My Epigenetic Legacy

In my last blog, I listed Rob Lowe’s Love Life as one of my favourite books from 2014. I was especially moved by his discovery of his family history about which he says “I believe we’re all influenced by our epigenetic legacies”. He goes on to say “I am the son of my grandfathers. I sometimes imagine I feel them in my blood guiding me” (page 159). These two sentences have not left my mind. I twist them and turn them. I play with their meaning.

Epigenetic Legacy.

What is my epigenetic legacy?

How is it that the granddaughter of two illiterate women is a doctoral student researching the treatment of and attitudes towards romance fiction? Does their blood guide me? How did their blood impact my parents, and in turn, how did my mum and dad’s blood impact my life? Though my grandmothers were illiterate, their children were/are not illiterate. The few opportunities to learn to read were grasped by both my parents.

My mother, who mostly reads biographies, has the most incredible ability to read textiles. Her schooling was minimal as she was born in the Pindus mountains of Northern Greece in 1938. Her childhood was heartbreakingly difficult, losing her dad and five of her siblings due to World War 2 and the Greek Civil War. She first attended school when she was 11 and by 13 she had moved to attending textiles training. My mum can spin and dye wool, tat, embroider, knit and weave with incredible skill.

A tapestry my mum made of a gypsy woman meeting with St George

A tapestry my mum made of a gypsy woman meeting with St George

Once, my mum, while travelling home on a train for twenty minutes, examined the complex knitted jumper the person in front of her was wearing. She came home and within two days had completed a replica of this jumper from memory. It was similar to an Arran Isle pattern. She had no need for the written instructions. Her understanding of patterns and spatials and technique was sufficient. Though my mum taught me to knit and to embroider, I am an amateur, coarse in my needlework execution.

This is a legacy that I do not feel running in my blood. Continue reading

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Charlotte Lamb retro comfort read

I am home sick with laryngitis and a chest infection AND a sick, feverish son. For the first few days I attended my own pity party and what is better than a comfort read at a pity party? A Charlotte Lamb angsty romance!

 

Charlotte Lamb The Girl from NowhereThe Girl From Nowhere

c 1981

Suki Black is a successful singer who exudes sensuality on the stage. However off the stage she is sheltered by her manager and his wife, Buddy and Rosie who are more like parents than managers. As the story develops, you discover that Suki was abandoned as a baby and was brought up in a refuge/home/school. Having moved out at 16, she was discovered singing in a bar by Buddy and Rosie at 17 and had been living with them for the past 5 years – working her hard but treating her well and lovingly.

Enter the hero after a kickass performance that opens the book. Joel Harlow is a  smouldering, dictating asshat of a hero who keeps turning up like a bad penny harassing Suki. At no time did I feel any warmth toward industrial magnate, Joel (whose description reminded me of Jamie Arrogance Packer). Continue reading

Nymph kissing Mortal Boy

A few weeks before I left Australia for Greece, I came across Tonya Alexandra’s Nymph, Book One of The Love Oracles. Being one to judge a book by its cover, I fell in love and then I fell deep deep deeply in love with the blurb:

 

nymphAn Idyllic Greek Island

Obsessed demigods

A fallen nymph

A Mortal Boy

Merope, a beautiful but faded star nymph, is banished to Earth for displeasing the gods. She tries to fit in, go to school and live a normal “human” life. And then she meets Lukas. But relationships between goddesses and men are forbidden.

Will their love grow? Or will Merope and Lukas feel the wrath of the gods?

 

I swooned before I opened the first page. However, I was patient and did not start reading Nymph until I was on a ferry leaving Piraeus heading for Poros, a small island in the Argosaronic gulf near the Peloponnese. The ferry ride to Poros is magical. I sit on the upper deck, the wind is gentle, the sea is calm and the ferry passes by container ships and yachts as it starts its journey first to Aegina, then the volcanic peninsula of Methana before arriving in Poros, an island separated from the mainland only by a 200 metre wide strait. Along the whole way, the sea meets the mountains, the diffuse light filters through the clouds as I am quickly immersed in the story of Merope and Lukas. Continue reading

Fangirl Have I Loved

I read Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl a few weeks ago but it was one of those books that I needed to rest in my mind before I discussed it. I thought I was going to read a sweet boy-meets-girl-who-writes-fanfic young adult book. I was already aware that there was a buzz around this book coming from readers who I trust with their recommendations. I expected humour, angst, family conflicts, coming of age, new friendships and romantic interests. And this book had plenty of all those ingredients in the story of Cather, her relationship with her twin sister Wren and their first year in college and how Cath copes when Wren decides that she no longer wanted to share a room with Cath, who is the quieter, more reflective twin.

Fangirl and Jacob Have I loved

 

The story is told in the third person from Cath’s perspective (I love 3rd POV). Cath struggles to adapt in her new college environment, worrying about her father being alone, having issues with her mother’s abandonment when she was young, meeting her new roommate, Reagan, and her friend, Levi who seems to spend all his time in their dorm room, as well as the freshman pressures of negotiating classes and group assignments. Cath has come to college as a fanfiction writer with a strong following, with fans waiting for regular updates to her story around a Harry Potter-like fictional series with Simon Snow as the central character and his nemesis, Baz. Despite her success at writing fanfiction, Cather’s writing professor considers this writing to be plagiarism and Cath struggles throughout the book to find her authorial voice. Cath’s fanfics punctuate every chapter of Fangirl and the changing relationship of Simon and Baz runs parallel to Cath’s life.
This alone would have made a wonderful read but part way through the book, Levi (the perennial hangaround friend) is assigned Katherine Paterson’s Jacob Have I Loved for one of his class readings and Fangirl completely came together for me. Jacob Have I Loved, which won the 1981 Newbery award, is a story of twin sisters Louise and Caroline. Told in the third person from Louise’s point of view, Louise is the quieter, more introspective twin. The story runs with the biblical parallel of Jacob and Esau and their contest for being the first born. The twins’ grandmother is shrewish and mean and Louise, who was the stronger twin to the ailing weaker Caroline, keeps being reminded that being the older twin is not a reward. “Jacob have I loved and Esau have I hated” from the bible showing God hated Esau, the hard working older brother who sold his birthright to his more cunning younger brother for a plate of lentils.
I felt that Rowell depicted twins Cather and Wren in much the way that Paterson depicted the struggles between Louise and Caroline. Neither of them claimed the position of first born as they were a C-section. Nonetheless, Cath observes that “Wren was bigger. She was stealing my juice or something” placing Cath in the role of Caroline and Jacob. In the bible Jacob and Esau do not reconcile, and in Jacob Have I Loved, though Louise finds love from her parents and romance, she and her sister remain distant. Perhaps I am reading too much into the inclusion of Jacob Have I loved in Fangirl but I felt as though Rowell wrote her own fanfiction for these twin sisters who should have been able to be happy, to be linked together in a story that I always loved but felt saddened by the ending. Cath says at the beginning of the book “Having a twin sister was supposed to be like having your own watcher. Your own guardian”. These two sisters negotiate their own relationship and rather than be pulled apart, they too find happiness. I loved this.

Happily ever after, or even just together ever after, is not cheesy,” Wren said. “It’s the noblest, like, the most courageous thing two people can shoot for.

Certainly, this book captures this feeling of not being cheesy for me. Cath gets happiness in this book. Happiness with Levi, with her sister and eventually with her ability to write. This intricately woven story was a pleasure to read and I highly recommend this book.

Temptation

*SPOILER ALERT WARNING*

Every now and then, I read a category romance that blows me away. Charlotte Lamb’s Temptation has done that for me. This book is written in two distinct sections. The first is set in the calm, sheltered beauty of the Yorkshire Dales and the second is set primarily in busy, civilized London.

Linden had only been seventeen when Joss crashed into her life. Naively, she offered him her friendship and trust. In return, he had aroused emotions in her she was too young to handle, wrenching her from childhood to womanhood in a few startling days.

When he left her, Linden realized that she been ruthlessly used. Her love for Joss had been almost worshipful. His love had been a savage devouring–taking and never giving. His love had destroyed her-just as she would now destroy him!

20140429-005226.jpg

As the book blurb indicates Linden falls in love with a much older man, Joss. The book begins in a dreamlike idyll in the Yorkshire Dales. The protagonist Linden has led a sheltered life with her emotionally distant father, and in a Catholic convent in Italy for her schooling. She is a few weeks from turning 18 when the male protagonist, Joss, tumbles into her life. He is 39 but very little is revealed about him in the first half of the book. There is a strong relationship building between these two and all the while the reader is reminded that Linden is still young. You see the struggle that Joss has keeping away from Linden. In the same scene that he calls her a child, he is also kissing her. Afters sleeping with her he leaves her for he is married. Circumstances bring Joss and Linden to having sex and it is after this that he leaves and the reader (and Linden) find out that Joss is married. Devastated Linden becomes near suicidal, her actions harming her father physically. After a long recuperation she heads to London to study and she meets a lovely young man. She has a slow courtship with him and heads to his home to discover that he is the son of Joss. At this time she avows her revenge to hurt him (Joss) and break him the same way he hurt her years earlier (oh! Yes! It is a revenge book). Continue reading

Reasons I love the Veronica Mars movie (with a bonus Logan!Harry met Veronica!Sally scene)

One of my favourite romance tropes is the old love rekindled. You know the one – they couldn’t get along, they were too young when they first got together, they somehow betrayed each other, they went separate ways…yet they find love many years later.

A fortnight ago, after months of squeeeing and anticipating, I went and saw The Veronica Mars movie. My take away is this:

Veronica Mars Movie

1. Logan and Veronica were ready to jump each other from the moment they laid eyes on each other (and the audience was ready to jump them).

2. I’m glad they went for 9 years with no contact. I really loved that Logan and Veronica broke up at the end of season 3. It was too soon for them to be together. They were still teens who had gone through too much crap.

smoulder smoulder smoulder

smoulder smoulder smoulder

3. I’m glad that Logan joined the Navy. Though he looked odd in the uniform he obviously found peace through the discipline of the armed forces. He was a teenager hell bent on self destruction. It sure beats they hell out of Logan finding peace with a Yogi or scented candles. Continue reading

Swoooooooning and entangling

So I’m back on ABC702 Linda Mottram‘s show tomorrow. It looks like this will be a semi-regular gig (once or twice a month). For the most part, I will be using the ReadWatchPlay monthly themes for the reading I will review on her show. Which is fab fab fab for tomorrow because February is SmoochRead!

YUP!

We are talking love!

We are talking Swoon!

We are talking Mills & Boon! (wellll….not really. Not this time. It did rhyme though)

Colour Me Swoon: The heartthrob activity book for good colour-inners, as well as beginners

by Mel Elliott

Colour Me Swoon

Colour Me Swoon

How does one go past a colouring book of hearthrobs. Continue reading