Paris By Starlight — Robert Dinsdale

If you’ve enjoyed any of Robert’s previous books then definitely give this a read.

Once again, Robert takes a really challenging, real world issue and wraps it up in wonderful, magical, story telling.   This time we’re taken into the world of war refugees who have travelled thousands of miles to find a new home.

As is usual in the real world, the politicians welcome them and say all the usual things that they’re supposed to say, but in the streets there are those who need to hate and any difference to the Paris they claim as their own will not be tolerated.

As with Robert’s previous stories, we also have the PTSD character, Hayk, who finds enemies around every corner.

This story really takes one into the lives and issues of refugees and asylum seekers, and in some places it can be challenging for anyone with a decent heart.   People, through no fault of their own have their lives torn apart, their homes destroyed, and lose loved ones and friends to the evils of war.   All these people are looking for is a place to be safe and at peace with what remains of their families and friends, something too many of us take for granted.

Well done, Robert.

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Little Exiles — Robert Dinsdale

I normally read writers in chronological order, but with Robert i started on his fifth book, The Toy Makers, then his fourth book, Gingerbread, and now i’ve just finished this, Little Exiles, his third book.

A chronologically back to front experience, but one that i’m very happy to have taken.

To say that Robert’s writing is heavy going emotionally would be a little understated.   Each of the three books above deals with trauma and the after effects of it upon one of the main characters and how that also affects those close to them.   In The Toy Makers the trauma is introduced half way through the book, in Gingerbread it’s slowly revealed incrementally as we go through the story, but in Little Exiles it begins with the trauma.   And each traumatic experience is very different.

Now some might shy away from these kinds of tales, just wanting to spend their time on pleasant reading experiences.   Which is fine, if that’s your thing.   But you would be missing out greatly in not only some incredibly well written and constructed story telling, but also missing out on understanding how trauma really affects people and brings chaos to their lives and those around them.   Is it not incumbent upon all of us to attempt to understand what people who are suffering from PTSD are going through and through that beginning of understanding gleaned from the pages of a fictional story begin to find some compassion towards people who may need a little extra from us?

Someone once said to me that they never read fiction because it’s just make believe nonsense.   I disagree.   In good works of fiction, like Robert’s books, we can see into lives that aren’t constrained by shame, guilt and privacy, but are simply laid bare upon the pages for all to see.   And in fiction we are given a look inside places that non-fiction dares not tread.

And sadly, this is not all fiction.   The underlying story of this book is true.   Children were taken from the UK and shipped off around the Empire to populate those places we invaded to make them more English — because if there’s more of us there then we obviously have more claim upon it.   No thought as to the rights of those children were given and no one really cared what ultimately happened to them.   They were just shipped off to places like Australia as though they were convicts and used however the colonial authorities saw fit to use them.

And we harp on about having an inquiry into child sex abuse in the UK, but at no point is anyone talking of having an inquiry into the overall abuse of children that has occurred here historically.   Children who were physically and psychologically abused, or simply stolen from their families to populate the Empire, just don’t seem to matter.   It’s very clear that the government is sending out a message that as long as no one touched your genitals then the abuse doesn’t count — the government simply isn’t interested in what a great many children suffered because the government is fully aware that it was complicit in it.

Luckily we’ve come a long way since the Victorian times and their attitudes to children that permeated our society well into the 1900’s.   But i do feel we still have a long way to go.   No child should ever have to suffer abuse of any kind, and that needs to be fully recognised.

Anyway, if you still haven’t got around to reading any of Robert’s books, then do please give them a go.   I would definitely recommend starting with The Toy Makers and working back from there.

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Gingerbread — Robert Dinsdale

Having been totally blown away by Robert’s 5th book, The Toymakers i put him into Bookbub as one of my saved writers and when this, Robert’s 4th book, popped up, i didn’t need asking twice to read more of Robert’s words.

And i wasn’t disappointed.

As with The Toymakers, there’s the PTSD element in one of the main characters and how that affects their lives and the people in it.   Or, as Robert described it in his interview at the end of this book:

… those wild, desperate places that people learn to bury inside themselves so that, after having endured terrible things, they can find a way to live on.

And Robert does this masterfully, and he does so in a prose that is accessible, flowing, easy to read, and with that perfect level of descriptiveness that the story needs.

Within the story that is Gingerbread, there are tales being told from a grandfather to his grandson.   Tales at first that seem just something from folklore and myth, but as we go through the main story the little tales that grandfather tells reveal something far more.

At times this book is harrowing, it moves you, and deeply, or at least if you have any compassion it will.

When Robert published this book he wrote an article for Waterstones about it: “The Truth In The Tales”.

At the end of any book, the question the reader has to ask themselves is, “Do i want to read more from this writer?”   After The Toymakers, the answer was a definite absolutely, and after Gingerbread i’m definitely more absolute about it.   Yes, i’m absolutely certain i’m going to be reading Robert’s 3rd book, Little Exiles, in the not too distant future as it’s in “The Pile”, and i’m also very much looking forward to many more incredible books from Robert in the years ahead, i’m hooked.

Sadly, Robert’s first and second book aren’t yet in Kindle format — we live in hope.

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The Toymakers — Robert Dinsdale

When this book came up on Bookbub as a 99p deal i was immediately attracted to it.   Yes, i do judge books by their covers, and also by their titles.   So i went to Amazon to check it out and it stated that it would suit those who enjoyed reading The Night Circus.

So as i’d very much enjoyed The Night Circus and with it being only 99p i went ahead and bought it.

But to be quite honest, it’s nothing like The Night Circus: they’re 2 very different books, IMHO.

The Toymakers is, at the end of the day, a story very much about unrequited love, sibling envy, and PTSD; whereas The Night Circus is neither of those things.

While both are set in magical spaces, there are no other real similarities whatsoever.

But having said all that, i did very much enjoy reading this book.   It is a fantastic journey through decades of 20th century London, including WW1 and WW2.   It delves well into PTSD and its affects on those who come back from the horrors of war and have to fit back into the lives they left behind.

And the ending …

… well, i never expected that.   What a wonderful twist in the tale.

If you’re looking for a really decent read, then look no further than The Toymakers.   I doubt many will be left disappointed.


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