Reviews

A Woman of Integrity

"The desire to be true to yourself and to an unshakeable set of values lies at the heart of J David Simons’ precisely crafted novel in which he delicately plaits the fortunes of two women. A Woman Of Integrity is a very civilised, pleasingly unsentimental novel in which Simons confidently assumes the mantle of Elizabeth Taylor in creating nuanced, soul-searching tales of women that are propelled by moral dilemmas and the struggle for self-realisation." The Herald

"This is an ingenious and complex novel that uncovers lost and disappearing worlds, and gives voices to a range of truly individual characters that nevertheless stand for a time and its atmosphere disappearing from collective memory." Vulpes Libres


The Land Agent

"Simons' expansive and humane historical vision emphasises the difficult choices that individuals must make in the face of forces bigger than themselves, and the result is a beautifully-made historical novel. In its fast-moving and accessible storytelling, in its emotional punch, and in its brilliantly-realised evocation of a time and place." Booktrust

"The Land Agent is an outstanding book on two counts: it’s both a great story and an absorbing insight into events that still affect the Middle East today." The Edinburgh Reporter

"The trilogy is one strong work taking you through history, cityscape, landscape, rites of passage and the cultural tension in the immigrant's soul. All three books are compelling and amount to a host of memorable characters." Ian Stephen, Northwords Now

"The story at times is extremely moving and can echo through any land that has witnessed displaced people and their journeys towards a new life." Dundee University Review of the Arts


An Exquisite Sense of What is Beautiful

"J David Simons' latest novel set in Scotland, London and Japan is that rare thing, a genuine tour-de-force, a beautifully written love story that combines political impetus, questions about art and truth, and an exotic setting once almost blown to extinction in an act of war. It is the kind of sophisticated, grown-up writing that properly intrigues, and calls to mind the best of William Boyd and Sebastian Faulks." 
Lesley McDowell, literary critic and author of The Picnic and Between the Sheets

" Highly accomplished and moving novel. It says much for Simons' skill that he can show us a [protagonist] Strathairn who for all his flaws and occasional selfishness can engage our sympyathies when he finally realises the cost of his own denial." Herald on Sunday

" An accomplished and compelling novel by a storyteller at the top of his game, An Exquisite Sense Of What Is Beautiful lives up to its ambitious title, delivering a story that is both delicate in its detail and politically robust. " 
Chris Dolan, author of the award-winning Ascension Day and Redlegs

" An Exquisite Sense of What is Beautiful moved me a great deal. But perhaps an even greater delight is the sheer beauty of Simons' descriptions: despite the engaging plot pulling me onwards, I often stopped to re-read and savour these. Really a wonderful, pleasurable, thoughtful novel. " 
Sophie Cooke, author of The Glass House and Under the Mountain

" A sure-handed and satisfying read." Gutter Magazine

" This is a fine novel. There are in fact other adjectives I'd like to use but I'm not going to repeat those used in the title - although both apply." Lizzy's Literary Life

"If you're going to call your novel An Exquisite Sense of What is Beautiful then you have to be prepared to back it up. Luckily David Simons does this with style and substance. Simons pulls off one of the hardest tricks for a novelist, reflecting world events through the lives of individuals while avoiding the reader feeling like they are being given a history lesson or being preached to. "Scots Whay Hae

"It is obvious that Simons is a master of the written word, his engagement with the English and Japanese language is shaped with delicacy and intricacy. The very title of the novel raises the reader’s expectations and Simons does not disappoint. We are indeed offered a bittersweet sense of what is beautiful." Publishthings.com

"An accomplished and finely structured novel that takes a wide sweep across the world and through time, form London to Japan and from the Fifties to 2003. This is such a thought-provoking novel, with such a plain *provoking*, solipsistic protagonist in Strathairn, so full of writerly awareness yet blind at so many turns, that what I’d really like to do is settle down with someone else who has read it and begin a high octane discussion of what happened, what it all means." Vulpes Libris

"In his ability to create a narrative which spans present and past, Simons' writing is reminiscent of the best of Sebastian Faulks. His evocation of Japan as a place of peace and beauty is sensual. [This] is a well-written novel which deals with serious issues of responsibility and blame. J. David Simons is certainly an author to watch out for. " Booktrust

" J. David Simons’ new novel is primarily noteworthy for the ambition it shows in tackling difficult, often uncomfortable themes.The book offers a complex portrayal of the differing ways one can be with another person and the difficulties in balancing these with the inherently selfish enterprise of being an artist. Handled with an intricacy and care, these themes are bravely complicated by a sometimes deliberately unlikeable protagonist." The Skinny


The Liberation of Celia Kahn

"This is a compelling tale with characters who imprint themselves on the streets of Glasgow." 
Scarlett McGwire, The Tribune

" ...a very good read, which explores feminism and socialism with subtlety and intelligence." 
Gutter Magazine

"This is a thoughtful, neat and plucky book, much like its heroine. J. David Simons is brilliant at capturing the little oddities and foibles of his characters. The book is a riotous celebration of female empowerment." 
Lisa Glass, Vulpes Libris

"Simons' ability to capture the essence of his protagonist will really strike a chord; Celia's pain and challenges are sensitively rendered, her passion and stoicism enchanting. A quietly brilliant book." 
Rebecca Isherwood, The Skinny

"Emotive, this is a thought-provoking piece of fictionalised social history." 
Alastair Mabbott, The Herald

"It is always a joy to find a novel which is such an entertaining and compelling read, is faithful to the history of the times and which also explores so many stimulating political themes."
Alan Loyd, Morning Star

"Simons has brought off an unusual coup in getting under the skins of girls liberated by the conditions of WW1.....He illustrates an intriguing strand of social history in a lively and gripping way" Judith Mirzoeff, Jewish Renaissance

"This novel marries a vivid sense of place with characters who endear themselves to the reader, while tackling head-on the issues of socialism and the liberation - individual and gender - of the title." Carol McKay, Northword

"This informative,entertaining and uplifting book left a favourable impression long after I'd finished reading. Highly recommended." Janet Williamson, Historical Novel Society Review

 

The Credit Draper

“An odyssey of cultural confusion and survival.  Full of hope, honour and sadness.” 
Judges of The McKitterick Prize (short-listed).

“The Credit Draper is a rare evocation of an earlier genre: the immigrant novel…adding a most welcome Scottish dimension.”
Clive Sinclair, The Jewish Chronicle.

“This is a subtle, beautifully written story about a rarely touched subject. It unites two great literary traditions - the Jewish and the Scottish novel - without ever seeming to force them together. Sad but never sentimental, full of hardship but easy to read, The Credit Draper is a truly fine debut which heralds the arrival of a bold new voice in fiction.”
Rodge Glass, novelist and biographer of Alasdair Gray

“For all the serious issues that Simons’ novel raises, it’s also a joyous book in many ways, delighting in the fun and ambition of a young boy who grows up, as we all must do, to learn the ways of the world.”
Lesley McDowell, The Herald

“There is much to admire in this story.  Set in a period of social and political turmoil, it examines the difficulties of maintaining religious traditions while attempting to blend into a strange environment.  This novel has a ring of truth while bravely tackling themes that have uncomfortable echoes today.”
The Scots Magazine

“What makes this book so attractive is that it is not the usual thinly disguised recreation of the writer’s childhood amongst domineering relations, but a genuinely imagined construction of what life was like for Scottish Jews nearly a century ago.  And it closes with an unexpected theatrical coup that shows this former journalist has transformed himself into a real novelist.” 
Jewish Renaissance