Published: 28/09/2016
ISBN: 9781785893384
eISBN: 9781785896477
Format: Paperback/eBook

'Eugene offers us a seamless meld of historical fiction and encyclopaedic knowledge that puts it above many debut novels; most definitely well worth a read.' – more

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About the Author

John was born in rural Derbyshire. His work as a qualified accountant and business adviser has taken him all over the world, including living in Singapore in the 1970’s. Today he lives in Nottinghamsh... read more

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In life, is anybody what they seem?
by John G Smith

In life, is anybody what they seem?

After a harrowing tour of duty as an RAF conscript, Eugene returns to Britain from war-ravaged Burma. He is unexpectedly excluded from the family butchery business and so he sets out on his return to climb the business ladder, embracing and exploiting the innovations and opportunities that present themselves out of the privations of post-war Britain.

For all his rapid advancement in both work and play Eugene is forever mourning the loss of his first love, a beautiful, lithe, young Burmese nurse named Chit. Having nurtured him back to life with her tenderness, their relationship was brutally shattered when he was dragged away from her, under arrest for fraternising with a local. Eugene is forced to make a life-changing decision – marry Chit, face court martial and a possibile death sentence, or return to the UK.

Not knowing whether he’ll ever see his first love again Eugene is driven to succeed but family tragedies ensue – his older brother commits suicide and his brother-in-law is killed in a coal-mining accident. Eugene finds himself thriving at a time when the rest are going to wrack and ruin. But greed and self-interest take their toll and disintegration looms.

Eugene is a riveting acccount of triumph, turmoil, and ultimately tragedy. This novel will appeal to readers of historical novels; the forbidden love of a Burmese girl is woven throughout a historical narrative that details post-war Britain and the lives of the young men sent to the Far East making for an intriguing and fast-paced read.

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News: TOP TEN 2016
Bookbag listed 'Eugene' in their Top Ten self published Books of 2016! One of only 3 non-fiction titles. Info here:

That's Books & Entertainment. (Sun 09 October 2016)

Eugene is a novel from author John G. Smith.

John G. Smith was talking with a veteran of WW2. He heard a tragic story of how the veteran was torn from his first true love, a beautiful Burmese girl.

Even now, all these years later, he secretly carried a photograph of himself and his girlfriend, hidden within his wallet.

As it does with every other good author, this set up a "what if...?" moment within the imagination of John G. Smith.

And he brings to his readers the story of Eugene.

Eugene had been conscripted into the RAF and suffered a particularly harrowing tour of duty in Burma.

All Eugene wanted to do was to return home to Britain and to be welcomed back into the family butchery business.

But due to the infighting of his brothers and the fact that at 74 his father had lost control of the business, Eugene was, in effect, banished from the family business.

He decides to move forward, setting out to become a successful businessman in his own right, embracing the opportunities that existed in post World War 2 Britain.

For all his advancements in his life, both business and pleasure, Eugene still resents the fact that he had to leave behind him is girlfriend, a Burmese nurse called Chit.

Because so-called fraternisation with a local girl was considered a serious offence.

Eugene thrives commercially, even during times when others are going under, yet his personal life began to disintegrate around him.

This is a well-written and very moving novel.


Books Monthly

That's Books and Entertainment

The Bookbag

Insightful read about the interplay within a large family in wartime Britain and how deceit, ambition and personal choice affect each generation. Love, murder, suicide, blackmail in the settings of rural Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire and the jungles of Burma. Historical fiction at it’s finest.

by LM

Flicking through Special Offers on Troubador’s website, I spotted the title: ‘Eugene’, a name I had not heard for a while. The resumé was so intriguing that I bought the book and I am glad I did, as it was a real page turner that lit up a dull weekend. It is essentially a two centre story, concerning events relating to the Burma Railway in the last war, cleverly interwoven with the lives of a Master Butcher’s family in rural Derbyshire. At its heart is the eponymous figure of Eugene, who went to war, found the girl of his dreams and then spent the rest of his life regretting that he had lost her. This, notwithstanding his canny knack for spotting and embracing innovations in dreary post-war Britain which, with the support of a loyal wife, brought him personal and business success. The pace of the narrative, the variety of characters and the historical perspective all made for a gripping read which was very hard to put down.

by David James


This is the first novel from John Smith. His unremitting attention to detail springs from a deep involvement in the plot line and personal experience of many of the South East Asian settings. The story covers most the adult life of its main protagonist, Eugene, and his relationships are well described. The story is not developed chronologically and this can often confuse me, but John Smith manages the jumps backward and forward in time better than some other recent novels.
The plot develops very steadily, with few langeurs and it reminded me of the Harry Potter series in that aspect, and that cannot be a bad thing, even if you are not a Rowling fan.
While "Eugene" has as its backbone a series of loves, these relationships are described in a matter-of-fact way, with no attempt to evoke feelings such as "the earth moved" and this is, in one way, its attraction.

by Tuanmiller

Eugene by John G Smith

I enjoyed this book very much. It beautifully combined modern history, romance, intrigue and mystery in one very exciting romp. I really enjoyed the interplay within a huge family by todays standards. The interpersonal relationships in an era that is unrecognisable to some one of my generation was compiling. The war years were graphically described and played out through the novel and the greek tragedy of the love interest of the main character was heart breaking. I also liked the skipping to and fro of the various years and the ending was a fitting result of this fast paced novel. well done!

by CS

'Eugene' is a captivating story of the huge Whitby family. It is very thoroughly researched in historical and geographical detail, and so prescisly written that characters and their experiences do not seem to be a work of fiction. The story weaves back and forth in time and in many locations, continuing to reveal more intriguing and sometimes shocking details of Eugene and his family. It is a moving and gripping read which is difficult to put down, and at the end I did not find the conclusion I was expecting. A very impressive first novel from John Smith.

by JRB


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