Letters to Max Beerbohm by Siegfried Sassoon

Max B Siegfriend SOne of the nicest bookish finds is when you discover that two authors you like kept a correspondence. Sylvia Townsend Warner and David Garnett; William Maxwell and Eudora Welty; Sylvia Townsend Warner and William Maxwell. When people you like independently turn out to have connections, it’s like discovering two of your friends actually went to uni together. So imagine my happiness when I found a book of letters between Siegfried Sassoon and Max Beerbohm!

Granted, I haven’t actually read anything by Sassoon, but I grew very fond of him when I read another book of unexpected connections – Anna Thomasson’s A Curious Friendship, about Rex Whistler and Edith Olivier, but featuring a fair dose of Sassoon.

The full title of this collection, edited by Rupert Hart-Davis, is Letters to Max Beerbohm & A Few Answers (1986). There are few answers not because they’ve been lost, but because Beerbohm was famously bad at writing them. His friends seem to have been pretty tolerant about this, and his letters (when he does write them) are friendly, fluid, and charming – but Sassoon bears the lion’s share of this exchange. Even this doesn’t quite make up enough for a book, and Hart-Davis has rifled through Sassoon’s diaries for more information to set the scene. (Hart-Davis’ footnotes are also occasionally rather amusing – for instance, he describes Sibyl Colefax as ‘relentless society hostess’.)

Who comes off the page? I got the impression that Sassoon was much younger than Beerbohm – each letter is soaked with a sort of affectionate awe. It turns out that, for the bulk of their correspondence (in the 1930s), Beerbohm was in his 60s and Sassoon was in his late 40s and early 50s. A difference, yes, but not as much a one as comes across.

They both write letters that speak of deep friendship (and a curious resentment of Yeats). They are witty, thoughtful, and show a closeness and respect that you wouldn’t be able to get except through reading a book of this sort. They also have sketches and jottings by Siegfried, which are great fun, as well as verse that he throws into the letters – presumably fairly off the cuff.

The diary entries are well chosen, giving context to their friendship, and the mix of diary and letters works well. I enjoyed this description of their friendship, from Sassoon:

Conversing with Max, everything turns to entertainment and delectable humour and evocation of the past. […] Not a thousandth part can be recorded. But I feel that these talks with Max permanently enrich my mind, and no doubt much of it will recur spontaneously in future memories; he is like travelling abroad – one feels the benefit afterwards.

Well, we have certainly benefit afterwards. This is a slight book, and I certainly wish they had written to each other more prolifically. If they had, this might have been up there with the William Maxwell/Sylvia Townsend Warner collection of letters (The Element of Lavishness) as one of the great literary correspondences. As it is, it is a brief and brilliant gem that will enhance an appreciation of either Sassoon or Beerbohm.

Dearest Andrew (letters by Vita Sackville-West)

Guys, set your faces to impressed, because I’ve already read the first book I’ve bought in Project 24. I bought my second one today (more on that another day – or right now if you scroll through my Twitter feed) but if I keep this up – and I definitely, definitely won’t – then I’ll have finished all 24 books this year.

Dearest AndrewIt helped, of course, that the book was relatively slim. Dearest Andrew: Letters from V. Sackville-West to Andrew Reiber 1951-1962 (published in 1980) has a very long title for a book that is only 127 pages long. There is only one half of the collection, which the editor Nancy MacKnight explains as a case of Andrew wanting Vita Sackville-West to be centre stage – though the less charitable among us might suspect that she didn’t keep his letters.

They didn’t know each other when the correspondence started. It kicked off because Andrew – who lived in Maine – had a friend nearby who wanted to visit Sissinghurst, Vita’s beautiful home and garden. Said friend never actually got to Sissinghurst, but Vita’s reply was so encouraging that Andrew braved writing again – and so, after some fits and starts, their friendship begins and would last until Vita’s death.

The title of the collection is how Vita addressed him – after rather an interesting realisation about greetings in British English and American English – is this still the case?

My dear Andrew. No, I am given to understand that the American and the English habit is reversed. To us, My dear is a far warmer form than just Dear, yet if I put just Dear Andrew it looks so cold and formal to my English eyes. And if my American publisher begins his letter to me My dear it looks very personal and intimate! so what is one to do? I shall take refuge in Dearest Andrew which is what we reserve for our real friends.

The one review I found of this book is quite critical, suggesting that it’s a bit boring because it’s mostly about gardening, day-to-day events, and minutiae. Well, that’s exactly why I liked it so much. I enjoy letters because they show us the real person – and while I love reading an author’s thoughts on writing, I’m also rather enamoured by their easy, unthinking chatting about normal life. My only criticism is that there is perhaps too much framing from the editor, and quite a few of the letters are clearly not included.

So, perhaps not the best place to start for readers new to Vita Sackville-West – but if you know a little about her, or have read her writing, then I think this is a fun addition to her oeuvre.

An Irrelevant Woman by Mary Hocking

An Irrelevant WOmanAs you probably have spotted in the blogosphere, this week is Mary Hocking Reading Week, courtesy of Ali. Mary Hocking is one of those authors I’ve been aware of for a while, probably thanks to Ali’s reviews of her novels, but had never actively sought out before. She falls a bit later than my go-to period of writing, since she wrote between the 1960s and 1990s, but my experience with An Irrelevant Woman (1987) has certainly encouraged me to look for more – perhaps in the new Bello reprints.

The ‘irrelevant woman’ of the title (is anybody else reminded of ‘a woman of no importance’?) is Janet Saunders. She is the quintessential wife and mother, having – to a certain extent – sacrificed herself for her husband’s writing career and the lives of four children. These children are now all adults, the youngest at university and the oldest presumably around thirty. Janet and Murdoch now live quietly in Dorset, with affectionately interfering neighbours and a tangle of children and grandchildren not too many miles away. This is disrupted when Janet suffers from some kind of nervous breakdown.

Almost everybody is the novel behaves older than they are. The friend we see Janet with early in the novel, with the inexplicable name Deutzia, is in her 80s – and Janet often seems to be around that age herself. In actual fact she is only 50, which seems (a) very young to have four adult children, and (b) very young to consider somebody’s life behind them. The four adult children also seem extraordinarily advanced, mostly speaking as though they were in their 30s and 40s when they must be a decade or more below this – I couldn’t work out why Hocking didn’t just push everybody’s ages up a decade – but I assume we’re supposed to see Janet reacting the recent change in her life. This quibble can be overlooked. How does Janet describe herself (albeit only to herself)?

I am not a modern woman. I am a series of ‘nots’ – not typical, topical, current, competitive, controversial, contentious, protesting. I am not given to confrontation, nor am I concerned with success as most people understand it today. I am passive, accepting, quiescent, unmotivated, uncommitted, and therefore uncaring and irrelevant.

As with all of us, Janet’s self-portrait isn’t quite accurate – she is not entirely fair to herself – but Hocking adroitly paints a picture of somebody who is faced with crippling inertia. That series of ‘nots’ and passive qualities make it difficult to propel a narrative, but Hocking does it expertly. You can easily see why she has been compared to Barbara Pym and Elizabeth Taylor. Her observational skills are exceptional, as is her ability to turn that observation into concise and striking prose. She also contrasts Janet’s self-analysis with how others perceive her:

Dr Potter saw one of those quiet, anonymous women she occasionally noticed in supermarkets. Calm, unsurprised, never guilty of embarrassing their friends and family with wild outbursts of enthusiasm or anger – women who seemed to be in a perpetual state of balance. And yet, because of that very quietness – and the shyness which is almost always associated with it – giving an impression of having kept something to themselves, something which most people have had to hand over as the price of adulthood.

What makes this so clever is the way in which certain qualities overlap in these judgements. They are clearly portraits of the same woman. But the conclusions are so different; Janet knows that she does not have this balance that others see.

The actual breakdown is handled without sensation. It is the catalyst for the rest of the novel, not an overly dramatic scene. Of more interest to Hocking, and to the reader, is how the family responds. How will Janet’s children cope with the changing roles in the family? There is organised Stephanie, witty, over-dramatic Malcolm (forever quoting plays in lieu of emotions), and then Katrina and Hugh, who are little less realised; Hugh’s ex-wife Patsy, a campaigner and environmental crusader, is more rounded. She is entirely believable as a presence in Janet’s life that is both an annoyance and a reassurance.

Lest this all sound miserable, I should add that Hocking is often quite amusing. That comes in a dry humour from Janet’s perspective a lot of the time – but non-wry smiles come from the merriment of Malcolm, and the quick-witted and realistic dialogue that many of the characters exchange. Hocking herself clearly has a fiercely intelligent way with words, and she is able to turn this to humour as well as poignancy – how could you not love this?:

Malcolm revelled in Mrs Thatcher. He saw her as one of the great bad performances of all time and considered it a privilege to watch her on every possible occasion.

But it is Hocking’s observational writing that is her greatest gift. It is, sadly, the sort of thing that I am all too likely to forget after a while – though I don’t read for plot, it is often plot that lingers in the mind once style has left only an impression – so I must come back and recall moments like this, where Janet is talking to a defensive young boy who is living rough:

Janet said, “You don’t live at home?”

“That’ll be the day!”

“Where, then?”

“There’s an old place out on the heath.” He was nonchalant, but hoped she would not be. “It’s for sale but no one wants it. I doss down there.” It’s an everyday occurrence, his manner implied while inviting her to be shocked so that he could become even more indifferent.

How incisively she draws the distinction between what people say and what they want to come across. Very succinct, perceptive writing.

Well, I’m in danger of writing far too much – so I’ll just end with a general recommendation that you try this, or (I daresay) any Hocking you can get hold of – which, thanks to Ali, is rather more than it used to be. Incidentally, you can read all about how Ali discovered Mary Hocking in the latest issue of Shiny New Books. Thanks Ali for organising this week!

Sylvia Townsend Warner: a biography by Claire Harman

STWYou know sometimes there are books on your shelves for years that you think you ought to have read? And then sometimes you really should have read them, cos you’ve done a DPhil partly on the author… well, better late than never, I’ve read Claire Harman’s very good biography of Sylvia Townsend Warner, originally published in 1989. And I reviewed it over at Shiny New Books for the Christmas update, as Penguin have recently reprinted it to coincide with Harman’s biography of Charlotte Bronte.

Well, whatever the reason for the reprint, it is very welcome. You can read the whole review here, but below is the beginning of it, as usual…

This marks the third biography I’ve reviewed in Shiny New Books that is about a major figure in my doctoral thesis – three out of three of them. With Harman’s biography, though, I could (and should) have read the biography while studying, but somehow never got around to it. I knew (thought I) enough about Warner’s life from reading her diaries and letters, and essays about her; the biography could wait.

Reader for Hire by Raymond Jean

Reader For HireI will be writing Great British Bake Off recaps again this year, you may or may not be pleased to know – but I’m thinking that weekends are probably going to be the earliest I’m able to write them.

So, for today, I’ll point you towards another of my Shiny New Books reviews. This time it’s Reader for Hire (1986) by Raymond Jean, translated from French by Adriana Hunter.

It’s basically about how fab reading is. Find out more…

Self-Help by Lorrie Moore

Self-HelpI’m a big fan of the designs of the new Faber Modern Classics – which includes Self-Help (1985) by Lorrie Moore – even if the criteria for selection is a bit unclear. Do ArielLook Back in Anger, and The Remains of the Day have anything in common? I shouldn’t have thought so, but I suppose Oxford World’s Classics and Penguin Classics don’t have much in common across the series.

Anyway, even if the selection of titles is a bit bizarre (and, sadly, the quality of the paperback doesn’t quite live up to the design), this is still a really intriguing new series. Thanks for sending me this book, Faber! Self-Help had been on my radar for a while, so I thought I’d pick it up to celebrate its 30th anniversary. (I’m kinda terrified every time something celebrates its 30th anniversary this year, because yours truly will be doing the same thing come November…) Oh, and Moore was younger than me when this was published.

Things I didn’t know about Self-Help #1: it’s short stories. I’d assumed, being a shallow type, that it was a self help book, or at least personal essays. The line between short stories and personal essays might be rather slim, of course: every protagonist in Self-Help is more or the less the same person. Their names change and their families and situations change a bit, but they are all intelligent, self-deprecating, introspective, wry young American women. Basically, they’re all (one assumes) Lorrie Moore.

And that kinda works. I’m not a fan of the exclusively-write-about-what-you-know school (A.L. Kennedy responds to this advice brilliantly, which I quoted when I reviewed On Writing) but here it seems ok; the stories come together to form a single snapshot of a certain sort of person at a specific time.

And the stories themselves? The tone is often self-help style, as the title suggest. For example…

Make attempts at a less restrictive arrangement. Watch them sputter and deflate like balloons. He will ask you to move in. Do so hesitantly, with ambivalence. Clarify: rents are high, nothing long-range, love and all that, hon, but it’s footloose. Lay out the rules with much elocution. Stress openness, non-exclusivity. Make room in his closet, but don’t rearrange the furniture.

The first one, ‘How to Be an Other Woman’, is perhaps most representative of the collection as a whole; many of the stories deal with unsatisfying or disintegrating relationships, and this story does exactly what it says: it’s a sombre look at the mechanics of being ‘the other woman’, looking brazenly at the situation without any attempt to find either a moral or a silver lining. It’s also probably my second favourite story in the collection.

My absolute favourite was ‘How To Become A Writer’, because – it’s about being a failing writer. It’s a bit melancholy, but rings true with anybody who feels like there is a writer inside of them somewhere… without, somehow, feeling self-indulgent on Moore’s part, perhaps because of the wit and (again) self-deprecation:

Later on in life you will learn that writers are merely open, helpless texts with no real understanding of what they have written and therefore must half-believe anything and everything that is said of them. You. however, have not yet reached this stage of literary criticism. You stiffen and say “I do not,” the same way you said it when someone in the fourth grade accused you of really liking oboe lessons and your parents really weren’t just making you take them.

All things considered, there is a lot to like in Self-Help – but it does feel a bit like a writing student trying an extended experiment. It’s clearly a first book, and I’d be interested to see how Moore’s writing developed – particularly when she started considering perspectives other than her own life. As, I’m sure, she did…?

Seeing Voices by Oliver Sacks

Seeing VoicesI am currently knee-deep in Oliver Sacks’ autobiography (as it were) and loving it – and being rather surprised by it – but that will all be revealed in the next issue of Shiny New Books. For now, I thought I should quickly write about the latest Sacks I’ve read before I forget, and before it gets tangled up in my head with his autobiography. The book is Seeing Voices, and was first published in 1989. It deals with deafness and language, essentially – looking at the development of sign language, whether it ‘counts’ as a real language, and how the deaf and hard of hearing have been treated over the past century or so.

This might be quite a short review, because it is my least favourite Sacks book to date – and I am such a cheerleader for his work that I don’t want to dwell on one that (to my mind) didn’t live up to HallucinationsThe Man Who Mistook His Wife for a HatThe Mind’s Eye, and The Island of the Colourblind. And possibly all the others that I’ve yet to read, most of which are waiting on my shelves.

The irony is that sign language and the senses are things I’m really interested in. Losing, compensating, or confusing senses are topics I find fascinating. And there are certainly sections of Seeing Voices that did fascinate me. Let’s look at them first. Primarily, the protests at Gallaudet University, then (and possibly still) the world’s only liberal arts college for deaf and hard of hearing. These protests came after the election of a new president (from a shortlist of hearing and hard of hearing candidates) ended up with a hearing president; the students and some of the staff went on protest, demanding that they be represented by somebody who knew what it was like to be deaf.

This request doesn’t seem at all outlandish now (although may rear issues of ‘positive’ discrimination; that’s another story), but at the time it was a big step forward in terms of helping people recognise that people who could not hear were still people – intelligent, capable, leadership-demonstrating people at that. Sacks is seldom better than when he feels impassioned on behalf of others who have been downtrodden or underestimated – and he writes in support of those protesters. Elsewhere in the book, more passionately still, he writes about those schools that decided deaf children should learn to speak audibly rather than learn sign language – and the deprivation of communication this forced upon generations of children.

If all of this was great, and classic Oliver, then what didn’t I love so much? Well, as other reviewers have noted in 1989 and since, Seeing Voices is aimed at a rather more scholarly audience than Sacks’ other works. Which is not to say that it’s academic writing; it is still closer to popular science than to a conference paper. But it is the least accessible of the books I’ve read, and I found his focus on scientific and philosophical terminology, not to mention hundreds of endnotes (which take up almost half the book) rather off-putting. Perhaps this is because Sacks mostly deals with theories and histories in Seeing Voices? He is far more captivating when dealing with individuals – whether patients, friends, or Sacks himself.

So, there was a lot of interest here – but the book mostly brings out more of Sacks’ scientific side than his compassion or his storytelling ability; the two attributes that make him such a phenomenal and significant writer, in my opinion. Alternatively, this may make Seeing Voices more appealing to some.

And I have to finish off with this sentence, which amused me:

To be the parents of a deaf child, or of twins, or of a blind child, or of a prodigy, demands a special resilience and resourcefulness.

Charlotte Mew and Her Friends by Penelope Fitzgerald

46. Charlotte Mew and Her Friends by Penelope Fitzgerald

The first of my reviews I’m going to point towards, over at Shiny New Books, was the most unexpected treat. Indeed, it’s going on my 50 Books list – which is coming towards a close now, and that makes me nervous. (What if I read something superlatively brilliant just after putting the 50th book on the list?)

I had thought Penelope Fitzgerald was already represented, as I’ve loved The Bookshop and At Freddie’s – but apparently neither quite made the list. Charlotte Mew and Her Friends is a little more outside the box – being a biography of a turn-of-the-century poet – but has just as wide an appeal, honest. It’s one of the few biographies I’ve read where the subject mattered less than the writer – not ostentatiously in the writing, but in my response to it.

Do head over to my Shiny New Books review for the complete picture…

Mr. Fox by Barbara Comyns

One of the many lovely things about being at home in Somerset is that most of my books are down here. Although I have several hundred unread books in Oxford, I have many more in Somerset that I don’t get to run my eyes over everyday – and so there are some fun surprises on the shelves here.  Not so much books I’d forgotten about, but certainly books I hadn’t expected to be able to read soon.  Saturday was so sunny and lovely that I wanted to pick up something that perfectly matched my mood.  And what better than to treat myself with a long-awaited Barbara Comyns?

Oh, how did you get into the picture, Sherpa?

I’ve read nearly all of Comyns’ novels now (saving just A Touch of Mistletoe) and I’d thought that the styles divided neatly into two – the seven novels of the 1940s-’60s, and the three which she published in the 1980s after being rediscovered by those bastions of rediscovery, Virago Modern Classics.  Well, if I’d read Mr. Fox blindfolded (…as it were) then I would have placed it in the first group.  Which is a very good thing, in my book – Mr. Fox (1987) is up there with Comyns’ best books, in terms of tone, character, and sheer calm madness.

The setting is World War Two, and the heroine (of sorts) is typically Comyns territory – Caroline Seymore has a young daughter (Jenny) but is quite like a child herself.  As she narrates her life – running from flat to house to flat, avoiding bombs, selling pianos, cleaning for a neurotic vegetarian – she is that wonderfully Comynsian combination of naive and fatalistic and optimistic:

I still had a feeling something wonderful was going to happen, although it was taking a long time.  Perhaps it was just as well to get all the sad part of my life over at one go and have all the good things to look forward to.
I don’t think any sentence could encapsulate the outlook of a Comyns heroine better than that.  As always, we have the surreal told in a matter-of-fact way, and the novel reminded me most of The Skin Chairs.  It is like someone telling their life story in one long breath, slightly muddled, with emphasis falling equally on the significant and insignificant.  It makes reading the novel a bit disorientating, but in a lovely way – you just go along for the ride, and wait to see what will happen.  And it makes it all feel so believable, because surely no novelist could craft something so detailed and yet so arbitrary?

And the Mr. Fox of the title?  He is that wartime speciality, the spiv.  There never seems to be any romance between Caroline and Mr. Fox, but they live together to save money and conduct their curious operations together – whether on the black market or, as mentioned, selling grand pianos.  He is a charming man, and Caroline seems curiously drawn to his ginger beard, but he also has a ferocious temper – and Caroline is often happier when he’s not around.  The pairing is bizarre – a marriage of convenience that isn’t actually a marriage.  It adds to the surreality of the novel, and I can’t really work out why he gets the title to himself, since Mr. Fox seems to be so much more about Caroline.  Or even, indeed, about the Second World War.  With air raids and rationing and evacuees, Comyns uses the recognisable elements of every wartime novel or memoir, but distorts them with her unusual style and choice of focus.  How many times have we seen films or read novels with a scene of anxious villagers gathered in church to hear war declared?  Compare that with the way in which Comyns shows it:

On Sunday I could stay at home because the men from the Council took a holiday; so the Sunday following my visit to Straws I was washing and ironing all the curtains so that they would be fresh for the new house.  I listened to the wireless as I ironed, but I was thinking of other things and was not listening very carefully; then suddenly I heard Mr Chamberlain telling everyone the war had come, it was really here although outside the sun was shining.  It didn’t seem suitable to iron now the war had really come, so I disconnected the iron and stood by the window biting my nails and wondering what to do next.

Mr. Fox, like all her novels, is also very funny.  Mostly that is because of the naive but unshockable voice which is cumulatively built up, but I also loved lines like this:

I hoped they liked warmth, because I had an idea vegetarians thought it unhealthy to be warm or comfortable and usually lived in a howling draught

The novel has such an authenticity that I wonder if Comyns kept it in a drawer for decades.  I wish somebody would hurry up and write a biography of her, because I’d dearly love to know more about her life – if it is a tenth as bizarre and captivating as her novels, then it’d make for a splendid biography.

If you’ve never read any of Barbara Comyns’ work before, I’d still recommend starting with Who Was Changed and Who Was Dead or The Vet’s Daughter (and probably not Our Spoons Came From Woolworths, which is her most well-known and my least favourite), but you wouldn’t be doing badly if Mr. Fox was your first encounter with her.  And if you already know and love Comyns, make sure you find yourself a copy of this one – you’re in for a treat.

The Fifth Child – Doris Lessing

Whenever I’ve mentioned to people that my book group is reading The Fifth Child (1988) by Doris Lessing, they have shuddered and told me that I’d better make sure I don’t read it late at night or when I’m on my own, etc. etc.  Apparently it’s notoriously scary.  Well, I found it chilling in places, but ultimately not the horror book it is marketed as.  But it is altogether more interesting than that…

Harriet and David Lovatt are unconventional in their conventionality.  While all their 1960s companions are taking drugs, going to wild parties, and refusing to settle down, all they want is marriage, a big home, and a big family.  This is precisely what they achieve – luckily David’s father is very rich (lucky both for them and for Doris Lessing, who is able to use this a lot to get out of narrative holes), and he offers to pay the mortgage on an enormous house.  Harriet and David promptly get onto filling it, and have four children in the space of very few years, and not that many pages.

I think Lessing rather shot herself in the foot with her title, so far as sustaining interest for the first section of the novel is concerned, because we know what’s coming.  It’s the fifth child which is going to be the important one.

From the first months of her pregnancy, Harriet feels dislike and fear of her unborn child. When he is born, Ben is instantly violent – grinding his gums together cruelly (it seems to Harriet) when he is breastfeeding.  As he grows older, it seems that he has killed a cat; he is bigger and stronger than he ought to be for his age; he cannot communicate in the way their other children did.  Harriet’s dislike grows to a sort of hatred, albeit one tempered with a maternal instinct she cannot quash.

The Fifth Child is an interesting mixture of the gothic horror and domestic realism.  Aspects reminded me of horror film tropes (not that I’ve seen many at all), but still more aspects reminded me of the melancholy-portrait-of-marriage novels Nina Bawden and Margaret Drabble have written.

It made for an interesting combination – but perhaps not an entirely successful one.  Part of the reader’s mind wants to find a logical explanation of some kind (does Ben have severe Autism?  Is Harriet experiencing post-natal depression?) and another part looks towards a fictive horror explanation (is Ben a demon?  A troll, or goblin?)  The influences of two genres can come together in a sophisticated and nuanced manner, but the central crux of the novel can’t really straddle both.  So Lessing picks one – I won’t say which – and this tips the balance of the narrative.  Leaving everything from the other side of the scale a bit out in the cold…

And what of Lessing’s writing style?  I really liked it.  Some people at book group thought it was too basic – the word ‘patronising’ was used – but I’m rather a fan of simple prose.  This might even have been deceptively simple – if it was, I was deceived(!)

This is my second Lessing novel, after Memoirs of a Survivor years and years ago, and I can’t say that I feel I have a strong handle on what she does.  Nor am I hugely keen to read any more, actually, despite thinking The Fifth Child was good.  But, having said that, I would welcome any burning suggestions if you think there is something by our Doris which I should really read…

Others who got Stuck in this Book:

“Although the story is disturbing, Lessing is an amazing writer and it is no wonder she won the Nobel Prize for Literature.” – Thomas, My Porch

“I found the narrative immediately gripping although the fast pace left me breathless at times.” – Kim, Reading Matters

“The book raises many important issues, including whether ‘bad’ children are born that way.” – Jackie, Farm Lane Books