Thursday, February 25, 2016

The Saffron Gate - A Book Review

The historical novel of “The Saffron Gate” by Linda Holeman grabbed hold of me and wouldn’t let go. Linda Holeman, a Canadian writer, has a wonderful gift of writing historical fiction with descriptive details about the setting, making the story come alive without losing our connection to the characters and their plight.I have read many of her novels and always enjoy them.

Often some books get bogged down describing too much and we lose sight of the story. I find that Linda Holeman is adept at balancing all the many elements that go into a good novel. As a fiction writer myself, I know how hard it is to get it right and often struggle with all those elements.

The story begins with Sidonie O’ Shea, a young woman with a French Canadian mother and Irish father in Albany, New York in 1930. She suffered polio as a child leaving her with a crippled leg and this has made her very reclusive and shy.

A car accident that kills her father haunts her with guilt since she was the driver. She retreats into her lonely little life until she meets Etienne, a French doctor, who treats the scar on her face resulting from the accident. She falls in love with him and becomes pregnant. Joyously, she tells him the news in hopes that they will marry, but instead, Etienne disappears. Full of despair, she realizes she can’t bear her reclusive life any longer and sets out to find Etienne after hearing that he has gone to Marrakesh in Morocco.

The sumptuous descriptive details that Linda Holeman paints about Morocco drew me right in and made the story come alive. I could see it, I could hear it and I could practically smell it, too.

I was especially captivated by the character of Aszulay, a Taureg, a Blue man from the ancient Berber nomadic tribe of the Sahara Desert. Aszulay was a wonderful character, so exotic and mysterious, but also a real man with real emotions. I was intrigued about why they were called Blue Men and researched it. I found out it is because of their blue turbans and robes, dyed indigo from the ink of Mediterranean sea urchins.

I love reading and learning about other countries and cultures that are so different from my own, especially in historical fiction. It was a very enjoyable book with its exquisite detail and wonderful story. Mostly I enjoyed it because of the protagonist of Sidonie, a real woman I could connect with. She grew so much in character as she overcame many obstacles on her journey to find love and sense of belonging. I recommend this book highly.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Wordy Wednesday #Phrase Prompt - My Dual Nature

I am doing the Wordy Wednesday challenge at Blog A Rhythm where we are required to use one to three of the phrase prompts in a post. Wordy Wednesday

Since I like to give myself a challenge, I decided to use all of the phrases in a poem.

My Dual Nature

Far from the madding crowd I hide, 
I much prefer being alone,
Everyone is so brash and loud, 
I even despise the phone,
Even though I’m an introvert, 
I do like having my say,
I want my fifteen minutes of fame
I’m kind of strange that way,

Famous last words have now been written, 
there’s no turning back the time,
My dual nature is a part of me, 
like my love of writing rhyme,
Fat lot of good it does to worry, 
might as well accept my ways,
I’ll face the music and start to dance, 
enjoying the rest of my days!

Monday, February 1, 2016

#MondayMusings Acceptance of Loss and Change

This cartoon certainly touched a nerve this morning and triggered an outpouring of emotion that has evolved into this blog post.

I sure miss my mom’s phone calls. That was our way of staying connected across the vast thousand mile distance between Ontario and Cape Breton. 

My mom just loved to talk on the phone with friends and family, especially during the last few years of her life when she wasn’t as active anymore. She would come out to the sunroom, sit in her favourite chair (sometimes with an orange cat in her lap) and phone people. She used to put on the speaker phone which I never liked, but she found it easier and my dad could listen in, too. I used to tell her I wasn't a phone person and that I preferred email and Facebook are since I express myself best in writing. 

What I wouldn't do for one of my mom’s phone calls now. Miss her every day. I'm adapting and going on, as one must do after losing a loved one, but life is definitely not the same. 

Life becomes that much more precious as we start to lose more people in our lives. Getting older means we will lose even more people as time goes on. We must learn to accept that so much is out of our control and we learn to go with the change just like a tree bending in a strong wind. 

We learn to appreciate simple things more. Material possessions aren’t quite as important and often seem to weigh us down. Who needs all this stuff? We only get to keep it for a short while anyhow. One day our kids will have to sort through our stuff and get rid of it.

Now I crave experiences and connections with people. Living with purpose, passion and creativity is my motto. I try to let go of regrets, guilt and negativity. I’m still working on that. It’s a day to day challenge.

Losing loved ones reminds of our own mortality and how we don’t have as much time as we think we do. The time to do is now. The time to act is now. Not some day.

My hope is that in my own small way, I can make the world a bit brighter through the things I create such as the words I write, the photos I take, the music I perform. Also I hope my connections with others are significant and I can touch their lives just as they touch mine.

I won’t change the world in a huge way but just enough to feel that my time on earth has meaning and that people will remember me after I’m gone.