‘Northwords Now’, a magazine that features new Scottish writing, features a review by Cynthia Rogerson of ‘Had we never loved so blindly’. This is what she writes:
“Shaw effortlessly pulls you into a convincing wartime past, into a beautifully evoked Skye landscape, and into parts of southern England that I know feel I know. And then, while your imagination is still reeling, she pulls you into the very heart of her characters. From the first page, I felt not just sympathy, but empathy with John Norman and Felicity. I’m a slow reader normally, but I finished this book in 2 days. At 325 pages, it still ended too soon for me.
John Norman is the son of an island fisherman and Felicity is the only daughter of an embittered wealthy widower from London. The elements, I thought, were in place for a Romeo and Juliet scenario of thwarted love. Class obstacles would daunt them! But neither of Shaw’s characters are your typical hero and heroine and they defy stereotypes. They are not beautiful, merely memorable. They do not fall in love instantly, steal kisses and struggle melodramatically against societal disapproval. Instead, they meet briefly, mumble a few words, go fishing, then separate. For the majority of the book, the narrative is not concerned with their relationship at all, and yet their separate story lines arch inevitably towards each other.
And what happens to them? I won’t say, but I can tell you this – it’s not what you think. Shaw doesn’t overly manipulate readerly emotions, and yet I don’t think that I’ve ever enjoyed being misled in a book so much before. Perhaps it’s because her protagonists are just weird enough to feel real. And I cared about them. To my mind, this makes Shaw a kind of magician.”