“A Fascinating and Well-Drawn Character” – New Review of White Feathers by Liz Loves Books

I was delighted when book blogger Liz Wilkins agreed to read and review White Feathers for me, especially since historical fiction is not her usual metier. Liz’s reviews are popular and highly regarded on Amazon and Goodreads, so many thanks to her.

The full review is available on Liz Loves Books but because that page is regularly updated, I will link to the Goodreads version too. Here is an excerpt:

Eva is a fascinating and well drawn character, her terrible choices stark and unrelenting, the knock on effects of which will be long reaching…the sense you get of an independently minded woman back in the age when women were not allowed to be such things is really well done and kept me turning the pages. A really beautifully written story that encompasses […] the challenges and problems women faced in what was already a difficult and traumatic period in history.

Thanks so much for that Liz and I am delighted you enjoyed it!

“Vivid, Immediate, Packing an Emotional Punch” – Review of White Feathers on A Trip to Ireland

Rich Rennicks blogs at the popular expat blog A Trip to Ireland, and kindly reviewed White Feathers in his latest entry. It’s a wonderful review and so cheering to read, very thorough (a lot of plot and story discussion, just a heads-up for those who have not read the book yet), and really examines the Irish angle, which for me tends to lurk at the back of everything when I write, rather than explicitly in the foreground. White Feathers is definitely not the typical Irish Novel, being about ninety years too early for Celtic Tiger angst and having no scenes set in Ireland, but the social tensions are there – as this paragraph of Rich’s review makes clear.

The atmosphere of deep concern for what others think, and suffocating conformity should be of great familiarity anyone who grew up in Ireland or particularly among Irish expat communities overseas. Even when Eva thinks she’s escaped her family by serving in France as a nurse, she discovers a cousin of her unloved husband [SL – actually of her unloved chaperone, but they’re both Irish anyway], who attempts to monitor and control her behavior, lest she bring shame on the family, and who keeps the family members back in Ireland and London informed of her behavior. It’s an accurate portrait of the worst of Irish clannishness and suspicion of outsiders and difference, an aspect that although younger generations appear to be shedding, remains all too near the surface. (Just look at the vitriol being slung right now over the marriage referendum.)

And he kindly adds near the end: “Lanigan writes very cinematically, which is to say that she excels at painting pictures of the action and cuts between visual images rather like a film director.” as well as proposing Miranda Hart’s voice as the right one for Sybil’s dialogue. I am going to have to re-read one of those scenes now and hear it in my head 🙂

Thank you Rich for a great review, most kind of you. Check out Rich’s blog here, especially if you are interested in all things Irish from abroad, or want to read more great reviews!

“A Bravura Performance of Effortless Elegance” – White Feathers Review in Irish Echo in Australia

White Feathers got ANOTHER review which was sent on to me by the publishers this morning and if you read it, you will see why I am grinning from ear to ear. Regrettably it is not available online, but I enclose an image of it below. Here is a bit I am really pleased got highlighted:

The second half of the book is a brutal account of some of the actions in the war, particularly the criminal incompetence of the top brass of the British army…[who] had also used their men as human fodder.

Why yes, my novel challenges authority. And even be it a hundred years back, on its publication and reading, it became clear that certain people – not the British Army, I hasten to add – didn’t like that. Certain people didn’t like that one bit.

And here’s a quote which made my morning 🙂

Though this is an intense love story it would do it a disservice to describe it solely in just a way. It is anti-war and anti-patriarchy without ever saying so …[and] leaves the reader genuinely hoping the author will take her characters through the next stages of their lives. For the second time in less than a year I applaud O’Brien Press for taking on a relatively unknown writer. Susan Lanigan has won praise for her short stories, but this is her first full-length novel. It is a bravura performance of effortless elegance that beautifully imitates the speech and manners of the era. More please.

Thank you very kindly, Frank O’Shea of the Irish Echo, Australia! I’ll do my best to keep ’em coming! Full review beneath the cut – fair warning, it’s an image file and also quite a bit of discussion of the plot, though less of the second half. Continue reading ““A Bravura Performance of Effortless Elegance” – White Feathers Review in Irish Echo in Australia”

“A symbol not of cowardice but of bullying” – Review of White Feathers on Izzy Reads

Like men and buses, reviews take their time then all come along at once 🙂 Izzy Reads has kindly provided this review of White Feathers on her blog.

My grandmother didn’t have a lot of time for the women who handed out  white feathers during the first world war. To her, it was a symbol not of cowardice but of bullying with the distributors often failing to take into account the personal circumstances — age, disability, mental fragility — of the young men they victimised. Her description has stayed with me through the years so when I spotted the title of Susan Lanigan’s novel, White Feathers, my interest was piqued.

More here.

I’ve always felt that this very human aspect of the conflict, the way it created smaller, lethal wars between people, is an important aspect. To many this is still a live issue, even though the last veterans have gone beyond the sunset. Describing the protagonists as “not typical romantic characters”, while her review is a bit more qualified than the last one, it is a thoughtful and interesting read. Thanks very much Izzy for reviewing the book and for anyone who is interested in following her reviews, she can be found on twitter here.

“Rain lashed the glass beside me while I read and read and read” – New Review of White Feathers

A few months ago I put out a review request to the book blogging community. Liz Maguire, who blogs at American Author, was happy to oblige and has done a great write up of her experience reading White Feathers. My favourite paragraph was this one:

I set about reading White Feathers as spring opened the skies in Dublin. In the window seat of my favorite cafe, perched above D’Olier Street with the novel open on my lap, rain lashed the glass beside me while I read and read and read. White Feathers was so intense and addictive that my tea went cold and unnoticed—perhaps the greatest sign of enthralling literature.  I found White Feathers well written and well paced.

Full review here.

What part of that response could not delight the heart 🙂 Liz has also interviewed me for her blog, a post which she will be putting up in the near future and which I’ll link to when it’s up. She also subscribes to a new service called Booktube where people discuss their book choices – it’s like vlogging Goodreads I guess – and she discusses White Feathers some more there. I smiled at the admission that she had neglected life responsibilities reading the book. I guess that’s a good sign as long as they get tended to in good time eventually! (Someone else tweeted to me that they were at a crucial part of the novel and had forgotten to walk the dog. The dog whined and eyeballed until they were duly reminded!)

Worth noting that Liz also reviewed The Rising of Bella Casey shortly after White Feathers and her review can be checked out on her blog right after mine. I was very moved by the tragic symmetry of the novel and tight dramatic integrity of it.

And lastly, after having seen the celebrations of Holy Week in Southern Spain, I’d like to wish you all a happy Easter if you celebrate.

A Cracking Review – And Why I Took Some Time off Twitter

taking a break

I’ve been off twitter a few weeks. It was having a not-great effect on my mental health. It’s not people I chat to, you are all wonderful and I miss you! But there are certain things that will always trigger me when discussed. That isn’t all my fault – much of it, I angrily maintain, is Ireland’s – and as Jefferson said, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just. But I go through my life unmedicated – that is not a boast, by the way, and I do NOT deserve any medals for it – and honestly, sometimes it shows, particularly in winter.

I don’t want anti-depressants, useful as they doubtless are. What I really want is light, bright natural light, more and more of it. I want to personally nick the sun and put it in my office and then bring it home with me on a dog’s lead made out of some substance that wouldn’t shrivel and melt at the thousands of degrees Celsius my new travelling companion would possess.

Can you tell I’m writing sci-fi right now? 🙂 I’m almost finished a first draft of a story I should have been working a long time ago. It’s looking quite robust, I’m pleased to say.

Another thing I discovered about Twitter – it can mask writing issues. You can castigate yourself for tweeting too much, not realising that once you’ve removed twitter from the equation, you still aren’t writing anything. Because you’re stuck and are losing motivation and it’s VERY VERY DARK ALL THE TIME.

Here’s a piece of light in a newspaper column – a review of White Feathers by Sile McArdle in the Sunday Independent. It’s a cracker 🙂

And here’s a brief audio interview of me by the lovely Brenda Drumm of Artyfacts, Kildare FM.

And my workshop for Carousel Creates is on Saturday, I think it’s nearly full now, yes? I’m talking about the short story and we’ll be having writing fun in beautiful surrounding up t’mountains – kinda good that I’m writing a short story too, to refresh my brain 🙂

And I’ll be back very soon, probably in a week or so, with more news to announce. But for now, am consolidating. And looking for more light!

Testament of Youth – Film Review

Thanks for everyone who left comments or kind tweets after my post yesterday about mental health. I’ve been privately told it helped other people that I spoke about it, and that’s really the most important thing of all. Sanity is not an absolute, it’s a spectrum, and most of us who are not utterly phlegmatic dolts or vacuous hosts of greed are somewhere right or left of its centre. Now, let’s get stuck into the film!

Testament of Youth, Vera Brittain’s biography of her early life and experiences during the First World War, is the Bible for fiction writers dealing with the same period. Few novelists can escape its influence, or fail to acknowledge it. It is thorough, detailed and in its own sombre and precise way, shattering. So as you can imagine I was excited to hear a film was coming out based on the book, starring Alicia Vikander, Kit Harington and a host of other beautiful men whose names I can’t recall. Especially as – full disclosure – I’m related to the person who designed the costumes. All of which are rather lovely and I’d wear them myself if I had the figure! Continue reading “Testament of Youth – Film Review”