Blessed Assurance by Stewart Ennis

blessed assurance

Published by Vagabond Voices, November, 2019

 

Blessed Assurance is a coming of age novel. It is set against the backdrop of a small close-knit evangelical community in the fictional Scottish village of Kilhaugh one fog bound December in the late nineteen sixties when the Cold War was on the brink of turning hot. The story takes place over six soul searching days in the life of God-fearing dog-thief and pyromaniac, 11 year-old Joseph Kirkland, and his godless, devil-may-care best friend, Archie Truman, as the perpetually guilt-ridden Joseph attempts to put right what he believes to be the most terrible of lies. It is peopled with colourful characters, peppered with moments of tenderness, tragedy and occasional surreal humour. At its heart though, Blessed Assurance is an exploration of family, friendship, faith, loneliness and grief, and the compromises that sometimes have to be made to remain part of our community.

Reviews

“This is the writer I always dreamed of finding – a born stylist with a story as intimate and vast as all creation. Ennis is the Scottish James Joyce.”

Meg Rosoff (How I Live Now, Jonathan Unleashed)

“Stewart Ennis’s debut novel hovers constantly between comedy and tragedy. Small town Scotland is seen in perceptive detail through the eyes of an eleven-year old boy. Characters, like his fundamentalist grandmother, like the unforgettable itinerant preacher, Benjamin Mutch, leap into our heads and take us over. Steeped in matters of faith and rejection, the book offers a rare and fascinating glimpse into a past world which makes you turn the pages in a quest for answers.”

Bernard MacLaverty (Midwinter Break, Cal, Grace Notes)

“Stewart Ennis has drawn on his own faith fixated upbringing to recreate a sixties childhood like no other. We meet characters Mark Twain or Flannery O’Connor would have been proud to have begotten.  Cumulatively these vignettes take on a mass and momentum that propel this deep and deft, richly rewarding debut novel towards precincts of the psyche as yet unprowled in contemporary Scottish fiction.”

Donny O’Rourke (Dreamstate: the new Scottish Poets)

“A fascinating piece of literature.  Joseph Kirkland is a character that feels both authentic and timeless. […] A beautifully crafted novel. […] I found the whole feeling of the book to be one of almost mystical beauty.”

A Little Haze: Literary Book Blog

“This is a vibrant and tense book […] brilliantly crafted by Ennis, with characters and the sense of community reminding me of people from my own home village all these years later. […] A beautifully written and ambitious debut, which is well worth the leap of faith.” 

The Common Space

“Ennis’s strong debut novel perfectly captures the claustrophobia of small town life. There is a distinct feeling of a world on the brink of collapse. With its simmering tensions and bloodstained bibles, Blessed Assurance reads like a Flannery O’Connor story with a distinctly Scottish twist. In this tragicomic tale of faith, grief and redemption, Blessed Assurance reminds us that ultimately it is people, and not religion, that will save us.”

Book, Bell & Candle

“Entertaining and funny, with tender and tragic strands, and surreal humour, this is an engaging and touching book.”

The Bottle Imp (ASLS Best Scottish Books of 2019)

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Stewart Ennis – About the Author

Born in Bridge of Weir in 1961, Stewart Ennis began his career as a journalist and a nurse, but now works as a writer, actor, lecturer and occasional photographer. He was a founding member of the acclaimed Benchtours theatre ensemble with whom he created many touring shows throughout the nineties and noughties. For several years he was creative writing lecturer at HMP Shotts and other Scottish prisons and is currently working with Vagabond Voices on an anthology of prison writing. He’s had short stories and poems published in Gutter Magazine, The Curlew (Wales), The Caterpillar (Ireland) and various other anthologies. He was an early recipient of a Playwright Studio Scotland Ignite award and has written a number of works for theatre including, The Darkroom, Robert Burns’ Celtic Complex, One Straight Line, The Taking of Zena Charbonne, and The Monster and Mary Shelley. In 2019 he was awarded the Aberdeen-Curtin Alliance scholarship to study a PhD within the creative departments of Aberdeen University and Curtin University, Perth, Australia. Blessed Assurance (Vagabond Voices, 2019) is his first novel.

 

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