By: Doug Reid
Publisher: Wolfe Island Press
Publication Date: September 1, 2023
Reviewed by: Kathy Stickles
Review Date: August 8, 2023
Rows of Praise, a new novel by Doug Reid, is for readers who enjoy a good family saga with an amazing cast of characters. As you turn the pages of the book, you will follow along with a great group and become completely immersed in their lives as you laugh, cry, and learn about the different problems and joys that this family has and is still facing.
Rows of Praise is the story of Nick Maskelyne who, while out one night with a friend, just walks off into the night contemplating his life in a small Canadian town. Nick has lived and worked here his whole life, among the grape vines, and it is one of his favorite places to be. As he walks, Nick finds the place within the vineyards where he is always the most comfortable and goes to sleep. There he dreams of his wonderful wife Anna, who died tragically, and his new love Ruthie. Nick is trying so hard to figure out how to handle the fact that he is in love with two woman, one who was the love of his life but long gone, and the other who is his love in the present. Nick, unfortunately, cannot seem to figure out how to decide between the two and it is playing havoc with his emotions and decisions about his future.
Nick is, thankfully, not alone in his journey. He has his father Clarence, his friends Bill and Terry, his daughter Marie-Caroline, and his beautiful granddaughter Evangeline to make his life complete and to help him along the way. And, there is Ruthie, who is there for him, but not putting a lot of pressure on Nick to make his choice. She knows that it must be Nick and Nick alone who decides the best course of action for his life.
Rows of Praise is told over what amounts to be about a 24-hour time span but told in not only the present but in numerous, wonderfully written, flashbacks. If there is one thing to say about this book, it is that the characters are amazing. Being a part of these brief “returns to the past,” the reader is introduced to various members of Nick’s family, mostly through stories told by Nick’s father Clarence, arguably the best character in the entire story due to his humor and wisdom that comes through in his storytelling.
Rows of Praise is a wonderfully written book that will leave you laughing along with Clarence’s stories as well as becoming a bit teary-eyed and emotional as we learn of all the pain that Nick has suffered through his life. Author Doug Reid is an excellent storyteller and has a way of writing so descriptively that the reader will feel as if they are actually in the story, whether in the vineyards, walking through town, or standing in the kitchen when Nick’s mother snaps and threatens everyone in the family. It is definitely a book for those who love a great family tale in a small town. The story is well-written and flows along perfectly and the characters are each enthralling, although each very, very different. I enjoyed it very much and have become a new fan of Mr. Reid.
Quill says: Rows of Praise is an excellent example of a story wrapping around different generations of one family. The best part of the book by far is the wonderful and diverse characters, many of whom a reader is apt to recognize in their own families. This is a great example of storytelling that should not be missed.
For more information on Rows of Praise, please visit the website: sites.google.com/view/johntalisker-author/rows-of-praise