Critical Reviews

vernonAndrewsDr. Vernon Andrews - Former President, University of the Southern Caribbean

Review by Dr. Vernon Andrews

I completed the reading of “No Guarantee” by Petra Pierre-Robertson within five days after receiving it, so engrossed was I. This is not an in depth critical evaluation but simply a notation of my personal observations. In order to make the reading easy to follow, I will adopt an outline format. The points are not stated or listed in a hierarchy of importance.
1. Readers of the book. Persons who read the book will fall into at least two broad categories:
(i) those who are closely acquainted with the author and have some knowledge of her social, intellectual and spiritual background.
(ii) those who have no knowledge of the author and therefore are reading the book as another literary piece.
2. Readers who fall into the first category would be tempted to try to identify the characters in the story, particularly the main ones, e.g. Darcy and Mario.
3. From my personal knowledge of the author and certain aspects of her social ‘history,” there are salient and cogent aspects of that “history” which are not touched or even alluded to in the book. This makes the point that it is not a biography or an autobiography with those criteria in mind. This is a novel and must therefore be seen and evaluated by a completely different set of criteria.
4. The author addresses the four dimensions of human life: the mental, the physical, the social and the spiritual. The mental- Darcy is involved in study while at the same time working. The physical- hiking, sports, The social-the book revolves around multiple social interactions. The spiritual- important references to the Third Party.
5. Let me apparently contradict myself on the point I made in no.3, certain points of “social” history are not referred to. Yes there are references, but it is so skillfully done and also it rarely relates to the key characters in the book. Let me put it this way. The author is like an expert swing bowler, she moves the ball around. Readers, keep a straight bat and go with the flow. (yes this is a mixed metaphor)
6. The dialogue moves very swiftly between the characters in the novel on many occasions, therefore the reader must move slowly at certain points otherwise the subtle nuances of the story would be lost.
7. The book can be considered more like a mirror than a torchlight even though it does shed quite some light on certain aspects of life. This point would be expanded on in the following observation. A cardinal question which we all as readers can ask is: who am I in the story? And, what are the results and consequences of the role I play.
8. The book is entitled,”No Guarantee.” One can ask the rhetorical question, Is anything guaranteed in life? The novel paints pictures of apparently guaranteed situations which slipped or almost slipped away. However, with the submission to the “Third Party” a guaranteed position is” Guaranteed.”
Should I say that I am now a “Believer” in novels. Well I suppose it depends on the author.

noImage1Linette Doyle - Retired Teacher, Administrative Professional, Editor

Review by Linette Doyle

Carefully interwoven in the plot are subthemes of chastity, family life, infidelity, abortion, church ministry and living a contented single life. These subthemes were deliberately crafted given the author’s awareness of their prevalence, through her interaction with youth and young adults in various ministries. It is for this reason the novel is structured to meet an international audience of youth, young adults and adults whether single by choice or circumstance, as well as married couples. Though set in the Caribbean, place is not critical to the plot.
Whilst it is that the cynical persona gingerly steps into a relationship, the novel in no way suggests that being in a relationship is necessary in order to live a fulfilled life.
The plot of the story is strong. It is wittily crafted with just enough action, suspense and drama to keep the reader captivated. The author’s use of dialogue is very strong. Words are expertly used to enhance creativity. While sound counsel is provided it is in no way didactic. This is a must read title for anyone who is either willing or unwilling take the risk of charting love’s oftentimes uncertain course.

noImage1Joyce Isaac - University Lecturer, Health Practitioner

Review by Joyce Isaac

What I like about No Guarantee is its realism. It is a down to earth, true to life, frank portrayal free of the romantic, superficial ideals normally attached to portrayals of love. The female protagonist is strong, assertive and independent. Love doesn’t make her fulfilled. She clearly posits that she is single, contented and enjoying life.
Her one fear is venturing into a relationship and spoiling her contentment. For her relationship means vulnerability. It represents a risk to her happiness and independence and who can fault her given the shattered, violent and unfaithful relationships strewn around her as she so vehemently asserts.
The male protagonist is patient enough to slowly and painstakingly chip away at the walls of her cynicism as he beckons her to take the risk. They do not fall in love. They grow in love, communication being the thread drawing them together.
Caribbean sights and sounds are clear and distinct. The language fits the setting. A useful glossary provides definitions, if necessary. Given the construct of the sentences however one is nevertheless able to determine meaning of the local terms with or without the glossary.
No Guarantee is a novel you don’t want to put down once you have started reading. The language flows and the characters are real. It is at times humorous, poignant and dramatic. I am looking forward to more publications from this author.

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