Front Cover for the novel Honeymoon by artist Lateefa Spiker

I have the artist’s permission to feature one of her pictures for the front cover of Honeymoon, my new, soon to be published novel, a mystery and a love story.

The embroidered silver moon, unravelling piece by piece is a captivating image and so apt for the story of a honeymoon disintegrating under the weight of harsh facts.

Revelations of a murky past threaten to ruin the fledgling marriage when Rosie and Fergal Pierce are on honeymoon on the west coast of Ireland

A raft of characters, living and dead, persuade Rosie to give Fergal a second chance.

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Any Human Heart

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Often, in the view from my window, sea and sky merge.  Obviously  different elements and entities and yet there on the horizon is an intimation that one disappears into the other. Sometimes they merely reflect each other like a blend of fact and fiction.

I have been reading Any Human Heart. Had I bought the book rather than a download  I might have thought twice. It’s quite a tome and I usually go for short.  But I’m having a William Boyd fest at the moment and the note stating five hours left to read, that would normally send a frisson,  ‘have I five hours left to give?’ I  ignore happily. It’s a really enjoyable read. Logan, the (anti?) hero, witnesses and participates in the major events of the twentieth century in a grand sweep, meeting novelists, artists, even  the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. I like the improbability of the names and  the pretence. A blur of real and unreal that can constitute a good novel.

Reflecting on the improbability of life and fiction, William Boyd and me both, a few choice quotes worth pondering.

What do you believe in?

‘(A) credo of two hates and three loves: hatred of injustice, hatred of privilege, love of life, love of humanity, love of beauty.

The meaning of life?

‘That’s all your life amounts to in the end: the aggregate of all the good luck and the bad luck you experience. Everything is explained by that simple formula.’

Advice for budding writers perhaps?:

‘In good prose precision must always triumph over decoration…Wilful elaboration is a sign that the stylist has entered a decadent phase….sometimes a plain dish of lentils is all that the palate craves even if one insists that the lentils come from Puy.’

 

 

 

The Singing Nun and Pacifism

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Memories play false sometimes. Yesterday my brother in law gave me the vinyl of Dominique by the Singing Nun: a thoughtful gift and a joke.  A find, that perhaps he had searched out, trawling retro record shops or the internet, rather than happening on it in the Oxfam shop. The character, Dominic, from Murielle’s Angel sings the refrain ‘Dominique, nique nique,’ to explain his name.

‘Can’t believe you did that to him!’ My BiL quipped.  Pleased to know he’d read it and intrigued by the merging of fact and fiction, I may have glowed like a first time author.

I played it today on my mother’s old record player – that of course she still has and of course still works, once she had reminded me to plug in the speakers. It was the jolly ditty I remembered, like something from a holiday camp. Occasional words were recognisable: – Dieu, of course. that you would expect from a singing nun. The flip side, ‘Entre Les Etoiles,’ (Amongst the stars the Lord has written your name near him in paradise – possibly- over and over.) I remember with more affection, together with the vague hope, belief even, that the universe was looking out for me. ( I was only eight or nine at the time.)

I’ll frame the record and think fondly of my brother in law every time I look at it.

It was the stash of 45s kept on top of  the speakers, that I had forgotten, that we had played incessantly in the sixties. Listening again the words were a stab of memory, almost like a guilty conscience.  ‘ The Universal Soldier,’ by Donovan; Joan Baez and Bob, ‘Blowing in the Wind,’ even Marlene Dietrich, ‘Where have all the flowers gone?’ We used to be pacifists. We used to feel, strongly, righteously that we could change the world with words and flowers. Maybe they don’t write songs like that anymore. Maybe  we just don’t listen.    Now we have jingoism. Young men and boys have not been slain in battle, they have merely fallen. Our boys, soldiers are heroes. Perhaps they are, but war is still wrong.  We never hear of putting an end to war anymore.