Saturday, 2 May 2020

'THE REMARKABLE LIFE OF JAGO STONE' - A FIRST ROUND OF REVIEWS

I published my latest Jago Stone Mailchimp Newsletter towards the end of April and over 40 subscribers have seen it to date. Following the usual pattern, I am now recycling this Newsletter as a blog-post in order to widen the circulation of its contents - specifically, in this instance, news about how people reacted to reading my account of his life. It's also an opportunity to brighten up your screen with a reminder of some of Jago's finest artwork!




Jago Stone - still from Harlech TV programme - 1983



  APRIL 2020 - UPDATES ON 'THE REMARKABLE LIFE OF JAGO STONE' - THE BIOGRAPHY
I expressed my hope in the last Newsletter that my biography of the remarkable artist, Jago Stone, may bring meaning to any time wisely spent in self-isolation.

This Mailchimp newsletter is my opportunity to share the feedback that I have received to date from readers of 'The Remarkable Life of Jago Stone'. A remark from our dear friend, Dr Julia Bush, served as a prompt when she

said she was looking forward to reading on my blog how other readers have reacted.





Untitled - Jago Stone (1976) - Collection of Keith and Joan Goodenough





Here we go then - a medley of reader reactions and Jago paintings: 
 


"I have just finished reading your book, so thought I would send you a note of appreciation (not a review!). It was certainly an enjoyable read. I admire the way you have woven together so many tiny threads of biographical information. The thematic chapter structure works well, and by the end I felt very well-acquainted with Jago. 


As you say, this story could not have been written before the internet age. Your 'detective work' is described with a light touch, but that conceals many hours of loving toil, and years of patient research encompassing a wide range of sources. What wonderful correspondence you have elicited through your online enquiries! Then there are the paintings themselves... a central part of Jago's story, and a beautiful addition for any book. Your publisher has certainly done you proud, in the high quality of print and illustrations and the substantial, attractive feel of the completed volume. 

Like all historians, you have needed to interpret your evidence as well as to compile it.

I enjoyed your running commentary, with its conversational tone but also plenty of sharp analysis. Louise's psychotherapeutic wisdom seems to shape your interpretation at every step. On a less serious note, there is also some of Jago's own sense of fun! By the end, I was trying to fathom my personal response to Jago, as well as appreciating your own humane and sensitive evaluation of an extraordinary individual. I cannot say I love him as much as you do, but I have enjoyed getting to know him.

What next? Jago the film? I think his story would make a great stage play, with its mixture of pathos and farce. Quite a Shakespearean mix... as in Twelfth Night, this week's NT Live offering on YouTube.


Thank you for brightening up my Covid isolation. I will be very interested to know where you are heading next, and look forward to reading on your blog about other readers' reactions to Jago Stone."




Butter Cross: Witney, Oxon - Jago Stone (1971) - Collection of Louise and Rob Donovan





And so to another reader's  reactions:
 
"I have only just read a remarkable account of a remarkable life.

Not that your book was way down my reading list. Just that it takes a pandemic for me to settle down to a good book – and this is certainly a good book, in fact it is a fascinating and compelling read. I have never read a book within two days.

I couldn't put it down! Yes of course, I already had a few of the jigsaw pieces but your intense enthusiasm for locating all (well most), of the others and putting the puzzle together I found really quite exciting.

You are to be congratulated on your amazing 'sleuthing.

Learning the context of the paintings gives each one a life, a reality.


My appearance in this life history is very minor and it seems to me now, a pity that my contacts with Jago were so fleeting.


I hope you are both keeping well.

You have certainly brightened my lockdown!"



Stow On The Wold, the Cotswolds - Jago Stone (1978) - Private Collection



Here are the two reactions that have been posted as 5-star reviews on Amazon:
"I'm about half-way through the book which is so clear in its writing style and the story most intriguing, especially as it all really happened. 
Anyone with an ounce of artistry about them would love to read the story of Jago Stone."
"This is the most interesting and well-written book that I have read in years! A really fascinating read."




New College: Oxford - Jago Stone (1971) - Collection of Louise and Rob Donovan



 And here is the review from the Waterstone's page:


"An amazing read of a well-researched and excellent book about a prolific artist and reformed thief.
The biography, unlike many others, follows a line of detective work on the part of author Rob Donovan as he pursues his subject, often through the medium of cyberspace across the Atlantic.
Rob takes the reader with him as more stories of Jago emerge and he pursues another line of enquiry.
I could hardly put it down and would highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys and appreciates a well-written book."



Untitled - Jago Stone (1980) - Private Collection




One more response:
"I have finished reading this excellent book. I enjoyed reading the book very much and it was great to see so many of Jago's pictures, beautifully reproduced."

And the last word with Jenny Fell, the Hellidon post-mistress:


"Thank you Rob for giving me two wonderful afternoons sitting in the sunshine in the garden to finish reading your biography of Jago.

It is wonderful and I have enjoyed learning more about a man whom I knew for only a very short part of his life. I say "knew"; I wonder if anyone who met him could really know him.
But I can now say that I understand more about him." 



Please, please - add your own reviews on line on Amazon or Waterstone's  or send to me by personal email when you finish reading. This is hardly the best time to have a book published and sales will, to some extent,  depend on word-of-mouth recommendation. If you can help publicise the virtues of a cracking good read, Unicorn and I will be very grateful.    




Jago in the Notley Arms, Exmoor - 5 February 1969 - Still from Harlech TV interview with Kenneth Griffith - (with my thanks to Owain Meredith and The National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth - see pp.164-176 in the biography for the full story and interview)
















Sunset over the English Channel - Jago Stone (1976) - Private Collection





If you know anyone you think might be interested in these mailings about 'Jago' please encourage them to follow the link to my website. Here it is: http://www.robdonovan-author.co.uk/JagoStone-Biography.html They can join you as Mailchimp subscribers - 69 to date. 

You can also use this page to access all my Jago Stone blogs. The blog-posts are also there for your enjoyment - and comments. Press this link here to start accessing these posts:  https://robdonovan.blogspot.com/2019/01/jago-stone-american-connection-part.html



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