Thursday Themes – Sue Roebuck

Spread the love

It’s definitely my lucky day today, as I have a second guest – the lovely Sue Roebuck joining me this afternoon. Sue is here to discuss the themes of her latest novel Joseph Barnaby. Can’t wait to read this.

Over to you Sue…


Thank you for hosting me today, Jo. Here are some of the themes in “Joseph Barnaby”


As it says in the blurb: Stand up for your principles, even if it means going to the end of the earth is the main theme.


Horse farrier, Joseph Barnaby, has to leave the UK after standing up for his principles over the health of a horse. The backlash from the public and press is overwhelming and he just wants to get away. He sticks a pin in a map and finds himself on a tiny farm set on a rocky beach on Madeira Island. The place is only accessible by boat. But, even here, he finds himself caught up with local problems which, in the end, help him find his true self.


Another character who is courageous despite her profound deafness is Sofia, the niece of the farmer who also lives on the farm. Sofia’s deafness does cause a distance between Joe and her at the beginning of the story. Sofia, unfortunately, has had unpleasant experiences. She can talk (having lost her hearing at the age of six) but as she can’t hear herself she knows that her voice sounds strange and, during her life, some people have either made fun of her or found her voice repellent. This is awful to know, but, unfortunately does happen. She also has to face the person speaking if he/she cannot use sign language so that she can read that person’s lips.

I hope I’ve managed to convey in the book how much empathy Joe has by his true understanding of Sofia’s problems and how he overcomes their communication problem, and how he sees her as a person (and a beautiful one at that). Sofia finds joy in her bees – she can “feel” them buzzing and equates their little hive world with a utopic view of the world in general. With both Joe and Sofia shunning society, I’ve tried to show how they help each other overcome this. Whether they’re successful or not – you’ll have to find out by reading the book!

Another theme is: the beauty of animals

I know they’re not animals, but I’ve mentioned the bees above. In the book I go into more detail about how the hive has such an efficient social pattern. In fact, Sofia can “feel” the worker bees when they line up on hot days at the entrance to the hive and beat their wings so hard in order to cool the hive down.

Horses are included: the beauty of the steeplechasers (no horse is harmed in the book, I promise, by the way) and Joe’s love for them. But as one reviewer (from Readers Favorite Reviews) has mentioned, animals can love back:

“Joe is a handsome young farrier who has fled England to hide from the world in a small town in Madeira. He works first in a bar and then on a farm accessible only by boat. The farmer, his wife, and their lovely but deaf niece quickly take to Joe, and he to them. So do the burro and the goats, who seem to follow Joe about as if he’s a pied piper to anything with hooves.”


And here’s when Joe meets the donkey for the first time:


“Joe studied the donkey: about ten hands high, white and grey muzzle and white belly. The rest of him – and it was a him, they had a donkey stallion on their hands – was brown. Joe’s evaluation came instinctively, just as he noted the donkey needed a bit of a trim – he was a tad scruffy round the whiskers and mane. Joe looked away. What was he thinking?  Even though the donkey was so different from a prize-winning thoroughbred racehorse, they both belonged to the Equus genus, both four-legged, long-faced, with manes, and he – Joe – had no desire to lay a hand on anything with four hooves.

At least, he didn’t think he did. No, he didn’t.

Oh God, yes he did, he admitted silently for the first time in months. He’d been trying to tell himself he couldn’t care less about not being a farrier, and until now he’d succeeded. All it took to break that resistance was the sight of one donkey. All his desires for being a farrier came rolling back like a runaway train.”




Sue Roebuck was born and educated in the UK (I am British!) but now live in Portugal. I’ve been an English teacher for many years with the British Council and also the Portuguese civil service where I developed e-learning courses.

Her first love is, of course, her husband, her second writing, and her third painting. And now she has time to be able to indulge in all three.


Social Media links: 

Blog and website:

General Facebook:

Facebook page:


Amazon page:

Joseph Barnaby:









Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.