Friday, 7 September 2012

Review & Book Launch - "To The Fair Land" by Lucienne Boyce


Author’s name:     Lucienne Boyce
Publisher:             Silverwood Books
Year:                   2012
Price in sterling:    £10.00
330 pages
ISBN:                 9781781320174

Set in 1789, a young man is living in London in an attempt to fulfil his dream as a writer.  Ben Dearlove is surviving on the generosity of his father but has only a few months left of the two year period they agreed and if he does not become published and self-sufficient in that time, he must return to Bristol and join the family Apothecary business.  One night he is watching a play, based on the story of an explorer who finds an undiscovered land, at a Covent Garden theatre when a flustered young woman sits next to him.  She begins to make outbursts towards the stage and Ben hears her talking of “Miranda”.  The Covent Garden audience do not take too kindly to her heckling and they nearly cause a riot trying to stop her from spoiling their evening’s entertainment.  Ben manages to rescue her and accompanies her home, to ensure she is safe.  The following day he returns to her lodgings to check on her, but she has disappeared and her rooms have been burgled.  A few weeks later a mysterious novel called “To The Fair Land” telling the story of the voyage of a ship called “Miranda” falls into his hands and he realises that, rather than it being a work of fiction, it could actually be true account of a voyage.

Ben tries to discover the identity of the author and becomes intent on proving the novel is a factual account of a real event.  As he make progress in his quest, things come to light that people want to keep secret and a deadly confrontation makes his situation perilous.  Who is the mysterious woman?  Why have so many men died to keep the secret of The Fair Land?  Ben has to avoid the agents of The Admiralty and the prospect of imprisonment to uncover the truth and bring a murderer to justice.

At first I found the story to be lacking pace, but it was soon apparent that  Lucienne Boyce writes in a style that makes you want to savour every word and the soak up the atmosphere created by her descriptions of the characters and their surroundings.  As the story unfolds, you realise that the gentle pace is compelling and each new facet of the story creeps up on you, gripping your imagination.

Her research is flawless and she writes in a style that could have you thinking it was written nearer the time in which the novel is set, rather than 200 years later.  Her characters are well formed, their human qualities and failings are revealed in rich detail and once their motivations are revealed, you will realise your initial preconceptions were completely wrong.  The “big secret” will, I am sure, be a shock to many.  It is a subject matter that is anathema to people at large – both in present day and in the past – but Lucienne writes it sensitively without losing any of the emotion such a controversial topic will evoke.

“To The Fair Land” is a truly breathtaking book that will surprise you..  The standard of the book, from start to finish, is superior to any book I have read so far this year.  The collaboration of Lucienne Boyce and Silverwood Books clearly demonstrates that independent publishing can compete with mainstream and, in this case, surpass the expected standard by a country mile.

I give “To The Fair Land” 5 Crosses and proudly confer "The Golden Hammer & Anvil Shield Award" to Lucienne for writing a story that is original and exquisitely created . 
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The British Summer finally came out to herald the launch of Bristol writer Lucienne Boyce's debut novel.  The picturesque venue of Goldney Hall's Orangery gave the event a classy yet reserved debut and everyone who received an invitation thoroughly enjoyed the party.  Lucienne Boyce made each and everyone of her guests feel extremely welcome and the presence of her publishing partner Helen Hart of Silverwood Books helped sales along nicely. 

At the mid-point of the evening, Lucienne began to read a passage from her novel, only to be interrupted by a mobile phone.  Looking to her husband Gerard, she made the usual comment about people turning their mobiles off only to have Gerard confirm the ringing phone was actually hers!  Light relief made Lucienne relax and the passage was recited with humour and grace.

Lucienne said, "To see so many friendly faces come to help me celebrate the launch of my book is remarkable.  I am lost for words."

All in all it was an enjoyable evening, perfectly complimenting the depth and finesse of Lucienne's debut novel.


  1. A lovely review and a nice write up of the book launch. Thank you Stuart!


  2. Looks like a lovely venue! Good luck Lucienne!