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Some excellent reviews on my historical novel, A Weaver’s Web, appear at Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/19480963-a-weaver-s-web) and Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00H52SEEK).

Before the novel was published as an ebook, I received a number of other comments on it by UK literary agents, a professional appraiser, general readers, and people at a US writing site.

UK literary agents

Most agents simply say a manuscript doesn’t suit their list or they’re not passionate enough about it or words to that effect, but a few provided some positive comments:

– Thank you for sending us sample chapters [1 and 2] from your novel, A Weaver’s Web. They were very enjoyable and it was almost like a Mancunian Grapes of Wrath, but with the poor family finding its wealth. The location of Manchester during the industrial revolution dictates the action excellently and I can see why readers could not put it down. However, I feel we can not represent you at this time. Although we enjoyed reading your work, it would not fit well within our list at the moment. I hope you understand.

– You write well and your grasp of detail is impressive.

– I enjoyed reading the chapters you sent from your novel. I like the Manchester setting and it was a fascinating time in history. You have a very readable writing style.

– We found much to admire in your manuscript.

– You recreate the times well.

– You are clearly a talented writer but, after much consideration, … [This agent sent it to a reader and I think came close to taking it.]

I received several other comments similar to those above, such as “write well” and “enjoyed your writing”. There were a few who offered other feedback, such as “too much dialogue”, dialogue that is “too 21st century” and “lack of a protagonist and story”. That’s fine. As many agents said, novel writing is very subjective.

Professional reader’s appraisal

Here are some comments by professional appraiser and published writer Alison Rushby:

– [It] is a highly readable, fluidly written manuscript (ms). The ms’s strengths lie in three areas. Firstly, the author’s ability to construct a good sentence, which enables the reader’s eye to flow over the page easily; secondly, the realistic dialogue; and, thirdly, the story’s detailed and believable sense of place.

– “Novel” would appeal to the U.K. market in particular, as it deals specifically with English history and place settings. However, the U.S. and Australian markets would not be averse to acquiring a ms with such a setting.

– The ms’s main readership would be men and women aged 35 years and over who enjoy historical sagas [in the UK, the US and Australia].

– Your story idea, characters and dialogue are entertaining and highly developed …

– You have a lovely, easy-to-read writing style … and this is especially so in the case of your dialogue.

– Overall, “Novel” is a highly enjoyable, entertaining and well-written read. You have provided the reader with strong characters with fully realised backgrounds and a great sense of place.

General readers

Here are the comments of the 18 general readers who provided unsolicited feedback:

– Flows really well; loved the characters; got really close to them; could picture them; read it in one day.

– Couldn’t put the book down; even wanted to take it with me when we went out in the evening; I’m not a big reader; urgh, that Emily!; it would make a good movie. [This person is an old friend of my wife. She rang from Melbourne and raved about the book for half an hour, talking about various characters and scenes.]

– We both really enjoyed it; wanted to see what happened to them all; got a lot out of it.

– It’s just the sort of book I like.

– Easy to read; appreciate detailed research; read in two days; you must have really lived the characters; enjoyed reading it; very interesting book; amazed by the amount of work you have put into it.

– This is the equal best book I’ve read [with The House of a Thousand Lanterns by Victoria Holt]; so many exciting moments and surprises; page after page of enjoyable reading; excellent reading and very well written; you write as though you lived in the times; love it; brilliant; I was laughing; couldn’t wait to see what happened next; I felt emotional reading parts of it; if you can’t get this published, there is something very wrong with the publishing industry; I really felt great emotion for Sarah; I love this book; I could easily have read another 19 chapters; would make a wonderful movie or miniseries.

– Just my cup of tea; research is meticulous; you have written a gripping yarn.

– Enjoyed reading it; easy to read; read in one day; lots of good characters.

– It should be in everyone’s home.

– Enjoyed it.

– Very good; would make a great TV series or movie.

– I was able to get right into the book and found it hard to put down.

– Very interesting; should be a sequel.

– Thoroughly enjoyed reading A Weaver’s Web.

– Really enjoying your novel; want to get back to it to see what happens.

– I finished both your books in a few days, and they were great. I can’t understand how you could have trouble finding a publisher for A Weaver’s Web – they should be jumping at it. [and a bit later] Hope you find a publisher for A Weaver’s Web – I’ve lent it to a few people and they all love it. [I don’t know any of these people.] In fact I’ve just thought of someone else I know who would like to read it – think of all the royalties you’re missing out on!

– Just to let you know, my Mum has finished the book. She only started it yesterday. Said she couldn’t put it down. Really enjoyed it. Also wants a sequel to find out what happens to them all. It could grow into quite a saga. I’m sure it could be adapted for film or TV. [mother of a work colleague]

– Very interesting book; very well written. [Recently, this person, an old friend of my wife, took it on holiday to China and read it again.]

US readers

I posted a few excerpts on one of the writing sites I contribute to in the US and received these unsolicited comments:

– I just read your novel excerpt – LIFE – You sucked me in on it and I thank you for it. I’ve had a rough day and for a few moments I was in another time with your story. It was very good. Is there more? I noticed that many of your writings are number one, are you a professional writer? … I think your exce[r]pt was great and I truly enjoyed it. THANK YOU!

– Your story filed in Romance is very well crafted and intriguing.

– Very good Novel excerpt. Please keep writing and thankyou so much for sharing. [on the “Overcoming challenges” excerpt]

– Great. [on the “Purpose” excerpt].

– Very good, quite impressive [on the “Cruelty” excerpt].

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