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Critical Praise

Eighty-nine-year-old Blamires, who has written extensively on English literature and theology, offers an offbeat allegory of heaven and earth. It begins as Bernard Dayman, lying on his deathbed, drifts off into what he imagines is his final sleep, only to enter a protracted dream state in which he encounters a purgatory-like place in the guise of an English village called Old Hertham. During his week in Old Hertham, he encounters an old flame named Eve (whom he once courted at a place called Eden Falls) and her virtuous daughter, Marie. Old Hertham is dominated by the estate agency Godfrey and Son, where the deceased people who"live" in Old Hertham can apply for residency in New Town. Blamires uses these conceits to hammer home the Christian truism that this world is not our home and the more compelling notion that entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven is deceptively simple, provided one's heart is in the right place . . . this book is likely to draw an appreciative audience who will enjoy the challenge of decoding its message.

—Publishers Weekly

Is Bernard Dayman dreaming---or is he dead? All he knows is that he woke up and found himself in the decaying city of Old Town. When he hears about New Town, he's determined to get there---and away from this place that's crumbling beneath his feet. A vivid parable about living the Christian life!


We live in a world where often we wish for second chances, a chance to take back a careless or harsh comment to a spouse, a child, a parent or a close friend. We sometimes daydream about what life could have been like if we had made a different choice of education, career or falling in love. Perhaps however the yearning for a second chance is nowhere near as profound as at the death of a loved one and we say to ourselves, 'If only I had one more chance to tell them that I loved him or her.

In Harry Blamires' fantasy novel NEW TOWN: A Fable . . . Unless You Believe, Bernard Dayman is granted that second chance to correct an action, to fall in love again and to make life changing decisions. The first page of the book opens with Bernard quite ill falling asleep and reawakening on a street in a city in which he has never inhabited. From the pen of this eminent British scholar and retired dean of arts from St. Alfred's College in Winchester comes our modern day PILGRIM'S PROGRESS.

If you are to fully appreciate Blamires' novel, then you must first resolve some potential issues. You cannot come to this novel and debate its theological soundness because quite frankly that is not the point. Anyone well-educated in theology can capably present arguments both for and against Blamires' theology. At the end of the day theology is really just our attempt to understand God in terms that satisfy our need to know more about Him which is one of the underlying themes of the book.

As you come to this novel shed your denominational title whether it be Pentecostal, Baptist, Nazarene, Lutheran, Anglican or Catholic. If you make the commitment to approach this splendid work with that kind of openness I guarantee you that you will come to appreciate the full impact of the decisions facing the citizens of Old Hertham.

You must also be willing to shed your more materialistic North American lifestyle and place yourself in a stodgier but British culture with a few less comforts.

Finally if you are not a romantic at heart you will never understand the dilemma that Bernard, Eve and Marie face. In this book you will meet characters who as strange as it may seem are prepared to live out their lives in the decaying Old Hertham while the very foundations of their lives crumble beneath them. You may find that you easily recognize some of the characters or know someone like them.

As the second part of the title, NEW TOWN: A Fable . . . Unless You Believe, suggests NEW TOWN is the hope that all of us have, oh, unless of course certain beliefs are no more than a fable for you. Whether you have lived most of your life as someone who enjoys a personal relationship with Christ or you dwell on the fringes of the church you will recognize the symbolic names, places and choices that must be made. If you have a friend who is wrestling with life choices and he or she has the ability to approach this book with an open mind hand them NEW TOWN.

It is quite startling to be reminded by someone so revered in scholastic circles that when we boil it all down the choices we make about how we relate to God are really quite simple.

—Joe Montague on