Review : Circumstances of Childhood by John Howell


It’s always a pleasure to read a novel written by John Howell. He has a way of mixing action, thriller level excitement, real world politics, intelligent discourse and detail (much of which feels ripped presciently from today’s headlines), all wrapped up in believable, relatable, and importantly – likeable – characters.  And it’s all his own – the John Howell style – immediate, engrossing and always great fun.

This time the author notes some autobiographical parts, and an homage to great friendships. And this is what surrounds the novel – a great, true friendship from life and beyond life, adding a paranormal element that is warming and comforting rather than frightening or strange.  It is a testament to John’s writing skill that you accept the supernatural premise immediately and naturally. Of course such a strong friendship, which is more like a family tie than just companionship – of course it survives even death. And of course it becomes a guarding angel over the thrilling ups and downs of the narrative itself.

There is pain here – a relationship ending which you partly see coming from sad, well placed clues but you hope against hope will not happen.  And when it does you feel right alongside the main character. But also you are warmed by his strength and an innate goodness that I always believe would be true of the author . This flows from his writing and its generous spirit, and it lives in the characters as well.

I thoroughly recommend this novel. It is exciting, heartwarming and also spiritually affirming (without you having any particular religious or spiritual affiliation).  It gives you faith and hope in something greater than that – and simpler: faith in a little thing called love.


(c) Helen Valentina 2017




About Helen

I'm drawn to blogging as a way to share ideas and consider what makes us who we are. Whether it's in our working life or our creativity, expression is a means to connect.
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23 Responses to Review : Circumstances of Childhood by John Howell

  1. Helen, thank you for the wonderful review. I can’t tell you how much your words affected me today. Having had a share of challenges your understanding and praise of Circumstances brought tears to my eyes. I am grateful to you for reading and reviewing the book. I am also humbled by your words. Thank you so much.

  2. Reblogged this on Fiction Favorites and commented:
    Helen Valentina is a wonderful poet and storyteller. She has given Circumstances of Childhood a warm and thoughtful review which needs to be shared. Helen never fails to move me with her work and now has moved me immensely with this review. Thank you, Helen.

  3. Gwen Plano says:

    Wonderful review, Helen. The last line is powerful!

  4. Wonderful review, Helen!

  5. Great review! Finished reading it last week and would recommend it also.

  6. A lovely review to share, Helen. Thank you. 🙂

  7. Reblogged this on Musings on Life & Experience and commented:
    A great review by Helen Valentina of John W. Howell’s book, “Circumstances of Childhood”.

  8. Vashti Q says:

    A wonderful review of John’s new release, Helen. Thank you.😊

  9. Great review! Couldn’t agree more! HAPPY NEW YEAR!

  10. This sounds wonderful thank you for sharing. 🙂

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