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Reviews of Secret Summer

 

Below - edited extracts from the Belper News of October 6th 2010 by Katy Hallam.

What Katy said …

 

Literature can 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 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 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.



Review from Bradford’s Telegraph & Argus printed on April 16th 2011


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 painful memories.

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.

Emma Clayton




Five Star - www.amazon.com - Review of Secret Summer from the Chief Features Writer of Shout! 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 semi-autobiographical novel.

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.

This book is an excellent read – you may laugh, you may cry, but you will undoubtedly want to explore Narvel Annable’s other books!

 



Review of Secret Summer from Tony Fenwick Co-Chair of LGBT History Month – www.lgbthistorymonth.org - and Schools OUT – www.schools-out.org – January 12th 2011.

In many 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 countryside.

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.



Nottinghamshire’s Queer Bulletin - Number 57 – December 2010 / January 2011 – page 5.



See the original on Nottinghamshire's Rainbow Heritage website - www.nottsrainbowheritage.org.uk

Detroit 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.

The 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.

Narvel’s 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 – www.narvelannable.co.uk




Review / feature from the Belper News - October 6th 2010 – www.belpernews.co.uk



Gay author’s book published in the USA

Literature can 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 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 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.

Katy Hallam





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 – www.thisisderbyshire.co.uk



A celebration of Derbyshire as ‘pink mafia’ go on the rampage

When it comes to gay thrillers set in Derbyshire, author Narvel Annable seems to have cornered the market.

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.

Helen Meynell


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.

Depicting a flourishing gay scene in Matlock caves and a homosexual Mafia, Secret Summer follows on from Narvel’s previous efforts Lost Lad and Scruffy Chicken.

Colin Drury

 



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 in 1966.

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.

Vicky Carr




Review / feature from Shout! November 2010 – page 14 – www.shoutweb.co.uk


The secret of summer

Shout!’s favourite author, has finally arrived. 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.

Paul Hunt



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.

“I 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

www.lgbthistorymonth.org.uk


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 Detroit.



LGBT 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 Summer immensely.”

Secret Summer will be launched in the UK on March 31st 2011. However, copies can be obtained from the author via his website – www.narvelannable.co.uk

 



Comment from Terry Ladlow of Terivison Productions, Hunmanby, Filey, North Yorkshire.



“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 www.derbysrainbowfringefestival.org.uk


“The story told in Secret Summer is very important as part of the journey of many LGBT people both locally and globally.



Comment from Jeff Bonser the landlord of the Durham Ox in Denby near Derby


“Simply the best book I have ever read.”



Comment from Peter McEvoy of Somersall, Chesterfield in Derbyshire



“What a 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.

“I 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 extremely well.

“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 read."

 

 

A personally signed copy of Secret Summer can be obtained from the author by sending a cheque for
£8.00 [this includes P&P]
To

Narvel Annable, 44 Dovedale Crescent, Belper, Derbyshire DE56 1HJ
Phone 01 773 82 44 83

   


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New
Sea Change



Secret Summer




Scruffy Chicken


Lost Lad


A Judge Too Far


Death on the Derwent

 


Heanor Schooldays

Copyright 2006 Narvel Annable. All Rights Reserved.