Book Review: Just a Curtain by J.L. Lawson

Curtain coverTitle: Just a curtain
Author: J.L. Lawson
Genre: Literary Fiction, Adventure, Coming of Age
Rating: 4 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by Enchanted Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

“If you had virtually unlimited resources and a pristinely practicable imagination, and a knack for turning air into butter, what do you suppose you’d do next?”
—Tera Elphinstone, Drummond Group Director

Just A Curtain is the remarkable, fast-paced gateway to bothThe Elf series and the grander epic recorded in J. L. Lawson’s other works: The Donkey and The Wall trilogy and The Curious Voyages of the Anna Virginia Saga.

Just A Curtain chronicles the remarkable life and achievements of Dashiel Drummond and the capable group of people he gathers around him to make a change for the better in the world in which he finds himself. A coming of age story, orphaned at sixteen, he rises through the angst of adolescence to the challenge of fulfilling the promise of his potential—from ranch hand and welder to the pre-eminent global entrepreneur and builder of starships.

Just a Curtain is definitely different, and in a good way, if you ask me. I’ll start by saying it probably won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. The book starts out reading like a contemporary novel, but then it quickly switches into scifi bordering on fantasy, with alien races and intergalactic communications.

Main character Dashiel Drummond has been left to fend for himself after his parents have passed away. He works on his parents’ ranch, and builds out an empire. When we first meet him, he’s about sixteen years old. I really liked this part of the book, even if it was a bit slow at times, but it showed an idealistic, charming youth who had plenty of dreams and an entire life to fulfill them. He has a best friend, Reggie, short for Regina, who he hangs out with a lot. He’s actually attracted to her, but they both agree they don’t have time for love in their life now, for it would make everything even more complicated than it already is.

Dash sets out to build a boat, a project he and his mom talked about. There are pictures of the boat in various stages of being finished, included in the book.

Dash goes to university, where he majors in engineering and minors in business. When his aunt and uncle come to visit him and ask him to take on a job, he immediately accepts, and that is the beginning of a rollercoaster adventure for this young entrepreneur. He meets various people, like Becka, who he falls in love with, and Nellie, who becomes his personal assistant and the one person he can always count on.

Part of the book is told from Nellie’s POV – it makes it sound as if Nellie and Dash wrote the book together. However, it’s still mostly centered around Dash.

There’s a lot of business stuff going on as Dash manages to turn his company into a multi-million dollar cooperation. He flies around the world in private jets, sets up humanitarian projects, leads meetings, and does all the other stuff one would expect a boss to do. They work on a mission to send ambassadors to another planet, Rutin, and Nellie and Reggie end up going.

Then the book makes a complicated time jump and suddenly we meet Emma Hammer. It wasn’t clear at first how much time had passed (time indicators are just set in the middle of the text, I’d suggest either starting with them, or putting them in bold or something, so they stand out more) but it turns out it’s about ten years later. Then we’re introduced to Melanie Armitrage, a date analyst who Dash hires for his company. Melanie begins a relationship with Elias, another person who works for Dash, who is actually reduced to secondary character status for this part of the novel.

The time jump was difficult to follow. All of the sudden, Dash is married to a woman from Rutin, whereas I’d half and half expected he’d be married to Nellie or Reggie. No such luck though. The perspective jumps again, this time to Naota, who is actually a Rutatois woman (as in, a woman from the planet Rutin). Then it jumps back to Emma, who will be send off-planet for the first time in her life. The rest of the book involves mostly around Naota and Emma, and Dash only makes a sparse appearance here and there.

The book is written fluently. It didn’t read very literary at the start, but the book seemed to ease into its genre halfway through. The characters were interesting, unique, and almost all of them had enough different personality traits to keep me entertained, even the secondary characters. The book is a tad bit on the longer side though, and it was difficult to keep all the secondary characters apart. There are so many of them that even remembering who is who was difficult.

All in all, an enjoyable, unique read. If you’re in the mood for something different, then give this book a shot.


  1. Thank you for your honest and informative review of Just A Curtain. It is refreshing to read such genuine and thoughtful words regarding a book I worked so hard on.


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