STRINGS a novel by
Peter G. Brown

New Review

January 2020

Every so often there appears a novel that stands out, from the rest--and in the reader`s memory. `Strings` by Peter G. Brown is just such a novel.

It`s set among university graduates in the psychedelic halcyon days of 1967. A group of students are forming a rock band, but It`s a rock band

with a difference. They have a violin player. Shy classically trained violinist Colin is persuaded by the charismatic Simon to join his band Dandylion.

Things go well, but Colin is worried about his girlfriend. How secure is their relationship? `Strings` is an in-depth study of the acid-tripping musicians`

lives and loves. In-depth but immensely readable. Beware! The book is 816 pages long. Beware also! It will tear at your heart...

by John Arthur, London

Self-published by Xlibris this novel has several drawbacks: firstly it is rather long, over 800 pages.  This is because it is an historical novel, so detailed accuracy of the past setting of
50 years ago in 1967 was important. Anyone who was alive in this year will know that it was a famous year of changes in Western society where things got a lot more liberal to the extent of being libertarian. In this year in UK abortion and homosexuality were legalised and public censorship was relaxed. How the main character - indeed all the characters deal with this new-found "freedom" is the stuff of the narrative.  It deals with the inner and outer life of the young men and women in the fore ground, some of who are musicians and their girlfriends.  Another influence is the style of nineteenth & early twentieth century authors such as Marcel Proust, Virginia Woolf, Malcolm Lowry, Thomas Mann, D. H. Lawrence, Herman Hesse, Dostoevsky & Somerset Maugham.   

STRINGS  was launched on Tuesday 6 June 2017 at Gaslights Café & Music, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia . This date was chosen as it is the exact date 50 years ago on which it begins, 6 June 1967.  During the launch the author read an excerpt from the novel and answered questions about it, and its historical background.  He and his partner Markiza played contemporary songs such as A Whiter Shade of Pale, Someone to Love & Tim Buckley’s Pleasant Street.       

The story line: it is 6th June 1967.  Feeling depressed in the aftermath of his final exams at the University of the South Coast, UK, Colin Ogilvie goes to the Union Bar and buys a beer.  There he gets into a discussion about the 6 day War between Israel & the Arab countries which has just begun, and which side will win.  Colin fears this conflict might lead to a nuclear war between the US and Russia.

After walking in some fields nearby, brooding about his problematic relationship with his girlfriend, he goes back to the university and this time meets up with Simon Neilson who is playing the piano in a music room.  Simon is the lead guitarist of probably the University's best student band.  Colin is a classical violinist so they have something to talk about. They go back by train to the city and this leads to an extraordinary adventure which changes the course of his life.

Strings is currently available from Silverfish Books, Bangsar Village 2, Kuala Lumpur (so far) if you like to turn pages, for RM60 (which is half-price) but bring a bag as it is quite heavy!  An e-book version is much cheaper than the physical version, available from Amazon or Barnes & Noble and other bookselling websites.

A message from the author:  I have always been a literary dreamer, and this is finally the product of my dreams.  It has taken a long time to create from its rough draft beginning in 1985 through the transfer to the computer and editing from 2006-2012. There then followed another period from 2014-2017 when I had to go through the text once more, and thoroughly put right all the little and not so little errors.  Thanks to the ladies at Xlibris who patiently dealt with the correction forms. We hope that the reading public will enjoy this book in spite of its length and style and find it historically interesting, especially at a time when there seems to be a backlash against liberalism throughout the world.
We are hoping to put the book in to many more outlets all around the World.  Steps will be taken to promote and advertise the novel and hopefully this will arouse the curiosity of as many people as can be reached

Interview with the author by Charles Chiam on Eksentrika

“All of my characters come from my head, and parts of the protagonist is based on myself. Many novelists create characters that way.”
That’s what author and musician Peter G. Brown has to say about his characters in his over 800 page long historical novel,
Strings.  Peter, or Hassan Abdullah (a name he received from a Sufi sheikh in London, to marry his wife Markiza) started writing his novel in 1985, and finally self-published it in 2017.  That’s a whopping 32 years! Even our editors are a year younger.
“During the 80’s I couldn’t find a publisher willing to publish my book. The online revolution has yet to start, and I’d rather not be told by a profit-seeking publisher what I can or cannot write.”  It was only in the early 2000’s that he transferred his writings to a computer, and with the help of Xlibris, his novel is finally printed and published, both physically and online.

Review by David Russell, novelist & poet, on Amazon

<>“Strings provides an acute inside perspective of the radical ferment in the late 1960s, from the standpoint of a British University. It is set in 1967, and opens with the backdrop of the six-day war between Israel and the Arabs. That year was associated with the rise of the Permissive Society; Strings certainly captures the inevitable conflict, within relationships, between old and new values. Colin Ogilvie, the hero, has a deep attachment to fellow-student Claudia, who is aloof and insistent on codes of Platonic friendship. The central character's hurts in the relationship area lead him to explore rock music and join the top university band, both as an avenue of escape, and as a positive opportunity for experimentation. In terms of personalities, there is an interplay between the reflective, reserved and inhibited personality of classical violinist Colin, and the open, reckless, instinctive one of rock musician Simon. There is an intricate network of casual relationships among the musicians, which has 'spin-offs' into their creativity and imagination. As the long drawn out narrative proceeds, Colin and Claudia still don’t seem to be able to make it together, but then there is a surprise ending.  As an additional bonus, this novel contains an abundance of reading matter and popular music relevant to that period - a superb companion for YouTube trawling…”