Buchan of the Month: Introducing Salute to Adventurers by John Buchan

buchan of the month 2019 poster

Salute to Adventurers is the second book in my John Buchan reading project, Buchan of the Month 2019.   You can find out more about the project and the books I read in 2018 here, and view my reading list for 2019 here.

20190202_150326What follows is an introduction to Salute to Adventurers.  It is also an excuse to show off a picture of my Nelson edition of the book with its dust jacket (a little frayed, admittedly).  I will be posting my review of the book later in the month.


Salute to Adventurers was published in the UK in July 1915 by Thomas Nelson & Sons and in the US in October 1917 by George H. Doran.  Buchan’s second historical novel, it was written in the early months of 1914 and reflects his interest at the time in American history.

Set in the seventeenth century, Janet Adam Smith describes Salute to Adventurers as ‘a grown-up boys’ book’ and notes its similarities with Prester John (last month’s Buchan of the Month).   As in Prester John, Salute to Adventurers features a young hero – Andrew Garvald – who is sent overseas to Virginia (rather than to South Africa) to develop the tobacco trade.  There, like David Crawfurd in Prester John, Andrew discovers and sets out to foil a native rising, the natives in question this time being Native Americans.   Janet Adam Smith notes: ‘The scenes in the Jamestown manors, in the great forests inland, on the Blue Ridge and among the Carolina keys are evoked with vividness and accuracy remarkable in a writer who had never crossed the Atlantic’.

David Daniell is equally enthusiastic about Salute to Adventurers, saying, ‘Those who love Buchan regard this book with special affection.’  He describes it as ‘very fine and written with assurance…the language [..] beautifully modulated to the period.’ Kate Macdonald identifies the character Ninian Campbell (aka ‘Red Ringan’) in Salute to Adventurers as an example of ‘The Expert Friend’ who features frequently in Buchan’s novels.  In fact, she describes him as ‘every reader’s dream friend, a pirate and a gentleman, romantically exuberant and ferocious…available to best Andrew Garvald’s enemies with expert swordplay and a fleet of harrying ships’.

No sales figures for Salute to Adventurers are available from Buchan’s publisher, Nelson.  (Janet Adam Smith estimates that, up to 1915, John Buchan had not sold more than 2,000 copies of any of his books.) However, she is able to report that between 1952, when Salute to Adventurers was published in paperback by Pan, and 1965 its sales totalled 35,000.  Small fry when compared to the millions of copies that The Thirty-Nine Steps has sold since it was published.

Sources:

David Daniell, The Interpreter’s House: A Critical Assessment of the Work of John Buchan (Nelson, 1975)
Kate Macdonald, John Buchan: A Companion to the Mystery Fiction (McFarland, 2009)
Janet Adam Smith, John Buchan: A Biography (OUP, 1985 [1965])

buchan of the month 2019

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Throwback Thursday: The Last Day by Claire Dyer

ThrowbackThursday

Throwback Thursday is a weekly meme originally created by Renee at It’s Book Talk.  It’s designed as an opportunity to share old favourites as well as books that we’ve finally got around to reading that were published over a year ago.

Today I’m revisiting a book I reviewed last May but that was published almost exactly a year ago – The Last Day by Claire Dyer.  It was a book I loved when I read it which seems a suitable sentiment to mark Valentine’s Day.  In fact, as you will see, I found at least ten reasons to love it….


The Last DayAbout the Book

They say three’s a crowd but when Boyd moves back into the family home with his now amicably estranged wife, Vita, accompanied by his impossibly beautiful twenty-seven-year-old girlfriend, Honey, it seems the perfect solution: Boyd can get his finances back on track while he deals with his difficult, ailing mother; Honey can keep herself safe from her secret, troubled past; and Vita can carry on painting portraits of the pets she dislikes and telling herself she no longer minds her marriage is over.

But the house in Albert Terrace is small and full of memories, and living together is unsettling.

For Vita, Boyd and Honey love proves to be a surprising, dangerous thing and, one year on, their lives are changed forever.

Format: Paperback, ebook (370 pp.)    Publisher: The Dome Press
Published: 15th February 2018     Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Purchase Links*
Publisher (buy direct for 30% off) | Amazon.co.uk  ǀ  Amazon.com  ǀ Hive.co.uk (supporting UK bookshops)
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Find The Last Day on Goodreads


10 Things I Loved About The Last Day by Claire Dyer

  • The structure of the book – Told from alternating points of view of the main characters, at random intervals the reader gets a chapter about a seemingly unrelated character whose role in the story will only be revealed at the end of the book.
  • The atmosphere in the house – The book creates a powerful sense of claustrophobia.  The house in Albert Terrace is small, smaller than the reader might have imagined, meaning Vita, Boyd and Honey are in close proximity all the time.  The three of them share one bathroom and the rooms are described as ‘crowded with furniture’.  At one point Vita says, ‘I feel cramped by their presence in the house.’
  • The apt names – The character names give an insight into their personalities.  There’s Vita whose name matches her feisty nature, someone who’s full of life and not a little pent-up anger.  There’s Boyd, whose names speaks of solidity and honesty.  There’s Honey who embodies the sweet nature her name suggests.  And there’s Trixie – but I’m going to let you read the book and work that one out.
  • Colin – Oh, poor Colin, Vita’s convenient companion for outings, suppers and – occasionally – something more.   His comment to Vita, “If you’re happy, I’m happy” sums him up.
  • Honey’s superstitions – Bringing bread and salt to a new home (and sprinkling the salt on the doorstep), going in and out by the same entrance, flinging open all the door at midnight on New Year’s Eve to let the old year escape unimpeded.  And I can’t finish without mentioning the precaution against bad luck Honey takes on p.47.  Sorry, you’re going to have to read the book to find out!
  • Vita’s pet portraits – In fact, not so much the pet portraits as Vita’s sheer contempt at what she’s been reduced to – painting pictures of pampered pooches.
  • Shared pleasures – Boyd’s and Vita’s early morning chats over tea or coffee and the crossword.  What could be more civilised?
  • Tension – The presence of secrets and hidden frustration contribute to an air of mounting pressure that the reader feels must eventually find some release.  As Vita observes, ‘…how can this house survive seeing it’s full to bursting with the three of us, our belongings, and so many unsaid things?’
  • That ending – The tension mentioned above builds to a dramatic and heart-breaking conclusion that represents both a last day in one respect and a first day in another.

Elements of the story, for me, were definitely in the realm of fiction but what really stood out about The Last Day was the depth of the characterisation, the intense atmosphere the author created within the house and the compelling nature of the relationship between Vita, Boyd and Honey.

I received a review copy courtesy of publishers, The Dome Press.

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In three words: Intense, compelling, intimate

Try something similar…That Summer in Puglia by Valeria Vescina (read my review here)


Claire DyerAbout the Author

Claire Dyer’s novels The Moment and The Perfect Affair, and her short story, Falling For Gatsby, are published by Quercus. Her poetry collections, Interference Effects and Eleven Rooms are published by Two Rivers Press. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Royal Holloway, University of London and teaches creative writing for Bracknell & Wokingham College.  She also runs Fresh Eyes, an editorial and critiquing service. (Photo credit: Goodreads author page)

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