100 years ago today.
I post here just as I have before, the inscription on the Bomber Command Memorial on Beachy Head:
Lead me from death to life,
From falsehood to truth;
Lead me from despair to hope,
From fear to trust.
Lead me from hate to love,
From war to peace
Let peace fill our heart,
Our world, our universe.
Since White Feathers came out, I have posted an armistice day post every year.
Over the years, the ceremonies to commemorate the dead of the wretched First World War and its successors have become marked and tainted by nativism and rage. The poppy which graces the cover of my novel was originally the symbol of doomed Adonis. Now it has been turned into a fashion statement. Make no mistake: those who boast it most stridently are the spiritual descendants of those who forced men to fight in 1914.
I sought to tell a story. I sought to cry injustice. A man who refused to salute such authority and paid a deep price. A woman who swore to fight forever to restore his name. A love that was severed by a self-satisfied, violent state order. A story that is told, and told, and told.
I now live near the place where the bodies from the Lusitania were brought in to harbour. The sinking of that ship eventually brought the United States into World War I. The graves are in an ancient plot left undisturbed behind a German supermarket chain. They carry the simple gravestones of the Commonwealth War Graves. A tacit recognition that these men and women, although civilians, died as a result of war.
It breaks my heart to see that in recent months, a malicious backlash from the privileged has imposed a deep discourtesy on the res publicae, across the Irish Sea, across the Atlantic, throughout the world. Those who have sacrificed nothing, who are devoid of virtue or humanity, are elevated and revered. Those who strive against all odds have their striving belittled by people who have been given everything. Greed allows pillaging and soiling of our beautiful Earth without a whit of remorse.
Today I am going to include Aaron Copland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man”.
At the going down of the sun, we will remember them.
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
I’ve often wondered how appropriate it is for a writer to share opinions on issues unrelated to their work. Particularly ones of a political nature. Specifically I wonder if I share too readily and express my opinion too often. Recent crises, particularly Brexit but not limited to that sequence of events, have brought this thought to my mind.
Continue reading “On Being An Opinionated Novelist”
(In euros that is €1.30 – half the price of a cappuccino in Cafe Nero down the docks.)
I’m very excited to see White Feathers available at such a massive discount on Amazon UK and do hope that will encourage anyone who adores sweeping, epic narrative and seeks stories of passion, history and war to have a look!
Did I mention it was shortlisted for the Romantic Novel of the Year Award 2015? Well, I’ll mention it again 🙂
Here are lots of people who are not me saying it’s a compelling read.
Eva Downey jumps at the chance to attend finishing school, especially as she is about to be pushed into marriage by her overbearing stepmother. At the school she finds kinship, and, unexpectedly, love. But when war breaks out in 1914, her family are pushing her into giving the man she loves a white feather of cowardice, because he refuses to enlist. Eva’s decision will have devastating consequences for her – and everyone around her.What do you do when forced to make an impossible choice?
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”
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.
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.
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.