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  • By TONY LAYTON
    May 16, 2007
    ""Castles In the Sand" by Tony Layton" Reviewed by Anna Lodwick, Carmarthen Arts. This is a story set during the second world war and told through the eyes of 12 year old John Watson whose family has escaped from the bombing in South Wales to run a hotel in Blackpool. We follow him through the joys and pains of those turbulent days:- the departure of his father to war and the subsequent break-up of his parents’ marriage; his relationship with the American soldiers billeted at the hotel, in particular, Charlie, a black soldier from New York; his friendship with Heini, a 12 year old Jewish refugee; the loss of his uncle in action; his suffering at the hands of bullies; and the unexpected death of his grandfather in Wales. John’s world is a world of black and white, right or wrong, as yet unadulterated by the greys and contradictions of an adult’s vision. Through his innocence we experience his raw empathy with the “underdog” be it Charlie or Heini or his friend... More > Terry whose “father is missing, believed dead”, or the rabbit his uncle hunted for the pot, “soft and warm……..its one undamaged eye looking right at me.” The author has faithfully captured the wisdom and logic so often found in a child’s simplistic thinking. “Humans are not clever enough to make things that simple,” this time from 12 year old Heini as he compared man’s warmongering with the birds and animals, sentiments reminiscent of Fynn’s little heroin’s observations in ”Mr. God, this is Anna.” “I could smell cigarettes and rain on his coat, and another smell, the smell of dad,” says John of his father returning on leave. The author does not merely describe the 12 year old, he is that child. Bullied at school and not wishing to return there, John comes home one afternoon to sad news. His confused reactions and emotions are simply yet profoundly expressed with “and now I didn’t have to go to school because grandpa had died.” The account of his return to Wales for the funeral echoes the best in AngloWelsh writing. Indeed, John Watson would not be out of place in Glyn Jones’ “The Island Of Apples.” “The only sound was grandpa’s grandfather clock…….the huge brass pendulum gave out a loud tick and every quarter of the hour there would be a whirring and a straining from the tall case before echoing bells chimed out the time.” Now his grandfather was dead, “Could grandpa smell the earth?” Back in Blackpool we meet more memorable characters:- Mrs. Maspeo, Heini’s grandmother- “If men had the pain of bearing children they would not try to kill them off so quickly.” Mr Koski, with his constant smile “as if he had decided he was going to go through life in a private bubble of happiness” ; the overflowing Maguire family; Stanley, the trick cyclist and Miss Prosser, John’s teacher and mentor, who says,”if you want to be a writer you’ve always got to reflect life as truthfully as you can.” I suggest that Miss Prosser is not entirely fictional and the author has heeded her words. An established playwright, this is Tony Layton’s first novel. His background in drama is evident in the unusual presentation of direct speech in the form of a play. This novel, celebrating the strength and optimism born of innocence, opens with a quotation from Dr. Martin Luther King. I think it is fitting to conclude with those same words. “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that……” Anna Lodwick, April,2007. “Castles in the Sand “ is published by LULU.COM and can be purchased online at www.lulu.com and from Amazon.co.uk< Less
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Product Details

ISBN
9781847531919
Publisher
TONY LAYTON
Published
March 28, 2007
Language
English
Pages
332
Binding
Perfect-bound Paperback
Interior Ink
Black & white
Weight
1.19 lbs.
Dimensions (inches)
6.14 wide x 9.21 tall
Product ID
791996
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