by Stewart Ennis
Pages: 340 pp (approx)
Dimensions: 210 x 140 mm
Publication: 18 November 2019
“The fact of the matter is Joseph Kirkland was afraid. Afraid of notbeing Saved. Afraid of beingSaved. Afraid of the transformation that would occur the moment he uttered those words, Jesus!God! I want you to come into my heart!”
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 Assuranceis an exploration of family, friendship, faith, loneliness and grief, and the compromises that sometimes have to be made to remain part of our community.
“This, in a nuanced and theological sense is a sectarian novel that manages to make life within a scripture centred household appealing rather than appalling as stereotype would so often have it. We meet characters Mark Twain or Flannery O’Connor would have been proud to have begotten. [...] Blessed Assurance’s antecedents include The House with the Green Shutters, Gillespie and Docherty. More recent sources for comparison would be the work of Jeanette Winterson, James Robertson and the poet Iain Bamforth. The earnest, scab scouring schoolboy dreamer and precocious would be missionary, Joseph Kirkland takes his well earned place amongst the many youthful savants and seers populating the coming of age stories that predominate in Caledonian letters.” – Donny O’Rouke