is certain, adds an extra dimension, and also seems right for the evocation of time and place that are suggested. And, in the end the denouement was most satisfying, bringing events to their relative conclusion within the realms of both mysticism and reality. A Grand job! Keep up the good work, Gracie. Kindest regards, Eric.

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THE COHESIVE STRENGTH AND POWER OF FAMILY LOVE

My approach to reviewing JOE AND NELLY was different from any book I have ever reviewed before – on Amazon, Audible or Inkitt, or just a review for myself: I tried to think as me as a child 10 – 16 years old, or my own child or grandchild, if I had one, at that age, and what impact the story would have on me, or them. As I start reading I speculate about you, Kim, did you, your Mum or your Nan live through these times? There is a truth and a perception here in your wonderful evocation of time and place that seems to go beyond research.
This is a rare find for modern children to read. Children who have no concept of the world before TV, computers, the internet or the mobile phone; of a world where bombs rained down on London, where children were sent off to Wales for their safety in a steam train, and where you went to an outside lav. Cohesion of the family unit, love of king and country, of a willingness to lay down one’s life in the protection of those things because it was the ‘right and proper thing to do’, the importance and value of family love, protection and support, all these elements are richly detailed in a lovely, tender story of two children reaching out to connect across the barrier of death.
Granddad is a good strong patriarchal figure who would exemplify many of his kind in those years. The characters are finely drawn and you feel you know this simple, typical family. In many ways this is not just a ‘kid’s book’.

I believe that many people of our age group, born in the mid-thirties to the mid-fifties, particularly in the UK and here, in Australia would relate to, and be touched by, the unfolding of events, have a wry smile reflecting on a bygone era and quietly brush aside a tear that comes unbidden to their eye.
Thank you so much, Kim, for sharing this moving and carefully woven story with readers around the world. I wish you every success with it, and I am delighted that I did not quickly pass it by, as would normally have been the case. If you enjoy my novel THE PRICE TO PAY half as much I will be well satisfied.
Kind regards,
Eric (Eric J. Drysdale)
My email address is: ericjdrysdale@gmail .com

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Evan's Adventures on Earth

Ericj_999 – Eric J Drysdale. Hi Tom, congratulations on writing an excellent, entertaining, thought provoking, and, at times, very amusing novel. This is a really NEAT story. I liked the concept or the plot, but it delivered far more than a good idea. I liked it more than I thought I would, because for me, very often supposed humour doesn’t come off and degenerates into stupid inanities or foolishness that could only be the product of cretins.

Here the humour was intrinsic to the circumstance, the characters and the collision of events, and I often found myself laughing out loud. The plot was outstanding, reminding me in a way of Patrick Tilley’s wonderful MISSION, which has been a favourite of mine for over three decades, but it was MISSION with humour. You struck just the right style with your prose and dialogue, and the many unexpected twists and turns were seamlessly woven into the unfolding story. Then you rounded it off with a most satisfying denouement and a lovely touch in the last line about the Golden Key. Well done! 5 Stars all round.

I wish you every success. Thank you, also, for offering to Review my novel THE PRICE TO PAY. - Link - https://www.inkitt.com/stories/thriller/191414

Email: ericjdrysdale@gmail.com

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Black Days, and Blacker Nights

The word that came to mind was economy, or economical. As a writer myself I appreciated the economy with which Felix grabbed the reader's attention, raised the question of mystery, of broader implications and sketched in the background of the unfolding police / FBI investigation. He quickly fleshed out the primary characters as they entered the first chapters. Quite clearly this is not Felix's first foray into the world of words and their best assembly and the reader is comfortable they are in the hands of a competent guide. You just know there are going to be many twists and surprises ahead and are keen to have the spotlight shred the darkness of the unknown. I also liked the way he ended the chapters on a question mark or a note of uncertainty.
This is a very impressive beginning to a book I feel will deliver the goods, and am keen to read the remainder - quickly.
Eric J Drysdale -

E: ericjdrysdale@gmail.com

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