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#TuesdayBookBlog TEARAGH’T by Craig Newnes (@TheRealPressPub). #Historicalfiction with a difference. One story, two narrators, two styles, and many questions. #RBRT

Hi all:

I bring you a very special book today. Published by The Real Press. You can check them up here.

Tearagh't by Craig Newnes
Tearagh’t by Craig Newnes

Tearagh’t by Craig Newnes

After the remains of the Armada hobbled back to Spain, an extraordinary document – part diary, part love letter – is discovered on a remote island off the coast of Ireland. When it is translated, it reveals – not treachery nor evidence of Spanish military ambition – but something about the human condition. Because love, loss, laughter and the madness of war are all in Tearagh’t.

This is an evocative and passionate novel, like no other in its ability to take you into another age. The author has developed a whole new language, which brings the experience of being on a ship in the Armada alive, as it battles its way down the English Channel, interspersed by some strange, incognito runs ashore. The diary is complicated by the Jewish origins of the narrator and his conversation in his head with his lover back home in sixteenth-century Spain. But the lover, as it turns out, is also thinking about him – and she sounds remarkably modern…

Will Isidore and his great love ever be reunited? Can that kind of passion ever be kept apart? Yet there is Isidore in his remote island prison – how is anything else possible? Then fate takes a peculiar hand…

“Falling in love isn’t in your control. It’s a wonderfully accurate phrase, isn’t it? You fall, with amazing luck, you both fall into it. It’s like a bottomless, heavenly well. You both tumble, then plunge. Down and down. Holding hands … but luck never holds you. One day, one of you hits the side of the well. The other keeps falling, always hurting – knowing your souls are no longer bound, no longer one in this life. That somewhere, far above you, lies the broken body that can only be touched now in dreams.”

“Sexy, gripping, brilliant…” Abigail Bray

https://www.amazon.com/Tearaght-Craig-Newnes-ebook/dp/B076GSQWG3/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Tearaght-Craig-Newnes-ebook/dp/B076GSQWG3/

Author and critical psychologist Craig Newnes
Author and critical psychologist Craig Newnes

About the author:

Craig Newnes is an author, editor, musician, dad and gardener. He has six children and spends his time between the UK and France. Until retiring after a near-fatal road accident he was a Consulting Critical Psychologist and Director of Psychological Therapies for Shropshire’s Mental Health (NHS) Trust. He has published numerous book chapters and academic articles and is editor of The Journal of Critical Psychology, Counselling and Psychotherapy. His books include Clinical Psychology: A critical examination from PCCS Books and the edited volumes: Making and Breaking Children’s Lives; Spirituality and Psychotherapy; This is Madness: A critical look at psychiatry and the future of mental health services; This is Madness Too: A further critical look at mental health services. His latest books are Children in Society: Politics, policies and interventions. (PCCS Books: 2015), Inscription, Diagnosis and Deception in the Mental Health Industry: How Psy governs us all. (Palgrave Macmillan: 2016) and an edited collection, Teaching Critical Psychology: International perspectives (Routledge: 2017). A book on the Malaysian Emergency, the novel Paris and a Critical A-Z of ECT are due in 2018.

Tracks from his band Sandghosts are available from Amazon.

Like all of us, he lives in a constant whirl of today and yesterday and sometimes he stops for a moment to write it down.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Craig-Newnes/e/B00J6XHFAK/

The author explains this novel’s writing process in this article (although I did not read it until after writing the review, so you might want to save it:

“On Writing Tearagh’t” A Guest Post By Craig Newnes

My review:

This is a puzzling book. On the one hand, there is the story it tells, that is fascinating but not complex to explain and summarise. The book is divided into three parts, and tells the story of two lovers, living in XVI century Spain, both conversos (Jews who converted to Catholicism, although, at least in their case and that of their families, they remain Jews, only they practice their religion in secret, to avoid the Inquisition and the risk of being expelled from the country). The man, Isidore, enlisted in the Spanish Armada, to see the world, although he was never convinced of the logic of that war. The first part consists of a partial diary of his adventures, both at sea and later in Tearaght (an Irish island, the westernmost of the Blasket Islands), that was recovered by a sailor and translated into English, a peculiar English (that I understand the author acknowledges is his own creation and a reimagining of how the Old English mixed with the original Spanish might have sounded like). The second part is the story of his lover, Beatriz, pregnant when he leaves, and her life back in Spain, constantly wondering where he might be and waiting for his news. In contrast, her story is told in modern English, and is very modern indeed, with plenty of detail of what her life is like, her lifestyle (including going out with female friends, drinking, talking about sex a lot, and thinking about it, later having a baby boy, and being pressurised into a possibly advantageous marriage), and a third part, much shorter, again written by the woman, who must make a decision when she discovers her lover’s diary. Will she go after him and try to find him? Or will she marry a rich man to make sure their son is safe and has the best possible start in life? This brief part is written in a similar style to the first.

Isidore’s story is heart-wrenching. It is a story of adventures, male friendship (international, as there are men from everywhere aboard the ships, and they even meet friendly English men later, and also men from all walks of life such as sailors, soldiers, writers (Lope de Vega makes an appearance, Cervantes is mentioned more than once, and later on Kid and, of course, Shakespeare). Rather than a factual and aggrandising story (HIStory), there is much discussion about emotions, confidences, feelings, and much self-doubt. Although there are funny moments interspersed in the narrative (mostly because it does not follow a chronological order), there are, mostly, terrible times. Death, disaster, and sadness abound, and it seems that all that keeps him alive is his hope to see his beloved again. There are incredibly sad and touching moments in this part of the book, and although, as I said, the language is mock-Ole-English, once we get used to it (saying it out loud in your head helps), it is easy to follow, even taking into account that it is not in the right order and we jump backwards and forward in time. And, although he does refer to his lover often, the style and the discourse seems to be in keeping with what readers would expect of a well-researched historical novel set at that time. However, the style is more intimate and personal, and more emotional, than what we would expect in a male narrative of the period.

I think most readers will wonder why the woman’s story is written in such a different way, as the change feels like a jolt, and at first I wondered if it was set in a different historical period, but as we read on it is evident it is the account of Isidore’s lover, Beatriz.  A common thread of both stories is the need of the protagonists to write. While for the man, although he questions his merits, it is more acceptable (and they even call him a writer), the woman describes how, sometimes, her need to write makes her stop what she is doing, her chores, to write, even if it is only about her chores. She does not have great adventures to write about, indeed. Does that mean she should not write? Both stories also talk about camaraderie, in the case of the men between those defending a mission and a vision, even if they don’t believe in it. The women talk about women’s things. Men, childbirth, marriage, romance, sex… A women’s sphere, especially at the time, was more personal and intimate (although, of course, Elizabeth I was the Queen of England, so there were some, very few, women in high places). The modern style Beatriz’s story is written in and the fact that it contains topics we find difficult to imagine writing about at the time, especially when the writer is a woman, seem designed to challenge our prejudices. Are old-style writing (more in keeping with what we imagine a historically accurate discourse would be like, even when we know it is, at least in part, invented) and a male protagonist immediately given more authority than a narrative of the period written in a modern style by a female protagonist? (The subjects discussed and the openness of the talk about sex between the women gave me pause. I am aware that personal letters, and in this case, a diary written for her lover, can be much more open and direct than we would expect of the period, although I wondered more about some of the other topics, like the fact that single mothers seem fully accepted and she is not short on offers of marriage, even after having had a child out of wedlock). She describes her process of analysis, the way she decides to study her thoughts and feelings, and indeed her lovers, and also mentions that other women do the same, therefore challenging gender expectations (women are supposed to be romantic and not be open or matter-of-fact about love or sex). We also have the writer becoming the reader later on when she gets hold of her lover’s diary. The third part, although penned by Beatriz, is written in the same language as the first. Is this a way of connecting with him, of communicating her official decision, of gaining authority? Knowing the field of study and work of the author (Critical Psychology) one can’t help but wonder. (And, perhaps overanalysing things, as I am Spanish I could not help but think that some of the expressions she uses and discusses in detail, like “falling in love”, that she feels is very apt, would not work in Spanish. Could that mean she is writing it in English, or rewriting it later? Does she indeed go looking for him, even after the ending? Or is it another way the author uses to remind us it is a story and to make us pay attention to the process of reading?)

A book that contains a fascinating story (with a fascinating historical background and some fabulous characters, both real and imagined) written in an even more fascinating narrating style(s). Although the first part, once one gets used to the language, will grip most readers, quite a few might struggle to see how the two parts fit together (even if the characters do). A novel for those who want to try new reading experiences and check non-conventional types of writing. A word of warning, there is plenty of explicit violence, swear words, and discussions of sexual matters. An author and publisher well-worth keeping an eye on.

Thanks to the publisher and to Rosie’s Book Review Team for providing me an ARC copy of this book that I gladly chose to review. (Authors, if you are interested in getting your books reviewed, check here).

Rather than try and offer you a sample of the writing, you can check it here:

Thanks to the publisher, the author, and Rosie for this book, thanks to all of you for reading, and remember to like, share, comment, click, and REVIEW!

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Categories
Book review Book reviews

#Bookreview 20 by Vatsal Surti (@vatsal_xo) Beautiful language for those looking for a very subjective reading experience

Hi all:

As I’ve mentioned a few times, I have quite a few reviews that I haven’t shared yet and I’ve decided to try and make sure I don’t miss any and start sharing in alphabetical order (apart from some that I had booked for certain dates). I’m working on several projects that I’ll tell you more about when I can (most of them don’t depend only on me) but in the meantime, I’ll share reviews when I can and I’ll keep up with reblogs of interesting things I see on my other blog.

And here, first on the list…

Cover of 20 by Vatsal Surti
20 by Vatsal Surti

20 by Vatsal Surti

The story of a troubled young model and an introspective writer, 20 is a novel about loneliness, love, hopes and dreams.

One night as she is driving back home from a show, she almost runs over someone. She holds her breath, and through the fog, they see each other for the first time. Love begins to form in the space between them, in precognitions and thoughts, lights and intimacies. Seasons change. They come to know more things about themselves and each other. Life wraps them in its embrace like a haze, in a vacant space bigger than their eyes can see.

Fans of Haruki Murakami will enjoy this atmospheric and deeply felt debut from Vatsal Surti, who was described by an Amazon HALL OF FAME reviewer as “a young author to observe.”

Links:

https://www.amazon.com/20-Vatsal-Surti-ebook/dp/B01N4BD97I/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/20-Vatsal-Surti-ebook/dp/B01N4BD97I/

About the author:

Vatsal Surti is a US-based author who writes about the interconnections of humans.
His novella, To Desire, written when he was 17, was described by Kirkus Reviews as “poetic” with “engaging thoughts about the meaning of life and death.”
He wrote his first novel, 20, at the age of 20. His other work includes On Love, a small collection of short stories and prose poems published in 2013.

https://www.amazon.com/Vatsal-Surti/e/B00I6HPVU8/

My review:

Thanks to Net Galley and to Hybrid Texts for offering me an ARC copy of this book that I freely choose to review. They were also conscientious enough to inform me that an updated version was available, that is the one I review.

This novel is like a confessional/stream of consciousness diary of a young woman, a fashion model who lives alone and who records her thoughts, feelings and impressions over time. The book is divided into chapters and follow the seasons, but as we spend most of the time inside the head of the protagonist (although the story is written in the third person) sometimes, as we all do in our own minds, she might go back and forth in time, and other times, due to illness, substances and her state of mind, we don’t know if something she’s experiencing is happening at all in the real world. There are also fragments of the book told from the point of view of a young man she meets, whom she falls in love with, but these are not many.

Despite the beauty of the language, I found it a bit difficult to engage with the story (that is not really a story). Perhaps it is, as some reviewers have commented, partly the fact of not knowing the name of the main protagonist or her beloved. We get to know the name of Natasha, a friend who invites her to live with her, but we don’t know much about her. We don’t know where she is, know little about who she is, and her circumstances. I imagine it might be an attempt at universalizing the story, but most readers enjoy living other lives, even if completely different to theirs, rather than a very subjective but somewhat blank one.

What I thought at times while I read the book was that I remembered having similar thoughts and feelings when I was an adolescent, at a time when everything feels new, unique, and we believe nobody has ever gone through similar experiences or knows what we’re going through. Everything is measured by how it affects us and we live inside a bubble of our own making that few things can pierce. In the case of the protagonist she suffers a very traumatic event that depresses her (although it seems to be more a matter of degree rather than the nature of the emotions she experiences, as some of her thoughts were very similar before the said event) but in a way it seems to help shake her up and realise what life is really about.

To give you a taster of the language, here I share a couple of sentences I highlighted:

A few miles above them, a plane took off, breaking the sky that had begun falling to night once again, like love inside youth.

Her eyelids closed, and behind them, her eyes shone like stars.

In summary, a book that requires a very special type of reader, and that I suspect will connect better with younger readers (YA, NA). Not a book recommended for those interested in a good story and engaging plot, but for those who enjoy descriptive, subjective and sensuous writing.

Thanks to NetGalley, to the authors and the publisher, thanks to you for reading and yes, like, share, comment and CLICK!

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