RTY: Cartes Postales From Greece – Victoria Hislop

Hello Campers!

Hope you’re all well and have had a spectacular July. August is upon us and the beautiful weather is set to continue. It’s been amazing!

Nevertheless, summer for me is a time to rest and read. I wanted to share with you all today my review of the book I chose for July’s Read The Year theme which was: Travel anywhere in (or out of) the world with a book. I couldn’t think of a better choice than Cartes Postales From Greece. I absolutely loved this book! I was like being on holiday and the stunning coloured pictures really helped me to immerse myself there.

What’s it all about?

Ellie Thomas received a number of postcards in the post, each showing a glorious picturesque image of Greece. She came to obsess about them and when the next would arrive. However, she was not S. Ibbotson, the intended reader and the tone was always rather sad. Yet, this did not stop her from reading them, pinning them up and admiring them. Feeling the ever increasing need to get away and explore the places being shown to her, she booked a flight. On the morning of her departure to Greece, she finds a package. Little does she know how much this will shape her whole trip.

“Even though she was an hour later than intended, she felt compelled to retrieve it. The package had more than a dozen stamps stuck on it at different angles and was the size of a hardback…She recognises the writing straightaway and her heart beat a little faster.”

This package, a blue book full of Greek adventures, creates an episodic narrative. Whatever the author of the postcards saw is what Ellie and we see as a reader. The two marry together: the postcards and the notebook. We learn that the author was meeting S. Ibbotson but she failed to appear at the airport. Despite shock and disbelief, the author, only knows as A, continues to travel on his journey.

“The waves were wild, endlessly rolling in and crashing on the sand, their mood reflecting the turmoil that I felt inside. It did not seem to subside. I could not eat or speak. Men are meant to be the stronger sex, but I have never felt so powerless.”

The stories shared in this novel are all part of A’s healing process (later revealed as Anthony.) It starts with a story about heartache and the effects of this. We learn about a vendetta between two families due to a bride fleeing on her wedding day. Consequently, revenge is sought after and people live in constant fear. The author finds it ironic that this is the story he has been told after he himself has been jilted. However, he doesn’t feel revenge is the correct answer.

“Even if I had been brought up with the culture of revenge, I wouldn’t have the energy to lift a gun, let alone fire one, sorrow weighed me down so heavily.”

Yet, despite the start being so forlorn, the novel does change its tone. The scenery helps him heal, it’s just so beautiful. The tales divulged are often positive and enjoyable. The recount of Antoni, the violin player, is rather special. The soulful playing attracted men, women and children all around to listen and feel the music. One of those women was Magda. She too was attracted by the music and the effect it had on her. Because she was alone, she was regarded with suspicion but not the player. He reveals the story of the violin and who it belongs to. He shares the knowledge and passion. After an unforgettable evening together, a change comes. The next morning, he has gone.

“Now the stillness of the sea seemed to magnify the music and, even when the violin ‘whispered’, its voice could be heard across the space. When it rose to a crescendo, the notes burst through conversation like an explosion.”

As we travel around the different islands of Greece, we meet a number of different characters, each with a story to tell. Messolonghi had its own story to tell regarding a celebrity: Byron. Crowds gathered to catch a glimpse of this charismatic man. Unfortunately, he was unwell after such a long journey. Nevertheless, this did not stop everyone, particularly Despina, a sprinted young woman who was full of admiration for him. Byron’s health was deteriorating. His servant believed it was the ‘eye’, the evil eye. Someone has cast this upon him. His health deteriorated, he became increasingly worse. Sadly, Byron was not going to see this trip completed as he sadly died. Again the crowds formed but this time with melancholy.

“Once again, he was surrounded by a crowd, though now they were mourning his departure rather than celebrating his arrival. His closed eyes could no longer charm.”

Four days into her Grecian trip, Ellie continues living and breathing the island and the notebook. It evoked a feeling of complete calm and serenity. She continued to read on in the evenings, waiting to see what other wonders lay ahead such as the unveiling of a sublime statue. Costas was unhappy at home, his wife seemed to stop paying any attention or care and he was becoming distracted. He spent time at his allotment planting when he found something in the ground. He returned repeatedly in the evenings to unearth what he had discovered. Over time he unearthed a whole body. He spent time carefully brushing the dust away from this masterpiece. However, once the statue of Aphrodite was revealed, Costas felt aches and pains. He’d suffered a heart attack but died with a smile on his face.

“I have an image of Costas, happy and fulfilled at the moment of death. Maybe this is what really matters. I think that, for those few weeks, his feelings for Aphrodite gave him a zest for life that he had lost.”

Towards the end of the novel we have that inevitable sense of something coming to an end. Anthony met Athina, a young girl from Greece had returned to her home after working in Düsseldorf. Each day blurred together and she only felt a sense of existing rather than living. She felt homesick and a longing to be back there. So she returned and went to the Temple of Apollo. Walking the steps of thousands before her, she was searching for some form of enlightenment. As time continued; her exploration did also. Evening drew on and she saw the most beautiful sunset. At that moment she felt like she had been set free. She knew exactly what she needed to do.

“Her eyes showed that she sympathised with what I had gone through. For both of us, Delphi was a turning point.”

But what about Ellie and Anthony? Would they ever meet? He’s shaped her holiday dramatically and as a reader I was desperate for them to meet. But how could that happen? The back of the notebook provided the answer: an address. She decided, being as it was her last day, she would find him and return the book. The result of this is completely charming; a new opportunity arises from this. Ellie and Anthony would continue to be in each other’s lives.

“Of all the moments she had lived, this was the one in which Ellie felt most peaceful, but most alive. Above them all, swallows ducked and dived on the evening air.”

Overview

There are not enough superlatives to describe this book. I’ve absolutely loved it. The highs, the lows, the experiences that shaped both Anthony and Ellie also had a resounding effect on me too. As I was reading, I too felt like I was travelling around Greece. The description was breathtaking, the stories admirable. For me, this book has been a suitable and extraordinary summer read. I must investigate more Hislop novels now for more Grecian adventures from my sofa!

Enjoy summer everyone! Don’t forget your factor 30!

Big love xxx

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Filed under Book review, Read The Year Challenge

Stratford Upon Avon Rocks!

Morning Beauties!

It is summer and it’s still glorious out there. I hope you’re all keeping cool as taking care of yourselves.

All my July posts seem to be about places and adventures and I make no apologies that this post is sort of similar. I want to share with you something is happening in my home town which is completely awesome! By sharing with you all, you may find that where you’re from also do this and may wish to take part, or set one up for yourselves.

The idea is pretty simple: you paint and decorate rocks, hide them, search for others and post a picture on social media to show where they’ve been. You write a little message on the back so you know which social media site to post it to. For me, it’s Stratford Upon Avon Rocks. They’ve welcomed me with open arms which is just so lovely.

I’m not artistic in any way but I’ve had so much fun taking part in this. During the last half term at work I painted and decorated 20 stones of 5 designs. I really really enjoyed it! These are my first ever attempts.

I’m quite proud of these because I think they’re actually ok! I love my little ladybirds the most. So I set off on a little mission early one morning this week, to hide all of these for anyone and everyone to find. Stratford is quite a big town so I decided to stick to a walk all along the river, across the bridge and all along the other side and back again. I was having a lovely walk, with beautiful scenery and was hiding little stones for people to find. Perfect!

Whilst I was on my travels, I found my first rock. I was so excited, I can’t explain. My first rock was really apt too! For those of you who know me, you know I’m a massive Harry Potter fan. My first rock find was real perfection seriously!

What really is amazing is when you see people find your rock and post it online! It’s like spreading joy and excitement. What could be better? I must admit, every time I’m around now I keep an eye out to see what I can find! Last night, on my way to dinner, I found another in the car park. He had to come with me!

So I’m also thinking about my next lot of rocks that I’ll decorate. We had a little hedgehog visit our garden last night so maybe I’ll start with that. Any ideas? All welcome but remember I’m no artist. Some out there are incredible! I’ve seen portraits, chocolate bars, animals, famous faces – it’s endless! Now to find my next beauty…

I hope this inspires you to take part in a community project like this or set one up. It’s ridiculous how much joy I’ve taken from this and I wish you all happiness and joy too.

(FYI: Books will be returning as my next post will be my review of the July book for the Read the Year Challenge!)

Big love all!

Xxx

26 Comments

Filed under Photography, Rocks, Stratford upon Avon, Summer 2018

Newcastle Adventure

Hello Everyone!

July seems to have become the month where I go off exploring. School hasn’t quite finished but this weekend has certainly made me feel like I am on holiday!

This weekend I spent time in Newcastle and the surrounding areas. It’s only my second time in Newcastle and I absolutely love it! There’s some really beautiful buildings here. I liked this guy most!

The first stop was Souter Lighthouse, standing midway between the Tyne and the Wear. This lighthouse opened in 1871 and stands proud today. It remains an iconic beacon. It’s the first lighthouse in the world that was designed and built to be powered by electricity.

Due to it being such a clear day, the views span for about 35 miles. Amazing!! You may remember from my previous post that being near the sea is one of my favourite things. This was just beautiful. Again, I felt like I was abroad. We need to cherish our British seasides really. They are just as good as any other.

After exploring the lighthouse and mooching about the coast, I then started to head towards Seaton Delaval Hall. This grand hall sits perfectly within Georgian society. However, it was more of a party house.

The Delavals had a flamboyant lifestyle and were full of life. They were known as the most notorious Georgian partygoers and pranksters. Everyone wanted to be invited to their balls and parties. It was hot topic at the time!

However, today this house requires your imagination as it was ravaged by fire two hundred years ago. It still wears it’s scars today. I don’t think this detracts from its beauty though. I think it adds to it because it survived.

The day of adventure didn’t end there! After having ice cream and lazing in deckchairs soaking up the sun, the last stop was to see The Angel of the North.

Created by Anthony Gormley in 1998, it stands 66ft tall looking over Gateshead. The wingspan is 177ft across, opening its arms across the city. Gormley wanted to create a sense of an open embrace.

I’m really thrilled I’ve seen her. Photos really don’t do it justice; you need to see her and experience her for yourself.

What an incredible weekend. I can’t believe I saw so many beautiful things in one day. We have some amazing places in this world but it’s what it makes us feel that’s just as special. This has given me the motivation to see out the last of this term. I can do it! If you ever have a sense of doubt, look out at this stunning view and give yourself five minutes. That’s my plan anyway!

Hope you’re all still enjoying this beautiful weather!

Big love all xx

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Filed under Days Out, Exploring, National Trust, Photography, Places, Seaside, Summer, Summer 2018, UK, Weekend Trips

Birthday Weekend – Flamborough Adventure

Hello Sunshiners!

July is upon us and it’s Britain is beautifully basking in the heatwave so far. Yesterday was my birthday and to celebrate my family and I are spending the weekend together.

Today we went to Flamborough because we fancied being by the sea. Flamborough is situated 4 miles from Bridlington. It’s a really beautiful little place; a hidden treasure. The little beach cove meant that we had found a lovely spot to spend the day.

I love being on a beach, the sand between your toes, the constant sound of the waves makes my mind completely empty. I’m completely at peace. I find it so therapeutic and calming. Today did not disappoint. In fact, I’m writing this on my way home, I’m that excited.

My birthday has been pretty awesome and I wanted to share it with you lovely people too. Have you any seaside stories? Regardless, I hope you’re enjoying the sunshine and taking some time for yourselves. You deserve it!!

Enjoy July everyone!

Big love xxx

27 Comments

Filed under Days Out, Photography, Places, Seaside, Summer, Summer 2018, UK

RTY: The Shadow Of The Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafron

Hi guys!

Amazingly, I have a spare couple of hours now whilst I’m sitting on a train, so I thought I would post my review of my choice of book for June for the Read The Year Challenge. I wholeheartedly promise that I did read it in June, I just didn’t quite get around to posting it in time. But it’s here now!

This month proved slightly challenging as the topic was ‘Pick up a book that delves into the experience of fatherhood’. Now I have some clear limitations here, obviously, but I think I found a book that fits. The Shadow of the Wind. Whilst not explicitly being centred around fatherhood, there are a number of fathers and/or father figures in it. The beauty of this reading challenge means that I have read something I’ve never even heard of. The bigger present – I enjoyed it!

What’s it all about?

Set in Barcelona, the novel centres around a young boy, Daniel Sempere. Just after the Spanish Civil War, Daniel’s father takes him to the secret Cemetery of Forgotten Books. This is a place where old, forgotten books are loving preserved by a select few people. According to tradition, everyone initiated into this secret place is allowed to take one book and must protect it for life. The book Daniel chooses: The Shadow of the Wind by Julián Carax.

He takes the book home and reads it cover to cover. This sparks the need in Daniel to try and find other books by this unknown author but can’t find any. What he does discover are strange narratives of a man calling himself Laín Coubert. What is extraordinary about this is that name is the name of one of the characters in the book – the Devil, who has been finding Carax’s books for decades, buying and burning them.

“Books are mirrors: you only see in them what you already have inside you.”

Structured as a story within a story, Daniel starts a quest to find Julian’s other works. In turn, he becomes involved in tracing the entire history of Carax. One of the father figures in the novel is Fermin Romero de Torres. He was imprisoned and tortured in Montjuic Castle for his involvement in an espionage against the Anarchists during the war. His background in government intelligent helps Daniel in numerous days. However, their probing into he past of people who are long dead or forgotten takes him to the path of Inspector Fumero, whom he had dealings with previously.

“Fools talk, cowards are silent, wise men listen.”

This narrative has long since been buried. However Daniel starts unravelling it, clue by clue. Daniel and Fermin find a love story, the beautiful yet tragic story of Julián and Penélope, both of whom have been missing since 1919, thirty years earlier. Julián, the son of a hatter, Antoni Fortuny and his wife Sophie Carax and Penélope Aldaya, the only daughter of the extremely weather Don Ricardo Aldaya and his narcissistic American wife developed an instant love for each other and lived a clandestine relationship, only through faint smiles and few glances for around four years. After this time they decided to elope to Paris. They were completely unaware that the shadows of misfortune had been creeping their way upon them ever since they met.

“Every book, every volume you see here, has a soul. The soul of the person who wrote it and of those who read it and lived and dreamed with it. Every time a book changes hands, every time someone runs his eyes down its pages, its spirit grows and strengthens.”

Miquel Moliner, also the son of a wealthy father, was Julián’s best friend. He helped meticulously plan their elopement. It is eventually revealed that the loved Julián more than any brother and finally sacrificed his life for him. Julián eventually got to Paris. Penélope did not.

“Destiny is usually just around the corner. Like a thief, a hooker, or a lottery vendor: its three most common personifications. But what destiny does not do is home visits. You have to go for it.”

The memory of Penélope burns inside Julian’s heart and eventually this forces him to return to Barcelona in the mid 1930s. What greets him is nothing less than heartbreaking. She was nothing more than a memory. She had never been seen or heard of again by anyone after 1919. Daniel discovers from the note left for him by Nuria Monfort, that Julián and Penélope were actually half brother and sister. Her father had had an affair win his mother and Julián was the result. Tragically, after he had left Barcelona, it is revealed that Penélope’s parents imprisoned her because they were full of shame about her commuting incest with him. She was also pregnant with his child. The child, named David Aldaya, was stillborn. Penélope died during childbirth because her parents ignored her screams. Her body was placed in a family crypt along with her child’s.

“Memories are worse than bullets.”

When returning to Aldaya Mansion, Julián is bitter and angry by the news of his love’s death along with their child. He hates everyone and everything. Every second feels wasted; his books pointless. So he sets upon burning them all. Thus, the adventure of then and now is joined. Along the way. Fermin and Daniel know they’re in trouble with Inspector Fumero. They’re followed, they’re beaten up. Yet still their quest continues.

“A story is a letter that the author writes to himself, to tell himself things that he would be unable to discover otherwise.”

After Daniel finishes reading the book, he marries Beatriz ‘Bea’ Aguilar. He’s loved her for a long time, since 1956. Shortly after Bea gives birth to a son. They name him Julián Sempere, in honour of Julián Carax. 10 years later, Daniel takes his son to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books where the copy of The Shadow of the Wind is kept.

“Once, in my father’s bookshop, I heard a regular customer say that few things leave a deeper mark on a reader than the first book that finds its way into his heart. Those first images, the echo of words we think we have left behind, accompany us throughout our lives and sculpt a palace in our memory to which, sooner or later—no matter how many books we read, how many worlds we discover, or how much we learn or forget—we will return.”

Overview

The role of fathers or father figures in this book is paramount. Daniel’s father is a strong and quiet character. He doesn’t push Daniel to discuss what is going on. He’s quietly there for him.

Fermin takes a natural role of a father figure, becoming that partner in crime person for Daniel. He even sacrifices his life to help find out what he wants to know about Carax. Daniel and his father took him in and saved him from his past. He sees fatherhood as part of his future with his blossoming love and romance.

Julián’s loss of fatherhood is all the more tragic. You can tell he’s been grief stricken ever since Penélope failed to arrive. When he learns the truth he is a broken man.

Daniel too is a father at the end of the novel and how these role models have shaped him, lead us to know that he will be an excellent father to his own child.

This book was a complete surprise for me. I’d never heard of it before and I didn’t know anything about the author. However, I’ve really enjoyed it. Sometimes stories within a story can be quite confusing but this was weaved together seamlessly. I’m so glad I found it.

Enjoy the sunshine all!!

 

Big love xx

24 Comments

Filed under Book review, Read The Year Challenge, Reading

Land Of Green Ginger

Hello everyone!!

I hope you’re all well and enjoying soaking up the amazing sunshine we are currently having. Firstly, my apologies to you all, I’ve neglected you. I’m bogged down with exam marking but I promise to take time now to catch up and read all your wonderful posts. Secondly, I want to share a little treat with you today before my June post for the Read The Year Challenge. So whilst I had a spare twenty minutes to sit in the park (look how postcard perfect it is!) I want to show you this little wonder.

Last week, every house in Hull received a copy of the magical Land of Green Ginger book. This book follows the huge success the city has had as City of Culture in 2017. Inside this amazing little book are the stories of the city, a bonfire in Longhill and an enchanted golden nose in Bransholme. The writer, Katie Fuller, has expressed her love of the project and its impact on the city.

“The project was for everyone; it was designed to surprise, delight, intrigue and remind everyone of the joy of unleashing a childlike imagination.”

The Land of Green Ginger was a flagship project which contained a number of events homed under one narrative, coming together at the end of the year for Land of Green Ginger Unleashed parade. This book is the seventh and final Act of Wanton Wonder and it’s a pure gift to the people of Hull. This book keeps the magic alive for future generations. Katy Riddell’s illustrations are so beautiful too!

What’s it all about?

This book contains a number of poems about different events in Hull. It starts with the prologue explaining about the Acts of Wanton Wonder and what the book is about. The magic is in the ordinary people, the sounds of the city and the delights it holds for us.

Act One: 7 Alleys

To some, the 7 Alleys are a place of fun, games and laughter. However, to others they are spooky. This poem centres around Scary Mary and children playing Knock Off Ginger. However, one boy, Richard, had to knock the door but he fell over! Disaster! He lands at the door of the most feared lady around. Nervousness follows. Yet, he meets Scary Mary and she wants to hear tales of the alleys. He explores and adventures with his friends who mock him about the baby fairy tales he’s believing. Nevertheless, he continues to believe and experience them from the previous events. He reports back the following day. (Not So) Scary Mary wants to go! We see her energised and excited; young again.

“The ground beneath them moves, Vibrating with beat of hooves.

A whinny, bells, the violin;

Smoke and sparks and it begins.”

Act Two: The Gold Nose Of Green Ginger

This poem centres around the arrival of the Gold Nose in Bransholme (found 50 years before as the first homes were being built.) Chelsea, a shop owner who deals with gold, didn’t have a clue as to what all the fuss was about and was rather curious. However, as interest in the Gold Nose increased, trade for her decreased. Following the belief that those who came into contact with the nose would be blessed with good luck, she wished hard for a baby of her own. However, she was a little bit underwhelmed at the appearance of such a special nose…

“But Chelsea would always remember that day.

For standing alone there with the Gold Nose,

The hope in her belly ignited and rose.”

Act Three: The Longhill Burn

This is probably my favourite part of this book. It’s just so so lovely! This poem celebrates the Longhill Burn which involved singing, dancing and excitement. Jimmy Johnson didn’t feel quite right; he knew something was missing. That one person is Laura. He takes a walk and bumped into the Firesmiths. Here he learns that they have been asked to build a fire. Not just any old fire though, a fire beyond anyone’s belief for Eastmount Playing Fields. The Firesmiths ask everyone to write down what gives you hope on a card ready for the fire, to free them into the world. His joy: Laura returns!

“All their hopes are crammed within,

And burning them till black and curled,

Will send them out into the world.”

Act Four: Re-Rediffusion’s Voice Park

Agnes, the main character of this poem, is wandering around Walton market, looking for supplies when she is approached by a man collecting voices. Agnes can make herself disappear and believes she has nothing of any value to say. He gives her a card in the hope she changes her mind, with details of a future event in the city. The Voice Park. She heads to Pickering Park on the bus having completely forgotten that chat some months ago when she feels a pull towards those who have the same cards as her. The noises, the lights, they’re all calling her. She finds the man from before who gives her a potion to help her speak, to give her a voice of power. Three months later she is transformed and she is now confident and a Hull Volunteer, helping others live the city.

“Then all of a sudden, to her great surprise,

She feels like her body’s been magnetised;

The pull is insistent, and she’s not alone”

Act Five: Micropolis

Dave was a watchman at the Springhead site where workers there deal with the constant stream of rubbish discarded by everyone in the city. One thing that causes him constant irritation is the flashing light. One evening he heard a sudden crash! What he sees is this incredible little city with its own shops and schools. Hours go by but Dave doesn’t leave: he’s entranced. He rushes back to tell everyone what he has seen. Crowds form to see it which is completely unexpected for him. Thankfully, they all love it too!

“Perhaps, he thinks, the time has come

To be a happier watchman.”

Act Six: Land of Green Ginger Unleashed

This final poem tells the story of how something is brewing in the city. People can hear horse hooves; something is approaching! Crates that brought this very book to the people of Hull are being described. People surround them, overtaken with curiosity. All of a sudden, the crates burst open and the tales of the city are for all to share. Giants, horses, Gold Noses, magic and song. Everyone is together, old and young. Life will not be the same again.

“And nevermore will life be dull.

Forevermore for those from Hull

These wanton, wondrous Acts will linger:

Memories of Land of Green Ginger.”

Overview:

This was a complete surprise in the post and what a magical little gift it is. I’ll treasure it forever. What a way to celebrate City of Culture. Life here has changed. Now, I realise many of you won’t get to see this. However, if you ever do get chance to read it or read about it, DO IT. Information Here!

Yet, the messages from this book are universal. The everyday, the ordinary, the people we meet make our lives extraordinary. You have all made a huge impact on my life.

Big love to you all xxx

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Filed under Book review, City of Culture

Meet Me At The Museum – Anne Youngson

Hi Lovelies!!

The English exams are finally over so now I’ve got time to breathe again. It’s always a ridiculously busy time of year. I feel like I’ve blinked and missed May. I cannot believe it’s June. However, it’s so sunny and lovely that I just don’t mind. I spent the weekend with my family at Nostell Priory which was lovely (see photo above) and I also managed to read quite a beautiful book that I want to share with you all today.

This short little surprise took me little time to read because it was just that good. I think the cover is really lovely too.

What’s it all about?

The novel opens with a letter from Tina Hopgood to Professor Glob. Over fifty years ago, Professor Glob dedicated a book to Tina and thirteen other school friends, as well as his daughter, on The Bog People of Denmark. She is writing because she still hasn’t made it to see the Tollund Man homed by the Silkeborg Museum despite it being a plan for many years. Tina doesn’t expect any further replies to her letters. However, she uses her first two letters to try and get her head around her life, the choices she’s made and the events that have happened to shape her.

“…I am forced to consider what might be the real reasons, because you’re answer to an unasked question has made me want to be honest with myself. Please be aware, I am writing to you to make sense of myself.”

We learn about the character of Bella and the impact she had on Tina’s life. From being friends since school, the girls had big plans, all of which are shared with the stranger Curator of the museum in which she is writing to. This dialogue is not one sided. Anders Larsen, the Curator also gains a great deal from the letters shared between them. He claims it makes him think about history and the world. Yet, as time progresses, their dialogue does change to be more personal.

“I end, as always, with an apology. This is not why you started this correspondence, to read my views on ideas too grand for me to express them as I would like to do, even if my English, like yours, was perfect.”

The tone changes as the letters become more personal, more entwined in the sharing of their own personal lives. Tina tells of her life on the farm, the daily routine, how her husband embodies the farm; he is at one with it. However, Tina feels like she sacrificed her life and what she wanted, even though she is happy. In Anders’s response, he discloses the story of how his wife, Birgitt, died. His hopes and dreams died that day too. He’s merely been breathing not living since then. He shares her last words, arguably quite a bold step to share this with a complete stranger. There is a feeling, quite early on that these letters will come to have significant meaning for the both of them.

“I never saw her again. Her body has never been found. She left my side as if all her life she had been dreaming and now she wanted to wake a new day.”

As they continue to share their lives: stories of their children, their work and their pleasures, we come to realise that there is a sense of ease between the two. You can feel the excitement that each letter brings them both. There’s also a sense of urgency as Anders suggest they email and attach their letters to share their thoughts immediately. What is quite endearing is the process they go through, the printing of each letter, keeping them all together. As a reader, you get the feeling that each are waiting for the others name to appear in their inbox. The biggest need for both though is for Tina to visit the museum to see the Tollund Man. The narration centres around this and isn’t forgotten.

“I am looking forward to standing beside you when you meet the Tollund Man for the first time. I hope it is soon, but I trust you to know when the time has come.”

As each divulge and share more about their own children, Anders shares the new of his daughter’s pregnancy. He wants Tina’s opinion on Karin’s decision to keep the baby but not tell the father. Anders wants to share his thoughts but something is holding him back. He needs advice and reassurance from Tina: the bond between the two ever strengthening. Likewise, Tina wanted to share her discussion of this topic with her daughter, Mary and her partner, Vassily. The split narrative of Tina and Anders means we learn more about their children as we hear their voices through their parents. Each personality is strong and shines through the letter form. Their children shape how they think; the attitudes they have.

“We should look inside ourselves for fulfilment. It is not fair to burden children or grandchildren with the obligation to make us whole. Our obligation is them is to make them safe and provide them with an education.”

Tina shares the news that life is changing on the farm too as Mary and Vassily are moving to their own place, meaning they are leaving and need replacing. To deal with this change, each focus on a room and describe it to one another. They each teach the other to look hard and see what’s really there. Anders’s job is to look at objects and catalogue. However, it appears difficult when people are involved; the objects mean more. Ander’s talks about the objects his wife collected, no knowing the context to most. However, they’ve been sat for the time his wife has been gone bringing him no joy. He shares with his children the want to getting rid of them. It’s a sign of moving on.

“Lastly Erik laid the nest of twigs on the water of the lake and we watched as the waves and the breeze played games with it, tossing it away from us then towards us as if inviting us to decide we did not really want to let it go.”

There’s further sense of life progressing and moving on towards the end as Tina wants to end their correspondence because she doesn’t want to spread her unhappiness to Anders, who finally seems more content within his own circumstances. However, he persuades her to continue to share and reveal what is deeply troubling her. She discovers her husband’s affair. Life as she knows it is now completely different again. She leaves to live in Bella’s old flat. The letters slow down but do not diminish. She also starts to feel guilty because of her involvement with Anders.

“When I first found out I reacted with outrage. I felt like an innocent woman, grossly deceived by those she had trusted, those she had served. But once I calmed down, I began to challenge my own innocent. Because of you.”

Like a true friend and confidant, Anders offers solutions in his reply. This letter is one of the largest in the novel and you can tell that there has been serious thought and consideration in the words chosen. Underneath all of the advice, he just wants her to be happy. The novel goes full circle as we return to Tina reading The Bog People. The big question: will she go and see the Tollund Man? The final letter is from Anders, repeating the words echoed through the collection of letters.

“I am waiting for you. I will wait, every day, between twelve o’clock and two o’clock in the cafe in the museum. I will be watching the door, waiting for you to arrive.”

Overview

This novel is beautiful in its purest sense. The letters change from formal, to friendly to compassionate. As you are reading you can feel the walls of each character gradually tumble. They each learn from one another, their families change because of the friendship also.

This book taught me a valuable lesson, or reminded me that everyone needs to feel love regardless of age. I’m desperate to know if Tina went to the museum. Yet, I fear the magic would be lost if we ever did find out. This ending means we can create our own ending for these characters. In my heart, I just want happiness for them both but maybe I’m just being optimistic. Maybe they never meet and the letters are all they have. Who knows. Regardless, it’s a really beautiful read.

Big love to all!

Xx

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