Reviews of Secret Summer
edited extracts from the Belper News of October 6th
2010 by Katy Hallam.
Literature can be appreciated by so many different people.
It can bring them together, make them laugh and make them
In many instances it can even serve to break down
negative views and stereotypes.
A book written by a
retired man from Belper, quite easily accomplishes all of
the above – and more.
Not only is Secret Summer the
first of Narvel Annable’s novels to be professionally
published, it is the first to reach audiences in America.
Narvel has achieved what so many British celebrities
have tried to do and failed - he has made it in America.
The book was snapped up by The Nazca Plains
Corporation situated in the bright lights of Las Vegas.
Although this book has more than enough exciting
twists and turns to stand alone as a truly gripping
fictional read, it also has a very important message –
that people’s lives can be ruined by the attitudes of
Secret Summer is not just a must for the gay
community – it also celebrates the beautiful Belper
countryside and the surrounding towns and villages are
given several mentions. It celebrates Narvel’s love of the
Bradford’s Telegraph & Argus printed on April 16th
Inspired by a cycling holiday, this
is a moving portrayal of a young gay man on the run and
ostracised in the 1960s.
Bullied as a child and an
adult, Narvel Annable has endured the agony of being
treated as an outsider simply because he is gay. He was a
guest speaker at an International Day Against Homophobia
event in Bradford in 2009 and was nominated for an Equity
Partnership award last year. Narvel describes writing his
novel as a cathartic experience helping him to deal with
Partly set in Bradford, the
townscape and terrain of the metropolis is described as –
‘A splendid panorama of pinnacles and finials. Most
notable was the distinctive Italianate clock tower of the
City Hall and the ornate Venetian Gothic parapets and
pinnacles of the Wool Exchange. They reminded Simeon
[Narvel’s alter ego] of an ancient fairytale castle.’
Simeon also discovers Bradford Cathedral and is
delighted by its tranquil, peaceful ‘secret garden’.
At its heart, Secret Summer is a touching story of
young love, laced with a well-paced thriller involving a
missing person and a gay criminal underworld. It is also a
love letter to Narvel’s native Derbyshire with beautifully
written passages devoted to its natural landscape.
Five Star -
www.amazon.com - Review of Secret Summer from the
Chief Features Writer of
Magazine – Paul Hunt – December 31st 2010
Superb – A Must Read!!!
This book really
does have it all; joy, pain, sadness and comedy, not to
mention true pathos.
I found the characters very
‘real’ although I do appreciate it is a
The book takes you on
a historical journey to life before the decriminalisation
of homosexuality. The author manages, very skilfully, to
explore and convey the sexual, emotional and psychological
awakening of Simeon, the central character, and relates in
superb narrative those who shape his future.
book is an excellent read – you may laugh, you may cry,
but you will undoubtedly want to explore Narvel Annable’s
Review of Secret Summer
from Tony Fenwick Co-Chair of LGBT History Month
– www.lgbthistorymonth.org - and
– www.schools-out.org – January 12th 2011.
ways, Narvel Annable’s Secret Summer is a very different
novel. It follows the fortunes and misfortunes of a young
Simeon Hogg in the 1960s.
Born and bred in the
mining towns of industrial Derbyshire, Simeon moves to
Detroit, where he is swept off his feet and taken into a
whole new world by the sinister Ahmed, who has abducted
the boy and shows his love by taking possessiveness to a
whole new level.
Simeon is waited upon and
lavished upon and given a complete new life and identity,
but he is homesick for Belper and he knows that if he ever
crosses Ahmed his life might be in danger. So he plans his
escape and the physically repulsive but well-endowed Mr
Toad becomes his temporary saviour in the Derbyshire
There’s no cocaine fuelled evenings
in the bars and clubs in Secret Summer. The novel is a
mystery, but the beauty of it is that it gives us a rich
insight into what it was like to be a young gay man in the
US and in the East Midlands in 1966. Simeon is based on
Narvel himself. The colourful and often grotesque locals
he describes are real people from his past; only the names
have been changed. Moreover, it shows us how people in
these times coped with being outcasts and outlaws just
because of whom they loved.
Queer Bulletin -
Number 57 – December 2010 / January 2011 – page 5.
See the original on Nottinghamshire's Rainbow Heritage
website - www.nottsrainbowheritage.org.uk
to Derbyshire via the Mafia, Freaks and Young Love
This is the third semi-autobiographical novel to
feature young Simeon Hogg. Firstly set in Detroit where he
gets involved in a complex, somewhat abusive relationship
with a young man linked to a pink mafia. He literally
escapes back to his native Derbyshire. Fearful for his
life, Simeon goes on the run (well, actually on the pedal)
as he cycles through Derbyshire and Yorkshire.
hidden, secretive, often furtive world is reflected in
encounters with some oddball characters who appear in
Narvel’s previous books, but also with others who
anticipated the era of Gay Liberation. We meet – amongst
others – Mr Toad, Droopy the Vesuvius vacuum cleaner,
Fluff and Nobby the Gnome.
It’s history, it’s
travelogue, it’s crime, it’s sex (quite a lot of), it’s a
love story and it’s another good read.
book is printed and published in the USA where it is now
available. It will be published here on March 31st.
However - if you want a signed copy now, you can get one
directly from the author by going to his website at –
feature from the
Belper News -
October 6th 2010 –
author’s book published in the USA
be appreciated by so many different people. It can bring
them together, make them laugh and make them cry. In many
instances it can even serve to break down negative views
A book written by a retired man
from Belper, quite easily accomplishes all of the above –
Not only is Secret Summer the first of
Narvel Annable’s novels to be professionally published, it
is the first to reach audiences in America.
has achieved what so many British celebrities have tried
to do and failed - he has made it in America. The book was
snapped up by The Nazca Plains Corporation situated in the
bright lights of Las Vegas.
Although this book has
more than enough exciting twists and turns to stand alone
as a truly gripping fictional read, it also has a very
important message – that people’s lives can be ruined by
the attitudes of others.
Secret Summer is not just
a must for the gay community – it also celebrates the
beautiful Belper countryside and the surrounding towns and
villages are given several mentions. It celebrates
Narvel’s love of the area.
From Matthew Parris
The Time’s Room House of Commons
8th November 2010
“It was a good write-up you had
in the Belper News: congratulations and I hope Secret
Summer does well.”
Review / feature
from the Derby Telegraph -
September 24th 2010 –
celebration of Derbyshire as ‘pink mafia’ go on the
When it comes to gay thrillers set in
Derbyshire, author Narvel Annable seems to have cornered
Secret Summer begins in Detroit in
1966. Simeon Hogg is imprisoned by his lover Ahmed, in a
luxurious apartment funded by a gay criminal underworld
described as a ‘pink mafia’. Eventually he manages to
escape with a friend, Gary, and the pair return to
Simeon’s native Derbyshire, where he discovers a thriving
gay scene in Matlock’s caves. But the mafia are hot on
their heels and Gary disappears. Simeon goes on the run
cycling around youth hostels under an assumed name.
Narvel is a committed campaigner and his latest book
is part of that campaign. Secret Summer teaches the
heterosexual majority what it is like to be an ostracized
minority. His books and campaigns are Narvel’s way of
assuaging the guilt he feels for keeping quiet for so
long. But Secret Summer will not just appeal to gay
readers; it’s a celebration of Derbyshire too.
Review from the
Sheffield Star printed on March 14th 2011
Next time you’re browsing a book shop looking for a
gay thriller based in Derbyshire, you could do worse that
think of Narvel Annable.
The former Worksop Valley
Comprehensive teacher’s third novel in his ‘pink whodunit’
trilogy will be released in the UK this month by The Nazca
Plains Corporation in Las Vegas.
flourishing gay scene in Matlock caves and a homosexual
Mafia, Secret Summer follows on from Narvel’s previous
efforts Lost Lad and Scruffy Chicken.
Review from the
Harrogate Advertiser printed on May 6th 2011
This dramatic story crosses the Atlantic. It follows
Annable’s own experiences, eventually bringing his lead
character, Simeon, to Harrogate. He meets Big Bill Bulman,
an obese American based on Bill Silvey, whom Annable met
Bill was living at the Old Swan Hotel and
was a regular visitor to the Royal Baths. Annable
describes him as a colourful character who enthused about
the town in a roaring Deep South accent and thinks many
other people who were in the area at the time will
probably remember him.
Review / feature from
November 2010 – page 14 –
secret of summer
Shout!’s favourite author, has
The Nazca Plains Corporation
of Las Vegas, a major American publishing house, is hoping
to have Narvel Annable’s latest novel, Secret Summer, on
bookshelves around the world.
Comments about Secret Summer from
Councillor Robin Wood
Robin is a former
Mayor of the City of Derby. His partner was the venerable
Jeffery Tillett [1927-2008] also a former Mayor in 1977
when the Queen granted Derby city status. During their 37
years together, Robin and Jeffery made a huge
contribution, cautiously yet bravely improving the quality
of life for the Derby LGBT community.
thoroughly enjoyed reading Secret Summer. It brought back
some memories and, curiously, memories of things Jeff used
to tell me decades ago. He used to talk about the
‘Mansfield Case’. As far as I recall, this was a court
case in the 1950s//60s when a lot of gay men were
prosecuted. The implications spread far and wide making
the gay crowd in Derby and Nottingham very nervous indeed
- as exemplified in this novel.
“Perhaps we are
all becoming gargoyles and gnomes!”
LGBT History Month Bulletin 76 – October 2010
New Novel from Narvel
There aren’t many people called Narvel Annable and
there aren’t many gay men who have spent half their youth
in a Derbyshire mining community and the other half in
History Month Co-Chair Tony Fenwick said
“Our SCHOOLS OUT member is an accomplished
author with a wealth of experience and knowledge about gay
life on both sides of the pond. His characters – heroes,
villains, Adonises and monsters – are inspired by real
people in real places which are still there. After
enjoying Lost Lad, I’m looking forward to reading Secret
Secret Summer will be launched
in the UK on March 31st 2011. However, copies can be
obtained from the author via his website –
Terry Ladlow of
Productions, Hunmanby, Filey, North
“Secret Summer is so perfect! It is
sensitive, erotic, poignant, tender and so human. I’ve
been reading it and re-reading chapters to get the full
feeling and power of the interplay of characters, feelings
and emotions Narvel Annable has created. I felt for Simeon
and his tenderness, stimuli, aberrations, and the
unenviable intolerance he suffered as a boy.
Congratulations on writing such a fine book.”
Comment from Sonya Robotham of Derbys
Rainbow Fringe Festival
told in Secret Summer is very important as part of the
journey of many LGBT people both locally and globally.
Jeff Bonser the
landlord of the
Durham Ox in
Denby near Derby
“Simply the best book I have ever
of Somersall, Chesterfield in Derbyshire
huge wealth of detail there is throughout Secret Summer. I
believe someone once compared Narvel Annable’s writings to
those of Charles Dickens, with such vivid descriptions of
the many places visited, and all those colourful
characters we meet along the way. His descriptions of
Derbyshire and Yorkshire are superb, especially for anyone
like myself who knows and loves them both.
guess the main purpose of the book is to chronicle the
lives of homosexual people in the century before anything
became legal; how they lived in the shadows, unseen by
most people, and in constant fear of being found out.
Narvel’s two previous books did of course do that, but
Secret Summer does in much greater measure, and does it
“All in all, a well written book,
recording for posterity a slice of social history which
has now largely disappeared. I will return to it often as
I do with all of Narvel’s books.”
Peter Tatchell has
supported Secret Summer with the following comment –
"Another quirky corker in the Derbyshire
mystery series from the irrepressible Narvel Annable. A
Boy's Own story from 1966; it is a most entertaining
signed copy of Secret Summer can be obtained from the author by sending a cheque for
Narvel Annable, 44
Dovedale Crescent, Belper, Derbyshire DE56 1HJ
Phone 01 773 82