Welcome, traveler. Thank you for visiting. Now take a few minutes to browse, to enjoy and show that you were here with a comment! And, just to add a little extra interest:
I wonder what makes a person change their entire life just over an emotion, and a fleeting emotion at that when you consider how love is bandied about in the press, amongst friends, in society. For some, however, it is not a passing phase, not something you are likely to grow out of with time or a change of surroundings, circumstances. For some it is a life-changing experience, something which can turn your world on its head and make you see everything in a new light. Love is something wonderful, even if we cannot express it, something which goes through both heart and mind, which moves us to do strange things just to show, to experience that love. What is hidden for some is obvious to others, and this new work by Rachel Joyce – following on as a companion volume to The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry – brings us a different perspective, the tale of a love unrequited, hidden over many long years.
Queenie Hennessy appears, at the start of this work, as a weak character who blossoms, who becomes someone to be reckoned with. She has little going for her, we are presented with a small, dumpy woman who dresses plainly, unobtrusively. A woman who finds her calling in a brewery, as well as love, and then turns her back, if not her mind, on everything that had meaning for her. She creates a new life, miles away from that which holds her heart, but cannot let go of this single emotion. No matter the distance, her love for Harold Fry remains strong, even all-consuming.
Photo Credit: Kelly Sue – Creative Commons
Harold Fry, as we learned from the first book, doesn’t appear to notice anything. Despite his closeness with Queenie as they travel from one public house to another, checking account books and bringing order to the brewery finances, he remains gloriously unaware of Queenie as anything other than a passenger in his car, a person who offers him a mint now and then. He is caught up in the problems of his own life, the worries over his son David, his ordered married life.
Rachel Joyce has matured as a writer in a most wonderful way: The Love Song Of Queenie Hennessy is a deep, personal, revealing evocation of unrequited love brought to the reader as memories, as regrets. It is, however, much more than this: it is packed with dark humor as much as with marvelous descriptions of a world seen through the eyes of a woman who knows that her days are numbered, who knows that she will never leave the hospice. One by one she sees her companions in this last residence disappear, succumbing to their illnesses, and knows that this is her fate too. She forces herself back into memories of the past without bitterness, but with great feelings of regret, and Rachel Joyce brings these emotions, these memories, the descriptions of time past and present day together in a wonderful evocation of life, love and missed chances. It is a far deeper book than Harold Fry was, reminding us that there are two sides to every story, two views of events, two lives which mixed together for a while, then parted, seemingly forever. With Harold Fry we saw society as a means for other people to further their own agenda on the backs of those around them, with Queenie Hennessy we see a smaller, more intimate society, where friendships form despite all the odds, and where support and help are the order of the day.
Published by Doubleday. ISBN: 978 0 857 52245 0
- Viktoria Michaelis.
This title was provided by the publisher for review.
Is long hair coming back into fashion? I certainly hope so, not just because we – my girlfriend and I – still sport longer than average hair, but because I think it looks beautiful, especially when well-tended and cared for. I have nothing against shorter hair, even if some people used to equate it almost automatically with feminists and punks, but long hair is special. And it has its uses too.
Photo Source: unknown, via Tumblr
A beautiful woman with tresses of hair falling across her face, looking out from behind her luxurious locks in a sultry manner, the stuff any romance novel is made of. Hair defines a woman just as much as fashion does, and is one of the things – aside from their butt, I guess – most women spend more time checking out in shop windows than anything else. The uses, however, and quite aside from its appeal, go far beyond just appearance.
We all know the three Rs, and often stumble when getting to the last in the list: how is that an R? Well, there are other lists of words carefully abbreviated to make them easy to remember too and, as with so many things of a similar nature, it isn’t always easy to make the list work:
Screenshot Source: Twitter
Fortunately there are those with inventive minds – or should that be puritanical?
Love & Kisses, Viki.
There are some things in this life which simply cause your chin to drop down on your chest and a thin line of spittle to run out the corner of your mouth in disbelief. A culture minister who has no time for books? I will admit that there is a great deal a culture minister has to do, but surely a good knowledge of books – especially when it comes to knowing the most prominent writers in your own country – is a must. I can understand a lack of time to go to the theater, especially if, as Fleur Pellerin admits, you’re scared to having to run the gauntlet of picket lines and striking workers – not exactly an unusual event in France – but admitting that you do not read books?
Screenshot Source: Twitter
The opening (free) paragraph of this Times article tells the average reader all they really need to know, there is no need to pay out extra money for the rest: culture is dying in France, from the top downwards. And by the top I do not mean those who produce works of art, books, events and suchlike, but those who are influential in promoting and sponsoring it; those who finance many of the public art galleries, theaters and libraries across the entire country.
For a country which is so proud of its heritage, its culture, such an admission from a minister for culture is indeed a damnation.
- Viktoria Michaelis.
I’m not one to turn down a challenge, if it seems like something worth doing, but sometimes I do wonder whether what comes as a result is at all worth the effort. Recently I saw a challenge – or a target more than anything – leveled by someone on Twitter. The challenge was to write fifty-two short stories, one per week, for a year. What made it less interesting for me, as I tend to write somewhat slower than this challenge would require, was the added line that at least one of the stories would be worthwhile. I asked myself, as I read the whole Tweet: what is the point?
I know that some people simply have the need to write, and that simply writing is also a catalyst to writing better or, which is probably a better target, writing something worthwhile. I can also understand a challenge of this nature when it comes to photography – where it is more usually three hundred and sixty-five photographs in a year. But the idea of having one good story at the end of a year of writing, with fifty-two themes, fifty-two sets of characters, plots, conversation, settings seems, to me, to be a waste. Why not concentrate on one or two good ideas? Why not work through an idea or two over a longer period and guarantee a good story at the end of it? Why not set yourself a target of writing one very good work packed with ideas and then beginning another one?
Photo Credit: Lívia Cristina – Creative Commons
Few of us are really professional writers, we do not rely on writing to make a living, to bring bread to the table. We are not journalists with a deadline to produce a set number of words each day, although I can well understand those who do attempt to meet a writing target of one thousand, five thousand or more words each day. What we should be doing, as far as I am concerned, is producing something worthwhile, and not simply exhausting our capabilities with mass. Quality is far better than having thousands of pages of stuff which is going nowhere.
Once an idea is there it is worth spending time on, worth bringing out and polishing. I would much rather have one good idea and work on it to completion, than have several mediocre ideas which I work through simply to meet a target. What happens when the good story is there in week five, or week ten or even week thirty? Do we just leave it there and move on to the next story because time is pressing? Because we have a challenge we need to meet? Shouldn’t we take that good idea, work on it, expand and polish it with editing, re-writing and new ideas?
I am all for a challenge, but there are times when we should be prepared to turn around and say: stop! This is the one I’m going to work on, and never mind the rest of the year. We do not fail, as far as I am concerned, in not completing fifty-two works, we succeed in completing one where the time spent was worthwhile.
Love & Kisses, Viki.
What do we, as adults, look for in a children’s book? Adventure, color, excitement, education? Probably all of these things in one go since, after all, we want our children to learn as much as to enjoy themselves and, of course, we all wish them to find something worth going back to, something which awakes the interest in the printed word, in reading within them. Children’s books no longer need to have a moral attached to them, in the way that Aesop wrote, but should give a child something which they can think about, something which lights a spark in their mind and brings new thoughts to them. Children’s books should also contain something which can be shared, which a parent can read with their child, can enjoy just as much, and from which they also gain something.
Photo Credit: KOMUnews – Creative Commons
The Raft is a simple tale of five friends who go on a long journey across the ocean to their new house. It is well illustrated, with animal figures which appeal and a story line which can be discussed, which brings a form of moral – friendship, sharing, society – to the fore without forcing any real message across. The reader is intrigued by what the five have with them, and shown how they share for the common good, how their sharing makes the journey easier, more comfortable for all. It shows clearly how this social mixing and the creation of friendship brings everyone together, banishes the loneliness and fear of a long journey without needing to force anything.
Simply told, fitting for the youngest children, The Raft is both educational and interesting, and sure to be a delight for many younger children and, in sharing the pleasures of reading, their parents too.
Self-Published. ISBN: 978 1 501 05240 5
- Viktoria Michaelis.
Title supplied by the author for review.
At what age does a person – or family, couple, whatever – decide that it is the right time to start house hunting? I am sure that we all look at houses as we wander by, wondering who lives there, what it would be like to own such a house, especially some of the mansions, and whether we can afford to make such an investment. I am no different: I see beautiful houses as I travel and wonder; I note where For Sale signs have been posted and, now and then, take a closer look; I read the trash news to see which celebrities are currently selling and how much their former home costs on the market. Until now, though, I’ve never really given it a serious thought. We live in a very comfortable apartment close to the center of this small town with all the amenities a couple could possibly desire, but it isn’t our house. It is an apartment which we pay rent and utilities for each month. We have a landlord and everything that goes with it.
Photo Credit: Images_of_Money – Creative Commons
Lately, though, I’ve been giving it more consideration. The fact that I am probably going to stay here now, that I have no real reason to return to the United States, that I am very happy in my relationship and the small, select society that surrounds me weighs heavily. Should I, at twenty-two, be looking further into the future and consider making my presence here permanent, my relationship more solid with property? There is no shortage of realty on the market, a constant flux of movement as families grow, as means change, as new estates are opened, and some of the properties are very attractive indeed, some even fall within the scope of my own means.
But do I really want, or need, this kind of commitment?
Love & Kisses, Viki.
Some people live in the past, either because they’ve never managed to come to grips with modern life, or because there are too many good things still left, they believe, which make it worth hanging on to. Yet others look back on the past, especially their own lives, and ask themselves what could have happened to me if… or, what happened around me that was kept hidden? When a family splits up, for whatever reason, the questions become more complicated, filled with wishes and desires, unanswered questions about who might have been at fault, whether life could have been different if only people had stayed together. For some these questions will probably never be answered, they are confronted with them at the most inopportune moments or at a time when life takes a twist, throws them a curve-ball, removes the only person who might have been able to set their mind at ease.
There are also many things in life which simply cannot be understood, the power of love is one of them. How can a person, so well set up in their home life, in their marriage, with their children, suddenly throw it all away and begin afresh? For someone who does not feel the same passion of love, it is almost impossible to explain, and can leave a deep hurt throughout the remaining years alongside the many unanswered, unasked questions. Would life have been different for Nigel and Louise if their mother Sara – or Sally as they knew her – hadn’t walked out in the late Seventies, sent them off to live with an Aunt, for Louise, or to a boarding school, for Nigel? What if their mother had never met the ‘Darling of the Eighties’, as Patrick came to be known when together with her, sharing the spotlight of his dubious fame and the eventual fall from grace?
Photo Credit: joansorolla – Creative Commons
All three come together once more, following the sudden death of their mother, in Patrick’s home, a dilapidated villa hidden away from the public gaze and hope, in their own way, to find answers to many of life’s questions. There is the prospect of an inheritance, of a new path through life, of a new start perhaps. And there is also Mia, a young student determined to make her own way upwards, by whatever means who, blinded perhaps by her prospects, throws aside her studies and begins to take control, as far as she can, over Patrick’s life. The whole, as all come together with their own complicated backgrounds, with their own problems, with their own memories, brings a delightful, bitterly humorous story of misunderstandings carried on over decades, of expectations unspoken, of questions never asked.
As with life itself, Amanda Coe’s new work leaves many questions unanswered, and that is a good thing. We are able, as readers, to place ourselves into the fate-twisted lives of each of the characters, to read their thoughts and almost feel their emotions. There is a certain understanding between the reader and each person portrayed which concentrates itself around that one person and their history, but doesn’t impede upon the uniqueness of the other characters, doesn’t bring them the answers they need, but lets us, the readers, understand what may have been the cause, what could be the future. And the bitter humor is not just a satire upon the expectations of an emotionally material society, but an insight into ourselves, we who, but for the grace of the fates, could have found ourselves in the same position, might still be faced with it in one way or another. We relate to the characters, and that is what brings a good story to life as much as the setting, the plot, the unexpected turns of fate and fortune.
Published by Virago. ISBN: 978 0 349 00509 6.
- Viktoria Michaelis