Tag Archives: Literary Fiction

@FTThum #BookReview ‘Burial Rites’ by Hannah Kent

A book which I earmarked to read for some time. Finally, I did.

burial-ritesTitle:          Burial Rites
Author:        Hannah Kent
Publishers:     Back Bay Books, April 2014
Format:          Kindle, Paperback
Pages:             311
Genre:           Fiction – Historical, Literary Fiction

What’s it about?

This heartbreaking story of a woman’s life journey in early 19th century Iceland gripped me from page one.

Burial Rites is a fictionalised story of a true event – In 1828, an Icelandic servant named Agnes Magnúsdóttir was convicted of killing her employer and another man, then burning their bodies. Hannah Kent’s take, as she explained, was “to supply a more ambiguous portrayal” of a woman who has been seen as a “witch, stirring up murder”.

There is no happy ending, and it is no surprise. But this book is not about finding out what happens at the end, but a study of Anna Magnúsdóttir’s life leading to her execution.

The Icelandic setting of unrelenting cold and unforgiving rocky terrain, is perfect backdrop to this story of poverty and a woman’s place within it. A young girl growing up without love and care, spurned and betrayed by those she depended on, Anna’s shame is writ large in her name, and by all that followed her survival.

There was no prison in Iceland then. So when Anna was convicted of murder, she is sent to live with District Officer Jon Jonsson; his ailing wife, Margret; and their two daughters to await her execution. A young clergy, Assistant Reverend Thorvardur Jonsson (‘Toti’) is sent to Anna as a spiritual guide to prepare her for the fateful day.

Reverend Toti initially did not understand the story Anna told, listening through his naïve and blinkered view of the world. But he finally did. And as Anna’s story unfolds, I the reader am confronted by questions.

What makes a person culpable for her actions?

What does it mean to undertake voluntary act? Who is responsible?

How much of our stories are constructed by what was told about us?

How much of us is truly seen and understood?

Would I recommend it?

A solid account. An engaging story. Highly recommended.

 

Ratings:
Realistic Characterization: 3.5/5
Made Me Think:                   3/5
Overall enjoyment:               4/5
Readability:                           4/5
Recommended:                     3.5/5
Overall Rating:                  3.5/5

Buy it at:

Amazon Kindle USD 7.47
  Paperback USD 6.00
 Bookdepository  Paperback  AUD 18.00

~ FlorenceT

 

@FTThum
MeaningsAndMusings

© 2017 LitWorldInterviews

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@FTThum #BookReview ‘The Dinner’ by Herman Koch

Interesting premise, as I read the ‘blurb’ on the back cover. So here goes.

the-dinnerTitle:          The Dinner
Author:        Herman Koch
Translator:    Sam Garrett
Publishers:     Atlantic Books, UK (August 2012)
Format:          Kindle, Paperback
Pages:             320
Genre:           Fiction – Contemporary; Literary Fiction

What’s it about?

‘The Dinner’ is Dutch author, Herman Koch’s 2nd book published in 2009 and translated to English in 2012. It has been adapted for film (US), to be released in 2017 starring Richard Gere and Laura Linney. I for one will be watching it. Why? Because the book is intriguing, and I do want to see if it has been translated well to screen and how the characters are portrayed in the film.

The plot appears simple. Two couples – brothers and their wives – meet at an upmarket restaurant for dinner. There is an issue about their children that must be discussed, but obviously such a difficult topic to speak of that they miserably avoided it through 2 courses and various interruptions.

So what is this “important matter” that must be discussed and resolved?

Internal monologue of Paul Lohman, the protagonist, offers readers insight into the psychological state of a younger sibling, never quite living up to a successful older brother, with a chip on his shoulder and repressed anger.  And through his lens, there is the arrogant older brother, Serge, the defiant yet helpless sister-in-law, Babette; and his loving and supportive wife, Claire who is most importantly his ally as against the other couple.

This story ultimately is about what people, and parents, will believe to protect their own psyche and as a defence to love. It provides a slice of the human condition – how we lie to ourselves and what we do when our very existence, as we know it, is threatened.

The story is told in a pace causing annoyance was necessary; the discomfort and unpleasantness evoked in me is testament of how well-written this book is, and portending the reluctance of the characters to name and acknowledge the “important matter” – the almost calm and matter-of-fact manner which belies the undercurrents of tension, fear and malice.

What are their motivations? Or their responsibilities?

Does it matter if the desired outcome is achieved?

How will it end for everyone concerned?

Would I recommend it?

An intriguing book definitely worth spending time on.

 

Ratings:
Realistic Characterization: 4/5
Made Me Think:                   3/5
Overall enjoyment:               4/5
Readability:                           4/5
Recommended:                     3.5/5
Overall Rating:                  3.5/5

Buy it at:

Amazon Kindle USD 8.47
  Paperback USD 8.92
 Bookdepository  Paperback  A$11.10

~ FlorenceT

 

@FTThum
MeaningsAndMusings

© 2017 LitWorldInterviews

#BOOK REVIEW BY @COLLEENCHESEBRO OF “Yellow Hair,” BY AUTHOR @HUCKFINN76

  • Title:  Yellow Hair
  • Author: Andrew Joyce
  • File Size: 1092 KB
  • Print Length: 498 Pages
  • Publisher: William Birch & Assoc.
  • Publication Date: September 28, 2016
  • Sold By: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN:  B01LXOXHBI
  • ISBN-10: 0998119318
  • ISBN-13: 978-0998119311
  • Formats: Paperback and Kindle
  • Goodreads
  • Genres: Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction, Biographical

*I voluntarily reviewed an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this book*


“Through no fault of his own, a young man is thrust into a new culture just at the time that culture is undergoing massive changes. It is losing its identity, its lands, and its dignity. He not only adapts, he perseveres and, over time, becomes a leader–and on occasion, the hand of vengeance against those who would destroy his adopted people.

Yellow Hair documents the injustices done to the Sioux Nation from their first treaty with the United States in 1805 through Wounded Knee in 1890. Every death, murder, battle, and outrage written about actually took place. The historical figures that play a role in this fact-based tale of fiction were real people, and the author uses their real names. Yellow Hair is an epic tale of adventure, family, love, and hate that spans most of the 19th century. This is American history.”

Yellow Hair is an action-packed epic saga telling the life story of a man coming to grips with his destiny. From the first page of this book, the reader is thrust inside the life journey of Jacob Ariesen, a young man whose family was looking for a better way of life in California. Leaving Massachusetts behind, and heading west on the Oregon Trail, the Arisen’s meet up with a wagon train headed to California in the mid-1800’s and set out toward gold country.

Most of the travelers were Eastern businesspeople, and they weren’t prepared to face the hardships on the trail. Careless errors of judgment by the pioneers results in the deaths of many family members. The people were greenhorns and had no clear idea what they had gotten themselves into. Throw in a crippling bout of cholera, and you have a clear picture of the tribulations suffered by the brave folks who traveled West looking for a better way of life. In the blink of an eye, Jacob’s entire family is wiped out, and he becomes the sole survivor.

With the dead and dying all around him, Jacob Ariesen becomes infected with cholera, and his days are numbered. Help is at hand, when a prophetic Native American woman, named Suni, finds her destiny with the fair-haired Jacob. Suni nurses him back to health, and she calls him, “Yellow Hair.” With no family of his own, Yellow Hair embraces the Dakota tribe who adopts him. He learns to speak the native languages of the Great Plains Indians and lives his life as a member of the Dakota tribe.

Jacob Ariesen, a.k.a. Yellow Hair takes his place in history framed by the U.S. government’s policy of placing the Dakota Sioux Indian tribes onto reservations after breaking treaty after treaty with the native peoples. The rest of the story belongs to Yellow Hair, told from his point of view.

I felt both sides (Native American and Whites) were portrayed as accurately as history could allow. The difference is in perspective, when you the reader, has the chance to witnesses the historical events through the eyes of a white man who considers himself to be an Indian.

I thought the author, Andrew Joyce, was entirely fair in his depiction of all the events. I never felt one side was glorified over another. The historical facts are woven in between the author’s interpretation of the events making history come alive.

History has a way of repeating itself, and I was quite moved with the parallels between the novel, and real life events unfolding at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation and the Dakota Access Pipeline. I must admit I shed a few tears at the brutality of humanity on both sides of the spectrum.

I enjoyed this book from start to finish and could not put it down. And, as the author reminds us, “This is history,” which means many of these happenings are hard to swallow from a humanitarian point of view.

This is one of my favorite books from my expanding library of Andrew Joyce novels. If you love historical fiction set in the American West, you will love Yellow Hair.


Character Believability: 5
Flow and Pace: 5
Reader Engagement: 5
Reader Enrichment: 5
Reader Enjoyment: 5
Overall Rate: 5 out of 5 stars

5gold-star3

Author, Andrew Joyce

About Andrew Joyce:

Andrew Joyce left high school at seventeen to hitchhike throughout the US, Canada, and Mexico. He wouldn’t return from his journey until decades later when he decided to become a writer. Joyce has written five books, including a two-volume collection of one hundred and forty short stories comprised of his hitching adventures called BEDTIME STORIES FOR GROWN-UPS (as yet unpublished), and his latest novel, YELLOW HAIR. He now lives aboard a boat in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with his dog, Danny, where he is busy working on his next book, tentatively entitled, MICK REILLY.

You can find Andrew on Twitter @HuckFinn76 and on Facebook at Andrew Joyce (Yellowhair1850)

You can also connect with Andrew on his author blog at andrewjoyce.wordpress.com

Book Review by @ColleenChesebro of colleenchesebro.com

2016-11-17-11-25-08

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@FTThum #BookReview ‘The Valley Where They Danced’ by Emory Jones

I was encouraged to read this book by  the local store owner at Tallulah Point Overlook, GA.  So glad I did.

Valley

Title:          The Valley Where They Danced
Author:          Emory Jones
Publishers:     Emory Jones LLC (2014)
Format:          Hardback
Website:         The Valley Where They Danced
Pages:             290
Genre:            Literary fiction

What’s it about?

The author, Emory Jones, is a local of this area of Northeast Georgia, USA which is the backdrop of this enchanting tale.

It is the early 20th century, shortly after the end of World War I. Dr Tom Garrison a newly licensed doctor travels from Macon, Georgia to be the local doctor in Clarksville, GA.  As he familiarizes himself to the town and its delightful characters, he meets the resourceful Lenore Conley. Even on the first time they meet, they know their destiny is sealed. But a sinister presence lurks. Will it pose a threat? What will become of Tom and Lenore, as their story masterfully told by Emory Jones, closes at Tallulah Gorge, GA.

The tale of the two lovebirds is woven into the tapestry of life and history of the Sautee Nacoochee valleys from the beginning of the hydro electricity dams being built to references to the new motorised vehicle and the aftermath of WWI for those fortunate to return home.  And let’s not forget the two legends of the Sautee and Nacoochee.  Will Tom and Lenore’s fate follow?

Would I recommend it?

A gripping tale amidst the rich historical context kept me glued to ‘The Valley Where They Danced’. How I wish I had read this book before I visited this part of Georgia.

Ratings:
Realistic Characterization:  4/5
Made Me Think:                   3/5
Overall enjoyment:               4/5
Readability:                           4/5
Recommended:                     4/5
Overall Rating:                  4/5

Buy it at:

Amazon Kindle USD 9.03
  Hardback USD 26.95
Emory Jones LLC Hardback USD 26.95

~ FlorenceT

florence-2

@FTThum
MeaningsAndMusings

© 2016 LitWorldInterviews

@FTThum #BookReview ‘All the Light We Cannot See’ by Anthony Doerr

This is a Christmas gift which took me three months to read (yep, been extremely busy) and another four months to review…

all the light

Title:          All the Light We Cannot See
Author:          Anthony Doerr
Publishers:     Scribner, Simon & Schuster (2014)
Format:          Hardback
Website:         www.anthonydoerr.com
Pages:             530
Genre:            Literary fiction; Thriller

What’s it about?

This is a story of morality – of doing and not doing, of being and non-being – and science set in Germany and France during WWII. It tells of how the two protagonists’ lives intersect in the lead up to the German occupation of France.

I was introduced to Werner a 7-year old German boy gifted in science who lived in an orphanage with his sister, Jutta. Marie-Laure was 6 years, blind and much loved by her father, a locksmith and the keeper of keys at the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle. And there in the museum was hidden an accursed gem, which would be the thread running through both Werner and Marie-Laure’s lives.

From 7 to 18 years old where the story ends, Werner knew he had a calling, to repair and build radios. This brought him to the attention of the Nazis and subsequently sent to a school that produced elite cadre for the Third Reich. There, Werner’s friendship with his best friend Frederick was tested repeatedly as he experienced the conflict between his love for science and his love for his friend. Jutta’s voice rang as his conscience until he chose not to listen. Ultimately Werner’s fate was tied to the accursed gem, with which his commanding officer was obsessed.

During these years, Marie-Laure had a happy life deciphering puzzles her father built, and learning about her sightless world through the delightful miniatures her father had constructed. It was because of them that she managed to survive when she was brought to live with her great-uncle’s home in the town of Saint Malo, on the coast of Brittany after escaping Paris when her father was entrusted with the accursed gem. Her great-uncle, Etienne, a former soldier suffering from psychological distress, had been using his radio transmitter for the Resistance.

How do all these lives intersect? I suppose you can see the obvious connection, however there are many more. I will leave you to discover what they are.

For me, the only character that seems to be predominantly two dimensional is von Rumpel, Werner’s commanding officer. The  book’s approach to Nazism fell short of the realism that was conveyed throughout other parts of the book. The other secondary characters were fascinating and I almost wished they had their own words for their experiences.

Would I recommend it?

‘All the Light We Cannot See’ is thriller and literary fiction, rolled into one. A delightful book with detailed descriptions of the towns and well-presented characters – Marie-Laure more believable than Werner, nevertheless entirely absorbing.

Ratings:
Realistic Characterization: 3.5/5
Made Me Think:                   3.5/5
Overall enjoyment:               4/5
Readability:                           4/5
Recommended:                     4/5
Overall Rating:                  4/5

Buy it at:

Amazon Kindle USD 11.30
  Hardback USD 16.39
Booktopia Paperback AUD 39.25
Bookdepository Paperback £8.87

 

~ FlorenceT

florence-2

@FTThum
MeaningsAndMusings

© 2016 LitWorldInterviews

#BookReview ‘Satin Island’ by Tom McCarthy. What do you read for?

Satin Island by Tom McCarthy
Satin Island by Tom McCarthy

Title:   Satin Island
Author:   Tom McCarthy
ISBN:  0307593959

ISBN13:  978-0307593955
ASIN:   B00PI0P0NE
Published:  12th March 2015
Pages:  210
Genre:  Literary Fiction

Body of review:

Thanks to Net Galley and to Jonathan Cape for providing me a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

Honestly? I enjoyed the book. On the other hand, would I recommend it? Well, it depends.

The book is narrated in the first person by U., an anthropologist working for a global corporation, which at the beginning of the book has secured a project that will change everything. We never quite know what this project is, and it seems nobody else knows either. U.’s contribution to the project is celebrated, although he has no idea what that contribution might have been. His job also consists of creating a report. A report about everything. He’s at liberty to choose how to do it. But how would you go about it?

U. chats constantly about things that might appear unconnected, but his job —in so far as he knows what it is— seems to be to find connections. He talks about Lévi-Strauss and his thoughts about anthropology and tribes, he collects random data (about oil-spills, parachuting accidents, airports and places…), he goes to conferences and gives lectures he seems totally unprepared for, but his search for meaning is thwarted, and it’s difficult to know if it’s the world’s fault or his own. Perhaps, as he mentions, Lévi-Strauss was right, and eventually it all becomes reduced to either new tribes that get absorbed into the everyday and stop being weird, or tribes that are so weird they are completely meaningless and cannot be processed using our current methodology.

The book reminded me of many things, although I didn’t consciously try to find similarities or connections. Perhaps it’s a side effect of reading it. It did remind me of reading literary theory, in particular the French Theorists (Roland Barthes, Jacques Derrida), and how much I liked them (although I was in a minority position in the American Literature class, I must admit). There are moments when the absurdity of everything made me think of works like Terry Gillian’s Brazil or some of Kafka’s or Orwell’s books (minus the pathos.) There were moments breathtakingly beautiful and poetic, usually found in something mundane. (Wonderful examples are the descriptions of the videos one of his colleagues’ shoots and later watches on a loop. But other things too: traffic, people skateboarding, dreams, even the Ferry to Staten Island…). And even moments where it seemed as if he’d found an explanation, a brilliant who-done-it that later comes to nothing, much as happens with his thoughts of rebelling and disturbing the set order. Flashes of genius in a pan.

Recently I read a very long book, stylistically interesting, trying to be about everything and for me too full of itself and failing. This is a book that possibly is about everything. Or about nothing (the difference might be only one of degree), and thankfully doesn’t take itself too seriously.

My opinion. Yes, I really loved this book. With regards to recommending it… Well, it has no plot, not much on the character side of things, it’s clever, it’s beautifully written, and it might make you think, although probably not reach many (if any) conclusions. So there you are. If with all that you want to read it, I hope you enjoy it. And if not, that’s all right too.

By the way, the book is nominated for the Man Booker Prize.

I checked over my notes and it seems I’ve highlighted a variety of things, but not sure any of them are very exemplary.

‘Me? Call me U.’ (wink to Melville, whom I love.)

In describing how his boss, Peyman, talks about the company:

‘If I had, he’d say, to sum up, in a word, what we (the Company, that is) essentially do, I’d choose not consultancy or design or urban planning, but fiction.’

‘Key to immortality: text messaging.’ At this point in the story, a friend of his had died, and he explains that he’d received a text message from his friend’s phone, sent by his estranged wife, to let him know he’d died. His friend had commented how one of the things that bothered him about dying (he was quite ill with cancer and knew his end was near) was that he wouldn’t be able to tell anybody about it. He felt mortified by the fact that when the most important thing that could ever happen to him, finally happened, he wouldn’t be able to tell anybody. U reflects that if one has a system to automatically send messages on one’s name, forever, (Tweets, blog posts, SMS, social media updates) that would be the equivalent of immortality…

 

Ratings:
Realistic Characterization: 3/5
Made Me Think: 5/5
Overall enjoyment: 5/5
Readability: 4/5
Recommended: 4/4
Overall Rating: 4.5/5
 

Satin Island in paper
Satin Island in paper

Buy it at:  
Format & Pricing:
Paperback:  $11.25 

Kindle: $12.15 

Hardback: $13.20 

Audio: $22.35 

Thanks for reading! Remember to like, share, comment and CLICK!

Olga Núñez Miret

@OlgaNM7

http://OlgaNM.wordpress.com

http://www.OlgaNM.com

 

Interview with Anne Goodwin @annecdotist – Author of ‘Sugar and Snails’

I have the privilege of interviewing author, Anne Goodwin about her debut novel ‘Sugar and Snails’, of which I did a review here on LitWorldInterviews.

To cut a long story short, Anne thought it would be good idea for someone who is associated with psychology to review her book, and I couldn’t be happier to do so. Of course, after reading ‘Sugar and Snails’, I do have a few questions for Anne.

So here goes:

An interview with ‘Sugar and Snails’ author, Anne Goodwin

Anne, what an incredibly thought-provoking book. I guess readers will want to know how you come to conceive the idea/theme for ‘Sugar and Snails’?

Thank you, Florence. I’m not totally sure where the idea came from – I think these things can lurk in our subconscious for quite some time – but there seem to have been three strands, which I have written about in more detail elsewhere: taking almost half a lifetime to figure out my own difficult adolescence; an awareness that many competent professionals have hidden vulnerabilities; and the discovery, part way through a long overseas trip, that an administrative error had led to my travelling on a passport that had registered me as male.

Find out about Anne’s difficult adolescence here.
Look here for Anne’s take on the vulnerabilities we harbour.
And finally, Anne registered as a male? Look here for what she means.

Your bio states you worked as a clinical psychologist in the UK for some 25 years. What was your area of practice or expertise as a clinical psychologist? When and how did you come to study psychology? And with mathematics?

I specialised in working with adults with severe and enduring mental health problems, often psychosis (Diana’s methodology for researching adolescent decision-making actually comes from a study of psychosis). Many of those I worked with were in residential care, which sparked my interest in organisational dynamics, so I did some additional training in psychoanalytic approaches to organisational consultancy.

I went to university straight from school at eighteen without a clear sense of what I wanted to study. In Britain, you’re expected to specialise early on, but I hadn’t had much guidance. I began studying languages but, being rather shy, I struggled with the spoken side, but eventually found the right place for me in the combination of psychology and mathematics. I liked the fact that in the former “the answer” is always provisional, while in mathematics, if you follow the logical process, you get to the correct solution. I loved reviving these subjects for ‘Sugar and Snails’, making Diana a psychologist and her best friend, Venus, a mathematician.

While maths is conceptual, it is easy to assume there is ‘the’ answer. Perhaps that is where its similarities lay with psychology – we must remember the factors and variables involved in the psychological makeup of a person. It is indeed fascinating to compare the different approaches Venus and Diana have to problem solving, to life in general.

How has your work experience assisted in writing ‘Sugar and Snails’?

As a basic level, it gave me an insight into Diana’s job as well as her, somewhat disastrous, experience of the health service. Yet, when I first answered this question in a Q&A, I didn’t fully appreciate quite how much my professional background has helped. But, having returned to this question after the one on research (below), I realise that the capacity to empathise with lives very different to one’s own is second nature to anyone who has worked therapeutically, as it is to the experienced writer of fiction. Although I was nervous that insiders might doubt my character’s authenticity, my work experience gave me the confidence to give it a go.

I can appreciate this. You certainly haven’t inundated the book with psychological profiling of each of the characters. And to think I wasn’t the first to ask this of you? 🙂 Here is Anne’s interview with Carys Bray  on Blogger.

Next, how much research did you have to do for ‘Sugar and Snails’? What did you research?

 I probably didn’t do half as much as I ought to have done! There’s a “secret” page on my website that lists my main background reading on attachment, gender and adolescence, although some of this I would have read anyway. I had to check out some legal and medical detail regarding Diana’s situation, but mostly I proceeded on the basis of imagination and intuition. Then I was lucky to have experts-by-experience among my prepublication readers who I hope would have flagged had I got anything drastically wrong.

Well, I’d better check out that secret page 🙂

Are the locations in the book real places, and if so, which are familiar to you and why?

The contemporary strand is set in the city of Newcastle, where I went to university and lived for twenty years; I might have used poetic licence, but the backdrop to Diana’s adult life is very real. The small town where she grew up was imagined, but the country walk she recalls taking with her father is one I’ve trod frequently.

Check out Anne’s interview with Geoff le Pard regarding the country walk.

And why Egypt? Do I sense a certain personal ‘love affair’ with Egypt?

My research suggested Diana could have gone to Casablanca but, never having been there, I crossed my fingers and used a setting in another part of North Africa. While I enjoyed revisiting my memories of a month-long visit twenty years before, many of the Cairean scenes were cut from the final version, so I’m pleased my affection for the place still comes through.

Find out  here the scenes of Cairo which were cut from the book   A photograph Anne shares.

WP_20150710_003 (2)

I am intrigued by the nature of Diana’s relationship with Geraldine which isn’t exactly explained. Is it intentional? If not, what is it?

Mmm, I’m intrigued by your being intrigued, although another reviewer did comment she didn’t quite “get” it. I think their early childhood relationship is quite intense, as such friendships often are, with Geraldine initially the more “knowing” of the two, using the relationship to explore her own sexual and gender identity. When, at secondary school, she becomes more conscious of social norms, she distances herself from the “oddball”, but still enjoys having power over another child who’ll do anything for her. When they meet again as adults, Geraldine has moved on in a way that Diana hasn’t. I find that quite poignant.

It is indeed poignant, especially when I see how Geraldine is now leading a ‘normal’ internal life while Diana’s somewhat stuck. Yet the book also highlights to me how the world would see them in such a different light.

When did you begin writing ‘Sugar and Snails’? Describe the writing journey from beginning to getting it published – as well as getting the book to us, the readers.

I started it in 2008, filled with confidence after completing a long-distance walk, but it took many drafts to get it right, partly because I didn’t realise what a complex task I’d set myself, followed by two years to find and sign with a publisher (and, yes, I’m still waiting for a couple of agents who enthusiastically asked for the full manuscript to get back to me). So seven years from inception to publication, which felt inordinately long when I was in the thick of it, less so now I’m through to the other side.

When did you get the writing bug? Describe the circumstances which led you to first put pen to paper as a writer?

 I’ve written all my life but lacked the courage, early on, to consider myself a writer. Busy with my studies and career, fiction took a backseat until a complicated bereavement about twelve years ago forced me to take stock. I reduced my hours at work to have a day for writing and have never looked back.

Now this is an example to follow – at least one day a week 🙂

I note the contribution from book sales to Gendered Intelligence. What is your relationship with this organisation? Why do you support Gendered Intelligence?

As a social enterprise, Inspired Quill is committed to improving community well-being. Although a new venture, their pledge to give ten percent of profits from book sales to selected charities is part of that. Gendered Intelligence is the perfect fit for Sugar and Snails because Diana would have been saved a lot of grief had she been able to draw on the kind of support they offer young people who are gender variant today.

What message, if any, would you wish  ‘Sugar and Snails’ to convey regarding the important issues of gender and sexuality?

Be open to diverse ways of being human in yourself and others; I truly believe it will make the world a better place. But I think fear of difference is also part of being human and acknowledging our discomfort can be a step towards transforming it into empathy rather than hate. Fiction can help with this process by offering a safe space in which to be curious about difference.

Let’s end on a lighter note. Describe your writing spot and how it came about.

My writing space has extended over the years and I now have the luxury of not just an entire desk to myself, but a room I’m only intermittently obliged to share with my husband. We have a rather large house and I dread to think of what I’ll do with all my books if we ever downsize.

WP_20150810_006

What is your beverage of choice when writing? You may be as specific as you wish.

Because I use voice-activated software, I need to drink a lot to protect my throat. I tend to drink a variety of herbal teas throughout the day, often just a sprig of sage, lemon balm, mint, fennel or rosemary from the garden doused in boiling water. I also like very weak lapsang souchong with a slice of lime. You must be thirsty yourself after all these questions. Could I offer you a cup?

Most certainly. I drink green tea for its clear crisp flavour.  It’s a psychological trigger for me to relax, usually at the end of the day.  I need a strong coffee to wake me up in the morning.

Thank you, Anne for your time and sharing your writing with us.  I have thoroughtly enjoyed reading ‘Sugar and Snails’ . Wishing you the best in your writing endeavours, and a positive outcome as you wait to hear from publishers.

*******************************

My review of Anne’s book ‘Sugar and Snails’ is here.

Visit Anne on her website, annethology; or connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

Anne’s book ‘Sugar and Snails’ can be purchased here:

Amazon US
Amazon UK
Booktopia Australia
Bookdepository
Inspired Quill
Barnes & Noble

Now there is no good reason not to go get a copy.  It’s a worthwhile read!

– FlorenceT

@FTThum
MeaningsAndMusings

florence-2

 

© 2015 LitWorldInterviews

Guest #Book #Review by @TheAranArtisan of Dancing to an Irish Reel by @CFullerton3

Melissa Gillan Review of Dancing to an Irish Reel

Dancing to an Irish Reel by Claire Fullerton – A book review

Dancing to an Irish Reel by Claire FullertonOh to be twenty-something again, but this time with the same intuitive sensibility as Hailey Crossan, the heroine of this fictional story.

That thought crossed my mind many times while reading Claire Fullerton’s novel, Dancing to an Irish Reel. I had the pre-decided notion that I would relate personally to Hailey’s experience being that, like her, I’m an American woman involved with an Irish gentleman. Relate I did, but not where I expected to. Our relationships are as different as our personalities and the same goes for the men in our lives. So I reread the book with no expectation or comparison and it won my heart over.

What I most connected with were the references to western Ireland geography, weather, language, and societal mores — they are impeccable. I could nearly hear the distinct Connemara blas when natives spoke. Ms. Fullerton nailed the vernacular, evidence she had spent time in the setting either researching the book or being Galway by Melissa Gillaninspired to write it. How fortunate for her because the west of Ireland is a spectacular place to be.

Another appealing part of this book for me is the use of genuine locations. One pub in particular made me smile each time it was mentioned. My husband and I celebrated there with friends and family days before our wedding and returned again on the day following our wedding. I’ve eaten, drank, danced, shopped, and wandered in many of the places that are written about. And the places I was less familiar with, I found myself drawn to explore.

The story reads more like a true narrative rather than one of fiction. As Hailey keenly observes the nuances of Irish life, her confusion about her swain, Liam Hennessy, begins to make sense and she gains knowledge about the realities of life with an Irish man whose first loves are music and family. While all this is happening she remains remarkably level-headed and generous with her time and affections for friends, co-workers, and neighbours. In their own unique way, they provide insights that may or may not relieve some of her uncertainty; if not, they at least help to take her mind off the wonders of her heart while also enhancing the storyline.

Hailey and Liam’s relationship is not an uncommon scenario here in Ireland. Bittersweet at times, there’s an innocence and naivety to their love story that had me reading between the lines of their dialogue right up to the end of the book. I’ll admit, the ending was unexpected but not surprising. I could easily see a sequel to this book and would welcome it with open arms.

Would I recommend the book? Absolutely. Who would I recommend it to? Anyone living apart from Ireland who wants to get a sense of its people and intrinsic nature. Anyone who is living in or has visited Ireland and wants a reminder of how unique a culture it is. Readers who are interested in real life relationships, full of complications and void of fairy tale scenarios would also find this story appealing. If you enjoy a really good piece of fictional writing, then Dancing to an Irish Reel is for you.

Claire in front yard with dogs Dec 28 2011-1007895 1Author Amazon page

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About the Reviewer:

Melissa Gillan The Aran ArtisanMelissa Gillan “The Aran Artisan” is an Amercan lady who married her Irishman and moved to Ireland on love and a prayer. She and her husband work the land, raise their children, and do everything the Irish way. Her Blog,The Aran Artisan is a favorite stop for many who love her style of sharing the Irish way of life in an American voice. She was chosen specifically for this review to deem how authentic and how successful Claire Fullerton had made Dancing to an Irish Reel.  Living in the area of the setting for the book, she would know.

 

Interview with Award Winning Author Claire Fullerton @cfullerton3

Unless you’ve been hiding under a CPU and working on your own book, then you know how much I’ve enjoyed a book called Dancing to an Irish Reel by Award Winning author Claire Fullerton. But I made a mistake with that book review. And I want to correct that up front. I wrote the review too soon after reading the book and failed to give time for reflection and full comprehension to take place. I didn’t take it all in and examine all the nuances hidden within the story. Every day since then I’ve been working on some aspect of the Claire Fullerton Experience. Yes, I call time spent working with an author an Experience like that because it does not normally end with a review and/or an interview. There is a lot more going on in the background than anyone other than one of my authors knows.

During the Experience I realized just how much Claire put in her book and how much she put in to her book. The more I think about it, the more I love the book. I don’t normally dwell very long after a review and interview, I always have the next to go to and I have since. But this would had a truth about it, a realness that one connects with and it stays with you. But before I get too carried away, unless I’m already too late, let’s get to my discussion with Claire Fullerton, Award Winning author and #1  GoodReads Irish Romance.

Claire Fullerton Interview

Claire, for a book that finds itself at times falling into the category of Romance, I have to say I was surprised by what I found with keeping that genre in mind. Did you set out to write a Romance? Was that your goal?

I’m so glad you asked this question, Ronovan. Actually, “Dancing to an Irish Reel” is literary fiction, which is a genre that means true to life. It’s a story about those near misses people experience on the road to a love that endures. I can’t think of anyone I know who hasn’t been in this situation before; where all the variables of attraction are in play, while two people are coming to know each other, yet for one reason or another, they can’t seem to get it together. But there is always such hope, and I think new love is typically replete with uncertainty. There is excitement and high hopes, yet on the flip side there is unpredictability and attendant fears. Extending oneself in new love can be risky and can leave one feeling vulnerable. It’s my belief that most people experience uncertainty and doubt when in the throes of new love, it’s just a question of to what degree they’re going to admit it! This is what “Dancing to an Irish Reel” is about. This is also why this book does not fall into the romance genre, but it does explore the subject.

Actually when I was thinking about this interview and the book I thought of real life with those moments of almost romance, or more relationship to tell the truth.

I think so as well. This is why I gave the reader Hailey’s thoughts throughout this book. I’m fascinated by the way people will say and do things in order to project a certain appearance, while thinking something completely at variance with their words and actions. I wanted the reader to know Hailey’s personality as she made her way in rural Ireland; that she saw things from an American frame of reference for much of this book, yet as the story progresses, that frame of reference was changed as she came to understand the Irish culture. I think this is what people do in life: they tend to resist what is new because their mind is already made up, but if one allows themselves to be influenced, there is much to learn!

Dancing to an Irish Reel
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The role of Hailey Crossan is a strong woman who knows who she is and what she wants. Where did those characteristics come from, as far as a model for her?

I love your use of the word role! I, too, see this book as a movie! You’ve just made my day! But seriously, and to your astute point, I know more women like Hailey Crossan than otherwise. When I consider all the close girlfriends, with whom I was lucky enough to grow up in Memphis, I realize they are all nobody’s fool. My mother was the same way. The women in my life have always been self-confident and self-reliant. They have a savvy, keen eye with regard to sizing people up. And the thing I’ve found with many of my friends is they rarely let on. They prefer to keep things close to the vest, so you have to know them for a while before you realize how aware they really are. This is how I wanted to write the character of Hailey. It was necessary that she was self- sufficient and sure of herself in order to move to another country without fear. She had to be able to hold her own in her new environment because she was a fish-out-of-water, so to speak.

I think your description of close to the vest fits Hailey well, now that I think about her. Cautious is another word that comes to mind. Recently I became a fan of a young man named Hozier, an Irish blues singer/musician/songwriter of about 26. I couldn’t help but picture him during my reading of Dancing to an Irish Reel. Did you have any images in mind, anyone in particular when you were writing Liam Hennessey?

Generally yes, but no one specifically. But I’ll use Hozier to make a point because the look of him is a good example; it is common in Ireland. There are many with dark hair and fair skin. And having lived in Ireland myself, I found the men to be subtle and beautiful, almost with a graceful, feminine quality. And those artistically attuned are the sensitive sort. This is what I had in mind when I created Liam Hennessey.

Oh, and one other thing before we move on, why that name, why Dancing to an Irish Reel?

Spiddal Pier Galway Bay Ireland
Spiddal Pier Shore Galway Bay, Ireland

In Irish traditional music, a reel is a tune that is circular; it goes back and forth and in and out in its execution, and to the listener it may seem unstable, but it is not. A reel has a plan! The title “Dancing to an Irish Reel” is meant to evoke this concept. It refers to the push and pull of the story and the search for stability. Hailey’s navigation of Ireland as an outsider and her sometimes off, sometimes on relationship with Liam Hennessey left her in the position of having to artfully manage a shifting tide, so to speak. She had to learn the ways of the Irish culture in order to live there inconspicuously, and the unpredictability of Liam Hennessey’s actions left her constantly searching for solid ground!

I’ve seen your handling of Ireland compared to that of one of Ireland’s most famous and beloved authors the late Maeve Binchy. When you see comparisons like that what comes to mind?

With regard to Maeve Binchy, because she was Irish, she handled Irish nuances effortlessly, as a matter of course. They were not unusual to her at all, but she reveled in their specific, unique quality. With regard to Ireland, she was in it as well as of it, yet able to stand back and observe the islands peculiarity in a way that celebrated its facets. I sought to do exactly this in “Dancing to an Irish Reel” because I carry a love and appreciation for the land and its culture. I find the Irish people earthy and authentic, unpretentious and in possession of a good perspective with regard to what is important in life. They place importance on quality of life and seem to me to accept life on life’s terms, as opposed to trying to manipulate their way through it.

When you were writing the book, was it an organic experience or did you have a specific outline in mind first? And whichever way, is that the same way you wrote A Portal in Time, your previous release?

Spanish Arch Galway
Spanish Arch Galway, Ireland

For both books, I had a point to make, as in something to say. I started with a premise as a statement then set about getting there via a story that unfolded. As for an outline, my process is very loose. I leave room for the story to tell itself, which is something best exemplified as I write dialogue. I never know ahead of time what the dialogue will be, yet I aim for information to be revealed. We learn about characters through what they say and what other characters say about them. In both books, I was mindful of the spirit of intention and had a loose outline of what was going to happen with regard to turning points. I simply held a firm impression of who the characters were to make the events in both books plausible.

Reading your book and the description of A Portal in Time, I get the feeling of your enjoyment of writing about past lives, mystical and spiritual elements. Is this something that comes natural to you, I mean as in the aspects of writing?

A Portal in Time Claire Fulerton
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My introspection must be showing! In truth, I’m not completely decisive on the subject of past lives one way or the other, but I do love the mystery. Perhaps the idea of past lives shares a blurred line with genetic memory, who’s to say? If you consider the idea of genetic memory, what it basically proposes is that we carry the impressions and experiences of our forebears because they are past down to us through genetics like imprints. This explains inherited talents and proclivities in an understandable way. And if you look at, say, the Druids, they didn’t believe so much in past lives as they did in the transmigration of the soul, meaning we are souls gathering wisdom in this business of living on earth, but it takes many incarnations to accumulate something with staying power. We can’t just get it all in one lifetime, if the aim is enlightenment, i.e, perfection. And because it is an ongoing endeavor, the idea is we return to this earthly plane repeatedly, where we try on different hats. I think there is confusion over the idea of past-lives because it places importance on the experience of the human as opposed to the experience of the soul as it seeks alignment with the divine, however you choose to define the divine. But this subject is important, and it’s enough for me to be mindful of the question. I think Sting touched upon something beautiful when he proclaimed we are spirits in the material world, and I know he wasn’t the first to posit this, but he did make a proclamation that brought it to the public fore.

Everyone that’s read my review of your book knows I loved it, and that I suggested a sequel. We’ve talked about it and it hadn’t come to you as an idea until then. But you set it up so well with the tarot card reading of Hailey. Do you think maybe some of those outside forces were guiding your story during certain parts? Maybe they want you to take another trip to Ireland.

Actually, I have been back to Ireland since I wrote “Dancing to an Irish Reel,” and I plan on going again! As for going back to Ireland in a sequel, I never thought along those lines because “Dancing to an Irish Reel” is a self-contained story with a point to it, which is to say we make our choices in life and from them our lives are set on a consequential course. As of this interview, I am not ruling a sequel out. I’ll let Hailey decide.

Now let’s get something a little more personal. We have a lot in common. Southern. Music business. Location of living for a time. How does your time in the South influence your writing, and is that part of your heritage something that you think might have drawn you to Ireland?

Ireland and the American South share something in common, but do keep in mind that much of the American South was settled by the Scotch-Irish, so perhaps it is something inherent in the area. Both areas spawn terrific communicators in possession of the gift of the entertaining story. It is a cultural way of being in the world, and therefore something passed down to each generation. In both the South and Ireland, I’ve found extremely colorful characters, completely unabashed in personality. As for the South influencing my writing, all I can say is that I write as I think, from the internal monologue I have in my head as well as how I see the world. The South has clearly influenced this as an environment because it is my frame of reference.

What’s the most satisfying thing that has happened to you so far while you’ve been an author?

The writer’s life style. I write daily for one reason or another. It has transpired that with two books in the world and the dynamic that promotion brings therefore, that I am always writing something, and this is due to the affiliations my books have given me. Take for instance the Irish online community “The Wild Geese.” They’re a group of the most erudite, Ireland loving writers I’ve ever come across, all with the desire to communicate and share their love of the island. I contribute to this community regularly by writing pieces that appear as blog posts, but what they really are is a way to celebrate the business of what it means to be Irish! So there is that gift, but I have also spent the last two years writing my third novel, which has been a joyous process. Then, of course, I contribute to magazines. It seems I’m always writing something and sharing it, which to me is simply the high art of communication for its own sake. All this is my idea of fulfilling days with a purpose. Can’t get more satisfying than this!

Do you have a favorite line in Dancing to an Irish Reel?

Yes, it is this: “There’s a feel about Galway that you can wear around your shoulders like a cloak.” It is very true.

Thank you, Ronovan. This has been big fun! Thank you for supporting writers through your exceptional blog.

About Claire

Claire Fullerton AuthorClaire Fullerton grew up in Memphis, TN and now lives in Malibu, CA. She is the author of literary fiction, “Dancing to an Irish Reel,” which is set in Connemara, Ireland, where she once lived. She is also the author of “A Portal in Time”: A paranormal mystery that unfolds in two time periods set on California’s hauntingly beautiful Monterey Peninsula, in a little village called Carmel-by-the-Sea. Both of Claire’s novels are published by Vinspire Publishing. Claire is a three- time award winning essayist, a former newspaper columnist, a contributor to magazines including Celtic Life International and Southern Writers Magazine. She is a five-time contributor to the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” book series and can be found on Goodreads as well as the website under her name. Currently, Claire is writing her third novel, which is a Southern family saga based on her award winning essay in the 2013 San Francisco Writer’s Conference.

You can connect with Claire on Facebook and Twitter.

Get her books by clicking the book images above or clicking here for her Amazon Author Page.

Please share this Interview in order for Claire to receive as much support as we all may possibly give.



Interview by Ronovan

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#Book Review of Dancing to an Irish Reel by @cfullerton3

Author: Claire FullertonDancing to an Irish Reel
Title: Dancing to an Irish Reel
File Size: 373 KB
Print Length: 237 pages
Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0990304256
Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
Publisher: Vinspire Publishing (March 6, 2015)
Publication Date: March 6, 2015
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Language: English
ASIN: B00UCOZJXM
Text-to-Speech: Enabled
Word Wise: Enabled
Lending: Enabled
Genres: Romance, Contemporary, Fiction, Literary Fiction
Kindle: $1.99
Paperback: $13.99
Audible: $17.95

I received a copy of this book from the author for an honest review. And of course with me, you know that’s what you get. Good or bad. Here we go!

What happens when an L.A. music exec goes on sabbatical to Ireland? Well this is a romance, so I’ll say romance, along with love, music, and most of all confusion—caused by love, language, and longing. You might think a Southern girl who moved to L.A. might be accustomed to culture shock and speaking a different language, but Ireland is an island unto itself.

Dancing to an Irish Reel is about American Hailey meeting real Ireland and new-to-love Liam Hennessey. What you get is a story of Hailey learning about the place she comes to call home and as she learns about it and begins to understand it, she also begins to understand the man she falls for.

I like the character of Hailey. She is not your stereotype romantic leading lady that people like to think of. She is strong, knows what she wants, has common sense, and above all—she doesn’t do the typical damsel in distress routines.

Men, you will like this book. I say that because men need to realize that a great deal of books with Romance in the genre are not exactly what you may think. Movies men seem to like have romance in them and could be labeled as such in genre. So get a clue.

In other words this will hit with all people.

I found this book a bit of a surprise in some ways. Things don’t happen the way you expect, which to me is good. You want to be surprised these days. I do want to say that the character of Liam, well—Fullerton does a great job of explaining the Irish male in several places from different viewpoints. Very interesting, I thought.

You might at times want to hit Liam over the head with something, like his accordion, but then, he is a man, it’s love, and he’s young, so what else would you expect? And that is one thing that makes this book real and allows the reader to connect with it. No one is perfect in the book. Even those thought to be perfect are flawed deeply, and not entirely due to their own doing. And as for the accordion, it’s a loved instrument in Ireland and makes Liam somewhat of a local celebrity.

I loved the description of Ireland, the people, how the language works and the culture itself works in so many different ways. Those parts alone make you think you have read a much larger book because you learn so much. I view the romance part of the story as a side by side symbolic representation of Hailey’s coming to terms and coming to understanding Ireland itself.

How does the book end? Is it a happy ending? That’s something you have to find out for yourself. Does Fullerton leave things open for a sequel? Could there be a trilogy or even a series of Hailey books? Personally, I would like to see more of Hailey in Ireland. How Fullerton uses Hailey to teach us about the real Ireland is something that needs to be revisited.

Recommendations:

I recommend this book to lovers of Ireland, real people, common sense romance, and reality.

Character Believability: 5Dancing to an Irish Reel
Flow and Pace: 5
Reader Engagement: 5
Reader Enrichment: 5
Reader Enjoyment: 4
Overall Rate: 4.8

 

You may be looking at that Reader Enjoyment number and wondering why. There were certain characteristics of Liam that somewhat annoyed me at times. I think maybe it was because I’m American and he’s Irish and as Claire Fullerton explains in the book, those two types of men are different. But Liam is real to the Irish male character. Perhaps being of Scottish background, maybe it’s just me.

http://www.clairefullerton.com/about-claire
https://www.facebook.com/clairefullertonauthor
http://www.vinspirepublishing.com/#!about/cjg9
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7388895.Claire_Fullerton
https://twitter.com/cfullerton3
 
 

Claire Fullerton PhotoClaire Fullerton grew up in Memphis, TN and now lives in Malibu, CA. She is the author of literary fiction, “Dancing to an Irish Reel,” which is set in Connemara, Ireland, where she once lived. She is also the author of “A Portal in Time”: A paranormal mystery that unfolds in two time periods set on California’s hauntingly beautiful Monterey Peninsula, in a little village called Carmel-by-the-Sea. Both of Claire’s novels are published by Vinspire Publishing. Claire is a three- time award winning essayist, a former newspaper columnist, a contributor to magazines including Celtic Life International and Southern Writers Magazine. She is a five-time contributor to the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” book series and can be found on Goodreads as well as the website under her name. Currently, Claire is writing her third novel, which is a Southern family saga based on her award winning essay in the 2013 San Francisco Writer’s Conference.


 

Ron_LWIRonovan is an author, and blogger who shares his life as an amnesiac and Chronic Pain sufferer though his blog RonovanWrites.WordPress.com. His love of poetry, authors and community through his online world has lead to a growing Weekly Haiku Challenge and the creation of a site dedicated to book reviews, interviews and author resources known as LitWorldInterviews.WordPress.com.

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