My review: A powerful story of chance, decisions, love and loss for a woman caught in an impossible position, trying to survive and finding courage where others fled. Beautifully constructed and written.
I am returning to a favorite book, Ferney by James Long. No matter how many times I read it, I am always transported to the world of Ferney and Gally, their connection across time, their love spanning decades in different guises. For me it is the consummate reincarnation story. It was decades before I began writing after reading it and more years before I wrote my own reincarnation novel, The Twesome Loop. It is homage to Mr. Long’s perfect story and my own decades long interest in reincarnation and life after death.
I wondered what famous authors chose as their favorite book, and found these.
‘Ship of Fools’ by Katherine Ann Porter, Chosen by Stephen King
‘Love Medicine’ by Louise Erdrich, Chosen by Tana French
‘The Mill on the Floss’ by George Eliot, Chosen by Ken Follett
Victory by Joseph Conrad, Chosen by Joan Didion
Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury, Chosen by R.L. Stine
This is an excerpt from Chapter Forty-OneA Secret Place – 2002
As the evening grew darker Gina took Caroline’s hand and led her further down the valley towards a grove of olive trees. Gina told Caroline she had a secret place where she spent many peaceful hours. It was there she found a deep pit covered with wooden planks hidden in the undergrowth. Caroline was intrigued so came prepared with a rope.
“See here, Caroline, here is the pit as I told you. The wooden lid is held down with a large boulder. Why would someone do such a thing? It could only be a water well, don’t you think?”
“I’m not really sure but whatever the reason, I am curious to see.”
“It may not be safe shouldn’t we ask the archeological dig people to look?”
“If I find some precious artifact or relic I will certainly get James over here. Now don’t worry I will be careful.”
With one end of the rope tied to a sturdy olive tree Caroline’s excitement grows. She holds a lantern over the void, before lowering herself down slowly. Gina watches as Caroline gradually disappears into the inky blackness.
The lantern hanging off her belt Caroline’s descent was slow but gradual and her eyes could pick out roots and rocks jutting out of the pit walls. Eventually she felt her feet touch ground and called up to Gina.
“I’m at the bottom now.”
“Be careful, is there no water? You don’t know what’s down there.”
Peering through the gloom Caroline suddenly gave out a cry making Gina jump and call down to her.
“Are you all right?”
“Yes, I’m fine but I’ve found a skeleton!”
Both girls exclaimed at once “Who could it be?”
“I have no idea but I’m guessing this well has been dry for quite some time.”
Caroline knew she would have to get the Professor down the well with proper equipment; it could be a wonderful discovery. For now she needed to make sure she didn’t disturb anything and made her way back up.
Miss Benson’s Beetle by Rachel Joyce Absolutely loved this book! Great characters, story, tension, discovery and the power of finding your true self. The descriptions transported you to the locations. I thoroughly recommend it.
My next read is Saying Goodbye is Easy – A Life in Short Stories by Kathie Sutherland.
What are you currently reading? What was your last review?
Is there anything that makes you discard a book? Bad writing, grammar mistakes, poor characterizations, bad punctuation, language use (whether swearing or discrimination), or something else?
I have read several novels that needed quite a lot of editing but persevered as the stories were interesting. I had to switch off my editor hat though. For example, one novel had two characters that interacted but three quarters of the way through the book one main character’s name changed! I think the author/editor changed the name, for whatever reason but didn’t get all the way through the book. (Now that’s just lazy). It was very confusing as I had to go back and determine that is what happened. Unfortunately, this kind of lack of editing reflects badly on the author and readers may not read anything else they write.
Would that make you discard the book?
Another novel had lots of punctuation and grammatical mistakes and the old fashioned ‘double space’ between sentences, which went out of fashion with the typewriter age! Although, it was frustrating to me, I did persevere with the book as the story and its characters were captivating.
So how is your Goodreads Reading Challenge going so far this year? I am one book behind schedule unfortunately. So I am determined to catch up this week.
My book order came in so I added three more books to my TBR pile. Excited to read them all. It will be interesting to read Tom Hanks – the author! And of course The Heirloom and Maybe in Another Life are reincarnation stories – my favorite.
Of course it will be hard to leave the world of this beautifully written book. You will have to wait for my review.
Talking of book reviews have you managed to read every book you have read this year?
Editing of my steampunk novel, the Commodore’s Gift did stall for a while but after some great feedback on a particular fight scene, I am back on track. As with most people lock-down tends to be a dreadful de-motivator. The virtual writing group I belong to helps with the motivation for sure.
Excerpt: this is the fight scene – feedback is welcome (constructive critique)
They picked up sticks and began circling each other. Owena watched her brother’s movements and eye direction as Galen had taught her and thrust forward. The stick found its mark on Benjamin’s bicep. He looked surprised. Thrust at her successfully landing a tap on her thigh. His arm swung around for another thrust but Owena anticipated his move. She dodged to the left. Swinging around she managed to get behind Benjamin. He shifted his stance in a quick turn to face her, his stick held high. She blocked its downward movement. She held her stick in both hands above her head. Using his momentum, she twisted their sticks to one side towards the ground. Then quickly drew hers upward to his neck. Benjamin pulled back. He brought his stick up to counter attack. Owena twisted around him, taking hold of the other end of her stick to clasp it to his neck from behind. He gasped and tried to turn but she pulled tighter making him cry out. Sensing his surrender she stood back, poised to attack again. She drew in several quick deep breathes. Benjamin looked at her wide-eyed and slowly shook his head.
In other news, I did get some lovely plants for my deck, including a chive plant from a friend, several herbs and a couple of tomato plants. This cheered me up a lot. I can now start to think about the front planters. Alberta has experienced a ‘late’ spring!
Update: As I write this on Sunday 10th May it is SNOWING!!!!! WHY!
I was also treated for Mother’s Day to a lovely self care package. So it will be foot and face masks, a glass of wine and enjoying the aroma of fresh flowers this week.
With ‘time’ on our hands many of us have been reading – which is great. However, have you returned to a favourite book (or even books?)
I have several that I have returned to over the years but one seems to be above the others. It is Ferney by James Long. When I think of the story the characters come back like old friends, which is why many of us love a book. If a character spills into your normal life then the author has done their job.
In such narratives we want the characters and their lives to continue, we imagine what happens next and where they are now. It is the same with these characters as it is with long lost friends.
If you are interested in reincarnation (as I am) then this novel is for you but it is also a lovely love story too.
When Mike and Gally move to a new cottage in Somerset, it’s to make a new start. But the relationship comes under strain when Gally forms an increasingly close attachment to an old countryman, Ferney, who seems to know everything about her.
What is it that draws them together? Reluctantly at first, then with more urgency as he feels time slipping away, Ferney compels Gally to understand their connection – and to face an inexplicable truth about their shared past.
In fact James did write a sequel some 13 years later and although the characters are following on it did not grip me like the first one. However, please don’t be put off by my thoughts. It is still a great story.
It is interesting that the first book was published in 1998 and James didn’t write the sequel until 2011…! That’s some wait for a sequel.
The other book which I reread some 35 years later (yes I know showing my age) was The Stand. I picked it up at the airport prior to flying to Canada for the first time (a long time ago) because it was a nice thick book. We’ve all been there prior to a long haul flight – right? Anyway, once I started reading I was completely hooked. This was my introduction to Stephen King and his storytelling. When I read the special complete & uncut edition all those years later, it was still gripping and sucked me into the narrative.
Just a quick sidebar – I had watched the movie Carrie years before but had no idea it was by Stephen at that time.