Monday, 29 August 2016

And Then It Rained - C. W. Lovatt

Comment on the blog or on our Facebook page to be in with a chance to win a copy of this truly memorable and beautiful book.

The draw for the prize will take place on 6th September.

Reading is one of the great joys of my life. Deprived of a book I will read the sauce label and the microwave instructions, the small print on an insurance document - anything so that I can feast my eyes on the printed word. Reading so much, one could be forgiven in thinking that I have a whole arsenal of unforgettable books in my head, books that will stay with me forever, but no. I had four, and now I have five. ‘And Then It Rained’ will never leave me, tugging at heartstrings, making me smile, making me want to cry, to laugh, to live.

The book is from C.W. Lovatt, the best-selling author of the Charlie Smithers series and the much acclaimed Josiah Stubb. It is an eclectic collection of award-winning short stories, a genre in which Lovatt excels. (Saying that, I have not yet found a genre in which this incredible author does not excel.)

I first came across C.W. Lovatt’s work by accident, finding a compelling ‘flash fiction’ short called ‘Baggage’ in an unrelated Google search – unrelated unless, of course, ‘Baggage Allowance Finnair’ is considered related! The story is entirely in dialogue, no ‘he said’, ‘she said’ and it works so well. I read it and re read it and eventually printed it out, framed it and hung it (levelly) on the studio wall.  It is still one of my favourite pieces of writing and I was delighted to find it included in ‘And Then It Rained’.

'Baggage' on my studio wall.
The most incredible thing about this collection of stories is the ‘voice’.  Each story has such a different subject matter, such different characters and is written in an entirely different voice,  not in the way of some lesser author, struggling to find their personal  ‘voice’ and testing out various approaches, but with the confidence of a writer of extreme merit who knows his place in this world. I use the word confidence, but never does Lovatt’s writing become arrogant and somewhere, deep underneath the compelling penmanship, coming out through some of his characters, we spy an engaging humility and deep sense of humanity.
The nearest simile I can use to describe the power behind the ‘voices’ is to liken it to method acting -
“a technique of acting in which an actor aspires to complete emotional identification with a part”. The emotions and personae are so accurately portrayed it would seem that the author has
taken on the emotion of that particular character for the duration of the story.

The timing is perfect, whether used for comedic effect or for a dramatic twist, the laughter or the gasp of horror from the reader is guaranteed. Dialogue flows easily and naturally, as can be seen in this excerpt from the first story in the book, Sean’s Lament, a delightfully funny story about the gullible Sean who can never quite believe that the love of his life could be cheating on him:

"Then she snuggled up to me, her breast – done with flirting – had decided to get down to business and flattened itself against my chest. I almost heard the ‘prong’ as a tent pole sprang up halfway down the covers. Her voice was warm and moist in my ear when she asked, “But you want to know the best part?”

“What?” I shivered, fumbling for the light switch.

Her hand drifted beneath the covers until it found me and took hold.  “Boy-oh-boy,” she giggled, low and husky, “you is hung! "

I found myself enchanted by the miniature perfection of each and every story, marveling in them in the same way that I stare in rapt enchantment at the miniature portraits of Hans Holbein the younger.
Margaret Roper by Hans Holbein the Younger

I cannot read the stories fast. Each word needs treasuring. Every word has so much weight, import and value that every word needs savouring and valuing. Throughout the whole of the book, throughout everything that I have read of this major wordsmith, each word is there because it has to be there, in perfect partnership with the words before it and the words after it, balanced, weighed, carefully positioned and counter balanced.

Here is an example of that total perfection, balance and symmetry: "There she lingered to my heart’s content, every moment even more rapturous than the unparalleled one from before, until at last – while the world around me shattered into erupting volcanoes, and torrents of tsunamis washing away entire civilizations – she had supped her fill."

Lovatt has a remarkable way of making the reader be able to picture perfectly the physical appearance of the main character, but without lengthy descriptive passages.

How? This is a total mystery to me. I have read and reread several of the stories searching with a fine tooth comb for the answer, but to no avail.

I have to conclude that it is either magic or another mark of the total genius of the man.

One example of the author  summing up the whole of a space with a few choice words is found in the story that lends its title to the book, ‘And Then It Rained’, a heart wrenching short that had me damp eyed: "He entered into a clean but aging kitchen.  An ancient refrigerator sagged against one wall, emitting a long-suffering groan. A well-used stove crouched patiently next to it, surrounded by plain wooden cabinets, with a counter of chipped and stained Formica. A stainless steel sink completed the triangle: it was a habit that his eye could never quite relinquish after forty years in the trades – and he noted that the sink was too far left, slightly off-centre to the window overlooking the driveway. Mrs. Woodson ushered him into the living room...”

The final story, ‘A Word’, is the most beautiful thing I have ever read and it was with a real sense of sadness that I closed the book at the end. It will take a while before I can find something to enjoy as thoroughly as I have enjoyed this.

The description on Amazon says: ‘’Rain, that natural wonder, so natural, in fact that often it comes and goes scarcely noticed. However, metaphorical or otherwise, there are times when rain brings with it great change, causing the breath-taking beauty of rainbows or the cataclysmic destruction of floods, with equal indifference. This collection - an eclectic mix of humour, drama, and fantasy - is about those uncertain times. Dark clouds are forming, so you had better be prepared for the coming storm.’’

What other people thought:
Incredibly good writing
by Bookworm
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase “Lately I’ve been reading a number of short story collections and anthologies. I find it a great way to discover new authors and new genres.
In ‘And then it Rained’ I’ve discovered an author who has the enviable knack of evoking laughter and tears within the same pages.
Witty and with perfect comedic timing, the first story ‘Sean’s lament’ follows the antics of a young man who, in the name of love, endures all manner of alarming escapades. Visual and very funny, the tight writing keeps you on your toes until the final punch-line.
In complete contrast, my favourite of the collection ‘Tin Whistle’ is a Gothic
ghost story with lyrical prose. Quite beautiful in its simplicity, the tale of much loved and much missed Emily is incredibly poignant and emotional.
There are many more, equally diverse in style. What they all share is incredibly good writing.

”The Winnipeg Review  - “C.W. Lovatt possesses incredible talent, and it is my unreserved opinion that Josiah Stubb: The Siege of Louisbourg deserves a prominent place on any history buff’s bookshelf.”  

C. W. Lovatt lives in Canada where it's quite cold. If you wish to find out a little more about him and his life, read the hilarious non-fiction story in ‘And Then It Rained’ entitled ‘The Thing About Pantyhose’. This venture into autobiographical non-fiction is a departure from the norm for Mr Lovatt, but it provides a wonderful snapshot of the twelve year old boy.

© August 2016 ~ Reviewed by Diana Milne, letterpress seller extraordinaire and author of a totally unnoticed ‘wish list’ on Amazon.



  1. Sounds really interesting and worth seeking out this author to see if he lives up to your wonderful recommendation! I will let you know!!

  2. What a tantalising review! I would love to win a copy of this book!

  3. What a tantalising review! I would love to win a copy of this book!

  4. Posting on behalf of Elizabeth Hage who for technical reasons cannot comment but wants to be in the draw (I don't blame her!)

  5. My review does not even begin to do it justice, Louise.

  6. Blimey, what a fab review. Definitely makes me want to read the book!