Book Review:

Love's Unchained Melody

by Robert Evans

Reviewed by Nigel Patterson, March 2018

Love’s Unchained Melody is the second novel by Robert Evans. The author has chosen an evocative title, Love’s Unchained Melody, for his Elvis inspired story. The narrative is characterised by an underlying, emotionally heartfelt theme based around the importance of family, love and relationships, albeit a theme which is hugely touched by the presence of the world’s biggest entertainment superstar. 

Love’s Unchained Melody is composed of two parts, the first occurring from July 7, 1954 when the world is experiencing the height of Presleymania, and the second from 1977 to 2003 (but is it really the end?). At the centre of the story is the Patton family, in particular Amanda (12 years old in 1954) who is destined to play a particularly important role in Elvis’ life.

Reflecting the poignancy and emotional secrecy of youth the first part of Love’s Unchained Melody neatly incorporates entries from young Amanda’s diary. The narrative weaves together the normal occurrences of life (births, deaths, marriages, study) with, given one of its principal characters, the out of the ordinary.

The emotionally driven foundation of the book resonates throughout the narrative:

As he starts down the hallway, it’s lined on both sides with smiling faces and people cheering and clapping. Many are saying, “I love you, Elvis. We love you, Elvis.” An elderly lady in a wheelchair reaches out to grasp his passing hand. Elvis immediately stops and bows on one knee.

With a tear on her cheek, she says, “Oh my dear precious boy, I have loved you like my own son. I have been praying for you ever since you came here. God is with you.” 

Elvis emotionally responds, “When He opened his arms, I was compelled to walk toward him. I looked into his eyes and started sobbing. I felt no shame or guilt, only love.

With heartfelt emotions. Elvis responds, “I’ve grown very fond of you, Amanda. I want us to remain friends. The answer is Yes! Thank you so much for the love and care you are giving me. I never want to return to the lifestyle of these past few years. I’ll be happy to stay at your family estate until you are reasonably sure that I will continue to remain drug-free. At the moment I have no desire whatsoever for any drugs.

I found Robert Evans’ prose problematic. He regularly uses short, staccato like sentence structures which I felt inhibited there being a strong narrative ebb and flow throughout the book. Also, at times he starts to build interest in an event or experience only to quickly move onto another without fully developing the first one. 

While the book is targeted at readers young and old, the author’s writing style suggested to me that it is probably best suited to a younger audience who, in my opinion, will be more attuned to author’s stylistic approach.

The book is published in both ebook form and as a comfortable octavo size (225mm x 150mm) softcover (for traditionalists who like a physical item to read). The book design is good with plenty of white space complementing the text on each of its 215 pages. The cover is simple and eye catching.

Robert Evans (using the nom de plume, Josh David Hamilton, has previously written the novel, Seeds of Light, and the short story, The Federation of Blue Planets.

Verdict: At its heart, Love’s Unchained Melody has an emotionally honest and uplifting narrative intent. Given the strength of this basis for the book I would have liked the author to vary his writing style and more fully develop some of the incidents and experiences he has written for his characters. While I suspect the author’s writing style won’t engage all readers, undoubtedly the emotional earnestness of his narrative will resonate with many Elvis fans.



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