Blessed Assurance

Blessed Assurance


by Stewart Ennis

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Pages: 340 pp (approx)
ISBN: 978-1-908251-92-3
Dimensions: 210 x 140 mm
Publication: 18 November 2019

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“The fact of the matter is Joseph Kirkland was afraid.  Afraid of not being Saved.  Afraid of being Saved. 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 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. 


“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. 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. Ennis’s episodic structure -tableaux vibrantly vivants -have the stand alone presence to compel even as excerpts. But 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

“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 Gran, 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

“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

“This is a vibrant and tense book illustrating the dangers of pushing fears and beliefs harshly on children. Joseph’s plight and anxieties are set against the backdrop of a typical working-class village in Scotland – the residents of which are brilliantly crafted by Ennis, with characters and the sense of community reminding me of people from my own home village all these years later. The relationship between Joseph and his grandfather was a highlight, offering some light relief in Joseph’s life. Overall this is a beautifully written and ambitious debut, which is well worth the leap of faith.” Chiara Bullen, The Common Space