Some weeks back I told you that I was the lucky winner of a book (the very best kind of prize) on Karen Jones Gowen’s blog. The book is called Uncut Diamonds – her second novel.

I have often found myself having to defend the kind of books I like best. I don’t like thrillers, crime fiction, historical fiction or anything that has violence. I like a book to wrap myself up in. A book that allows me to immerse myself in another life where I can watch characters grow and change as they cope with whatever life is throwing at them. I love books strong on character. For me, plot is secondary to that.

Uncut Diamonds is just that kind of book – a wander around the life of Marcie and Shawn McGill and their expanding brood of kids in smalltown USA (set in Illinois). The story charts some turbulent years in the life of this young, growing family who are challenged with the recession of the 70’s which causes Shawn to lose work and ultimately they lose their house.

I just loved the central character, Marcie. She was a young mother, trying to do her best for her family but who often was overwhelmed by life – like the rest of us. I loved the spirituality that was an integral part of this Mormon family’s life. It was a book that certainly resonated with me and had many similarities to Ireland in the 70’s when the church played a huge role in family life.

Ultimately this is a story full of light and redemption as the family find help in all kinds of unexpected places. It highlights the love that binds families together even when on the surface there may be arguments and tensions.

For an uplifting read, you could do worse than read Uncut Diamonds! Check out its author’s blog at

Published by


Writing and Talking.... on the radio, on the telly and in the papers.


  1. Barbara, thank you so much for this review! I am touched that you totally and completely GOT this story, and I love how you expressed it. It is interesting that you found similarities to Irish life in the 70's. I would have never thought of that, and now I feel part Irish!

  2. Hi Theresa and Brigid… I hope you get your hands on this book soon. Its great to be able to support other writers – no matter where in the world they are!

    Karen – as I said on your blog, me and Brigid will be in the front row when you are on your book tour stopover in dublin!!! Well done again – I am in awe!

    Hi Ann – thanks for your endorsement!

  3. Excellent review of Karen's novel. She is a very good writer, and beautifully portrays the life of a Mormon family in the turbulent 70s. Your review captures the essence of her book so well!

    Karen is not only an excellent writer, she's also a great friend. (I first met her through WiDo, who is also publishing my first novel, summer 2010.) Karen urged me away from WordPress (that I really couldn't figure out) and into Blogger that I'm discovering is so much fun.

    You say you write about life as you see it–in Ireland. I have always wanted to see Ireland. Land of the green, my daughter's favorite color. She's disabled, and I take care of her in the beautiful green Shenandoah Valley in Harrisonburg, Virginia (USA).

    I'm glad I found you through Karen. I hope you'll come over to my blog and meet me, too.

  4. Hi Alex, Ann and Mary and welcome to my kitchen table. Coffee always on here!!!!

    Thanks Alex for the comment.
    Ann – good to meet you. And yes please come back often. Sometimes my posts are very local but feel free to shout WHAT ON EARTH ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT and I will do my best to explain. Am adding you to my blog roll and will pop back to yours for a proper visit and read over the weekend!

    Hi Mary and yes do read it. Its lovely!

    And Karen – think you might be reading the comments – thanks for the lovely post on your blog today. I am glad I made someone happy!!! : )

  5. Hi

    I came over from KarenG's blog! What a lovely thoughtful and considered review.

    As I've been having problems with I thought I'd wait for my Farm Girl first but this book is so on my wishlist!

    Take care

    Thank you

    Take care

  6. Hi – I also came over from KarenG's blog – love your kitchen table! I also have the Writer's handbook close by, and a cat – well, two of them – the ginger whinger and the naughty tortie.

    Lovely review, this book is definitely on my list to order. Thanks!

  7. Oh my goodness…. it feels like a party at my kitchen table with so many new visitors. I am delighted that you all took the time to drop in and leave a comment. And I am especially delighted to have new American friends!! I have been lucky enough to have holidayed in your country for the last two years and just loved both experiences. Can't wait to get back. So failte (welcome) and I will pay return visits to your blogs too!!!



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s