Author: Charles D. Blanchard
ISBN: 978-1-4535-7785-1
Publisher: Xlibris Corporation

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An average debut novel, with signs of genius. 

Set in Pennsylvania 1910, this is the story of Abby Whitman, a 28 year old woman, who discovers she is suffering from cancer.  There is a mutual attraction between her and the doctor who is treating her, Dr. Fletcher.  He wants to cure Abby, so seeks advice from a fellow doctor who is pioneering a new cancer treatment.  There are many other characters in the book, and I sometimes found that it was distracting having so many different characters because there was no room for the author to develop them.  I was often left feeling as though I didn’t understand the motivation behind why a certain character did something or behaved in a certain way.  This could only be resolved by giving more time to each of the characters and helping the reader to get to know them better.  For example, the story about Henry Corrigan and the old woman could have been very touching, but I was just left feeling as though it required a leap of faith to believe it.  Similarly, the way the mourning dove tale ends left me wondering ‘why?’.

I feel that the author was trying to achieve too much with this book and the end result was that there are about a dozen different sub plots going on, leaving little time to fully explore each one and leave the reader satisfied.

The main story about Abby seemed to be neglected in part so that the other stories could be fitted into the book.  The effect was that on reading the novel it felt more like a set of short stories that were interwoven.  

It is a fairly typical debut novel, in that the sentence structure needs some work to make it flow better.  Some of the sentences are far too long, in my opinion, and others need work to make the reading experience less of a task.  I also personally didn’t like the usage of expletives and slang in the narrative.  In my view it’s okay for characters to use expletives if they are someone who would talk like that, but in this type of historical drama the use of such language didn’t seem to ‘fit’.

Having said all that, there is a lot to like about the book.  It has obviously been well researched.  Lovers of classical music will be able to appreciate the author’s descriptions of the classical pieces enjoyed by Abby, Dr. Fletcher, and Madison.  There were signs of the makings of a master storyteller—for example, the scene where Ella saves a kitten had me enthralled.  Readers who like the classics, and historical fiction, will find a lot to satisfy their tastes.  I must admit to preferring more fast-paced and modern literature, which is perhaps why this book didn’t work for me.  I have read a few Booker Prize winners and many a bestseller that have left me feeling unsatisfied for this very reason.
This author is undoubtedly very talented.  There are indications throughout the novel that he has a heightened awareness of human nature and a fabulous imagination.  I would definitely be interested in reading more of his books in the future.

Click Here To Purchase Mourning Doves After The Fire