Review of Home Alone Harry by Jerry Rhodes and Rachael Messiter – Have educational fun with Harry the dog and the Thunkies @rararesources #Review #HomeAloneHarry #libraries #doglovers #kidslit #Blogtour

Home Alone Harry
By Jerry Rhodes and Rachael Messiter
Rated: 4 stars
****

I am delighted to present my review and excited to be closing the blog tour of this practical, yet lovely and fun story called Home Alone Harry. Come and meet Harry the dog and the Thunkies and find out if they can help Max out. This is with thanks to Rachel at Random Resources who invited me onto this blog tour. Read on to find out about the authors and illustrators, the blurb and my review.

Presenting the full tour details:

Home Alone Harry Full Tour Banner

About the Authors and Illustrator


Jerry Rhodes AUTHOR 

Author Jerry (2)Jerry Rhodes’ life-long research and teaching is the inspiration behind ‘Home Alone Harry’, this first book in a series for children featuring the cartoon characters, Thunkies®. After completing his degree and teacher training at Oxford University, Jerry’s career as a school-master was cut short by polio. He changed course to a management career in industry, discovered his talents for creativity, and formed his world-wide consultancy to collaborate with international organisations. A special project with Philips led to the discovery of ‘Thinking-Intentions’, to which he has now given the playful name, Thunkies®. Jerry writes his books from his weather-beaten old farmhouse in the Gloucestershire Cotswolds.

Rachael Messiter AUTHOR

Author Rachael Rachael Messiter. Author and Dog Listener with Magpie at Mission Wolf ColoradoRachael Messiter, a Dog Listener, uses the approach known as Amichien® Bonding pioneered by Jan Fennell. Rachael has her own practice, Talking Paws, based in Staffordshire. Previously she lived with wolves for close on two years in Colorado, USA, to learn how packs work. She has identified a group of issues that dog owners experience that are due to the well-meaning but flawed behaviours of owners, rather than ‘nuisance’ dogs. How to properly avoid and resolve such troublesome issues will be the theme of each book in the series Thunkies® love Dogs.

Nicky Hill ILLUSTRATOR

Home Alone Harry Illustrator Nicky and her dogsNicky Hill is an illustrator and storyteller from Winterbourne near Bristol. Her artwork is featured throughout the Thunkies® Love Dogs books, bringing a bright, vibrant style that captures the imagination. A great lover of animals both wild and domestic, Nicky also illustrates and writes her own series of books about ‘The Wotton Pack’; a group of inquisitive pooches who spend their days and nights having many adventures. She currently lives with her own pack of three dogs in Wotton-under-Edge, a small town in Gloucestershire, where she also co-runs the shop called ‘The Collective’.

Home Alone Harry Cover

Blurb

Harry is a mischievous young dog, adored by his family, Dad and Mum, Maisie (8) and Max (5). When the family leave him on his own he creates chaos. Dad demands, “That bad dog must go!” Alone and sad in bed that evening, Max asks, “Can anyone help?” How will the Thunkies respond to his call?

Review

The illustrations by Nicky Hill are bold and fun throughout the book and depict the story very well. The dog is especially cute.

The family go to the zoo without their dog Harry, who then creates havoc in the house due to being anxious about being left behind. The family don’t know what to do. This is a real issue faced by many families with dogs.
Meet The Thunkies, which are really cool symbols who give ideas of how to help the dog in the best possible way, so the dog can become less anxious and also learn that it is not in-charge of the family too.

It’s a great concept, all put in an easy to follow story, with real solutions as to how to handle the issue.


This book is incredibly child friendly with solutions children alone or children with adults can read and enjoy, and if they have a dog in the family, can also put the dog teaching method used for Harry to the test with their own dogs very easily and no equipment required.

At the back of the book are excellent questions for dog owners to ponder.

Also meet the Thunkies characters right at the very back of the book, just on the inside cover and discover what they do.

The authors/creators of this book have certainly done their research and also have the knowledge and experience behind them when it comes to dogs and their behaviours and in resolving any issues, in this case anxieties displayed at times by some pet dogs.

I would recommend looking just inside the front cover and discover the aims of the book within its educational, science yet fun and games concepts. Look at the back inside cover to discover who the Thunkies are and the wise things they do and then read the story and hopefully enjoy and at the same time gain some knowledge that you will hopefully find useful, so you can play the “game” with your dog.

Home Alone Harry The Creative Team Jerry, Rachael and Nicky

Website and Social Media Links:

Website – https://thunkies.com/

Shop – https://shop.thunkies.com/

Facebook – @thunkies

Instagram – @thunkies

Pinterest – thunkiesteam

all A Life that In Death remains @profsueblack @LancasterUni @MorecambeVice #NonFiction #Crime #Forensics

all A Life that In Death remains

Dame Sue Black closed the Morecambe and Vice Festival on the Sunday and there was much excitement and anticipation in the room. She was so fascinating and candid. She had so much to tell. This was no lecture, this was a great talk that was accessible for all. It was excellently chaired by Ben who also organises along with Tom, this eclectic and varied crime festival, full of excellent panels.
Dame Professor Sue Black is a Scottish Forensic Scientist/Anthropologist. She is currently the Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Engagement at Lancaster University. She leads on the Eden North project and more. She was the lead forensic anthropologist for the UK response in war crimes investigations in Kosovo and served in Sierra Leone, Grenada, Iraq and Thailand. In 2001 she was awarded the OBE and in 2016, the DBE.
Sue BlackProfessor Dame Sue Black
Death is really important. She says it can be the funniest of things, poignant of things, saddest of things. This seemed such an important sentence to say, and even away from the festival, I still feel this. It resonates and has so much truth in it with its hidden complexities and yet so elegantly in its simplicity in the language used, in my opinion.
Professor Dame Sue Black has also been listed in the top 100 of influential people (ahead of Mary Queen of Scots and Sean Connery).
She also gives crime writers forensic advice, most notably does so for Val McDermid as well as the ever more serious research of forensic science and much more… At the end of my write-up, there is a link into what she is currently doing at Lancaster University. Please do assist in her valuable research if you can. All is completely confidential.
Her talk was so interesting and pitched right for a book festival. 
Sue said her best achievements being the best person you can be and can make others the best they can be. This seems like very sound advice.
She said her 3 strong independent daughters is her greatest achievement.
Her father developed Alzheimer’s and realised that stole his stories. She says we need to write who we are. I completely get her point, having lost family and losing one also to Alzheimers and Dementia and I too I managed to gather bits of their life stories from them, just in time. Sue Black also says about how it doesn’t need to be turned into a book, just having family stories to hand down to future generations is important. I happen to agree and I also sometimes tell people in the present too about my family and then in some way they live on.
all that remains
Dame Sue Black wrote All That Remains in Life and Death for her children and didn’t think anyone else would read it. Now it has been turned into a book for the public to read and into an audio-book narrated by herself. So check it out! It sounds like a book that will captivate people with its life and death themes. I must say the cover is very clever, especially the way the title is done.
The book is designed to get people to look at death differently and refers to death as a she.
Why death is female – her grandmother was most important person in her life and believed death was her friend and suspects its something handed down.
Death was discussed  as being like the last great adventure and it is interesting that she talked of death as not being something to be feared.
It was very interesting to hear how she became a Forensic Scientist. She talked about having empathy for the person alive and shows the responsibility and shows humanity but the dead body is a clinical conundrum and also about being unbiased and maintaining confidentiality.
After just seeing a panel about mental health, this was a subject also discussed in this panel. She says professionals in her line of work aren’t immune to PTSD but it is important to be aware of the signs.
Popular culture, such as tv programmes like CSI etc in the 1990s-2000s that raised awareness, which has its plus and minus points as people think they know forensic science, when there’s a lot more to it that what is actually shown and also not everything can be as instant. Universities, she mentioned had started to do more forensic courses.
Her work was also discussed in relation to crime novels, as she has worked with Val McDermid, Stuart McBride, Ian Rankin really want to write realistically and do their research to know what it’s like. I have read novels by each of these authors and each write very well and their work always reads well, but also perhaps because they also have taken the time and attention to do their research, which then, with the facts, they weave into their fictional stories very well.
Sue says looks at people anatomically and knows what everyone really looks like and did a bit of a Sherlock Holmes type of description on something. Creepy and very cool and impressive.
If you ever get the chance to see Dame Sue Black speak, do. She is clearly passionate about her work, she has amazing stories to tell and some great anecdotes.
Dame Sue Black is currently working on developing working on bio-medical identification techniques. Please click into the link for what she is trying to achieve for the future of the country to improve forensics further and do feel free from there to take part. All, I have been assured by Sue Black, will be confidential.
Please click onto the link:  Lancaster University Research Link
Sue Black and Me
Professor Dame Sue Black and Me (Louise)

This concludes my reviews/write-ups of the Morecambe and Vice panels. Thank you to all who have been following these write-ups for this year. Very much appreciated!
Thanks again to Tom and Ben who invited me to their festival.
I also thank Professor Dame Sue Black for her lovely chat at the end of the talk and for allowing me to take a photo of her and for her kind insistence that we had a selfie together.

Who? What? When? Why? A review of a panel at @MorecambeVice Festival with @william1shaw @thegyth and others #review #crimefiction #bookish

Who? What? When? Why?
A Review of a Panel at Morecambe and Vice Festival

This panel was created by best selling crime novelist William Shaw. What can crime fiction tell us about the way works? With 3 Academics who are avid crime readers – Mary Evans, Hazel Johnstone and Sarah Moore. Crime writers – William Shaw and Gytha Lodge. William Shaw kept a certain pace for the panel and skillfully eased everyone from topic to topic and the others answered and also  created discussions that were intelligent, informative and thought-provoking.

William Shaw’s latest book is Deadland. The book tells the story of 2 teenage who are so disengaged with the world they live in, but have a strong sense of wanting to help each other in all their complexities. It is up to DS Alexandra Cupidi to solve the case. William Shaw is praised by Val McDermid, Peter James and Peter May.

Deadland by William Shaw 2019 book
Gytha Lodge’s latest book is She Lies in Wait. It is about six friends, a dark past and one killer. It is up to DCI Sheen to crack the case when 30 years later a body is discovered and to work out who is lying as everyone becomes a suspect. Gytha Lodge is praised by Val McDermid who says it makes hold your breath and gasp out loud.

gytha lodge 2019 book

Quick Facts
60-70% of readers read crime.

There’s a new respectability to reading and writing it.
More women read crime than men.
Men win the most prizes

This was such an intriguing panel, especially with the title that was given to it. This wasn’t your usual panel. The festival certainly seems to like to bring something different onto the stage.

Crime books were discussed in different ways. This was about what crime books have to say and the sociology and coverage of the genre. Although there were academics, this was not at all heavy going. It felt more like an informative and relaxed talk rather than a lecture. It was entertaining, fascinating and well-formed and relaxed for the festival audience.

There were interesting points that were made. One of the first ones being about the National Press and intriguingly, since crime is now such a hugely popular genre, doesn’t seem to feature as much as other fiction, especially those in the light entertainment segment of fiction, with lighter plots.

The discussion began to move in a different direction as they decided they were all fans of the golden age and talked about Agatha Christie’s subversive character – Miss Marple, whom I sensed they had a soft spot for. The academics wanted to chart a shift from the golden age to the 70s, when noir began to emerge. They discussed how writing moved on and how their began, as there is now, more of a political and social consciousness about the causes of crime being written about. Writing also changed in how the police were seen, no longer were they as nicely well behaved as they were in what is dubbed as the “golden era”. This made for an engaging talk about the change in style and the approach within the crime fiction genre.

There was much interesting talk in the sociology of crime and how it shows the internalisation of positive and negative values. The panelists pondered over sociology as a subject has missed the powerlessness and unrest, which is added into crime fiction.

The panel moved on when William Shaw asked about the narrative in storytelling. It seeemed to be concluded that the narrative was very important and that conventionally everyone wanted to know how a story ends. This is true, for me anyway.

The why and how also really kept my attention and it seemed the rest of the audience’s too, when they talked about the fabric of people’s worlds and how it isn’t always the “who” in the stories that keep readers reading.

They covered gender in crime books and also how there seems to be an appetite for true crime, especially on tv, as they reflected on The Confession, which is on tv.

They concluded by talking about how crime is now colonising other genres. It got me thinking, there is a lot going on in crime books, there isn’t just the crime, but there’s the psychology and also sometimes some romance and other genres feature too. They also talked of the trend to feature women detectives as well as male detectives and to show just how, for both sexes, the job can be incompatible with domestic life. I liked that they included both genders in this and they weren’t stereotyping anyone, they were just saying how it can be for everyone with the hours put in etc.

They rounded off by going back to the golden age and addressing the question about whether it is possible to write crime as a period piece and to take a book as a thing within its time? This was an yet another excellent question. They pondered this and decided that it can be difficult to keep to a certain line, with modern thoughts, but to not have a period piece become so ridiculous that piece of writing becomes too modern. This was a point so well made, I reckoned as the writing would then lose the fact it is historical and no one could learn anything from the past or get any sense of different times. They discussed how it can be difficult as times have changed and it has to be so worked out what would be acceptable and also about how in the past there are things that are spoken about much more freely now than they were in earlier years.

This was another fascinating panel and to hear about crime fiction from such a broad and different angle brought new and different insight.

I thank William Shaw for allowing me to take a photo of him and also for him reckoning him and I should have a selfie. I also thank him for the nice chat.

Me and William Shaw            William Shaw
              Me with William Shaw                          Gytha Lodge and William Shaw

Both authors also have more books to come in 2020.

 

                   

Celebrating The Enduring Love of Roald Dahl for Children and Adults #RoaldDahl #RoaldDahlDay2019 @QuentinBlake #ChapterBooks #TalesoftheUnexpected #Kidslit #Fiction #Humour #Fantasy #Family #Friendship

Celebrating the Enduring Love of Roald Dahl

This is a short article on the enduring love of Roald Dahl. Today is the anniversary of his birthday and what we call Roald Dahl Day.

Roald Dahl Pic

In the Beginning

Roald Dahl was born in 1916 in Llandaff, Cardiff, Wales. He wrote from his shed using HB pencils. He wrote for children and adults. His books live on in both book and film form. Sometimes the films are done well and sometimes they are not, that’s always the nature of films however, no matter who the original creator is. Some stories have also been adapted for TV and Radio.

Roald Dahl Day

Roald Dahl Day

Schools and libraries across the country tend to celebrate Roald Dahl every 13th September – his birthday. This year’s theme for Roald Dahl Day is Matilda. She is courageous and has a love of reading, even though it means going against her parents and isn’t seen as being trendy. The book is fun and has magic within it, but it is also sweet and gentle with Miss Honey, but then there is a marked contrast between her and Miss Trunchbull, which makes for great characterisation and story-telling.

The Books and Films

RD books

The books feed into children’s desires and imaginations. Take chocolate for example. There is Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and what child wouldn’t want to join Charlie Bucket and the eccentric Willy Wonka in a factory that experiments and creates chocolate and sweets, even in this more health conscious society. The follow-up – Charlie and the Great Glass elevator has some adventure and also takes children a little into the political world and what the USA was like at the time Roald Dahl was writing about.
There is magic in The Witches, The Magic Finger and Matilda and family and school life as themes, that also have mild trepidation and villains and heroes. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was made into live action films – two of them.

James and the Giant Peach also has magic and heroes and villains. There is also friendship and adventure and a need for escape as James wants to escape his two gruesome aunts.

There is fun with The Enormous Crocodile that takes children through the jungle meeting different animals and with just enough scariness that children really enjoy when the crocodile wants to eat children.

Fantastic Mr Fox is also about nature and animals, but this time about the need to understand and look after them. It also has a political element, but on a child level about the landscape and fox hunting. This was also made into a CGI film and there was a song I remember learning when I was in primary school for the baby foxes. We acted it out and I was a baby fox.

There is also Daniel, Champion of the World about a boy and his plans. This was made into a live action film

There’s mischief to be had in the Twits and George’s Marvellous medicine. There’s also elements of inventiveness. George’s Marvellous Medicine was used for a Jackanory story on tv.

The Giraffe, The Pelly and Me shows teamwork, friendship and entrepreneurship as they set up their own window cleaning company and there is also some trepidation with a burglary in a grand house.

The BFG with his good dream catching skills befriends Sophie and the two become lovely friends.

Esio-Trot was the last book to be published in Roald Dahl’s lifetime. For those who haven’t worked it out, it is Tortoise spelt backwards.  Esio-Trot tackles loneliness and is about Mr Hopper trying to make a connection with Mrs Silver, who he has loved from afar. This was made into a film for tv.

Boy and Going Solo are both Non-Fiction and tell of Roald Dahl’s life. It may sit generally in the children’s non-fiction area, but really both children and adults will gain fascinating knowledge from them. There was a documentary style programme about them on tv.

Revolting Rhymes is exactly that and has twisted takes on fairy tales. There used to be a tv series also inspired by this with chef Gary Rhodes showing how to make revolting recipes inspired by the book with his assistant – actor, Pam Ferris.

There are books that are not only for children too, although the main emphasis seems to be on children. He also wrote really dark stories for young adults and adults alike that are twisted tales such as Skins and Tales of the Unexpected, which were on TV. Tales of plants that could talk; tattoos that someone wanted and could have straight from another person; tales of sinister bedsits etc.

There are also other books too that have been and are being produced.

Further Facts

Roald Dahl wrote everyday from 10 am to 12 noon and then from 4 pm to 6pm. His first book wasn’t what people imagined it to be – Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, it was The Gremlins, those furry, cute characters that change when wet and well, aren’t so cute after that.

This was not the end of his talent. He worked with illustrator Quentin Blake (more about him later) and with James Bond creator Ian Fleming and created Chitty, Chitty Bang Bang and worked on the book for the film of this and of James Bond: You Only Live Twice. He and Ian Fleming worked together prior to this during the second world war, providing information for MI6. Roald had also been in battles during the war too. He was with the Royal Air Force (RAF) until 1946.

Roald Dahl had 5 children and married twice. He has a granddaughter still living – Sophie Dahl. 

Roald Dahl died on 23rd November 1990. He was 74 and was suffering with myeldysplastic syndrome (a type of blood disease). He is buried in the cemetery of St Peter and St Paul’s Church in Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire. He was buried with some of his favourite things, including: a power saw, HB pencils, chocolate, red wine and his snooker cues.

Inspiration and Importance

Roald Dahl’s stories and screenplays endure as does the love for them. He had a talent for knowing what people like and to be able to us universally broad themes to create magical worlds and fun and adventure. He had a talent to bring about some really dark stories and yet aiming them just right for his target audience. It now also helps that schools and libraries celebrate his life. He is still an important author within this age of computer technology as children and adults read less. Mention Roald Dahl and everyone knows his books, which is a good place to start. Curiosity about authors will hopefully come too as so many have led or do lead such fascinating lives. Roald Dahl is everywhere, in his own work and has inspired other authors and it is seen in their work, such as now there are people like David Walliams and other writers who are similar to him, whom it is evident must have been inspired by Roald Dahl.

Quentin Blake

Quentin Blake Books

Now it wouldn’t be right not to mention Quentin Blake too. He illustrated many of Roald’s books and has many fabulous books of his own creations too that are so full of fun and excellent illustrations. His books are now of many, his most well-known perhaps being Mister Magnolia and Mrs Armitage.

Children’s Laureate and other Awards

The Children’s Laureate seems to have been around forever, or so it is sometimes assumed, but it wasn’t until 1999 this post was created. Today in 2019, as I write, it is Cressida Cowell. In 1999, the very first Children’s Laureate was Quentin Blake.

He has also received so many awards for his books, including the Whitbred award. He has also been personally recognised and has certainly been living an illustrious life. He was made CBE in 2005, is an RDI and has numerous honorary degrees from universities throughout the UK. He received a knighthood for ‘services to illustration’ in the New Year’s Honours for 2013, and became an Honorary Freeman of the City of London in 2015. It is an impressive career and impressive to be recognised so much for all his work that endures and I am sure will also endure, not just through his collaboration with Roald Dahl, but also the work he has produced himself too, which is quite some body of work indeed as he has always worked in illustration and even illustrated for Punch magazine.

An Additional Career

Quentin also has another career. He works as a curator for exhibitions in well-known famous places – the National Gallery, the British Library and the Musée du Petit Palais in Paris. In the last few years he has begun to make larger-scale work for hospitals and healthcare settings in the UK and France where his work can be seen in wards and public spaces.

In Conclusion

So, two great men who inspire and whose work will, I am sure will continue to for generations to come with libraries and schools and parents and children all playing their part. There books I am sure will always be somewhere in bookshops, on library shelves and hopefully also in the hands of readers. I am also sure that they will be inspiring other current and future authors for years to come.

Roald-Dahl

Review of The Longest Farewell – James, Dementia and Me by Nula Suchet @nulasuchet @johnsuchet1 @SerenBooks @David_Suchet @Vicky_McClure @The_WriteReads #dementia #nonfiction #review #newbook

The Longest Farewell – James, Dementia and Me
By Nula Suchet
Rated: 5 stars *****

About the Author

Nula Suchet was born and raised in Ireland, part of a large family. She studied Art and Design at Chelsea College of Art and became an interior designer, working internationally in the UK, Europe and the US. Now retired, she lives in London, with her husband, the broadcaster John Suchet.

About the Book

Dementia crept early into the life of James Black, insidious and unannounced. The result was a long farewell to him as he changed from a happy, successful film maker into a completely dependent care home resident, and a stranger to his wife, Nula.

Yet after seven stressful years, Nula’s life unexpectedly changed when she met a man whose wife was also a dementia patient in the home. Her friendship with John Suchet became a relationship, but theirs is a difficult road. There is joy, but also despair and guilt. Is even a moment of happiness allowed when their loved ones are in slow decline towards death? Theirs is a story that plumbs the depths but also reaches a happiness that they thought they would never experience.

The Longest Farewell book pic

Review

Brave, devastatingly emotional, moving, heartbreaking, thought-provoking and yet there’s so much love in the Longest Farewell and ultimately, such a special kind of happiness.

I am pleased and privileged to review The Longest Farewell by Nula Suchet. It is with great thanks to her for agreeing to allow me to review her book. I also thank her for arranging with her publisher to send me a hardback copy.

Nula Suchet chronicled her life in the hope that anyone whose life is blighted with dementia can know that the tunnel they feel enclosed by need never be totally closed. The book is 182 pages and every word is evidently written from the heart. There is so much in this book to capture, so please bear with me.

At only fifty-seven years old, Nula’s husband was diagnosed with Picks disease – a rare form of dementia. This is an important book. It really shows that dementia really does not choose age or class or creed. It is a cruel disease at any age, but particularly to someone who was in his prime to then suddenly not be. There’s so much heartbreak when reading this book. Any reader, I am sure would feel it. This book is brave and must have taken a lot of courage to write as memories of a life since past, come to the fore once more in such a way, in order to write this brilliant book. The book begins with there just not being something quite right about James. The worry is there in the writing as is the fact that it perhaps makes more sense to put the new behaviours James is expressing, down to stress.

There is a strong glimpse into what life for James used to be like pre-dementia. I like that we are treated to the type of man he was and what he did. He had a strong place in the world, he created scripts for documentaries and wrote screenplays and worked very hard and over many hours. There seems to be a real sense of vibrancy and intelligence about James, even when there’s a bit about him meeting with a producer and normally he talks a lot about various ideas, when instead, there is a silence, that would by now, seem, to any reader as being unusual for James. There was an energy and enthusiasm in his work that was all of a sudden whisked away, leaving the love of his life wondering what to do. Nula writes unambiguously, throughout, including the emotions, the striking behaviours in James and Nula’s understandable initial denial that it could be anything other than stress or lots of time writing alone. There is a deep sense that every single sentence written is incredibly heart-felt and I believe other readers will feel this in their hearts too as I do in mine. There’s the feeling of anger too about what the Picks disease is doing to James. Everyone reacts differently and until dementia happens, you cannot fully really know how you will react, let’s just say, it is a familiar reaction. In amongst all of the different emotions and the having to deal with it, I like that Nula Suchet shows an air of determination to still to try to live life to the fullest with James, doing the things they used to enjoy together. There is however, such a bitter-sweetness. Nula Suchet writes about some wonderful memories, that seem so happy and full of love. There is such a determination to care for James. How hard this is isn’t sugar-coated as bit by bit it is there for all readers to see, but ultimately dementia is sadly taking over and behaviours, caused by Picks. Even before the chapter called Isolation, there’s a sense of it creeping stealthily and unwelcomingly in and life as they once knew it coming to a halt. Nula also has to give up working on her interior design business too. The writing is so amazingly strong, every aspect of the book is absorbing and all consuming in a good way because every emotion can practically be felt and empathised and sympathised with. I know this is a book that I will read more than once. I realised that before I even reached the end.

When Nula Suchet says about their being a comfort that she finally found a “good home” that did activities with their residents, even I feel gladness of that, because very unfortunately that isn’t always the case, as is pointed out in the book. Not that this makes anything any easier, not really, as travelling to the care home also is another emotional challenge of sadness as that feeling of guilt takes hold and lingers. The phrases used could not be put any better to describe that situation of struggle, anguish and the sheer depths of despair she goes to. Not one bit of it could be easy to have re-lived at all.

It is so interesting and thoughtful that other residents are remembered from Nula’s visits to see James and what I think readers, who perhaps don’t need to make visits to a care home will find is how different the residents all behave that she describes, as well as the feelings and vocal demands of James too.

The book then naturally merges into John Suchet’s life too as he and Nula meet and it is touching as she also gets to know Bonnie in the care home.
John Suchet is a broadcaster, currently on  the radio channel Classic FM.
It reads a little bit differently from what went prior. There are correspondences between Nula and John, which contain warmth, care and attention.

There are similarities in emotions felt and the emotionally charged writing, for he too is losing Bonnie – the love of his life all too early with the cruelty of dementia.  There are some parallels between their lives as a strong connection starts to build between them, such as John and Bonnie also travelled together whilst he worked – researching for his books. The connection builds into friendship and more and this is beautiful to read about as there is a clear hope and glimmer of happiness and being able to re-discover all the things they both enjoy and together. There are however a few times of understandable tentativeness at first and a challenging holiday in Greece together, which is written so well and with also recalling her own upbringing, which was so different from John’s. Hers, one of more turmoil and heartbreak, compared to John’s seemingly more perfect life. There is some comfort to be found in her insecurities as she asks calls “girly questions” due to insecurities. It is something many females will relate to, I am sure, but also the self-protection both males and females I am sure will relate to some degree. There are other trips where there are memories of James and the sadness that comes with it. There’s also more feelings of guilt and the pain of not being able to have a  coherent discussion with James about what she had been doing.

The further deterioration in both Bonnie and James and the medical issues and palliative care is not shied away from. It is told how it was for them. Poignantly there is a shared “list of nevers”, which is things they will never be able to do again.  It is by this time at its starkest yet as is the fact that dementia never leaves those who actually have it, but also others, like John and Nula, no matter what else is done in life.

Nula goes into some detail about the further deterioration of James and how it affects her relationship with John, who is also seeing this in Bonnie and is trying to cope with his own emotions, has to be given credit for being so incredibly patient and for showing such care and realising they need each other, even when emotion is trying to get the better of Nula and is trying to pull the relationship apart and almost forever, even after the funerals of James and Bonnie, which is chronicled with such respect. I found myself thinking thank goodness that Nula’s computer needed fixed and they were going to an expert together and she still agreed. Through all the devastation Nula and John lived through together, there is so much love and the ending is one that nearly was not, but my goodness I am glad it is just the best ending or perhaps best ever continuation of their lives may be more appropriate, for two people who have lived through so much and now bravely shared so much to the world.

There’s so much pain and guilt that is so understandable and deserves compassion. What is perhaps not actually said, is still there in-between the lines because this is actually an incredibly well-written book and written from the heart.

There are two sections of wonderful, meaningful photos that are excellently placed within the book. The first section, depicting happier times of James and Nula and they are so full of joy and life and yet there is a sadness because these are memories now of his work and of other life’s adventures they did together.  There’s also some other family photos too that are interesting to see. The second set shows James and Bonnie years into dementia and what it was doing to them, and yet they are so poignantly remembered through these photos. They are so tastefully done and with sensitivity. There are also photos of happier times again of Nula and John together, which are so heartwarming and they really do look so happy together. Each photo has its place. They seem so carefully chosen and go with the text before and after them. Every single expression looks so genuine.

I do also recommend reading the very important postscript. It highlights further the need for greater awareness and compassion for those with dementia. It isn’t just those who actually have this devastating disease that has still no cure to, it is everyone around that person. It highlights that care needs to be better and more research and more expertise needs to be put into it and that care, although can be good in some places of the UK, it isn’t always good around the UK. There’s acknowledgement of the greatest campaign’s so far, such as Line of Duty actress Vicky McClure’s Dementia Choir, hosted in Nottingham and Formula One champion Jackie Stewart launching a fund for research.

I have never read a book quite like The Longest Farewell before. The Longest Farewell is an important and timeless book in raising awareness of what Dementia can do and how it affects everyone’s lives and not just the person who is suffering from it. It also raises awareness of the inequalities in the care for dementia patients. There also is a need for more compassion towards people with dementia and their affected families around them.
For some, perhaps the book may also provide comfort and hope for those who are carers or are visiting their loved ones in a care-home that they aren’t alone.

It is also kind that Nula mentions that John also has a book called My Bonnie, documenting his dispair and loneliness about losing Bonnie to dementia. He also writes books about different classical composers in his fascinating Man Revealed series.

James Longest Farewell

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Title: The Longest Farewell – James, Dementia and Me
Author: Nula Suchet
Publisher: Seren
ISBN: 9781781725184

The Book of Forgotten Authors by Christopher Fowler – A Fascinating Insight into What Happened to 99 Authors @Peculiar @riverrunbooks @QuercusBooks #nonfiction #facts #authors #newbook #review

The Book of Forgotten Authors
By Christopher Fowler
Rating: *****


About the Author

Christopher Fowler was born in a less attractive part of Greenwich, London in 1953, the son of a scientist and legal secretary. He went to a London Guild school, Colfe’s, where, avoiding rugby by hiding in the school library, he was able to begin plagiarising in earnest.

He published his first novel Roofworld, described as “unclassifiable”, while working as an advertising copywriter. He left to form The Creative Partnership, a company that changed the face of film marketing, and spent many years working in film, creating movie posters, tag lines, trailers and documentaries, using his friendship with Jude Law to get into nightclubs.

He achieved many schoolboy fantasies including releasing a Christmas pop single, becoming a male model, posing as a villan in a Batman comic, writing in Hollywood, creating a stage show, running a nightclub, appearing in the Pan Books of Horror and standing in for James Bond.

Now the author of over forty novels and short story collections, including his award -winning memoir Paperboy and its sequel Film Freak, he writes the Bryant and May mystery novels, recording the adventures of two Golden Age detectives in modern-day London.

In 2015 he won the CWA Dagger in the Library award for his detective series, once described by his former publisher as ‘unsaleable’.

Fowler is still alive and one day plans to realise his ambition to become a Forgotten Author himself.

 

Blurb

Forgotten Authors closed99 forgotten authors, their forgotten books, and their unforgettable stories.

“Absence doesn’t make the heart grow fonder. It makes people think you’re dead.

So begins Christopher Fowler’s foray into the back catalogues and back stories of 99 authors, who once hugely popular, have all but disappeared from our shelves.

Whether male or female, domestic or international, flash-in-the-pan or prolific, mega seller or prize-winner – no author it seems, can ever be fully immune from the fate of being forgotten. And Fowler, as well as remembering their careers, lifts the lid on their lives, and why they often stopped writing or disappeared from the public eye: stories often stranger than fiction many of them wrote.

These 99 journeys are punctuated by 12 short essays about faded once-favourites: including the now vanished novels Walt Disney brought to the screen, the contemporary rivals of Sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christie who did not stand the test of time, the women who introduced us to psychological suspense many decades before it conquered the world.

Forgotten Authors open

Review

I was given this book as a “Secret Santa” present, so quite some time ago now and I am so pleased that I have finally found some time to be reading it. I announced some time ago that I was going to include a book by Christopher Fowler in my blog. Ok, it took me longer than I had anticipated because other life events that were unexpected happened. I do however always remember and do what I say I will do, even if it takes a bit of time to get round to what is also such a pleasurable book to read. It was worth the wait for me.

The book begins by posing the most interesting question: “Why are good authors forgotten? ” The question is answered in a considered manner, as well as explaining the process a bit of how the authors you will find within the rest of the pages came to be included.

As I glance down the content pages, I can already see that this book is going to be an education of interest and wonderment. There are certainly plenty of names I have never heard of before, but now feel I ought to know and delve deeper into the book to find out more. There are also however names that interest me in the very fact that they are becoming forgotten by so many people and yet I remember them, such as Virgina Andrews,  Forgotten nonsense writers such as Edward Lear and Lewis Caroll, Keith Waterhouse, but I know full-well that they are becoming forgotten by different generations, even my own, relatively young generation didn’t all know who they were.

There are also fascinating sections such as: Forgotten rivals of Holmes, Bond and Miss Marple, The Forgotten Disney Connection. Who would have ever thought there were forgotten books by Charles Dickens?  Well there are. Some authors are not remembered, but their work has been adapted into a film, so that is what people remember, but not who created the original work in the first place. So, it’s interesting nuggets like that, which are highlighted or well-known authors who have created a larger body of work that what is actually remembered because the focus may be on their most well-known. Take Charles Dickens for example, the only other person I know to have talked (or rather acted) Doctor Marigold and some other relatively unknown stories in an amazing 1 man play was Simon Callow at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival many years ago. If it weren’t for that, then I would never have heard of this story.

There are, as I mentioned before, many authors who I had not heard of, perhaps some readers of my blog may have done such as Charlotte Armstrong, Kyril Bonfiglioli, Barbara Comyns Carr, Charles Hamilton to name but a few. These completely unknown authors to me also have their own interesting stories and it is fascinating how some authors have connections in some way or another to some authors, some generations do have memories of or are still on some library bookshelves.

These discoveries caused much intrigue within itself, so I had to find out more. I won’t of course spoil it for readers of my blog by writing what I discovered. Let’s just say it is very fascinating indeed.

With just 2-3 pages devoted to each author, it is tightly written and an excellent read. It’s such an interesting read. It’s non-fiction and yet the way the facts are presented, there’s still some twists and turns within them as there are new discoveries to be made and each has a great narrative. We get to know a little about the authors themselves and the books they wrote as well as what happened and how they became so forgotten about in the midst of time. It got me thinking about whether they were deserving to be so forgotten about. I would say, not necessarily so from reading this book that also gives a glimpse into what the authors wrote, the impact they made at the time and how perhaps some people may like to read some of the books today, but perhaps may never get the chance to.

The book flows so easily as it glides from one author to another. This is far from reading a text-book or anything of that ilk. This book is written in a way that would interest many people and is very accessible to all through its lightness and fast pace.

By the end of the book, I found that I learnt a lot in a relaxed, casual manner through new discoveries and reading about old favourites.

If you have ever wondered why authors can be forgotten or certain genres that they have written are less well-known to perhaps what they wrote most of, or what happened to certain authors and why they stopped writing, then this is one of the most enlightening, most interesting books for you. It is very much worth investing the time to read this unique book, which seems to be well-considered, excellently paced and well-researched. The enthusiasm of the author – Christopher Fowler to be dedicated to write such a book really shows through all he has written as he takes readers on his exploration to uncover what may have been hidden secrets of the forgotten authors if it weren’t for such dedication to discover the lost treasures in the writing world.

So I whole-heartedly recommend this book, even if non-fiction is not your usual book. The book is unique and I reckon will add insight to any reader’s knowledge about some fictional writers, well, 99 of them. It is an excellent book to either read all in one go or dip in and out of as you please.

Christopher Fowler will be appearing at the Aye Write Festival 2019 in Glasgow, Scotland where he will be talking about The Book of Forgotten Authors.

 

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Title: The Book of Forgotten Authors

Author: Christopher Fowler

Publisher: Riverrun an imprint of Quercus Editions Ltd – A Hatchette UK Company

ISBN: 978-1-78648-489-5
Ebook ISBN:
978-1-78648-491-8

Main Purchase Points: Waterstones, WH Smith, Amazon