Writing, Reading & Review News
I have so much to share with you this morning.
Firstly, I must thank all of those who spared a few moment to complete the poll in my previous newsletter. Thank you, dear reader, your feedback on the cover for All Manner of Things has been a tremendous help. I am also truly grateful to those who donated to my current Pozible campaign for publishing this novel. I understand that times may be tough right now, so please know that every dollar (or moment spared) is sincerely appreciated. With your ongoing support, I am cautiously optimistic that I will be able to realise my dream of publishing the second novel in my Katherine of Aragon series. So, thank you, truly.
In writing news, I am delighted to announce that my short poem, A Sacred Thing, has been published online by The Blue Nib. Here, I ruminate over the act of creation as an intrinsically sacred, empowering and divine process for creators. I am so grateful to have the opportunity to share this with you. You can read A Sacred Thing here.
I also have a book review to share!
As you may remember, I am filling my time spent in lockdown with fiction. Recently, I devoured No Small Shame, by Christine Bell. This novel chronicles the deeply moving story of a girl-turned-woman in a world shaken by WWI. Christine’s novel has stayed with me long after I turned the final page. While I have included my full review of this work below, reading such a poignant novelhas left me wondering: what have you read recently that has hung with you?
As always, I hope you and your loved ones are staying safe and well.
P.S. If you are interested in learning more about writing historical fiction, I have also included a link to my latest video with Christine.
“I believe that, as long as there is plenty, poverty is evil.” ― Robert F. Kennedy.
No Small Shame is an important reminder of how far we have come in Australia since the beginning of last century – and how much we need to protect. Mary, a girl with dreams and immense character, is the daughter of a poor, working class family who migrates from Scotland to Australia in hope for a better life. Tragedy already darkens Mary’s young life when she leaves the country of her birth. It more than darkens the life of ‘Maw’, Mary’s mother. Years of despair and loss have damaged her in ways that has left her angry, and without hope. Poverty has twisted her ability to love to a fear that she expresses almost like hate.
No Small Shame tells a big story, opening the door to the reality of the lives of poor women at the beginning of last century. Poverty is still an unhealed wound on human society – but at the beginning of last century, the shackles were almost impossible to remove, choking the human psyche until the very choice of humanity came under threat.
Told through the point of view of Mary, we follow her from her childhood in Scotland, to migrating to Australia with her family. Mary is close to Liam, her childhood friend. A few years older than Mary, Liam is miserable about the direction of his life. Mary’s efforts to help him leads to the ‘no small shame’ moment of her life. The beginning of last century was a bleak time to become pregnant out of wedlock. With no other choice but to marry, Mary finds marriage to Liam a time of misery. Then Liam deserts Mary before the birth of their child. Believing Liam dead, Mary goes to Melbourne with her baby to start a new life. The closing days of World War I brings Mary fresh heartbreak – and no easy solutions. The final pages of No Small Shame is shattering, and haunting.
In all, No Small Shame is the story of Mary’s survival over-layered with the promise of triumph. It is a story crafted with great empathy – and immense believability. For me, it not only brilliantly opened the door to past, but made me prouder of my ‘poor’ ancestors. What George Eliot once wrote in Middlemarchalso describes a life such as Mary’s:
“But the effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffusive: for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.
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