Archives for identity

Book review: The Last of the Greenwoods

Clare Morrall is so good at writing about people on the margins. In The Last of the Greenwoods, Johnny and Nick Greenwood are estranged brothers who live separately in two abandoned, adjacent railway carriages; with shared kitchen and bathroom. They are adept at avoiding each other. Nick lives in Aphrodite on the right, Johnny in Demeter on the left. Aphrodite has horizontal blinds at the windows, open at a slant so someone inside can look out but no-one outside can see in. Demeter’s windows are unknowable with permanently drawn curtains. The carriages sit amidst trees and shrubs, hidden from the main road in Bromsgrove, West Midlands. They have been the brother’s world since they were boys. Until one day, into the lives of these emotionally separated but geographically close brothers comes a letter which reignites haunted memories. “The floor is vibrating under his feet, there’s a sensation of motion, as if the train has started to move. What’s happening? Is he slipping backwards, losing his place in the present and tumbling back to the past? How can this be?” The letter is from their older sister, Debs; the sister who was murdered when the boys were children. As the brothers
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Categories: Book Love.

Book review: I Found You

Alice Lake sees a man sitting alone on a beach in the rain and invites him into her home. He has lost his memory. When Lily’s new husband doesn’t come home from work, she goes to the police for help and discovers he has a false name. A family from Croydon take a traditional English holiday by the sea. These are the three storylines in I Found You by Lisa Jewell. The common denominator is location: a northern seaside town called Ridinghouse Bay. Two inter-connected themes run throughout I Found You. Memory – the fugue of the man on the beach, and the dementia suffered by Alice’s parents – and identity, disguised, mistaken, forgotten. Jewell is so good at writing believable characters, good at exploring human nature in a simple, accessible way. And though there is evil in this story, there is also good, kindness, humanity, heart. The menace is subtle, building slowly from the beginning even when the connections are unclear. It’s just a feeling. Gray watches his younger sister being chatted up by Mark, an older teenager, and feels uneasy: ‘There was something just off about him. Something shadowy and cruel. There were too many angles in his
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Categories: Book Love.

Book review: Beside Myself

A novel about identity, about identical twin sisters. Do you recognise what is fake and what is true? One sister is prettier and cleverer than the other, and she is unkind to her twin who seems downtrodden, bullied, teased and not so bright. Then a childhood prank goes wrong which affects the two girls for the rest of their lives. Helen and Ellie play a cruel trick on a neighbour, they swap clothes and re-do their hairstyles appropriately (Helen wears a plait, Ellie is in bunches) and act like the other one does – Helen assertive, Ellie cowering. It is Helen’s idea, but when it is time to swap back Ellie refuses. Beside Myself by Ann Morgan is thoughtful, at times creepy and disturbing. The story is told from Ellie’s point of view, that is Ellie who used to be Helen. Hellie – Ellie who became Helen – is now a TV presenter. Helen – who is now Smudge/Ellie – is struggling with mental health problems. Confused, I was a little. After the switch, both girls seem to be accepted without question by friends and family, despite their obvious personality differences. Their mother has met a new man and is
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Categories: Book Love.

What is an Identity Detective?

Rose Haldane, heroine of Ignoring Gravity, is a journalist. When she discovers she was adopted as a baby, she uses her journalistic skills to research her own identity. In the sequel, Connectedness, to be published later this year, she puts these skills to use in helping a birth mother trace her lost baby, and in doing so becomes a detective of identities. Book blogger Lizzy Baldwin asks, ‘what is an identity detective?’ “Rose has never solved a crime, visited a crime scene or interviewed a murder suspect,” explains Sandra Danby. “She researches family history and adoption secrets, trying to unite relatives separated by adoption. It is an emotive subject surrounded by secrets and lies.” Read the full interview at My Little Book Blog by clicking here.   ‘Ignoring Gravity’ by Sandra Danby [UK: Beulah Press] Buy now And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: IGNORING GRAVITY #bookreview by @littlebookblog1 via @SandraDanby http://wp.me/p5gEM4-1vb
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Categories: Book Love and My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity'.

Chicklit Central reviews ‘Ignoring Gravity’

“I really enjoyed all of the twists and turns that accompanied the characters in this book,” says Sara Steven, book reviewer for Chicklit Central. “Just when I thought I had everything figured out, and knew who Rose’s parents were, the plot would take a sharp detour. I really felt as though I was with Rose on this journey of self-discovery, and when she finally unravels the secrets that have been decades in the making, I was as shocked as she was.” To read Sara’s review in full, click here for the Chicklit Central website. To read what other readers are saying about Ignoring Gravity, click here.   ‘Ignoring Gravity’ by Sandra Danby [UK: Beulah Press] Buy now And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: Following Rose’s journey of self-discovery #bookreview by @chicklitcentral http://wp.me/p5gEM4-1wG via @SandraDanby
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Categories: Book Love and My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity'.

Why I’m fascinated with identity

“Sandra’s Ignoring Gravity is a tale of examining the nature of identity and belonging, when the permanence of both is thrown into the air by adoption. Prior to her book’s release I thought it would be cool to catch up with the author and interview her to find out more about her book and reasons for writing,” says author and book blogger Lisa Devaney. Read the full interview about my writing methods, tea drinking, and why I became fascinated with identity. Read my review of In Ark by Lisa Devaney.   Read what other readers are saying about Ignoring Gravity. Want to know more about Ignoring Gravity? Watch the book trailer. ‘Ignoring Gravity’ by Sandra Danby [UK: Beulah Press] Buy now And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: On #writing & why I’m fascinated by identity http://wp.me/p5gEM4-1mb via @SandraDanby
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Categories: Book Love, My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity' and On Writing.

Inspiration… what inspired me to write ‘Ignoring Gravity’

Inspiration, a slippery thing to pin down. Finding the root, that original thought which evolved into Ignoring Gravity, is a inexact process. I was an imaginative child. I would lie in bed at night and wonder what it might be like to live somewhere else, in another country, with a different family… what if… I was a boy, or lived in a busy city, or was good at arithmetic? I started to consider, what makes us, us? If I had grown up in France not England, with a father who was a businessman not a farmer, would I be a different person now? Or have I, through my personality and life experiences, essentially made me, me?  This idea stayed with me. It wasn’t something I actively thought about, but it was in the back of my mind. I should say I’m not adopted and I had a happy rural childhood in East Yorkshire. Here I am [above] in 1964, riding Mistletoe at Burton Fleming. When I turned from journalism to fiction 15 years ago, I started to think about identity again. One day a sentence came to me fully-formed, written at my creative writing class. Rose Haldane thinks children should be
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Categories: Book Love, My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity' and On Writing.

IGNORING GRAVITY #52

She walked the few hundred yards to Mrs Gladstone’s house, trying to forget Tommy, breathing  deeply of the scented plants which spilled out of garden after garden. Jasmine. Buddleia. Lilies. But no roses, Tommy was right.’  The sky was like a Rothko canvas she’d seen in the Tate, the colours layered above one another like Eton Mess topped with mandarin segments and custard. She always found Rothko’s paintings calming, the colours melting and merging together. She took a book from her handbag, the latest Frank Bale detective novel, ideal for the mode of stop-start reading demanded by commuting on public transport. She opened it at the current page and there was her bookmark: a postcard of Rothko’s ‘Light Red Over Black.’ She breathed in the sweetness of the flowers, the glowing sky and the layers of Rothko’s paint, and let them soothe her. Careful not to stand on the whitewashed doorstep that sparkled with daily scrubbing, Rose rung the doorbell of 17 Child Street. It was a tiny terraced house, immaculate, its postage stamp garden packed with candy-coloured bedding plants. Not a single rose. The door was opened by an elderly lady who was wiping her hands on the sort of
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Categories: Book Love and My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity'.

IGNORING GRAVITY #51

She pulled Nick’s list out of her pocket and checked the addresses. Mr & Mrs Thomas Tyler, 14 Child Street. They lived at the white house? It looked more like the home of a thirty-something childless couple than pensioners. She tapped the cool steel knocker, and a thirty-something peered around the part-opened door, her foot with its red-painted toes in a fierce platform sandal braced against the bottom of the door to prevent unwelcome intruders. She spoke through evenly-capped white teeth. “Mr & Mrs Tyler? They don’t live here any more. Mrs Tyler died two years ago and we bought this when her husband moved to a flat. Sheltered accommodation, the kind with a warden. I’ve got the address somewhere, hold on.” She disappeared, shutting the door behind her. She left behind her the floral scent of something Rose identified as expensive from the perfume advertisements in Vogue, the kind with the scented strip you rubbed against your skin. This was definitely not a plug-in air freshener sort of house. As Rose rubbed at a brown mark on her linen trousers, squashed chocolate biscuit from number 12, the neatly-ironed thirty-something re-appeared with a piece of paper. It wasn’t far. Cornwall
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Categories: Book Love and My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity'.

IGNORING GRAVITY #50

Child Street was in a grid of terraces built as accommodation for workers at the Islington works which supplied bricks for the rebuilding of the City of London after the Great Fire. Rose tried to imagine Kate walking along this road carrying newspapers on a Sunday morning, running to the tube station round the corner, staggering home from the pub after one too many lager and limes with the girls. She tried to see what Kate saw every day. The monotony of red brick was broken in a couple of places by pre-fab concrete cubes, legacy of the post-war rush for housing. Not far away on the other side of the road a house shone out, its bricks and balustrade painted bright white; so bright in fact that Rose expected to smell new paint. The silvery grey of the lime tree outside added to the overall bleached effect. It was a style Rose liked. She hoped this was number 12, it was the sort of house she’d like to live in if she could ever stretch to a bigger mortgage. She would decorate it throughout with mocha walls, clotted cream carpet, caramel leather sofas and dark wood furniture. But the number
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Categories: Book Love and My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity'.

IGNORING GRAVITY #49

Rose was first into the office the next morning. The movement of something pink registered in her peripheral vision: a Post-It note stuck to her phone fluttered in the breeze from the portable air conditioning unit. ‘Maggie rang,’ it read. Maggie had been in Italy on a travel assignment so she didn’t know about Nick, the kiss, about loads of things a girl’s best friend should know. They always shared. The first time Maggie had sex, the first time Rose had sex, and the time Hallam Tye knocked Rose off her bike and in recompense had invited her to the premiere of A Sunny Afternoon in the Snow which turned into an exclusive interview for Chill’s film column. What if Susan and Kate were best friends at school like Rose and Maggie ? She logged onto Friends Reunited and clicked on the drop-down index, selected the school then the year. Kate went to school with a lot of Susans. She sent 13 e-mails to the possibles. Each e-mail said the same:- “I am trying to trace a girl called Susan who was at St Augustine’s Primary and then Lady Grace’s School for Girls, Richmond, Surrey, with my mother Kate Ingram
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Categories: Book Love and My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity'.

IGNORING GRAVITY #48

By the time she knocked at Maureen’s door at 7pm, Rose felt calmer. There was a knot in her stomach which she wasn’t sure was anticipation at solving Susan’s identity, Maureen had promised to talk about Kate and Susan, or hunger. She’d wanted to ask about Susan as soon as her foot was in the door, but hearing Diana’s voice in her head – “be polite!” – Rose devoured the dish of pasta spirals in tomato and sardine sauce which Maureen set in front of her. “I didn’t realise how hungry I was.” Rose wiped her dish clean with a chunk of crusty bread. “I love tomatoes. Any sort of tomatoes, those little plum ones are great in a salad or the big fat ones you have with mozzarella, and tomato sandwiches in the summer with a sprinkle of salt. Mmm, lovely.” “Your… “ Maureen cleared her throat before continuing, “… your mum loved tomatoes too.” She stood to clear the saucepans from the hob. “No she didn’t, they upset her stomach. Too acid.” “Not Diana. Kate.” “Oh.” To hide her confusion, Rose laid her knife and fork neatly side-by-side on the plate, imagining Kate eating pasta spirals in tomato
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Categories: Book Love and My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity'.

IGNORING GRAVITY #47

Nick. Nick. Nick. For the first morning in a week, Rose’s first waking thought was not about Kate.  His name ticked and tocked in her brain. His warm words, his soft lips as they… didn’t kiss her. Nick, who pulled away, rejected her, left without saying when… if… he would call. Rose turned the water in the shower from hot to cold and yelled so loud that Michelle and Lewis downstairs must have heard. Nick. Nick. Nick. “Pull yourself together girl.” Rose told her reflection in the glass of the shower door. ”He doesn’t fancy you.” Rose had never known a man not kiss her back, harder and insistent. What had she done wrong? What had changed? He’d wanted to kiss her, hadn’t he? Could she have misread the signs? He’d certainly led her to think he’d like it, wanted it… perhaps she’d cried too much. She made a mental note to show Nick the Strong Rose in future, the Rose she used to be before the adoption thing. Running late, there was no time for breakfast. She opened her bag and swept into it the pile from the hall table which comprised today’s paper, yesterday’s unopened post and her
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Categories: Book Love and My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity'.

IGNORING GRAVITY #46

She was sitting at a bench on the wide pavement outside The Eagle, nursing a St Clements and watching the late commuters straggle out of the tube station when he arrived. A large folder was on the seat beside her. Something had shifted inside her last night and things had become clearer, one of the clearest was that she wanted to see Nick again. She’d called this morning and arranged to meet. “I haven’t been exactly…  truthful with you,” were the first words she spoke. “I know I’ve been strange, behaving oddly, but there is a reason why.” Her staccato words regulated into andantino then andante as she showed Nick her birth certificates, baby picture and Kate’s photo. Feeling calmer by the minute, helped by the pressure of his arm against hers, she told him things she didn’t even know she’d been thinking until the words were said. He let her finish speaking. “Hey.” His fingers caught a curl beside her ear and twisted it into a ringlet. “That’s the first time you’ve said all of that aloud, isn’t it?” She looked at Nick and wanted to fall into his eyes. “I think what you’re doing is very brave.” That
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Categories: Book Love and My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity'.

IGNORING GRAVITY #45

She stepped out of her steaming bath water later that night and picked up the bottle of Soothing Rose lotion she’d bought at Cool Beauty yesterday. Mmm roses, she thought, the heady scent of summer. But the top wouldn’t budge, not even when she tried to loosen it with her teeth. Shivering now, she wrapped herself in a towel. Somewhere there was a pair of pliers. Leaving a trail of water across the floor, she checked in the hall cupboard, then the drawer in the dresser. She finally found them in her toolbox at the bottom of her wardrobe squashed between her Dorothy stilettos and favourite tan cowboy boots. With one tug, the threads at the neck of the plastic bottle gave way and the top was released. Her stomach lurched at the overwhelming stink of artificial flowers, chemical copies, not real roses. Rose stoppered the bottle quickly. It had smelled alright in the shop, but perhaps everything had changed now she was Alanna Ingram. * Wrapped in her bathrobe, dozing uneasily in front of an ancient repeat of ER, dreaming of twin sisters who continually morphed in and out of each other’s bodies, Rose was stirred by a knocking.
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Categories: Book Love and My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity'.

IGNORING GRAVITY #44

An envelope was waiting for Rose on the hall table when she got home from work the next day. A letter bearing the red-inked stamp ‘General Register Office.’ So 24 hours after sitting on the bench beside the war memorial, Rose returned to the same place, seeking calm in her secret green corner behind the library after today’s madness of deadlines, proofreading and caffeine overload. Squabbling sparrows were her only company. She turned the envelope over in her hands, wanting to open it, not wanting to open it. The name of my father is inside. Her eyes drifted over the names on the obelisk… Worth… Thewlis… Clarkson… Smith … Brough… Out of a brown paper bag she emptied her hasty purchase from Maya’s limited alcohol shelf: two mini-bottles of gin and fruit-flavoured alco-pop. She drunk one bottle straight down in one go, pursed her lips at the alien taste of saccharine, artificial colourings and E numbers, then put the empty bottle back in its bag. She’d never been fond of gin, mother’s milk, her mother’s drink for special occasions to be mixed with bottled orange juice and sipped through pursed lips but she needed the alcohol hit and it had
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Categories: Book Love and My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity'.

IGNORING GRAVITY #43

Ibuprofen, birth certificate, and an apology were Rose’s three priorities when she woke too few hours later. The ibuprofen was easy, but the Direct Gov website was still ‘undergoing a few problems which we hope to resolve soon so please visit us later’ and every attempt to speak to Nick failed. Gatekeeper Amanda was polite when she took Rose’s first message of the morning, her voice growing curter with each successive call. By 11am she was nowhere near catching up the backlog which was why she was working at home in the first place: peace, quiet, no interruptions, complete concentration, etc. That was the theory. But the 500 words she managed to squeeze out about psoriasis were rubbish and would have to be rewritten from scratch which meant she would miss her deadline. She longed for espresso, the really strong espresso that was only available from the Coffee Crema van round the corner from Southfields tube station. As she stood in the queue, her mind wandered away from itchy skin to Nick. Nick, who preferred peppermint tea. Peppermint tea, the same taste as toothpaste, Polo mints, chewing gum, after-dinner mints. Forget Nick. Think about your father instead. She pictured two
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Categories: Book Love and My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity'.

IGNORING GRAVITY #42

Rose left the Pre-Tox Party Kit press reception two hours later with another PR goodie bag. At Waterloo she ran but reached the barrier less than 30 seconds before departure. She watched the rear of the train disappear. She rubbed her aching neck and looked up at the indicator board in Waterloo station: 20 minutes before the next Wimbledon train. Her muscles and emotions were bound as tightly as a new ball of wool. She’d need some serious help to relax tonight. If she was quick she could nip into her favourite shop on Waterloo Bridge Road. She seldom left Cool Beauty without a bottle. So she nipped. As she stepped through the door of the shop, the unravelling experience began. She sniffed and sampled her way along the shelves through ‘Refresh’ and ‘Revive’ to ‘Renew’ and with each step her shoulders eased as a frayed end of wool teased its way loose. But she knew that only when she lay up to her chin in fragranced bathwater tonight would the last strands of tight muscle unwind from her neck and down her spine, releasing each vertebra one at a time. Then she would rub Soothing Rose Lotion into every
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Categories: Book Love and My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity'.

IGNORING GRAVITY #41

Lily stormed along the street, not knowing if she’d turned left or right. How dare Rose imply that my life’s a mess. Of course I want to get pregnant, doesn’t everyone? Poor Dad, poor poor Dad. And poor Mum too, she wanted a baby so much, she must have been at the end of her tether, so lonely. No wonder she asked her sister for help. Well she was lucky she had Kate to turn to. I wish I had a sister like that. That was a cruel thought, and Lily wasn’t used to being cruel. But it was true. Instantly she felt alone on the crowded pavement. Rose wasn’t her sister any more. Being cousins wasn’t the same at all. Suddenly Lily sensed she was being stared at. She was muttering to herself. She shut her mouth, took her sunglasses out of her bag and put them on. She stopped to re-arrange the pile of diaries better in her arms but the blue one on top slithered to the pavement. A metal lock burst open and loose pages spilled onto the hot pavement. Lily bent to her knees to pick them up and the words flew off the open page
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Categories: Book Love and My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity'.

IGNORING GRAVITY #40

Five hours later, Rose stood on the steps of Way Forward PR in Chiswick where she’d just left a breakfast press briefing about the New You range of slimming products. New You: the all-natural, organic way to detox and not go hungry. In her hand was a carrier bag containing the press kit. Product samples [sachet of powdered milk shake, energy bar and vacuum pack of dried savoury rice], press pack, scented candle to help her feel positive about her body image, notepad and ballpoint pen stamped with the New You logo. Standard press reception fodder: Rose would take the bag back to work and it would go into the goody drawer. When the drawer was full, Sam’s secretary would fill up carrier bags and hand them out to the features team. This would be followed by a frantic trading session as the boys swapped the lipsticks in their bags for the disposable razors in the girls’ bags. It was one of the perks of working on the features desk. Rose hadn’t bought soap, or pens, since she’d worked at the Herald. Now, bag in hand, she stood on a street corner and looked around to get her bearings. Cars
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Categories: Book Love and My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity'.