Where Will Charlie Be?

In case you don’t read my Events Page.

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Will I Write Fantasy Again?

I’ve been asked before now whether I will write fantasy again and therefore chose to answer that question in video form. I hope that it is informative of who I am and have been as a writer and what you can expect in the future.

Until next time, that is all.

The Book Launch of Our Doris

On the 20th June 2015 I released my first book Our Doris at Macclesfield Library. I arrived with my mother half an hour early to set up the room, meeting my good friend Lindsey on the way. (She crossed the country for me and proved just how good a friend she is.) Incredibly nervous, I envisaged no one arriving, and being left to share cakes and books with my family.

I had spent the best part of Friday baking in preparation. I made a Victoria sponge, a lemon sponge, a chocolate gateau and a carrot cake, mentioned only because I want bragging rights. They were rather thin sponges and I question the use of 1970’s cook books, but folk offered compliments on them.

Once we reached the library we embarked upon a quest to get the Meeting Room ready in the half hour I had before my guests arrived. There was something of a mad dash in my mind because the tables weren’t as I had envisaged and there weren’t enough chairs – I’d asked for fifty and there were only about ten but we found a caretaker and he was kind and fantastic and he took the book I was donating to the library and honestly I wish I’d found out his name because he was kind enough to help an incredibly nervous writer and not complain.

My earlier torment that folk wouldn’t arrive was non-founded when a lot of people arrived. Well thirty-seven, but since I was only allowed fifty people in the room I was happy. Rosie and Liz, my uni friends came to see me, as did more friends and family and folk from work and Weight Watchers – I count them amongst friends as well but I wanted more space to brag.

Then the launch began.

I introduced Our Doris and thanked everyone for helping me. I know that writing is a solitary pursuit but the actual act of putting a book together takes a whole host of planning and preparation and without my friends I would be nowhere. The people that I wanted to thank were there – I’ve mentioned them on the blog before, and they know that I thank them. Some people I thanked because I saw them around the room and I wanted to thank everyone individually but a lot of the time it’s just being grateful for support.

Once my rambling speech was over I chose to read the first monologue from the book ‘Slugs’. I developed a nervous dry mouth and was exceptionally glad for my glass of water. And fortunately enough I used full stops so had chance to breathe. The reading seemed to go well.

Alas, I didn’t have enough time to mingle as I sold out of books and had to sign them, but this is not a complaint. Folk managed to speak to me and being amongst friends no one wants you to fail. Questions were asked and answered – there’s a question that’s plaguing me at the moment, but I’m planning on answering it in a later blog post so that won’t be answered here.

Honestly, the launch went as well I had hoped and then some. There was this wealth and depth of support I hadn’t expected. I’ve always had this anxiety that people expect me to fail, or want me to fail in some way and I sold out of books and was able to celebrate a book that I have released myself. Our Doris is self-published and that meant having a lot of faith in my own work and my own ability as a writer.

I’m twenty-two, I have a lot more to learn about the publishing world and writing in general and it’s a world I want to be part of. Our Doris is a book I am incredibly proud of and I am prepared for bad reviews and for it not to sell but it doesn’t stop the aching hope I have in my chest that we will be successful. I want to show to the world that I can write and I can write well.

Whether I can or not is up to you, now.

Until next time, that is all.

Doris Front Cover

Our Doris £6.99

ISBN-13: 978-0993234903

Amazon

Kindle 

The Inspirational History of Our Doris

Our Doris is released in less than two weeks and I disappeared two months ago ne’er to write a blog post to explain what is going on. I’ve kept the events page updated so you can have some fun looking over that. I have been busy organising readings and interviews to discuss the book – the giveaway on Goodreads ended a few weeks back and the five winners have since received their copies.

Today, I thought I would talk about what inspired Our Doris. I’m not sure whether it is something I’ve talked about before and if I have no doubt the answer has changed because lord knows there are that many things that inspire me – as has been dually noted many times before and is something of a bone of contention with my good friend Imelda.

I know that in the past I’ve talked about how I wrote the first line in a writing burst because I had nothing to write about and used that to get me through writing bursts from that point onwards. However, after I had been writing the bursts for a while folk would ask me if I would compile them into a book because surely I had enough material .

I did.

The only problem was that I did not want to compile a lengthy amount of sections that at most only amounted to 200 words. I needed to find plots that could connect with one another and create a book that I felt represented Doris and I would like to represent me. For that I needed a plot that could last for an entire book. I knew that I was going to start the book with the first monologue, ‘Slugs’, because that was a natural start but then I needed a reason for Doris to despise slugs enough that she would set about the garden herself. Doris is very much a character who doesn’t like getting her hands dirty – not in that respect anyway.

Thankfully I have an amazing friend in the form of Margaret Holbrook who mentioned the garden safari in Poynton and with an added element of the WI I had a plot. Of course, there were a few months where I decided releasing a book on my own was too scary and stopped writing in favour of finishing the children’s book. Now, however, the book is coming out next week and people are already giving it nice reviews.

(Once again thank you to Imelda, and also thanks to Iris from Weight Watchers who had a few kind words, as relayed by my mother to myself.)

Originally, I intended to write thirteen monologues, similar to a television series with one for every month of the year. It turned out that a few of them were useless and went over old ground and thus they were cut in favour of giving the book ten monologues of excellent quality than a book with a few wishy-washy stories.

(I’m allowed to say the book’s excellent, I wrote it.)

Our Doris breaks all the rules I learned from text books and university. It’s written in what I call a conversational style that was influenced in part by listening to my family tell stories over the years and partly because of Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads, of which I will always be a fan.

One question I received today was, ‘How can you as a twenty-two year old write about a man who is seventy-four and his wife who is seventy-two?’ And at first I didn’t have an answer. In my work I am surrounded by people of the older persuasion and they are all fantastic. I think there’s this stereotype that once you hit a certain age that’s it, your life is spent at home watching ITV3 and eating custard creams, and yes, there is a certain amount of that in the book – simply because I do stay home and watch ITV3 and eat biscuits – but in reality your life doesn’t stop just because you’re retired. In fact, most retired people I meet find that their lives get busier once they no longer have work to go to.

I also look at Roy Clarke who began writing Last of the Summer Wine when he was thirty-three. He wrote about characters a fair bit older than himself getting up to things that would be seen as suited to younger people – and it worked – I say it worked because it is one of my favourite television shows but we’re heading into different territory.

The writing is inspired by my favourite writers as well, the writers I’ve mentioned above and Victoria Wood. There’s a great wealth of British comedy that has helped shape and inspire Our Doris and yet I feel like I brought my own thoughts and experiences to the story. Yes, I have stolen some stories from people I know, but if they notice let’s hope they don’t mention it.

I’m hoping that this blog post covers most of what I wanted to talk about today, I’m not going to promise a post in the near future because we know how that’ll go. Also I’ve not done much reading so I doubt there will be a wrap up this month. I need to find some more fantastic fiction.

Until next time, that is all.

Our Doris Book Launch

It’s been too long since I announced that Our Doris was coming out this year. So much so that it now has a Goodreads page, and I’ve booked a few events – check out the Events page to find all the glorious things – and I’ve read my proof copy. Although it’s not completely ready and my rather awesome friend Imelda is going through the book once more for me.

I made a list of posts to write for you and didn’t write them. I’ve spent a lot of time reading and planning another book.

I’m just going to say that Our Doris will launch on the 20th June 2015.

The Macclesfield Creative Writing Group has met at Macclesfield Library since it began in 2011. Since Our Doris was first conceived in a workshop there it seemed only fitting that I host the book launch there as well.

The event runs from 10:30am – 12:30pm. I will read passages from the book, and as only befits Doris there will be tea and cakes and a Q&A session. Tickets cost £2.00 – and each ticket holder will be placed in a raffle to win a copy of the book.

You can pre-order the book on Waterstones and Foyles, and I need to figure out how to create a pre-order button on this site.

I hope there won’t be too much of a delay between posts this time. If you start to question where I am follow me on Twitter where you can lambast me to remember to say hello to folk every now and then.

Until next time, that is all.

On Self-Publishing Our Doris

It’s no secret that self-publishing has taken off in a big way in recent years.

A lot of books are self-published daily, some say it’s due to the easiness – uploading a book to one of many POD sites and hoping for the best – and indie writers losing faith in mainstream publishing. There are arguments for and against self-publishing and there are those who still stigmatise the industry as being nothing more than vanity at its worst.

When I was younger I did not believe I would self-publish a book. Completely against the idea, I listened to everything Writing Magazine said – I would not read self-published books, would not entertain the idea that they could possibly be good.

I’m not sure when I changed my mind.

When I began to write Our Doris I did not plan on anyone else in the world seeing them. During writing bursts at the Macclesfield Creative Writing Group, I would scribble down a short anecdote about Doris and forget about it until the next week. Over time the stories grew, characters appeared, characters stayed and folk commented that they’d like to see a book about Doris.

The group have a few writers who have self-published their own books, purchasing ISBNs from Nielsens and using printers to get their books out there. I’ve helped create two anthologies that we’ve sold to local people.

I had a conversation with Margaret Holbrook, local indie author, and the idea to create a book of monologues grew from there. I would ten monologues to a set amount of words, similar to a radio series, in that each should take half an hour to be performed. I didn’t think there would be any place in mainstream publishing for the book and had grown accustomed to the idea of doing all the work myself.

I’m a bit possessive of my work so this meant I could do the cover design and book design myself. I knew that the work would most likely be difficult – I’d have to ask book shops if they would take my book and although Waterstones will accept self-published books you have to go through Gardners.

I had the backlog of material to go through and thought I could spend a month on the book, bring it out and hope the writers’ group would purchase copies. After that I envisaged nothing more happening. With Nielsens you have to buy ten ISBNs right off the bat, and I thought I’ve got about sixty years left on the planet, I could use them in that time.

I’ve researched my options – considered posting the monologues to this blog – but I like the idea of a physical book. As I finish the book, I hope to arrange some readings and have spoken to a librarian already about possibly launching my book at their library.

There’s a lot going on; I imagine it’s going to get busier because I bought a diary – I’ve not made many appointments yet – only the odd open mic, but I’m getting there.

Until next time, that is all.

The Novel Ways of Our Doris

In April 2011 I joined the Macclesfield Creative Writing Group, a new writer’s group in my hometown. Over the last years I have written various snippets of prose that have arisen from the writing bursts we embark upon each week. I used to find writing freely for fifteen minutes incredibly difficult and one week in a burst of inspiration I started one of the writing bursts with the line, ‘Our Doris has developed an unhealthy obsession with slugs’ and wrote a page about a long-suffering husband who is relating his experiences in the form of a dramatic monologue. Over the next few weeks I began to write about Doris and her husband as she went about her day-to-day life, usually with the story relating to the writing burst we were given that week.

Doris grew into a character similar to Hyacinth Bucket with more curse words and the wherewithal to throw dictionaries at reporters who don’t stay on topic. A regular cast of characters grew and as time went on I had created an entire village of characters. These characters stick in my head like family as I remember each story they’ve related through Doris.

The first flash monologue was published in the group’s anthology Macc Writes back in 2012. Bread can be viewed on Youtube, and on this blog. Since that first monologue, I have performed more monologues around Cheshire, at chapels and libraries, Seven Miles Out in Stockport and most recently at Knutsford Library as part of their Writer’s Forum where I shared the floor with Madeleine Keefe, Mollie Blake, Zara Stoneley and Joy Winkler.

Now after almost four years of living with these characters, I am exceptionally pleased to announce that Our Doris will be a book.

In summer 2015, you will be able to read all about Doris’s endeavours to become fifth house in the local garden safari. You’ll get to meet Violet Grey, husband to the philandering Doug Grey. Doris’s mortal enemy, Janice Dooley of Little Street. And at the heart of it all you’ll meet ‘arold, the gentleman who tells of his wife’s endeavours; after fifty years he’s got a bit of an idea how to deal with her.

The monologues have been expanded, characters have been added and the plot has grown beyond anything I could have hoped for when I first wrote that paragraph of ‘Slugs’ back in 2011.

The book will be available to purchase via www.variousaltitudes.com and from certain independent book shops throughout Cheshire. Closer to the time of publication, I will hold readings where you’ll hear the monologues in action and have the opportunity to buy the book there and then.

Next week I will write about my decision to self-publish the book, but for now I want you to know that I am incredibly excited for the future. I hope that you all enjoy Our Doris because although the book has been difficult at times, and I have worried about my own skills, and despite the fact that life can so often get in the way, it has been an absolute pleasure to write.

Until next time that is all.

Doris Green Crooked Coming-page-001

The Rabbi’s Cat Review

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The Rabbi’s Cat by Joann Sfar is a graphic novel – no it is the graphic novel – we’ll get to that in the next paragraph. The graphic novel tells the story of a cat who eats a parrot and gains the ability to speak. The first thing the cat does with his ability to speak? He lies. And it is this that made me fall in love with what can only be described as one of the most beautiful books I have read this year.

I love this graphic novel. I love everything about it. I love the characters and the artwork and the storylines. I love the religious debates between the cat and the rabbi. This book is forever imprinted on my heart as one of the greatest books I have or will ever read and I cannot look forward to getting the second – I need it in my life.

Okay, so I might be mildly obsessed with this graphic novel. I’m going to begin by saying that I knew nothing about The Rabbi’s Cat before I discovered it at my local library. Therefore I don’t have all the information about the series or how the books work out – there could be an order, there could be other books that I don’t know about. All I do know is that I thought it’ll be a humorous book to read.

It is humorous.

It is also mindblowing.

I gave The Rabbi’s Cat my full attention. I thought I’d be able to read it before bed. I couldn’t. I put the book down in order to be fully awake and acknowledge every single panel and thought process the cat went through. The cat takes religious debates and mentions science whilst also giving insight into the world he inhabits. He and the rabbi are perfect foils for one another, joined together in their love of the rabbi’s daughter Zlabya.

The Rabbi’s Cat is a great thing to read in 2014 because it teaches you about a world you might not have known about otherwise. I certainly didn’t. I didn’t know anything about Judaism or it’s beliefs, but it did not matter because the book taught me – it doesn’t preach – it offers a great debate for people who might struggle with religion but it’s not a religious book.

It is smart.

It is a book that is pressed firmly into my mind. It makes me want to go out and read more graphic novels – I’m already searching for more works by Sfar but I also want to read graphic novels as an actual medium of telling stories. I’m not going to lie and pretend that there hasn’t been stigma against graphic novels in the past. There has and still is. Folk feel they have to excuse why they read Maus – a book I also need to read.

I am just unable to express in words how much this graphic novel means to me. To talk about it makes me stutter – it makes me feel alive with words and joy and all of the things a good book does for you.

Please, if you read any book in your life, read this. If you dislike reading but want to read more – graphic novels are a great starting point.

If you have any recommendations of graphic novels let me know.

Until next time, that is all.

Are you Afraid of the Words?

At the moment, folk are being taught that in order for them to succeed they need to be scared of creating work. If you are to write a novel then you must fear each word you put down, you must be petrified of your characters, and you must worry about every thought subsequent readers have of the work.

This is the only way you will succeed as a writer.

It is all right to feel anxious. I have had many issues in the past with my own writing. I have documented them here, but I believe that we shouldn’t tell writers that they must be anxious because that’s what writers do – sit at home, feeling anxious and watching re-runs of Jeremy Kyle with a carton of Tropicana and a half-eaten custard cream.

We should tell writers how it feels to have completed a novel; remind them of the glow and the sense of worth. It is easy enough for writers to give up, without other people making them feel there’s no other option. I have left plenty of projects behind – years ago if you were to read this blog, you’d find plenty of posts about projects that never saw the light of day or were never completed.

When you’re writing it can be incredibly easy to forget why you started writing your work in the first place. Ideas are easy, it’s the execution that’s difficult, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t feel passion for the work. It doesn’t mean you should be scared of writing. It means you have to work harder to achieve something.

As a writer, you will be seen as lazy, you will be seen as a fool, and you’ll often be asked why. It will be brilliant. You are not lazy, you are determined. It would be foolish to leave the idea floundering in your mind, and not regret writing the book when it’s too late. And more often than not you’re writing because it hurts not to – there will be physical pain in your chest, and unfathomable sadness.

You should not be scared to write.

If you are passionate enough about a story that’s all you need. Throw all past ideas of difficulty out of your mind and write one word at a time. If you write just five hundred words a day, you can have fifty thousand words in three months. If you plot your novels that’s great, if you don’t plot that’s great as well. There is no right way to write. All writers have their own idiosyncrasies when it comes to how they write – it’s the best way to prove you’re individual.

Make a promise with yourself to complete your novel – the time span doesn’t matter. All that matters is finishing. It can be rough around the edges, it can be startlingly bad; it will be your novel, they will be your words and you will feel brilliant.

Until next time, that is all.

Peaches for Monsieur le Curé

Title Peaches for Monsieur le Curé

Author Joanne Harris

Date Published 24th May 2012

Publisher Doubleday

Number of Pages 458 pages

Rating 5/5

 

It isn’t often you receive a letter from the dead.

When Vianne Rocher receives a letter from beyond the grave, she has no choice but to follow the wind that blows her back to Lansquenet, the village in south-west France where, eight years ago, she opened up a chocolate shop.

But Vianne is completely unprepared for what she finds there. Women veiled in black, the scent of spices and peppermint tea, and there, on the bank of the river Tannes, facing the square little tower of the church of Saint-Jerôme like a piece on a chessboard – slender, bone-white and crowned with a silver crescent moon – a minaret.

Nor is it only the incomers from North Africa that have brought big changes to the community. Father Reynaud, Vianne’s erstwhile adversary, is now disgraced and under threat. Could it be that Vianne is the only one who can save him? [DESCRIPTION FROM AMAZON.]

 

An Introduction

Christmas Day 2007 – A few months earlier I discovered Joanne Harris’s Runemarks at my local WHSmith and asked for it. On Christmas Day, after finding I had been given this book, I also found another book The Lollipop Shoes, and as with all fifteen year old boys proceeded to tell my mother how I would not like this book as it was meant for adult women.

Either way, I proceeded to read Runemarks – I only ever read fantasy novels – and forgot about the second book. Until I’d finished my GCSE exams. I remember being sat in my room, wondering what to do. I looked across at my bookcase and the book seemed to call to me. It was at that moment I decided I needed to at least give the book a chance.

I opened The Lollipop Shoes and from the first line, ‘It is a relatively little-known fact that, over the course of a single year, about twenty million letters are delivered to the dead.’ I was hooked. Books for adults weren’t meant to start this way, they were meant to bore you with backstory. For some reason, my years at school reading Classic English Literature had given me this idea that all books were written in the same manner that read as though you were trying to walk through treacle.

This book introduced to me to Vianne Rocher and the Chocolat world. I hadn’t read the first book, I didn’t know it existed until I was some way through the book and realised there were past references I didn’t know about. These didn’t matter though, the book enthralled me – I quickly acquired the majority of Joanne Harris’s books.

When I became a volunteer at Age UK, I found that you will often find Chocolat at charity shops. At the time, I started to ‘save’ her books. Often the copies of Joanne Harris’s books would have badly-creased spines; this meant they were destined for the skip. As soon as I heard this, I asked to have the books.

Chocolat, Five Quarters of the Orange and Blackberry Wine are the three books I have that I purchased from Waterstones. I have found The French Kitchen at Age UK and use it for recipes – I like that there is a story behind the recipes. I don’t have Sleep, Pale Sister, and still have to read a few of the books I’ve found, but The Lollipop Shoes cemented my admiration of Joanne Harris’s writing.

That enamoured that when I went to sixth form and discovered we could write a piece of transformational writing – glorified fan fiction – I immediately chose to write about The Lollipop Shoes. In the book I wondered about the relationship between Vianne and her mother – I even contacted the author through MySpace to tell her about the project. I wrote from the perspective of Vianne’s mother and was told that I write like a twenty-first century woman.

When I discovered that the author would be returning to the world of Chocolat in her latest book, Peaches for Monsieur le Curé I was ecstatic. In Peaches, Harris returns Vianne Rocher to Lansquenet – a world changed from when we met the characters in Chocolat. With the addition of the Muslim faith, the reader is once again presented a world of two worlds supposedly at war with one another.

After a very long introduction, I will review the book.

 

Peaches for Monsieur le Curé – A Review

 

Firstly, I want to say that Peaches doesn’t read like your everyday sequel. In fact, it is more of a reunion. The reader is presented with a story that we have seen before – a war between two worlds, that when we get to the core of it, is actually the war between a parent and their child.

In Chocolat, the war we felt was between Vianne and Reynaud. In The Lollipop Shoes, the war mirrored the war in Peaches, in that we felt the war was between two characters Vianne and Zozie, when in fact Vianne was at war with herself. In this ‘sequel’ Harris uses the motif of the peach.

On the cover we are shown a wasp crawling over the stone of a peach, reminiscent of a line within the novel, ‘The Autan wind is merciless; already, the ground at the foot of the tree was covered in windfalls. Leave them more than a minute and the wasps will start to attack them.’ Here, the reader begins to think that the mysterious Inés Bencharki is the wasp on the stone of this peach – yet we’re often told that Inés is a scorpion, her story related to a folktale about a scorpion and a buffalo. This story is used to foreshadow the ending, yet the reader does not realise this until after the climax.

It is this climax that also causes the reader to realise that Harris has presented us with another twist. Now, we question who is the scorpion and who is the buffalo. Who is the wasp on the stone of this peach? These questions are presented in such a subtle manner, that you can’t help but applaud Harris’s mastery of her storyline.

This is a truly multi-layered storyline. Yes, this is a novel about war, but it is also a novel about faith. Reynaud calls his own faith into question when he is practically excommunicated from the community due to his way of preaching. In this novel, he is a viewpoint character, and the reader gets insight into the way he thinks. He is a man of incredible faith – who knows nothing else. His life is built on his faith and without it he is at war with himself – does he continue to go on as he does: a shell of a man held in contempt by those around him, or does he leave and try to build a new life elsewhere?

Vianne’s faith in her ‘magic’ is called into question as well. This book doesn’t feature as much ‘magic’ as the last two books, yet it is still a large part of Vianne’s life. She has built her life around her ability to help those around her – in this book she gains a better awareness of what her departure in Chocolat has caused. Even though she thinks she has helped to change people’s lives for the better, she discovers that things haven’t changed so much as they have been covered up.

We even find a war between two factions of the Muslims who inhabit Les Marauds. An old man Mahjoubi believes that their faith shouldn’t be as stringent as they have been in the past, whilst his son believes that their women should wear niqab or hijab – for they tempt the men; he believes that following the old system will create a better world for them to live in.

Here, we are presented with the three main features of war: war between parent and child, war between faiths, and war between the old and the new.

This is in itself emphasised by the technological aspects of the novel. In Peaches, mobile phones and Facebook are mentioned as the everyday. In the beginning, they are used to highlight the differences from the first book to now – ‘Paris is mostly dead right now, except for tourists and people like us who can’t afford a holiday; and the river stinks, and there is no shade, and you’d do anything to walk barefoot in a field somewhere, or to sit under a tree in a wood.’

An evocative example of showing over telling that makes this writer awe at Harris’s ability to show the stagnant state of affairs. The repetition of the ‘and’ to emphasise how Vianne feels about the world she now inhabits. This is the world we are presented with at the start of the novel, and this is when, as the reader, you pray for change as well. You can’t wait for Vianne to return to Lansquenet.

Harris’s use of punctuation is also something writers should stop and take a look at. Reading Peaches made me appreciate the use of dashes – how they are used to emphasise how rapid our thoughts come, to cut off thoughts and sentences, to move the story along. There’s the semi-colon that is used at one point in such a quick succession, that it becomes almost poetic in its use.

The dashes help to show the reader that we are often being shown the character’s internal monologue. We aren’t seeing the world through anyone else’s eyes but Vianne’s and Reynaud’s – they have their own way of thinking, and as the story progresses, the reader gains an appreciation of this way of thinking.

Yet, when we are presented with the cultural differences it is almost as if Harris is holding a mirror up to our own beliefs. Do we, as readers, believe that there is any difference in the characters? Do we often see the culture over the character? If you met Mahjoubi in the street – would you treat him as you would a person of the same race? Or would you think he would not understand the nuances of your culture as much as he does his own?

As a reader, I didn’t know how to answer these questions. I know that when I’m working the till at the charity shop I find myself enunciating syllables to the Muslim families that come in – I do have a muffled voice – and often chastise myself for my own in-built racism. Yet, I find myself getting annoyed that I am unable to find some middle ground where we can understand one another fully.

Does this in itself not show that I am more like Caro than Vianne? I believe that I have accepted these members of the community, when in fact I treat them as though they are foreigners not friends.

This is something we are taught in Primary School; that although there are different religious cultures we still have to pray to God in every morning assembly, regardless of faith. We tell our children to serve him, and that other cultures are different, that these differences are wrong.

Only as we get older do we realise that there is place for different cultures in society. As a society, can we not accept these other cultures rather than believe we do because we eat cous-cous?

Here we have Harris teaching us about the language of food. All societies are able to communicate through their love of food. Harris’s descriptions often use tastes to describe certain aspects of a person, ‘espresso eyes’, so that any reader can better understand this character. As well as showing characters that talk to one another with food – Vianne’s  chocolates, Zahra’s mint tea – through her descriptions of character’s appearance with food, Harris communicates that all her readers, regardless of language, will understand.

After the climax, we begin to see a reintegration of characters travelling between the two worlds – a character goes downstairs and discovers that food has been left for them. When this happens, the reader is able to relax after the tension that has spurred them on throughout the novel. Community spirit begins to return to Lansquenet, and the reader is left wondering whether Vianne will remain in Lansquenet or return to Paris – a question that leaves us on tenterhooks.

I applaud the author for this novel. Joanne Harris is a writer who is often under-rated. If you unpick her novels, and look at the sheer mastery of threads, you can understand why she is one of the authors I admire. I feel like I should end this review on a cooking metaphor, but I can’t think of one that would do any justice.

Here we have a novel and an author who deserve to be read. We have timeless themes and characters – as Harris teaches us, peaches represent eternal life, and this book represents the cyclical idea that sometimes to move forward we must go back.

Until next time, that is all.