Rating: 3 stars out of 5
As soon as he graduated high school, Paul Thompson fled the tiny, heavily Ukrainian town of Liddon, Saskatchewan, for bigger and better things. Now in his late thirties, Paul owns a struggling art gallery in Toronto. His grandmother’s one-hundredth birthday is approaching, and Paul will return to place where he grew up for the first time since he left.
The town—and the province—don’t match Paul’s memories. Have they changed? Or has he? He reconnects with Dylan Shevchenko, an old friend who now teaches phys. ed. in Regina. When Paul learns his grandmother had an Aboriginal son he never knew about, he wonders what else he missed while he was away. Did he make the right choice all those years ago? He receives the rare opportunity to start over when he discovers a gallery for sale in Regina. He’s faced with a choice between his youthful dreams in the big city and making a life with Dylan in a place that somehow finally feels like home.
Wheat Kings and Pretty Things by G.S. Wiley is half, maybe two thirds of a great story. I was rolling right along, happily into Paul Thompson’s reconnection with his roots, his decision to close up his gallery in Toronto and buy a smaller one in Regina and rediscover the man he left behind, as well as family and his past. Then boom, story over.
Frankly, I was shocked.
I should have realized. I mean it was only 45 pages but still, I wasn’t keeping count as I was reading and there was no indication that it was drawing to a close. Indeed, I thought, logically, it was only beginning to ramp up. Decision made, action taken, now let’s get to the deeper stuff. Let’s have the author really show the connection growing between Dylan and Paul, Paul and the community of people he left behind, etc. Instead we get the decision, the move and then the ending of the story. All of the narrative that should have been there, that would have made this an outstanding story is missing. What happens to the gallery, the First Nations art from the newly discovered family connection? How’s his “city” partner adjusting? Above all how about the romance? I could go on and on with the huge holes that glare out at you here. The only thing that’s keeping this from plunging into the 2 star category is that what’s there is well written and promising. I liked the characters and everything that I read.
It’s not a full story, in my opinion.
I can’t even tell you there’s a romance here. If there is, it’s not much of one. That’s sort of missing too along with the rest of the story. This really comes across as a 45 page teaser of a terrific novel that’s coming down the pike.
I’m going to stop writing now before I revise that rating.
Cover Artist: Brooke Albrecht. Cover is gorgeous, Dylan is captured beautifully. I’ll pass on Paul.
ebook, 45 pages
Expected publication: August 9th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press