‘Orrible ‘Ooligans by Harry Hunter

Harry HuntMy friend, Harry Hunter, kindly gave me a copy of his new book, ‘Orrible ‘Ooligans, and it seemed only right to prepare a review, but as ever, it is an honest review. Harry’s first book, Taking the High Road, a book of short stories, is also reviewed on this site at https://bookreviewstoday.info/2014/10/22/taking-the-high-road-by-harry-hunter/.'orrible 'ooligans

The new book, ‘Orrible ‘Ooligans, cleverly takes the idea of acrostics and uses that to unite a series of spiritual and meaningful reflections. It is an interesting book to keep close. It is also useful for those who require to provide prayers or spritual thoughts for meetings. Those might include scout leaders, Women’s Institute leaders and religious leaders. Many of the themes are Christian.

I enjoy delving into this modest little book. It is a most worthwhile addition to my library.

Valerie Penny

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One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey reveiwed by guest author Brenie Gourley

Kenneth Elton “Ken” Kesey was an American novelist, essayist, and countercultural figure. He considered himself a link between the Beat Generation of the 1950s and the hippies of the 1960s. He was born on 17 September 1935 at La Junta, Colorado, USA and died on 10 November 2001 in Eugene, Oregon, USA. His most famous work is the allegorical novel, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

This article first appeared on Bernie Gourley’s website Stories and Movement on 20 September 2017 the same month that One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest was book of the month at my book group. The original article is at https://berniegourley.com/2017/09/20/book-review-one-flew-over-the-cuckoos-nest-by-ken-kesey/ .

ken keseyWhen a sane man, Randle McMurphy, enters an insane asylum to get out of prison, he turns life in the ward upside-down. The book’s fictional narrator is the patient who sleeps next to McMurphy. He’s an American Indian of giant stature, named Chief Bromden, who’s become convinced that he’s shrunk. Besides childhood problems stemming from his father’s emasculation—i.e. having to take his white mother’s name (hence, Bromden) instead of the more usual family name of the father—Chief is haunted by war. Our narrator has the hospital staff convinced that he’s a deaf-mute (and probably mentally deficient, as well) and thus has a unique view of the ward, the staff speaking freely before him.

McMurphy is everything the other patients are not. He’s gregarious, confident, and risk-loving. He’s also a con-man extraordinaire—hence, his ability to trick the authorities into shifting him out of hard labor and into the mental hospital. But he’s not completely lacking in morality, and displays a kind of hard-nosed compassion. While the patients are occasionally distressed by McMurphy’s behavior, they find his willingness to stand up for them (at least when it’s in his best interest, though later a sense of justice or camaraderie guides him) worth the price of his wheeling and dealing.

McMurphy’s real opposition is Nurse Ratched, a former Army nurse who runs a tight ward. Nurse Ratched is used to controlling the patients through a combination of soft power (maternally convincing them that she acts in their best interest), bullying, and fear of the treatments she can get the doctors to rubber stamp (namely electro-shock and—in extreme cases—lobotomy.) However, she’s met her match with McMurphy. He can play patients and doctors as well as she. He, too, is capable of being cool and cunning at the same time. He’s able to provide a counterbalance to the authoritarian democracy in which she asks the patients for votes after telling them what to think. The reader doesn’t know how, but knows this conflict between McMurphy and Ratched must come to a head to be resolved once and for all, and it is (but I’ll leave the how to the reader.) At times McMurphy seems to be ahead, and at other times Ratched has the lead.

The book was influenced by Kesey’s discussions with patients at Menlo Park Veterans’ Hospital, where he worked as a night aide. Interestingly, Kesey volunteered for a study of hallucinogens during the same period (funded by the CIA as part of MKUltra), and, thus, for some of the conversations he was baked on LSD. At any rate, the experience had profound impact on him, and he became convinced that not all the patients were insane. Many, he believed, just didn’t fit well in society or families, and were pushed into institutions. The themes of the book are that differentiating sanity from insanity isn’t always easy and that mental healthcare professionals had too much power–and often wielded it unwisely.ken kesey book

The story is well crafted with an intense ending. The characters are developed, and this isn’t easy for the mentally insane—though Kesey’s experience with LSD may have helped on that end. Though we only really experience the insanity of Chief, because the perspective is his and he’s one of the few patients that legitimately seems to have trouble differentiating reality from illusion (at least through much of the book.) But we don’t really know how much of Chief’s problem is from his medication, and how much is the illness. There’s a beautiful descriptive scene in which Chief comes off his meds and is looking out the window watching a dog and the world go by. It’s vivid.

I’d highly recommend One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. It’s an evocative story with insights into mental health, some of which—sadly—are as valid today as they were then.

 

The Time Travellers Guide to Medieval England by Ian Mortimer reviewed by guest author Angela Wren

angelaI am delighted to have a fascinating review by Angela Wren today. Angela, herself, is a noted author whose most recent novel, Messandrierre: Murder in rural France was published by Crooked Cat Books in August 2017. You can find her at her website : www.angelawren.co.uk  or at her blog : www.jamesetmoi.blogspot.com

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The Time Travellers Guide to Medieval England by Ian Mortimer is a history book and why would anyone who is not a student of history want to read it? Because it does exactly what it says on the cover. It takes you on a virtual tour of the 14th century without the aid of a computer. And it does this in exactly the same way as a tourist guidebook shepherds you around the various points of interest in a town that you have never visited before.

The book begins by asking you to ‘imagine yourself in a dusty London street on a summer morning.’ As you pass ‘a servant opens an upstairs shutter and starts beating a blanket.’ Nearby in the market ‘traders call out.’ And so the author takes you on your journey through the towns, cities and countryside of the 14th century, carefully building up a massive picture for you, the reader, to peruse in your imagination as you turn the pages.

Whilst in London you visit various places including the ‘Southwark Stews or bath-houses…..Here men may eat and drink, have a hot scented bath and spend time in female company’ because prostitutes are not tolerated in the city itself. These establishments are all run by Flemish women and the stews are an accepted part of life – fidelity to marriage vows being only required from the female partner. Of course some of the clergy consider them to be immoral and say so – but all these places are on land rented from the Bishop of Winchester!!

ian-mortimer-238x313Later we are introduced to Dick Whittington, not the guy in the pantomime but the real Mayor of London, son of a Gloucestershire landowner, who died an extremely wealthy man.

In the market we find that we can buy a brand new invention, buttons, to use as a fastening for our clothes and in the cordwainer’s we can now buy shoes of soft Cordovan leather that are cut to fit our feet – so we walk away with both a left and a right shoe – previously there was no distinction.

As we leave the great city of London and move out into the countryside onto a rich Lord’s estate we come across his sons, aged from 6/7 upwards, practising at the lists. Their armour is heavy and when you consider that an adult knight would be wearing 80lbs of armour – that’s the equivalent of 36 bags of sugar – and that your average 14th century man is around 5ft 7 tall, you begin to appreciate just how strong and agile these fighting men are.

As for the women in the great manor house, the Lord’s wife and daughters, they are feminine and courteous. Your average woman is about 5 ft 2 – so for once in my life, as a visitor to the 14th century, I can say that I am tall!!

As visitors to the Lord you are treated very well with a banquet held in your honour and as a special diversion, you are presented with four-and-twenty blackbirds baked in a pie. The pastry is real and baked first and then the pie is assembled with live birds inside just before it is brought to the table. As you cut into it the birds fly out and begin to swoop around the hall and sing.

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In the wilder parts of Yorkshire we bump into an outlaw called John Little and we discover that he has taken part in a robbery with the infamous members of the Coterel Gang. In the Wakefield Manor we come across a man by the name of Robin Hood. He is one of several men in that area with that name – but he isn’t wearing green, nor is he an especially accomplished archer and his social conscience is no better than the next mans!

Oh, by the way, gentleman readers, boxer shorts – not new at all, apparently they’ve been around for 600 years!

At just under 300 pages, The Time Travellers Guide to Medieval England, is quite a big read, but it is the most enjoyable history book I have ever come across. The narrative flow is easy and keeps you turning the pages. The use of statistics at various points to support the text is not intrusive and the additional material and explanations in the notes and appendices just complete the picture without clogging up the overall story. There are other books in the series for other centuries and I will be reading them. I just wish history had been this interesting when I was required to study it at school.

The Real CSI: A Forensics Handbook for Crime Writers by Kate Bendelow

CSII first have to declare an interest: Kate Bendelow is a good friend and it is to her I turn when I have forensic and scene of crime questions relating to my crime novels. I was, therefore, delighted when I learned that she was writing a book on that very subject. As always, I will only give an honest review. I bought my book at Swanwick Writers’ Summer School where Kate presented a two part course on the work of a CSI.

Of course, Kate is eminently qualified to write The Real CSI: a Forensics Handbook for CrimeWriters as she is, by profession, a Crime Scene Investigator (CSI) and works with Greater Manchester Police. In addition to this, Kate is a noted poet and fiction writer so The Real CSI is easy to read and understand. As a crime writer, that makes it invaluable.

The author explains the day to day work load of a CSI and tells her readers the difference between volume and major crimes. It informs you who is allowed access to a crime scene: what happens when a body is discovered and how the distribution of gunshot residue can inform the characters in a plot.

The Real CSI is not only interesting as a writers’ resource because it uses real-life examples and case studies and the author intrigues her reader by shining a light behind the yellow tape and debunks the myths popularized by the television ‘CSI Effect’. swanwick outside

Each chapter is full of invaluable, interesting information. The Real CSI explores the latest procedures in contemporary practice including: Crime Scene access and preservation; fingerprints and DNA profiling; footwear; trace evidence. It also covers fire scenes; drugs and toxicology and, finally, firearms.

The Real CSI: a Forensics Handbook for CrimeWriters is packed with insider knowledge, CSI katehandy tips and compelling storylines, this is the definitive guide for all crime writers who wish to write with authenticity and authority. It is also a fascinating read for everybody interested in the investigation of crime.

I highly recommend this book. Since I acquired my copy of this book, I have had it by my side regularly when writing crime fiction. All errors, of course, are my own!

Valerie Penny

 

 

Friends of Hunter’s Chase

photos fettesI have established a new Facebook group, Friends of Hunter’s Chase. Please join me there for news about DI Hunter Wilson, his police colleagues and his life in Edinburgh, Scotland. You will find it at https://www.facebook.com/groups/296295777444303/ .

In Hunter’s Chase Hunter has been promoted to Detective Inspector since the former Chief photos edinburghConstable, Sir Peter Myerscough resigned. Now Hunter is face with Sir Peter’s son, Tim moving into his team. He is not looking forward to having another member of this family in his life.

Crooked Cat will publish Hunter’s Chase on 02.02.2018.

Val Penny

 

 

 

Sunday Sojourn – Dulwich by guest author Jennifer C.Wilson

This article was first published by Jennifer C. Wilson on 3rd September 2018 at https://jennifercwilsonwriter.wordpress.com/2017/09/03/sunday-sojourn-dulwich/.

Happy Sunday morning all! Today, we’re taking a trip to Dulwich, with Alice Castle, to look at the setting for her upcoming novel, Death in Dulwich, released this very month, and available for pre-order now…

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It’s lovely to be here, Jennifer, thanks so much for hosting me. I hope you’re ready for a stroll in the London suburbs this Sunday because we’re off to Dulwich, the setting for my novel, Death in Dulwich, and my home until quite recently.

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For those who don’t know it, Dulwich Village is a little gem nestling in south east London, with a beautiful park, as well as the world class Dulwich Picture Gallery, and three top-ranking private secondary schools, which have churned out a fair few writers over the years.

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All-boys Dulwich College educated PG Wodehouse and Raymond Chandler, while the novelist Anita Brookner went to James Alleyn’s Girls’ School and C S Forrester and Sir V S Prichett went to Alleyn’s just across the road. As well as schooling all these writers, Dulwich was the birthplace of Enid Blyton and Charles Dickens used to pop over for a drink at the Crown and Greyhound pub, still going strong and known to locals as ‘the Dog’.

Crown and Greyhound pub

What is it that attracts writers to Dulwich? Well, considering it’s only ten minutes from London Bridge by train, it’s both quiet and green. Even though the South Circular snarls across one corner of the place, the centre of Dulwich hasn’t been engulfed, like neighbouring suburbs, by tower blocks and chain stores. When I decided to write a murder mystery, I was inspired by this village feel. I wanted to write a contemporary novel, dealing with gritty themes in a big city, yet place it here in a spot where everyone knows each other’s business. To me, it was a neat way to update the traditional cosy crime story, giving that sense of community we all yearn for, which can shade so quickly into claustrophobia. I’ve been thrilled to get an early review describing Death in Dulwich as a ‘modern twist on Miss Marple’ – exactly what I’d been aiming to achieve, though I think Agatha Christie might have frowned at some of my darker undercurrents!

According to Wikipedia, the name ‘Dulwich’ may mean ‘damp meadow where dill grows,’ though the only evidence I’ve seen of the herb has been a light sprinkling over pricey fish dishes in the rather nice restaurants of Lordship Lane. The first few houses here were documented in 967AD, but it wasn’t until Edward Alleyn bought the manor for £4,900 in 1605 that Dulwich really started to grow. Alleyn was the foremost actor of the Elizabethan age, the equivalent of an Olivier, performing in the plays of Shakespeare and Marlowe. His wealth came from the stage, from his second marriage to the poet John Donne’s daughter, Constance – and from his ownership of a string of wildly successful bear pits and brothels. These were not in Dulwich, needless to say, but nearer to the site of the Globe Theatre, close to the river in Southwark.

Nowadays there is a theatre at Alleyn’s School, and a local amateur dramatic society in Norwood, but Dulwich is more famous for its art. The Dulwich Picture Gallery, the first public gallery in the UK, is 200 years old this year.

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The beautifully austere building, designed by Sir John Soane, is home to a Rembrandt, a few Gainsboroughs, a Tiepolo and a Canaletto, and holds temporary exhibitions as well. It is also the lightly fictionalised setting for my second murder mystery, The Girl in the Gallery, to be published next year. Starring my single mother heroine, Beth Haldane, the novel will take a closer look at some of the dilemmas facing today’s parents and the pressures the digital age puts on their children. Once again, I’ll be putting this charming, but chilling, corner of south London under the spotlight. I hope you’ll join me in Dulwich.

About Alice

Alice Castle was a national newspaper journalist for The Daily Express, The Times and The Daily Telegraph before becoming a novelist. Her first book, Hot Chocolate, was a European best-seller which sold out in two weeks.

Alice is currently working on the sequel to Death in DulwichThe Girl in the Gallery. The second instalment in the London Murder Mystery series, it will be published by Crooked Cat next year.

Alice is also a top mummy blogger, writing DD’s Diary at www.dulwichdivorcee.com.

She lives in south London and is married with two children, two step-children and two cats.

I See You by Clare Mackintosh

Recently, when I was on my travels, I found a book my husband had been looking for, so I bought it and, as I had the opportunity to buy another book for half price, I chose I See You by Clare Mackintosh. clare mackintosh

Clare Mackintosh is a British author from Bristol. She, like novelist Karen Campbell, is a former policewoman. She left the police in 2011 to work as a freelance journalist and social media consultant now writes full time and now lives in North Wales with her husband and their three children.

I let you goI have not read her debut novel, I Let You Go but it was very well received. It was a Richard & Judy book club pick. It won Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award in 2016, beating J K Rowling writing as Robert Galbraith. She is a respected author.

The heroine of I See You, Zoe Walker, is a forty-something mother of two teenagers. She is on her way home from a job she hates. When she eventually secures a seat she looks through the evening paper to find a picture of herself looking up from the less savoury columns of the personal ads. It throws her, as it would anyone. Her family rally to her support, all persuading her it is nothing but a strange coincidence. The picture is not of her at all. But she knows, and we know, and some sinister third party who speaks in italics knows, that it is. Soon afterwards Zoe sees a similar ad, only this time with the picture of another woman. When that woman is found strangled in Muswell Hill, Zoe phones the police.I see you

Zoe finds a champion in Kelly Swift, a disgraced detective who has been sent to the gulag of transport policing for misconduct and badly needs her shot at redemption. With Zoe’s lead about the classified ads, Kelly gets it and elbows her way back on to the murder investigation. As computer experts burrow their way into findtheone.com, they discover that the site is refreshed each week with details of a new entry: a woman who is simultaneously pictured in the paper. For a hefty premium visitors to the site receive a listing containing minute details of her daily commute, including what she wears, which ticket machine she uses at the station, where she sits on the train, and ends up with a suggested rating: easy, moderate, difficult. It is really creepy.

Mackintosh builds a convincing and complex emotional backstory for both women throwing enough teasing red herrings to leave us vaguely suspicious of everyone in their lives. This clever and plausible thriller is one with which it is all too easy to relate. Your fellow commuters might be just that, or then again, they might not. The daily trek into work will never be quite the same again. I found this novel interesting and exciting. If you enjoy psychological thrillers, I See You by Clare Mackintosh is well worth reading.

Valerie Penny

 

Recently, when I was on my travels, I found a book my husband had been looking for, so I bought it and, as I had the opportunity to buy another book for half price, I chose I See You by Clare Mackintosh.

Clare Mackintosh is a British author from Bristol. She, like novelist Karen Campbell, is a former policewoman. She left the police in 2011 to work as a freelance journalist and social media consultant now writes full time and now lives in North Wales with her husband and their three children.

I have not read her debut novel, I Let You Go but it was very well received. It was a Richard & Judy book club pick. It won Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award in 2016, beating J K Rowling writing as Robert Galbraith. She is a respected author.

The heroine of I See You, Zoe Walker, is a forty-something mother of two teenagers. She is on her way home from a job she hates. When she eventually secures a seat she looks through the evening paper to find a picture of herself looking up from the less savoury columns of the personal ads. It throws her, as it would anyone. Her family rally to her support, all persuading her it is nothing but a strange coincidence. The picture is not of her at all. But she knows, and we know, and some sinister third party who speaks in italics knows, that it is. Soon afterwards Zoe sees a similar advertisement, only this time with the picture of another woman. When that woman is found strangled in Muswell Hill, Zoe phones the police.

Zoe finds a champion in Kelly Swift, a disgraced detective who has been sent to the gulag of transport policing for misconduct and badly needs her shot at redemption. With Zoe’s lead about the classified ads, Kelly gets it and elbows her way back on to the murder investigation. As computer experts burrow their way into findtheone.com, they discover that the site is refreshed each week with details of a new entry: a woman who is simultaneously pictured in the paper. For a hefty premium visitors to the site receive a listing containing minute details of her daily commute, including what she wears, which ticket machine she uses at the station, where she sits on the train, and ends up with a suggested rating: easy, moderate, difficult. It is really creepy.

Mackintosh builds a convincing and complex emotional backstory for both women throwing enough teasing red herrings to leave us vaguely suspicious of everyone in their lives. This clever and plausible thriller is one with which it is all too easy to relate. Your fellow commuters might be just that, or then again, they might not. The daily trek into work will never be quite the same again. I found this novel interesting and exciting. If you enjoy psychological thrillers, I See You by Clare Mackintosh is well worth reading.

Valerie Penny

 

 

Kindred Spirits: The Royal Mile by Jennifer C Wilson

I first met Jennifer C. Wilson over a year ago at the writers’ inspiration the is The Swanwick Writers’ Summer School. Although she was already a published author, she is such an open, friendly person who works to nurture aspiring authors. It is hard to remember that Jeniifer is a marine biologist by training, who developed an equal passion for history whilst following the life of Mary, Queen of Scots on while on family holidays as a child.swanwick outside

Jennifer’s interest in creative writing ever since she enrolled on an adult educationJennifer C Wilson workshop. She then won the Story Tyne short story competition, in 2014. Her debut novel Kindred Spirits: Tower of London was published by Crooked Cat Publishing in October 2015. I very much enjoyed that book and was delighted when the sequel came out in April 2017. It is set in Edinburgh, Scotland, in and around the Royal Mile and follows Mary, Queen of Scots as she re-visits her subjects in her spiritual form.

Royal Mile, EdinburghI lived in Edinburgh for many years and know the city well. I found the descriptions of the city vivid and evocative and the story wove them together really well. The author creates interesting issues for Queen Mary’s ghost as well as for those of her ghostly court and subjects.

 

The story starts during the Edinburgh International Festival, in August when author takes the reader up and down Edinburgh’s historic Royal Mile. Royalty and commoners,Jennifer Book ghostly and human, exist together mingling together in the museums, cafes and former royal residences. From Edinburgh Castle on the extinct volcano that is Castle Hill to Holyrood Palace on the Abbey Strand, the reader will find is far more going on than meets the eye, in Kindred Spirits –  The Royal Mile. The author introduces ghosts of every era and background who make their home in the City.

We first meet Mary, Queen of Scots returning to the city for her annual visit. She is troubled by the lacklustre attitude of her father, King James V of Scotland, and decides to do something about it, with the aid of her ghostly accomplices. However, in death, as in life, her second husband, Lord Darnley is still a thorn in her side.

Kindred Spirits: The Royal Mile, published by Crooked Cat, is a good story with a great setting. It would be an excellent Book Club choice and I heartily recommend it.

Valerie Penny

 

Winchester Writers’ Festival 2017

simon-hall-photoI was recommended to attend the Winchester Writers’ Festival by the author, Simon Hall. Some of Simon’s books are reviewed on this site: The Balance of Guilt at https://bookreviewstoday.info/2016/12/27/the-balance-of-guilt-by-simon-hall/ and The Dark Horizon at https://bookreviewstoday.info/2016/06/03/the-dark-horizon-by-simon-hall/. I took his advice and attended the festival this year. I am glad I did.

West-Downs-0The Winchester Writers’ Festival runs over a long weekend in the middle of June. Those who attend on the Friday and Saturday have the opportunity to meet with 2 agents, editors or publishers on each of those days. There is no extra charge for doing so, but do book early to secure time with your preferred professionals.

I stayed at the en-suite student accomodation on the West Downs Campus. It was basic, west downs insidebut clean. The walk to and from the main university campus is up and down a steep hill, so I was glad a shuttle bus was provided for delegates at the beginning and end of the day.

The quality of the courses was high. On Friday I took a long course called How To Thrill and How to Kill, led by the author William RyanWilliam Ryan. William was called to the English bar after university in Dublin, then worked as a lawyer in the City. His novels, including The The Constant SoldierConstant Soldier are set in 1930s Stalinist Russia and have been shortlisted for the Theakston’s Crime Novel of the Year Award, the CWA New Blood Dagger, the Irish Fiction Award and twice for the Ireland AM Irish Crime Novel of the Year Award. 

I also had the oppotunity to meet with an editor and an agent, the latter being Sarah Manning of The Bent Agency. She has asked to see me full manuscript. Now that is an exciting experience!

After dinner on Friday, Mslexia Magazine hosted a panel discussions with independent publishers. That was most interesting. It seems to me important that these members of the literary world should be supported.

winchester university diningThe catering at The Winchester Writers’ Festival is certainly better than average for mass catering. However, the quality of provision for those with mobility issues was poor. The dining room was up a long flight of stairs and the lift was not working while the festival was on. Some of the events were held in rooms where disabled access was not available.

On Saturday morning Lemn Sissay gave the Keynote Address. I had never heard him speak before, but I was very impressed. His talk was inspiring. Later in the day, I attended a series of talks on how to approach agents. How to write a Synopsis, The Agent and Submission Letter and The Agent’s Eye View. These talks were short but extremely useful. I also met with Linda Bennett of Salt Publishing and Jack Ramm of the Eve White Agency. lemnsissay

There was a Festival Dinner on the Saturday night which I attended with my friend and fellow author, Allison Symes. I enjoyed the evening greatly, but was sorry that my time at Winchester Writers’ Festival was draring to an end. This experience was extremely useful for enhancing my confidence as an author. i would highly recommend that aspiring writers consider attending the Winchester Writers’ Festival.

Valerie Penny

 

 

 

 

The Mill River Recluse by Darcie Chan Review by guest author Miriam Drori

Miriam photoIt is lovely to host a review today by my fellow Crooked Cat author, Miriam Drori. Miriam Drori’s own non-fiction book: Social Anxiety Revealed, published by Crooked Cat Books, will be released on August 22, 2017. For more information, see her accompanying blog. You can also visit Miriam’sMiriam Book normal blog and website, and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

This is the only work of fiction I’ve come across in which the main character has social anxiety.

It’s a lovely, well-told story. It certainly kept me turning the pages. The story is believable, has believable characters and deserves to be read.

Darcie ChanHowever, I do have some reservations about it. Mary, the recluse, is the one with social anxiety. The reason for this is mentioned three times in the book (which I thought rather excessive) and relates to one terrible incident that occurred when she was sixteen. Mary also mentions that she was always shy, but I still think this is too easy. One incident, however bad, doesn’t cause social anxiety on its own. There has to be a lot more than that. I would have liked to have heard much more about Mary’s childhood and what led to her condition.

The consequence of Mary’s anxiety – becoming a recluse seen generally by only oneRiver Mill Recluse Book other person and later by two others – is a very extreme outcome of social anxiety. This is mentioned in the book by a professional who meets her and says, “I’ve never seen such an extreme case of social anxiety.” Most people with social anxiety don’t keep themselves completely hidden in that way. They force themselves to get out and function in society however much of a struggle that is. I think someone who reads of an extreme case like this could make light of the effort made by someone who appears to function fairly normally. It’s not as if characters with social anxiety overpopulate the world of fiction!

That said, this book is still a lovely read.