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The Scandalous Memoirs of John Torrance - an Editorial Review of "Jack the Lad"

Book Blurb:

it’s 1880. You’re young, inexperienced, and trying very hard to be grown up. Nobody consults you about your own affairs. Your plans are ridiculed. Nobody takes you seriously – and, if you were in their boots, you know probably wouldn’t either.

What’s a country to do?

Jack Torrance is twenty, a miliary cadet, and he’s chosen to meet the most powerful couple in the country. It’s not a random choice. It’s quixotic for certain, but the Prime Minister has an eye on the future, and Torrance fits his plans.

Where that choice leads is totally unexpected.

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Author Bio:

D.E. Ring grew up in small towns, where characters still tell their stories with context everyone understands. Creating that depth of context over a series of novels – that’s the goal of the Urquhart and MacDonald Murder Mystery series. The first two books in the series, Death of the Limping Man and Death in the Offing were published in 2023, with the third, Death of the Dancing Doll, coming out in November 2023.

His second series of books, The Scandalous Memoirs of General John Torrance, starts with Jack the Lad, published in October 2023. It's an historical adventure series about the birth of our modern world, with its comedy, desperation, tragedy, and all-too-human predictability.

D.E. has built a successful business, and learned from three daughters what struggle, joy, triumph, and even death truly mean.

Writing for a local paper demanded discipline and understanding the reader. Becoming a successful professional playwright brought rhythm to the words and a way with deft characterization. Business writing demanded research, brevity, and exciting copy for a global market.

With a degree in English from Western University, D.E. is a full member of Crime Writers of Canada and Playwrights Guild of Canada. He is also a member of Equity, the actors' union. Having been a professional actor and director gives him handy skills when it comes to narrating his own audiobooks.

You can read D.E. Ring's blog and sign up for free offers at dering dot ca.

Editorial Review:

Jack the Lad: Book One of the Scandalous Memoirs of General John Torrance by D. E. Ring is a fictional story written in the style of a memoir. The book begins by introducing the fictional author who has been entrusted to go through the memoir of a young military cadet named Jack Torrance. A chance meeting sends Jack on a whirlwind journey that will require him to be both brave and cunning. Jack’s tale is one that is adventurous, engaging, and full of history and spycraft. The characters are incredible and witty and Jack’s memoir is full of history, adventure, interesting events, and everything else one could want in a memoir. Readers will find themselves fully immersed in Jack’s tale right from the beginning.

Large and imposing, he had a face like a potato, with a firmly set mouth, and a tumble of hair turning white. He strode over to me, took my right hand with his, and his left hand grasped my right elbow. It was a trick of politicians.”

The writing style of Jack the Lad: Book One of the Scandalous Memoirs of General John Torrance is enjoyable to read. It flows nicely and is written in a way that creates excellent pacing. One of the elements in the writing that makes the book so enjoyable is that the author wove humor throughout the story. The commentary of the main character is witty and funny. It allows readers to easily become engaged with the story and the characters. Another nice element of the writing in this novel is the use of imagery that makes it incredibly easy for readers to picture the events and people being described in the book.

They worked with Mary every day, made her part of the daily life of the household, and broke through the barriers that physical infirmity sometimes erects in the way of understanding. Because so many of us judge others on appearance, the Macdonalds made the brave choice to make Mary a visible part of their lives – she even attended Parliament regularly to hear her beloved father speak. To be sure, she and her parents were pitied, but she was eventually accepted – by most. That, in itself, was her first victory. That Mary was always under-estimated she turned into her second victory.”

The overall formatting of the novel is neat and organized but the author does use endnotes throughout the novel The author uses these endnotes to explain historical events, cultural elements, and more that are referenced in the story. While this provides great information to readers who might not be familiar with many of the things referenced, it might be more useful to use footnotes rather than endnotes. Being able to see the references at the end of each page would be much less cumbersome than flipping to the end of the book to check the end notes.

There’s a peculiar misconception in these dark and dull days of War that my distant past was somehow even darker and duller than this present world. But nothing could be further from the truth. The rooms were riotous. Women blazed in brilliant satin and taffeta and silk. And what man nowadays can be found with a canary yellow waistcoat or a sky-blue frock coat with matching silk hat?”

There are also some odd grammatical and mechanical elements throughout Jack the Lad: Book One of the Scandalous Memoirs of General John Torrance. For example, the author uses single quotation marks throughout the dialogue in the book rather than the standard double quotation marks typically found in dialogue. While this may not be bothersome to some readers, many will find it to be distracting. It might be helpful for an editor or proofreader to go through the manuscript once again to ensure that it is free of errors.

Upon arrival in Chicago, we performed our hotel shell game once again. Bagot and I checked into the Palmer House noticeably resplendent in military scarlet and blue. Later, incognito and wearing linen suits and slouch hats, did we assess the safety precautions where Louise and Leopold would actually stay – the Grand Pacific Hotel.”

Jack the Lad: Book One of the Scandalous Memoirs of General John Torranceis such a unique novel that it will appeal to a wide variety of audiences. Those who enjoy historical fiction will certainly find it enjoyable but it will also prove to be a great read for those who love dramas and memoirs even though it is a fictional memoir. The author has a clear understanding of how to write a novel with a wide audience appeal, enough humor to elicit some chuckles, well-researched historical elements, and plenty of action to keep readers engaged.

It was the last day of July and we drove down to the market building at the river. A long, wide flight of steps, encrusted with vendors, shoppers, and a remarkable number of nuns, led down to the water. We made our way through the crowds and were soon standing on the Allan Line dock below the old city. Above, the Citadelle rode the crest of Cap Diamant against a sky so blue it made your eyes ache. It was hot, with a freshening wind blowing from the west down the valley of the St Lawrence.”

An interesting story, witty humor, and excellent historical elements make Jack the Lad: Book One of the Scandalous Memoirs of General John Torrance a wonderful book to read and deserving of a four out of five rating. Some readers may struggle to move past the odd dialogue punctuation and inconvenient end notes. While improving these things will improve the book, it is still a worthy story that many readers will enjoy just as it is.


“Jack the Lad” by D. E. Ring receives four stars from The Historical Fiction Company


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