The Storyteller Speaks – Annika Perry

Hello lovelies!

Sorry for the absence but we are in the thick of exam season and I’ve not been very well. My apologies. I do hope you’re all well and enjoying May. Time really is running away with us! It’s lovely to have such light evenings though.

Today I want to share with you a special book. My fellow blogger and friend Annika Perry published her first book, The Storyteller Speaks, and I’ve recently had the joy of reading it. I absolutely had to share it with you.

 

What’s it all about?

The Storyteller Speaks is a collection of short stories and poetry covering a wide range of such as love, loss and new beginnings. If you’re familiar with my reviews you’d know that I would review the whole plot. However, this being a collection of short stories has given me an opportunity to focus on my two favourites, the ones that have stayed with me. It’s also my first ever review of short stories. I hope I do this justice.

My first favourite is actually the first short story of the collection: Biding Her Time. This is such a sweet, innocent story with a fairytale ending. What’s not to like?

This piece of writing centres around Queenie and Thomas who meet as children at school. They’re quite competitive in the classroom; one being good at maths, the other producing an excellent critical essay. Everyone knew and waited to see who would be on top the next day. However, there wasn’t any animosity, quite the opposite in fact. They’re gentle and kind towards one another.

‘The infamous tales of Thomas and Queenie quickly spread across the small fishing island as the academic rivalled for first place in every subject.’

The two are rather smitten with each other, Queenie more so at first. She knew aged seven that she was in love. Thomas seems completely unaware of this. But, there are gestures from Thomas that are sweet and endearing. Every girl wants a boy to behave like a gentleman towards them, so I found this part really rather lovely. They’re childhood sweethearts, but Thomas doesn’t see it yet. On a cold day, Thomas gives her his gloves and walks her home, sharing with her his passion for fishing. She knew she liked him, we all can feel it.

‘She could bide her time.’

What I love about this story is the complete innocence surrounding it. Heartache appears when Thomas does not return to school because of the death of his father. Queenie is devastated and the tone of this story changes to grip our own hearts at his absence.

‘Without warning Queenie stood up. The chair screeched against the floor, and as silently as she arrived that morning she left, heading out into the warm sunshine. A warmth that failed to reach the chill in her heart.’

Life continues as it does for everyone but there is a change in Queenie. A spark from within her has diminished to an ember, only to be reignited on Thomas’s return. She waits patiently for him, watching, listening for him. Finally! At last! He returns and this rather marvellous short story, goes full circle, ending just as we want it to.

‘At that moment Thomas realised that this woman was destined to be his wife. She just didn’t know it yet.’

 

The second short piece which I really enjoyed was A Bouquet of White. I could personally relate to this story, arguably why I remember it and like it so much.

The story focuses on Ollie and begins with every day reminders of his Grandad. The reader doesn’t know quite what he’s done until we see his Grandmother’s (Margaret) reaction.

‘Get them out of here! Now, Ollie!… how dare you bring death into this house?’

Ollie is confused. In his eyes, he’s made a grand gesture to his Grandmother, showed her how much he cares and yet she reacts vehemently. Granted the gift, a bouquet of white lilies, weren’t honestly gained. Nevertheless, he had done it for her. However, to his Grandmother, she had been shocked to the core.

‘Margaret stood still for a long while, her breathing fast and shallow. Knees buckling, she pulled out a chair and sat by the table, by the discarded flowers.’

What is most endearing is the root cause of this reaction: her beloved late husband Dennis. The narrative moves to inform the reader of how Dennis used to bring these very flowers every Friday to her. Even after a stroke, he pushed himself to get his flowers for his wife. Only one time he didn’t make it and return to her.

‘…then glanced down the road. To Dennis, lying on the pavement, a jumper scrunched up under his head for a pillow, placed there by a kind passer by. Resting on his blazer were the lilies, the blasted lilies…’

Sadly albeit beautifully, we see a vivid description of the lilies at his funeral, the fact that they are so full of life when he was not. This flashback brought mixed feelings for Margaret. Led by the voice of Dennis in her head, she knew what she needed to do with her grandson.

‘With the tip of her fingers she lowered down the lid and shuffled indoors. Defeated.’

Whenever we miss someone or do something we regret, we turn to our friends which is exactly what happens with Ollie. By bumping into Allie, it helps him realise what he needs to do. Rather cleverly, the split narrative shows us Ollie and his Grandmother’s inner most thoughts and feelings. Ollie’s sweetness and naivety melted my heart a little. I could just about look past the fact that he’d stolen the flowers.

“He’d only thought the lilies would help fix her a bit. Fill the hole and bring some life into her. He’d messed up big time.”

When Ollie returned to his grandmother’s house, arms full of colourful flowers, they were both eager with their explanations and apologies. Together they devise a plan and the story ends with that plan being fulfilled. Ollie promises to work at the florist to pay back the cost of the flowers he stole and they put all the flowers up on Dennis’s grave. There is a real sense of everything falling into place, of wrong doing being fixed and love shining through. After all, it is only love that lasts. The most important lesson from this is they learn to understand each other.

‘She felt like a character from a black and white movie stepping into the technicolour of life.’

 

Overview

As I say, these are just two of my personal favourites from this collection as they cover two things that we shall all experience in life: love and death. They’re so well written that the voices stay with you. Across the whole book there are characters you feel you could know; they’re just so relatable. The variety of topics means that it appeals to everyone and I learnt about real life events I wasn’t aware of. A helpful touch is included at the back where we are able to read what inspired some of the pieces. It breaks down the wall of reader/writer because you become a part of it.

Annika, massive congratulations on your first book being published. It has a beautiful cover to match the beautifully crafted words inside. I urge you all to support a fellow blogger and read this eclectic array of delights.

Big love all!! Enjoy the Royal Wedding today! Xx

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51 Comments

Filed under Book review

51 responses to “The Storyteller Speaks – Annika Perry

  1. Wow! Charley, thank you so much for this wonderful review of my book and the two brilliant analysis of two stories! It felt so odd reading your detailed thoughts about them, almost as if reading someone else’s book … it means so much to me that you see all this within the stories, characters and their lives.

    A wonderful start to the weekend … I can’t stop beaming away! 😀🌻🌺

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m thrilled you approve and like my post!
      I really enjoyed reading your book – I literally didn’t put it down until I had finished. Having characters that stay with you is like getting a hug. It just means more. It matters.
      I’m thrilled you like it. Congratulations again! 🍾
      Book two?? X

      Liked by 2 people

      • Approve?! Blimey, I’m honoured and you never need worry about doing justice in any of your reviews … they’re always so thoughtful and well-written! I’m just thrilled you liked my book so much!

        Haha… I’m still working on the final edits for my fiction novel but getting there!! Hugs xx

        Liked by 1 person

      • That’s really kind, thank you so much. I’m honest and just wear my heart on my sleeve when it comes to books. I loved your book. I hope this reaches more people so they can read it too!
        HUGS xx

        Liked by 1 person

  2. You have written such a strong and tender review of this beautiful book. I have read Annika Perry’s book and been enthralled by every story but I do understand your choices. You have reviewed them so beautifully.
    I want to join you in urging all to read this excellent first published book by Annika.
    miriam

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sorry you’ve not been well and hope exam season went okay. Glad this was such a beautiful book- wonderful review!

    Like

  4. Awww these two short stories sound absolutely amazing 😊 I’d be very interested in the reading the book as a whole xx

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Reblogged this on Annika Perry's Writing Blog and commented:
    My warmest thanks to Charley for this wonderful review of my debut book ‘The Storyteller Speaks’.

    A passionate and learned English teacher, Charley’s unique approach to her review offers an insightful and in-depth analysis of two of my short stories as well as an overall comment of the book. Reading her thoughts I had to shake myself to the reality she was writing about my book, my stories … it was disconcerting and exciting in the most positive way!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Annika, you must be thrilled with Charley’s inspired and beautiful review.
    I love the way she handled the two stories. So sensitive and deep. The quotes were just perfect. ….yes, I have read your book and have been thrilled with how it delights and at times feel sorrow.

    Beautiful book, beautiful review.
    miriam

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Lovely reviews of two of your favorites from Annika’s collection… I have The Storyteller Speaks on my kindle and looking forward to enjoying a great read. Sharing your review…

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Great quotes – I really enjoyed The Storytelller Speaks too. And I like Annika’s gentle writing style.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. This is a nice blog and you have written well. Can you please visit my blog and provide me your valuable feedback?

    Like

  10. A really lovely review of this book and these two stories. Congratulations Annika.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Fun review! I really enjoyed the Queenie and Thomas story as well! Wonderful twist! –Curt

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Beautiful review, Annika! Congratulations! Kudos to reviewer! I have this book on my TBR list and look forward to reading it. Hugs 😘

    Liked by 1 person

  13. What a great tribute to an outstanding writer ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  14. What a beautiful write up of Annika’s Stories.. And praise so worthy.. Thank you for sharing..

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Behind the Story

    Such a lovely review. Annika’s gentle, loving ways show up so clearly in her writing and in the review.

    Like

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