ForeWord Clarion Reviews on Saint Paul Trois Châteaux:1948

The following is a professional book review from ForeWord Reviews (Foreword Clarion Reviews). I'm actually very pleased with this review, because, as the kind of writer that I am (non-mainstream and provocative), I was truly and honestly expecting a very negative review especially because Foreword Clarion Reviews is known amongst writers for being very harsh and extremely difficult to please.

I'm pleased with this review, because, despite all the complaints of the reviewer, I can see that I have successfully "pushed the buttons" that I wish to push in my readers! I always say that I want to make my readers think and feel, and this reviewer complains about that here. She obviously doesn't like to "do the math" herself, notwithstanding she is also gracious enough to point out that there are those people who may find the mobility of their own thoughts and emotions to be a stimulating experience! The reviewer also notes here that my descriptions seem to be at times "unintentionally humorous" and I'm just happy that she felt the humor throughout my writing, because, though she failed to realize that the slightly humorous voice was intentional, the fact is that she felt the humor, and therefore I feel that I succeeded at having a nonchalantly humorous voice. I maintained a nonchalant humor throughout my novella, which I was very well aware of and I can only be glad that it was felt even though the reviewer appears to think that I was making an ass of myself (smiles). I was very well aware that I needed to maintain a "backdrop humor" in this particular story, because if there was no humor carried on  throughout it, the reader will surely succumb to melancholy, and I don't want that to happen. Besides, is not life spiced with humor and if we are lucky enough, we get to spot it or convey it to others at any given moment?

She complains about bad punctuation. I am sad about this, because, I did pay a fee for copyediting services to copyedit all the punctuation, making it up to par with the punctuation writing standard of a novella, so to hear that the punctuation was bad, I really feel like I paid too much to my copyeditor; at this point that's how I feel and perhaps if I didn't have my novella copyedited, it would have better punctuation right now? I don't know?

I am  surprised that this review pleases me, as I was expecting my spirit to be crushed! HAHAHAHAHHA! I feel that the reviewer is not the kind of reader who should be reading the things that I write; the readers who should be reading the things that I write have to be those who seek to stimulate their senses, seek to be desirous, to connect, to search and to explain. But still the result of her review is far from what I expected, I am happy to have pushed all of her buttons, because, it is my style of writing to make you as a reader think, and feel! Think and feel think and feel think and feel! And all throughout this review that I have from ForeWord Clarion Reviews, I can plainly see that Mary Popham is indeed thinking (though she doesn't appreciate it much) and feeling (which seems to surprise her a little). She notes that the point of view is incorrect, but I doubt that a point of view can even be incorrect. For one to think that a point of view can be incorrect, shows that one is only willing to see things through his/her own point of view. The points of view amongst my characters (and even my presence in the book as an author) shift nearly constantly, as this book DOES move through past and present, and even future. This is the whole point of my book!

There is something I strongly disagree with in this review, and that is how she says that there is no strong evidence to point to the year 1948 in my story. That is simply not true, it is completely false, and I hate to say it but it reveals that the knowledge of the reviewer on matters referring to the year 1948 in Provence, France, are very very very limited! Because the reality of my book is that, everything from the song by Edith Piaf (La Vie En Rose) playing in the background, to the wine being drank, all of these were present and thriving in the year 1948, in France. And everything from the Synagogues to the chocolatiers to the makeup brands being used, were present and booming in the era! Even the different names of the chocolates are factual names and are actually being sold at the chocolatier, until this present day! So, I don't know what this reviewer is talking about when she says that there is nothing in my story to reference the year 1948, EVERYTHING is there to reference to this year, keeping in mind the social status, and religions, of my characters! Keeping in mind that this was just a few years after WWII ended (there is recurring reference to that fact, as well!) Apparently, this reviewer simply doesn't know too much about the year 1948 amongst the bourgeoisie. And there's nothing I can do about that. We can never change a review once it has been made. I as a writer can only speak of the review that is written, but I can never do anything to correct any misinformation written in a review.

But, as I have already said, this review actually pleases me very much in that it makes me feel as though I am successful in my style of writing and in what I want to do for my readers, how I want to succeed as a writer. The review made me smile at the end, and anything that can make me smile in the end, is just fine with me! :) :)

My favorite part of this review is the end part: the last paragraph, which to me is heartfelt and reveals my truest intentions precisely.

Thank you, Mary Popham. :)

"A soft rain drizzles against the windowpanes. A young, attractive couple sits at a polished table in a bar in Saint Paul Trois Châteaux, a French market town located between Marseille and Lyons. Thibaut Desmarais and Lucy Nightingberg sip wine and talk. He plays with his cigar; she picks at a creamy slice of tiramisu. Most of the scenes in C. JoyBell C.’s novel take place during one evening in the bar, the couple’s favorite haunt, which has the makings of a great setting for the story of a woman’s insecurity and a man’s guilt.

However, to get to this emotional plot, a reader must give up expectations of correct point of view, punctuation, clear sentences, or logical construction. Like a dream or a trance, the book has vivid details, unexpected twists, unknown speakers, and time frames that switch back and forth. The chapters could have been shuffled and scenes inserted in any order. This can be either frustrating, or exciting and wildly compelling for a reader.

The text reads like verses of prose poetry with double lines between each paragraph. The various speakers tell their thoughts, memories, and fantasies; the reader gets the feeling of being in a dream. The novella is set in 1948, but there are not many supporting details of that particular year. With frequent references to physical attributes, clothing, and style, the book’s imagery very often seems unintentionally humorous. Anexample is this description of Lucy’s appearance: “When it was soft, it was soft and deep. When it was deep, it was deep and deeper. This time, it was deep and deeper.”

Lucy and Thibaut’s dialogue is about trifles, which reveal something deeper. While arguing about the difference between a whore and a bitch, and lingering on the names of four cats, the internal misery of the two young people who have never touched is palpably provocative and powerful. By many references to body parts, especially the eyes, hands, arms and elbows, and on forced smiles and quick tears, the author presents an overall feeling of melancholy. The two characters talk in circles, never really hearing what the other is saying. The repetition and disorganization of the text can be viewed as the way the mind works when trying to hide from truth, pain, or guilt. There is something valuable in Saint Paul Trois Châteaux: 1948, but the reader must be willing to dig and interpret and forgive mistakes to get at the novel’s honest and sometimes touching look at the hope and regret buried inside its wistful characters."

Mary Popham


  1. Hi Charity,

    So glad that you are happy with the review done by Mary Popham. How neat for you and you must be feeling proud for all your hard work.
    Having the punctuation critiqued, makes you wonder if you needed the services of the copyeditor?

    Hope that all is well with you and that you are having a lovely week

  2. Hi Carolyn! Thank you for stopping by here, and thank you for your comment! :) You are always breezing by like a breath of fresh air, and your visits are always very welcome! :)

    Yes, this truly makes me sad (about my punctuation being critiqued) because I did pay for the services of a copyeditor, and yes you are right in saying that this makes me wonder if I needed that service, because the punctuation all throughout my book was edited by the copyeditor (all the punctuation from beginning to end), so to hear my book being critiqued on the punctuation saddens me. Initially during the copyediting process, I felt as though my punctuation was extremely poor (having received an editing on all of my punctuation) but now I feel as though I (maybe) would have been better off with my own punctuation techniques to begin with!

    I hope that all is well with you and yours, have a rockin' day! ♥

  3. Great work!!Many kisses from Romania!


  4. Hi, Charity! Well that's a great review of an excellent book, congratulations! Please don't be too cruel with your copyeditor. As a proof reader I have sometimes nightmares about authors being upset by my work... Well, in fact they are always upset, he he! In my opinion, the reviewer doesn't say that the punctuation in your book is incorrect, but it's a means to express those "vivid details", like in "a dream or a trance", which sounds great to me. I'm so proud of you!

  5. Hello Josep :)

    I find it a bit ticklish that the authors you proof read are always upset with you, hehehehehehhe! No of course not Josep, I will not be cruel to my copyeditor, in fact I thanked her in the acknowledgments page of my book, because I learned so much from her! Well, I thought that I learned so much from her, I was under that impression, but now it's just that I am not so sure anymore if I did in fact learn so much from her, or maybe I would (perhaps) be better off with my own punctuation techniques! But that is all trivial, like you put it, there is no use to focus on the negative, because the negative is a very small part, I like how you put it: "In my opinion, the reviewer doesn't say that the punctuation in your book is incorrect, but it's a means to express those "vivid details", like in "a dream or a trance", which sounds great to me." That's true, there are many points in this review that truly make me very happy, so don't worry, I will not be too cruel to my copyeditor! I promise that!

    Thank you so much for feeling so proud of me, I feel like I "grew up" under your watchful eye! The years have gone by, and I am growing, and you are watching, it is a beautiful thing, I feel as though we are blood-related!


  6. Okay Bells, I seriously need to get your book ordered. I have the page bookmarked and everything, I have just been lazy about doing it. After reading some of the text on your blog I am definitely intrigued.
    I am sure as an author you are interested to know what the critics say, but I am glad you seem to be taking it with a grain of salt. From the perspective of an average person who reads for pleasure and enjoyment alone, I rarely consider the viewpoint of critics. I am more likely to consider the opinion of someone I know who has read the book.
    So, I promise I will get my act together and order your Novella, ASAP! Have a stupendous weekend my Bells!


I love to hear from my readers and friends, you touch my heart, so please feel free to leave me a note (or two). ♥

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