Q – What is the core of a successful novel?
A – You can in some way identify with it; you recognise it as relating to your own life experience.
And this doesn’t mean you need to have experienced exactly the same events that the novel describes: simply that you recognise the truth in the story from your own life.
And that goes for all genres, even fantasy or escapist fiction. Somewhere in the structure of that story you recognise Truth.
Such is Tom Di Giovanni’s debut novel “Home”.
I first met Tom at our Church (St Mark’s in Leamington Spa) where he plays guitar and occasionally leads the music group. His love of music and in particular the guitar is demonstrated in this novel.
Tom wrote “Home” during National Novel Writing Month 2007, then worked on it in between the demands of a full time job.
Edited by Tom’s father (editor, translator and author Norman Thomas Di Giovanni), the novel has now been issued in a limited edition of 35 for the author’s family and friends. I was privileged to receive a copy, and I’ve now read it.
In simple, graceful, lucid prose, Tom tells a touching story with which many would identify, a story that shows how life offers second chances, with an essentially optimistic message, that affirms we can make the right choice when life gives us a second chance.
Tom took the novel “Persuasion” and based his story on Jane Austen’s – taking it from the male point of view.
28-year-old Martin, an architect, returns to his home town (in England’s West Country) and meets again the girl who broke off their relationship 10 years before. Daisy was persuaded by friends to reject him for being younger than her. But Martin then meets 17-year-old Claire, a talented young singer-songwriter, who has a job in the local guitar shop. Tom’s description of their unfolding relationship is drawn with subtlety and a sure and delicate touch.
Though Tom set the novel in a West Country town he used elements of our own local town Leamington Spa. In particular one scene is set in “The Dell”, a local park, where he saw a girl sitting alone playing the guitar, which inspired him for his novel.
When I read the novel I felt I was reading something that was:
1. Well crafted;
2) Had a water-tight structure;
3) Had integrity in and of itself;
4) Pointed me to a universal truth I could verify from my own experience.
They say a book must have “wow!” factor to succeed. The “wow” factor of this novel lay in its power to move, its scrupulous attention to detail, and its truthfulness.
The message of the novel is:
That which you believed lost, you can later return to and find again: but only if you meet the challenges the new situation sets; and only if you apply the new insights and discernment you have gained in the intervening years. You will be tested again, and past issues may arise once more in a new disguise.
Tom hopes to find a publisher soon to take on the novel. So watch out for him!