New review for On the Holloway Road

On the Holloway Road picked up a good review from Emma over at Book Around the Corner yesterday. I don’t normally tell you about every review, but I wanted to highlight this one particularly because of a beautiful description of my main characters, Jack and Neil. Emma compares them to Sal and Dean in Kerouac’s On the Road, who she calls “day butterflies, the colorful ones who fly playfully from one flower to another under a sunny sky.” On the other hand:

I saw Jack and Neil as night butterflies. They’re grey, hollow, and live in a dark world and their pool of light is made of electric bulbs. When they fly, it’s only to bump into that artificial light they take for the sun and burn their fragile wings. Their freedom is sad and limited. It’s limited by their time and by their country, the cops, the camera, the rules and the absence of vast wilderness. They’re electronic music, mechanic, repetitive and inhuman. Their goal in itself draws the difference between them. While Sal and Dean drive to the sunny California, Jack and Neil drive to the windy and cold island of Barra.

It’s wonderful when someone else tells you something about your own book that you hadn’t seen in quite that way before. It happens sometimes when I’m speaking at libraries or bookshops and I get a question that makes me think “Hmm, actually I hadn’t thought of that but it’s a really good point.” Usually my response is “Yes, that’s exactly what I intended ;-)”

Anyway I thought the butterfly image was a great way of looking at the characters, and there were some other interesting observations in the review and the comments. I also wish we had the expression “coup de foudre” in the English language.

Find out what other people are saying about On the Holloway Road.


  1. Nivedita 16 September 2011 at 5:54 am

    Such a lyrical review! I am sure your book must be very beautiful Andrew. Adding it to my list right away 🙂

  2. Andrew Blackman - Site Author 16 September 2011 at 2:42 pm

    Hi Nivedita,
    You’re right, it is a very lyrical review. Thanks very much for adding my book to your list!! Am always interested to hear what people make of it!

  3. Vishy 16 September 2011 at 8:29 pm

    That is a beautiful review and description of the characters from your book, Andrew!

  4. Andrew Blackman 16 September 2011 at 11:16 pm

    Hi Vishy, glad you liked it too. It’s nice to have a fresh view of characters I created almost four years ago now!

  5. Emma 17 September 2011 at 9:06 am

    Hi Andrew
    Thanks for the link and that nice post.

    About “coup de foudre” I’ve been writing reviews in English for 18 months now and I still don’t have the English words to express some French concepts that are part of my DNA.

    The notion of “plaisir” (pleasure but in a wider meaning), the idea of “avoir envie” (several expressions in English,”feel like”, “have the desire to”) or “donner envie” (“to make someone want to” but it’s ugly in English) and the ideas of “jouir” or “profiter” (translated as “to enjoy” but to me “enjoy” is milder, more reserved than jouir or profiter)

  6. Andrew Blackman 18 September 2011 at 2:14 am

    Hi Emma, Well, I suppose some things just don’t translate! I admire you for writing in another language. Often I find it difficult to hit on the right words even in English. I speak a little bit of several languages, but have never spoken or written in them enough to feel fluent, or to discover those untranslatable phrases. I’d like to live in a non-English-speaking country one day, so that I can really get to know the intricacies of another language.

    By the way I smiled when I read that “enjoy” is milder and more reserved than jouir or profiter – maybe that says something about the English national character and our capacity for enjoyment!

  7. Andrew Blackman 19 September 2011 at 2:54 am

    Thanks Michelle! I can’t wait either 😉 It’s pretty much finished now, I think, and is with my agent. Will let you know when I have more news!

  8. litlove 19 September 2011 at 10:46 am

    What a fantastic image from Emma – I love it. And how wonderful to have a reader who has responded so sensitively and insightfully to your work. I imagine that that is the kind of thing to make it all worthwhile. Intrigued, too, by your mention here of your next novel. I do hope you’ll say more about that soon. I’m very curious!

  9. Andrew Blackman - Site Author 21 September 2011 at 6:51 pm

    Yes, I was really happy to have that response. From the majority of readers, of course, you don’t hear anything good or bad, so it’s always good to get a review. As for the next one, don’t worry, I’ll keep you posted!


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