"Meet Miss Fidelia Knight. She set out from England with her parents on the SS Great Britain and arrived in Melbourne in 1874. Alone, except for half of Samuel Johnson."
So opens a recent review by Jennifer Cameron-Smith of Billings Better Bookstore & Brasserie. Of Fin J Ross' book, Cameron-Smith goes on to say "what a word feast this novel is!…I discovered new words, met some old favourites, and loved the alliteration… Every one of the twenty-six chapters opens alliteratively. My favourite today is x."
Claire Louisa calls it "a different kind of novel and so wonderfully uplifting and serendipitous." Where mysteries so often tell of bleak world, each character grimmer than the last, Claire loved the main characters, from Jasper, the manager of Billings Better Bookstore and catalyst for "everything wonderful that happened throughout the novel" to Mr Billings to, of course, Fidelia who "changes the lives of those around her with her imagination and her love of words as well as her positive outlook."
Of Fidelia Knight, the book's main character reviewer Ashleigh Meikle writes "nothing daunts this diminutive genius" while the book celebrates a love of words "in a new way," and resonates with the idea that "family is what we make of it." Billings Better Bookstore and Brasserie is "a powerful story about family, friends, words and books that will charm and enthral readers."
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Again and again five-star reviews talked not only of the characters' love of words, but of their own enlightenment about words like cankerdoodle, juffled and quocker-wodger!
"This story reminded me of a Charles Dickens, with playful language, scruffy street urchins and quirky characters roaming colonial Melbourne," says Poppy Gee, who found the novel "refreshingly unconventional, quaint, and lovely."
Billings Better Bookstore & Brasserie is full of wonderful illustrations by award-winning author-illustrator, Judith Rossell, and is one of writer Fin J Ross' many books for Clan Destine Press. Fin is an award-winning writer, a journalist, cryptic crossword creator, and creative writing teacher who runs a boarding cattery in Australia's East Gippsland.