Tag: nostalgia

Black Inked Pearl: Book Review

Finnegan’s Black Inked Pearl opens with our fifteen-year-old heroine, Kate. From the beginning, our surroundings are dreamlike, or rather, timeless. We are on “Donegal shore by wild Atlantic Sea. Today. Or long ago.” When is Kate? When are we? It doesn’t matter – from the beginning we are swept up in the narrative; one that has no beginning and no end.

We experience the themes of lost love and the quest for identity through Kate’s eyes, but there is a real sense that the reader, and indeed all of humanity, are on the same journey.
We feel for Kate as she realises and yearns for her true love who she didn’t recognise and acknowledge as such in her youth. Finnigan’s imagery and poetry edify that love to something ancient and universal: “For as convolvulus roots dig deep in the earthe’s heart, ne’er torn uproot, and in the world grow spiralling untwistable in th’ ether till burst out in morning’s glore So were they entwined.”

When we get to Africa, the tale of Adami and Yifa (Adam and Eve) is told. Kate seems to merge with Eve, the first woman to go against/lose her lover. It’s here that everything seems to blend further – as if Kate’s journey and Eve’s, and everyone’s, are one and the same. I loved the description of where St Columb showed Kate the mysteries of humankind in the heavenly archives: “…he carefully lifted down the…wrought chest/ Carved it was with friezes not of animals but of singers. Of Neanderthal women / pipers, children a-song, cave men with – somehow like lyres…”

I think, at times, there is a little difficulty with the dense imagery and descriptive language in travelling between scenes and transitions, which does add to the dreamlike quality of the book, but had me going back over what I was reading (at the train station scene and at the nursing home). I’m still digesting those parts and making sense of them, but even that is interesting as the story stays with you, transforming long afterwards.

I thoroughly recommend journeying on with Kate to hell, hear the temptations of the serpent and go to heaven’s gate. There’s also plenty of comic moments with God – his take on beetles reminded me of a sketch by the comedian Bill Bailey. So even with the epic nature of this narrative, there are moments of humour and levity to lighten your journey.

Black Inked Pearl can be purchased here on Amazon.

Book Review: Remains of the Day

We were a little overdue this month on holding our book club, but met to discuss book number two yesterday. Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro is a poignant and thought provoking read, awarding lots of discussion.

It details the life of Stevens, a butler and his service to a Lord Darlington of Darlington Hall. Stevens embarks on a trip through the English countryside and reflects on his life and the events that have led him to where he is. In the choice of language, in the description of setting the reader soon understands he is struggling internally with the decisions he has made throughout his life.

At the very heart of the novel is his relationship with Ms Kenton, the housekeeper of Darlington Hall and we see throughout how he has missed opportunities to make connections with other people all his life. Instead he has quashed all emotion down and inhabits his role as a butler entirely, his core values and beliefs being to uphold and maintain a sense of dignity.

It is both fascinating and tragic how he clings to this belief in the beginning of the novel. Both the interactions with others and events over the course of the novel mean he is unable  to maintain this belief. At the end he is left with a fragile sense of self and filled with regret and loss.

Yes, heavy stuff, but soooooo worth reading – you’ll regret it if you don’t!

(We also watched the film afterwards, starring Emma Thompson and Anthony Hopkins, which was very well done for the most part)


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