Monday, February 26, 2018

Book Review: 'Silent Swing' by Robert Fowler

British author Robert Fowler was born in London to an English father and an Italian mother - an aspect of his genetic makeup that likely influences this novel set in Tuscany and in his novel he states, `Silent Swing is inspired by my love of Tuscany, the landscape and the people.'He achieved General Certificate of Education in Math, English and History early and began working in a warehouse that sold plumbing and heating supplies. He remains in that industry but now runs his own company starting in 1988. He has been a football manager since relinquishing his field status because of ankylosing spondylitis and has undergone multiple surgeries in the treatment of that debilitating disease. But Robert brings all of this experience together in his four novels that fall into the categories of historical fiction, romance and romance suspense. It is this last category that SILENT SWING occupies. Robert lives in Hertfordshire, UK.

Robert opens his story with a striking cadence that follows the line of plot throughout the book - disrupted motion soothed by both kindness and memories, a certain sign that the tale will always remain in motion with rest stops for developing emotion. A lad on a motorcycle in Italy has an accident that results in his death - an overture to the tale that is going to unwind. Robert includes a synopsis at the opening of his book: `Recently divorced Jimmy Carter travels to Tuscany to sell the family villa. Within hours, he meets and is captivated by nineteen-year-old beauty Carla. The girl is heavily pregnant; the father, he discovers, was recently killed in a motorcycle accident. Jimmy is consumed by Carla, he finds himself powerlessly drawn towards her. He sets out to find out more about her and the child's father, the brash Salvadore, who amongst the young in the village, was a hero of sorts. Jimmy finds it hard to put the two together; Carla, the serene young girl and the loutish Salvadore are not the ideal match. Their story is told by Carla's flashbacks, and what Jimmy learns from bar owner Bruno. Carla carries with her a deadly secret though, one that will affect Jimmy more than he could ever imagine.' And to suggest more would register as a spoiler.

But on to Robert's fluid writing style, captured well in our introduction to Jimmy: `The last time I had been here was just before my ill-fated marriage. That was eight years ago, and then only for three days, mainly spent in Bruno's bar. I watched those in the village grow old, having never left its boundaries. They remained in their own routines, happy and contented it seemed, but I wondered. Good honest people, whose lives were rich in delicious tasting food and stunning scenery, where family was the cement that held a community together. I always wondered why they did not want more, yet at times I envied them for not. I had been divorced for six months. Those around me said it would be a short marriage and it seems they got it right. I also wondered if this trip was not in some way a ploy by my mother, to get me out, and around `living people' as she would put it. I was sure all this could have been done through a solicitor in London.' Etc.

But the real beauty of this short novel is the manner in which Robert shapes the ending - only a true romanticist can do that so successfully. This is a very fine novel - Chick Lit perhaps - but that is a growing respectable genre. Love alters, grows, metamorphoses. And Robert has captured that. Grady Harp, July 15

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.