BOOK REVIEWS

Lily Fairchild begins in 1845. Lily is a little girl who takes care of her sick mother and is loved by her hard-working father. She feels at home with the nature that surrounds their small house and is intrigued by the Indians whose lifestyle starkly contrasts with the one that her society prods her to follow. Lily is uprooted from her home and sent away to live with her aunt after an unpleasant encounter shakes her understanding of the world. At her aunt’s place, a world of possibility opens up for her, which, in turn, paves a path of upheavals that will test her mettle, time and again. Lily Fairchild is a very beautifully written novel. The author has a keen way of describing the backdrops in his story. His characters come

alive when he describes their aches and emotions in the most heartfelt manner. Every line of the story feels like a stroke on the canvas- meticulously planned and carefully drawn, to create a mesmerising picture. In many ways, it is not the plot itself that draws you in. It is the way that the story is written which binds you in a spell, and you are compelled to read further. I can’t say that the writing of any recent novel has had such an impact on me. It reminds you of the classics, written by the likes of Austen, Hardy and the Brontë sisters. Just as beautifully he has painted his characters, Gutteridge has made them equally realistic. Lily’s character is very lovable. You quickly invest in her story and share in all the good and bad

experiences of her life. You watch her grow from a curious young girl to a woman who has been hardened by her experiences. Lily has a vibrant and strong personality, and by the end of the story, she establishes herself as an inspirational heroine, of sorts. What makes her story all the more colourful is the myriad of characters that cross paths with her. If you begin to make a count, you’ll find that there are too many characters in this story. However, they come in waves, one after the other, and leave quietly when their purpose is served. This way, it never feels too crowded or confusing. It is easy to keep a track of everyone, and you get to know them with the same sincerity that Lily does.

I would recommend this book to people who like reading the classics. While some will appreciate its descriptive nature, for others, it might become tiresome. Amateur readers and those who are used to a simpler form of writing might not want to read Lily’s Story. Considering the age group, the possible audience for this book ranges from teenagers to octogenarians. For the young, this book will act as a lesson on multiple fronts. For the old, it could be reminiscent of some similar experiences in their lives. Everyone has something they can take away from this book. re were a couple of typos and errors; however, they were too far and few to significantly influence the reading experience. All in all, this is a very good novel and comes highly recommended by me.

Reviewed By Tracy A. Fischer for Readers’ Favorite

Online Book Reviews

Wow. Just wow. I’m not sure if that’s enough of a statement for a review, but those were my thoughts when I finished Don Gutteridge’s book, Lily’s Story. The beautifully wrought historical epic follows our protagonist, Lily, as she traverses through life, from her childhood with a difficult father to her life as an old woman. In between, she experiences a whole lot, from the Underground Railroad that brought American slaves to the safety of Canada, to the Riel Rebellion, to the Great

War and the flu epidemic that threatened the lives of all it touched. Add to that all of the human elements of Lily’s story, births, marriages and deaths, connections and losses, friends and foes, and you have one very powerful and complete story.

Lily’s Story is not a book that you can read all in one sitting. Weighing in at 828 pages, Don Gutteridge’s novel is a masterly work that deserves time and attention to devour. That being said, once you start Lily’s Story, you won’t be satisfied until you reach the end. Gutteridge’s ability to draw characters that are so realistic, so likeable, is second to none. His descriptions of Lily’s home in Ontario are so beautifully rendered that it is almost as if the landscape, the environment, becomes another character. Lily’s Story would appeal to any lover of fiction, but especially historical fiction of epic proportions. It is my great pleasure to highly recommend Lily’s Story and I look forward to reading more by Don Gutteridge in the future.

Aimee Ann for Goodreads

Lily’s Story is a poignant and entertaining novel that captured my attention from the start and kept me captivated until the very end. Historical fiction is one of my most loved genres, so when I discovered Lily’s Story, I was excited because the description above alludes to a journey starting from the

1840’s. I love historical fiction novels that take the reader on a journey and through different events in history, so Lily’s Story is a novel that I was very excited to read. When I started to read Lily’s Story I was instantly impressed by the amount of depth and historical context laced throughout the book, and that is one of the many remarkable attributes of Lily’s Story. If you are a reader who loves historical fiction as well as character studies then Lily’s Story will be the dream novel for you, however, if you need more convincing then continue to read to learn more about this gem of a book! Lily’s Story follows the protagonist of the novel, Lily and the reader will be taken on the journey of her life which starts in the Lambton County of Ontario in the year 1840. The reader will follow Lily on her journey and through the many (real life) pivotal

events that happened during this time, such as the railway rivalries, the discovery of oil and the Great War The story of Lily’s Story is a breathtaking one that will entertain and captivate readers from beginning to end. What I loved so much about the story was the author’s exceptional ability to take the reader back in time effortlessly without a struggle. For a historical fiction novel to be successful, the reader has to be taken back in time and find it to be believable. In Lily’s Story, as well as the influenza pandemic. The reader will follow Lily throughout all of this as she grows as a character and the result is a poignant and moving journey that will be hard to forget. The story is a moving one which is mostly a character study of Lily. I love character studies in literature, and sadly they are hard to come across these days so to follow Lily on

her journey was stunning and the historical context which was laced throughout her journey made Lily’s Story one of the best historical fiction novels I have ever read! the exceptional author Don Gutteridge accomplished this because he managed to flawlessly transport me to the time period and immerse me in the story which in turn kept me turning the pages with haste from beginning to end!

Overall Lily’s Story is a moving, captivating and memorable novel that has captured my heart and ran off with it and that is why I have to award this stellar book five stars! Please do have a read of the preview below book lovers because this book is truly sensational and wonderfully written and should not be missed!

Erin Nichole Cochrane for Readers’ Favorite.

Don Gutteridge’s poetry collection In the Rarefied Regions of the Heart reads like an orchestra of moments and places that are set in time inside one man’s soul. Within these seventy-six pages, Gutteridge replays those flashes back in a digital age where we are constantly searching for something that feels tangible to us. In the Rarefied Regions of the Heart does that and more, and brilliantly so. His words capture what Gutteridge is, as a poet and as a man.

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His words don’t just make a sound on the page; they echo. This book struck me hard emotionally. I haven’t read that many authors or poets who can really translate true feelings onto a page and encapsulate these to such a degree that you must give yourself a minute to take it all in. Sometimes even to shed a few tears. Gutteridge’s soul peeks out of the pages; his life, his family, his loves and his losses.

When you read this collection, you become a part of his life; you see it, you feel it, and you hear it all.

This is transformative writing and it will open you up in a way that you have never been opened

before. In the Rarefied Regions of the Heart is truly a gift to oneself.

Romuald Dzemo for Readers’ Favorite

The Star-Brushed Horizon by Don Gutteridge is a gorgeous collection of poems that are intimate and that capture beautiful images from the poet’s life. Each poem is short, a stanza, a burst of joy, a feeling of bewilderment captured in words, a sensation of love, a communion with places and people. One of my favorite poems in this collection is “Jury,” a thoughtful musing at the sunset of life from a man looking back without regret, content with the life he has lived. It is short, like most of the poems, and written

with a peculiar rhythm that condenses a variety of images and ideas into one poetic stanza. The poetry is evocative, with lines that flow freely. The Star-Brushed Horizon is expressive and features reminiscences of childhood, the peculiar attitudes of young boys and girls, the feel of the locales, and the soul of a waking people. The images are powerful and Don Gutteridge’ s lively voice gives life to the things that seem mundane but that punctuate the pulse of human life — the hushed silences, the feel of the cold, the summer

air. The Star-Brushed Horizon features powerful themes of growing up, friendship, family, and dreams, and evokes the powerful sense of nostalgia that often grips the human

spirit in the wistful hours of the day as they look back to the past. It is deeply human, exploring the different climates of a soul and arousing in readers some of the memories of their own lives.

I loved the spiritual and human depth infused into these poetic lines. I got the impression that this author celebrates every breath of life in his poetry.

Erin Nicole Cochran for Readers’ Favorite

However, Gutteridge’s work is imbued with the most delicate modern touches that keep the reader with one foot in this current world and one foot in a past we have never seen or touched. God’s Oddities by author and poet Don Gutteridge is a collection of poetry that combines life-long lasting visuals with the most palpable of emotions. Three of the specific lines that demonstrate this strong capability are on page seven – “like the tangible tears I felt/when you left me without/saying goodbye.” The voice that he carries throughout its entirety is one that appears to find beauty in all moments and in all things. And in an expert way he creates this connecting strand that brings the reader in with him. His poetic assembly of words brings to mind Shakespeare and Byron.

God’s Oddities is sixty-six pages in length, but creates a permanent reverberating sensation that carries on for much longer in the

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best of ways. Poet and author Don Gutteridge’s God’s Oddities floored me with its beautiful still-on-the-page but moving-in-the-mind words. The gamut of emotions that are on the page, that feed back into you, as the reader … you truly feel like you are swapping bodies and minds with someone else. I feel that’s the best way to explain it. No other author or poet I have ever read has ever left me with that particular feeling. Don Gutteridge will bring you deep into his life in a way that only he is able to do and it’s a panoramic journey.

Reviewed By Jack Magnus for Readers’ Favorite

Summer’s Idyll is a coming of age novel written by Don Gutteridge. Summer stretched out endlessly before him and his friends; it was only the first week, but Junior still remembered the last day of classes. He could feel the classroom seem to diminish somehow as the students left and Miss Kernohan began erasing the last of her writing on the chalkboard. Junior felt an emptiness, a sense of something

lost. He was eleven years old and, next year, he would be in the sixth grade. Miss Kernohan would be little more than a wave and smile as he rushed past her classroom on his way to his own classes. But he still had something to treasure, a memento of sorts, her elegant writing in scarlet gracing the bottom of his own scrawled penmanship on an assignment: “Junior, you are a born storyteller!” He read it over and over

again. It was 1944, both an exhilarating and a troubling time to be young, free of school and alive. Junior’s dad had been away for what seemed like years because of the war, and things between his mom and his dad’s parents, with whom they were living, were getting increasingly tense. Sometimes, Junior felt a special kinship with his mom, a solidarity with her against the accusations, the critical looks at her wanting to go to a bar

at night, to have some enjoyment while she was still young. She had long lost patience with the rift between her husband and herself; she wanted him there or to be free. Junior and his mom were like orbiting stars in their firmament; they shared the same house but were frequently not there together. Things were different then. Kids were out at dawn’s rising and gone till the sun began to set. Joey and Junior spent most of the mornings diving into the cold clear waters of the lake and all the kids were busily getting ready to put on this year’s circus, which would be the biggest, best one yet, its marquee announcing: Wiz Gallagher and His Fabulous Three-Ring Circus: One Performance Only. And there were mysteries afoot. Strange, out-sized footprints had been found on the sandy shore of the lake and word of a mysterious stranger being sighted kept the villagers on edge. One woman fell off her porch in shock at what she had seen, but thankfully was not injured. This summer would be special indeed.

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Don Gutteridge’s coming of age story, Summer’s Idyll, smoothly and easily transported me back to a time that was both simpler and more complex. I’m old enough to remember my own summers of being up at dawn and going off with the kids in the neighborhood on adventures. I would have to agree with Miss Kernohan’s assessment of her favorite student, Junior, and declare that the author “is a born storyteller.” I’ve had the privilege of reading and reviewing a number of Gutteridge’s collections of poetry, and knew from them that he is a marvelous storyteller indeed, but Summer’s Idyll blew me away. The Oxford Dictionary describes an idyll as an “extremely happy, peaceful, or picturesque period or situation, typically an idealized or unsustainable one,” and I would think this description fits Summer’s Idyll quite well. There is the ever-present feeling of change, a tension that signals impermanence,  a transitory quality to the light,  the moods of the kids at play, even nature participates with a storm

to end all storms and leaves a ghastly aftermath. Summer’s Idyll did of course eventually end, as all summers do, and realizing the passage of time as the pages flew by had me

actively participating in the transitory nature of the work. This is a remarkable and outstanding coming of age tale; one that carried me blissfully along for the ride, enjoying every chilly

swim, scary adventure and hard-won mock battle in the dunes. Summer’s Idyll is most highly recommended.
Summer’s Idyll is available from Chapters and Amazon

Reviewed By Jack Magnus for Readers’ Favorite

Mara’s Lamp is a collection of poetry written by Don Gutteridge. Gutteridge is a poet, author and professor emeritus at the University of Western Ontario. Much of his

poetry is based on his remembrances of Point Edward, the small Canadian village perched on the shore of Lake Huron where he grew up. The opening poem treats the reader to a

vision of children giddily racing, hiding in the shadows created by the streetlight’s “lambent glow” and experiencing the drama of hide-and-go-seek each night. Under that lamp,

Gutteridge first recognized the pangs of growing up, of seeing a childhood playmate as perhaps something more as described in First: “Nancy../you were the first/to stir in me feelings I later/learned were the inklings of love,/of an unglazed glance/under Mara’s lamp.” And under that lamp, he and his pals felt immortal “un-/hampered by thoughts of Time/or the dulcet Dance of Death.” Gutteridge’s poetry is rich and textured. His words fuse sense and sound, all tempered by the sense of time endless and flowing or frozen, or, in the case of the sands and waters of Canatara, simply eternal. There’s a marvelous poem entitled Confection that recounts the simple joy of penny candy and grab-bags filled with a mysterious wealth of sweeties all purveyed under the benevolence of the proprietor, “the twinkling pause/in Harry’s seventy-year/smile.” Autumn blazes forth in golds, crimsons and vermilion in Season: “when everything green/in McPherson’s orchard/turned as rosy as a bride’s/blush, and

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we bit into the fruit/and let the exotic juices glide chinward.” All of nature is participatory in this grand and solemn occasion. There’s the “acrid edge” to the scent of the fresh apple cider and the pungency of “moon-/rounded pumpkins split/wide and oozing pulp.” I am, as always, most awed by Gutteridge’s Canatara poems; his love letters to the dunes “infused/with the heat of a thousand suns/tiny infernos festooned/with tufts of grass” and the endless summers spent playing in the sand and braving the icy waters that whisper enticingly. And while “Time/itself lurks like a stranger/behind the silver moon/slithering in the noon sky,” I find myself captivated with the concept of immortality imbued in those sands and the vastness of the elements that built those shores up so lovingly to become “these child-friendly/dunes of Canatara/(which)took millions of wavelets/nibbling the sibilant shore/ and hundreds of thunder-thwarted/storms to hurl the sand/landward into grass-/groomed humps” where

the poet and his friends played. Family is also an enduring theme in this work, with the poet’s grandfather looming large over everything. He is a constant, a source of strength, even if gone too soon, and his presence poses a telling contrast with Gutteridge’s father whose light is bright yet fitful. In Beaming, the poem dedicated to his grandmother, alliteration brings to

 vivid life the vibrant sounds of the brass band they enjoyed so much, a guilty pleasure not shared by his grandfather, rather, a moment just for grandmother and grandson. Gutteridge deftly plays with time, weaving past and present and the enduring aspect of life in Mara’s Lamp. As with many of his other works, the reader is privileged to see Point Edward and those friends,

who are his timeless past, revel and play in the shadows at night and in the brilliant, scintillating sunshine on endless Canatara Beach afternoons. This is a remarkable work that prods our sense of self and personal immortality, and it reveals how we are part of something grand and enduring. Mara’s Lamp is most highly recommended.

Reviewed By K.C. Finn for Readers’ Favorite

Bus-Ride is a work of literary styled lyrical fiction which was penned by author Don Gutteridge. Set in Canada during the year 1939, the titular bus ride forms part of the life of central character Bill Underhill, who appears to have everything going for him as he looks forward to a bright future playing pro hockey. What unfolds is the tale of the town and the people around him over the space of a week, enveloping the readership in a poetic and atmospheric narrative style that transforms a small town’s interpersonal drama into something akin to the great social novels of the Victorian age. Author Don Gutteridge has done something special in the creation of this intriguing novel, and it’s difficult to pin it down with words. Whilst the prose feels lyrical and tongue-in-cheek in

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many places, there is a definite narrative to it that prevents it from becoming lost in whimsy. Gutteridge’s voice is clear amongst those of his characters, an additional unseen presence that guides us with wit and sardonic charm. Bill’s journey to big decisions and the pressures of growing up is attentively handled with an emotionally resonant plot, but we are also amusingly removed from his predicament by the comfortable narrative distance which the style creates. These contrasts and contradictions make an interesting read for literature students and fans alike, telling the tale of both the town itself and the author’s own lyrical prowess. Overall, Bus-Ride is well worth a read for literary fiction fans and those looking to discover a new and original work.

The novel, a 1974 publication, has been reissued by Black Moss Press and is available at Chapters and on Amazon.

Reviewed By Tammy Ruggles for Readers’ Favorite

Lilacs in Lavender Light by Don Gutteridge is a poignant collection of poetry that will make you appreciate life, love, and all they have to offer. The writing is lyrical and full of imagery to stimulate the senses–using nature as a primary source of comparison, but other themes as well. With expert timing, each poem reveals thoughts and moods about the author’s important and formative relationships–from childhood through marriage. Each poem can stand on its own as a work in itself, but taken as a whole, the work is a kaleidoscopic ode to life, told in sights, sounds, smells, textures, and feelings. It’s clear Gutteridge knows his way around a poem or two. His writing skill takes you into a village and beyond for a journey through childhood and middle-age life and events in between.

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The poems are written with meticulous care for sound and imagery as if he wants to pull you back through time with his memories so that you can capture the moments as he did. Perhaps the most touching are the ones that come later when he is talking about lost love, hope for the future, and of bonds that never end. Some poetry is written on the surface, meant to be taken at face value. But Lilacs in Lavender Light by Don Gutteridge is a collection of poems that you happily get to mine for a deeper meaning if you want to. When poetry can work on exterior and interior levels, you know you’re reading art instead of impulsive notes jotted down on a whim. Each poem has been given thought and meaning and makes for worthwhile reading.