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Sunday 5 May 2013

The Children Shall Be Blameless by W. Jack Savage


Quite a book, this one. I did find myself wondering as I read it whether or not I was looking into the window of the soul of the main character (Richard Smith) or of that of the author…it was written with such conviction, passion and heart. 

Richard Smith is unceremoniously dumped in an orphanage along with his two sisters (whom he thought they were), but things don’t turn out too well for the latter. Without them, he survives his pre-teen years in the orphanage to then join the armed forces with whom he does a tour of duty in Vietnam. Back in civvy street, he proves himself an astute businessman and property owner. An electric shock one day, during routine maintenance of one of his properties, opens a Pandora’s box of memories and unanswered questions, which send him on a journey of discovery and extraordinary experiences. A journey he hopes will take no more than three days…but...some questions are answered, some are not, and a whole new set present themselves. His focus, sincerity, trustworthiness and compassion remain with him throughout, qualities that he acquired and which sustained him all his life, in spite of his shaky orphanage years: all because of one man, Father Brown, who saw in him a uniqueness and whose unerring support gives Richard what he never received from absent parents, nor indeed from the orphanage’s nuns. 

This is a compelling book. It is quite long, a little slow in places, there’s perhaps a bit too much telling rather than showing, the subplots are a trifle complicated at times, and the cast of characters seems to multiply infinitely! BUT…Savage has conceived a mesmerising and fascinating main character. Every dialogue of which Richard is part is charged with emotion or pathos or suspense, even. The story follows Richard from his first days in the orphanage to his last breath and every stage of his life draws you in. For every time he accepts his lot…which he does so admirably…your heart bursts with hope that he may find that for which he yearns the most. It’s not just Richard’s character who was brilliantly portrayed, however: just about all the cast and crew were extremely well conceived. You ‘got’ them all. 

The book is fiction, but the man on whom Richard was based lived, lives, will live, somewhere, sometime. It’s about a man who is searching, in this case, for his roots, love, fulfilment and contentment. Each of us looks for at least one of those things at some point in our lives. 

I really enjoyed this, not just for the story, but for the depth of thought and sentiments therein. 

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