Gentlemen and Players – Joanne Harris – A Review

The very first book of her’s that I found, I read in a time of great defeat and transition, unknowing of the fact that it was she who authored the book – the original source material, of one of my favorite movies, Chocolate.

The book was called, Five Quarters of the Orange, and followed the strange, startling, stubborn tale of one girl growing up with a distant mother and her one connection to this imposing woman, through a cookbook.

I found the style of writing to be, not only wholesome, but calming in a way I hadn’t experienced before. It didn’t feel like I was reading so much as it felt as though someone was telling me a story. I could taste the book if I wanted to. Orange and berries and pastry and wine. She has a gift for making the reader experience food – a commonality in most of her books. She wants you to experience the hardships in life and at the same time, know the little joys that abound.

That being said, this story was quite a bit different.

Again I find myself in a stage of transition (admittedly a less upsetting one) and another of her books has made it to me by way of a used bookshop in town. The kind with the almost stale paper smell and bookcases almost touching the ceiling, and rolling ladders hooked to the stacks.

It tasted like cigarette smoke and dark beer and fried fish.

“For generations, privileged young men have attended St. Oswald’s Grammar School for Boys, groomed for the success by the likes of Roy Straitly, the eccentric Classics teacher who has been a fixture there for more than thirty years. This year, however, the wind of unwelcome change is blowing, and Straitly is finally, reluctantly, contemplating retierment. As the new term gets underway, a number of incidents befall student and faculty alike, beginning as small annoyances but soon escalating in both number and consequence. St. Oswald’s is unraveling, and only Straitly stands in the way of its ruin. But he faces a formidable opponent with a bitter grudge and a master strategy that has been meticulously planned to the final, deadly move.”

gentsandplayersWhat can I say? It’s a book about scandal, young love, revenge, and violence. Joanne has a way of digging into the truth inside people which is a difficult thing to do. We all like to believe that we know real people and so it should be simple to capture that reality and complication on the page. It’s not. And few have done it as well as she manages.

The characters are complex. Even when you know they are wrong you can feel for their struggle and the heartbreaking reality of their situation.

I don’t want to give too much away, but this book is an expertly crafted ride that will have you sitting on the edge of your seat by the end. With a reveal that left my jaw hitting the floor.

Was it my favorite? No – not really. I’ll still remember Five Quarters of the orange in a vividness that astounded me and I’ll always have a sweet spot for Chocolate. But, this was a fun ride that came just in time for Halloween.

Check it out at your library, or got ahead and buy it here.

Bee Rose – The Who, What, Where, and Why

Why Honeybees? Why Ravens? They’re kind of like my night and day. My wit and charm. My bread and butter. We all have them – the little contradictions that make us what we are and challenge us when we seek to become what we want to be. It’s what makes too flesh and blood characters in our grand sagas where every chapter is a year and most of the pages include sitting in front of Netflix after work— until we edit that part out anyway.

What I Offer

My advice. I don’t claim to be a professional, but I’ve dedicated a lot of time and effort into studying story craft, style, marketing, and so on. As much as I love dragons and wish I were one, it’s not healthy to spend one’s life wrapped around your cache with the protective furry of a mother. Remember kinder garden. Sharing is caring.

My goal is simply to share what I’ve learned along my journey and to tell a few good stories along the way.

Where I come from43467572 - painted silhouette peter pan on white brick wall

Neverland – I’d like to say. I’ve never agreed with the concept of growing up. The words taste like a hard life of bitter disappointments, cigarettes, and exhaust fumes from one endless traffic jam. Or maybe I’m projecting.

Spend enough time with me, and it becomes no secret that Peter Pan (the book) is one of my greatest inspirations. It’s not only the fun and adventure that makes up the sweetly smiling face but the shadows that creep between the lines – the darker face of innocence where innocence has no understanding of right from wrong. Peter says never grow up, but Wendy pleas, we must. I say growing up is a great big game of pretend where we make the rules and bend them where we must.

The truth is, I work at a teahouse where my days are filled by brewing tea, writing about tea, teaching about tea, and, of course, drinking tea. I can’t complain because it’s lovely

In Conclusion

There’s still a lot of life out there to live and I don’t think it’s worth exploring without an audience to share it with. Even if that audience happens to be a small collection of semi-dedicated strangers and wayward wanderers.

I want to learn who you are, and, like any desperate artist, I want to share a little of the crazy, colorful, contradicting world inside of me. Bare with me while I figure all this out.

Do you have a blog? Share it in the comments. Any advice? Share that too.