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The Way We Were by Sinéad Moriarty – Blog Tour and Book Review

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I’m really happy to share with you an extract from the first chapter of The Way We Were by Irish author Sinéad Moriarty. When I was approached about the book this synopsis grabbed my attention straight away.

The Way We Were is a novel that asks; how would you cope if your husband, a Doctor giving aid abroad, is declared missing and presumed dead? How would you handle your own pain when you need to be strong for your grieving children?

And, what would you do if, when just as you and your family have started to move on and build a new life, your husband turns up on your doorstep?

 

Part 1 London, October 2012

Alice

Kevin locked up the surgery and handed Alice the keys.
‘God, I’m tired today.’ Alice yawned. ‘It’s been non-stop.’
‘It’s such a bitch being so popular,’ Kevin said, grinning.
Alice smiled. ‘I’m glad to be busy, but I’d just love a soak
in the bath instead of a long evening wrestling with Jools
about homework. And now Ben’s invited David and Pippa
for dinner tomorrow night, so I’ll have to go to the shops on
my way home.’
‘Maybe Ben will come home early tomorrow and help
cook for his friends.’
‘Fat chance.’ Alice sighed. ‘I love David and Pippa, but
dinner at nine on a Tuesday night just doesn’t suit me. I’m
always so tired after dealing with Jools.’
‘You should have said no, then.’
Alice smiled at the idea. Kevin had never really grasped
the concept of compromise in relationships. Which was
probably why his never lasted very long.

Please click here for the full extract.

(I had difficulty viewing the PDF using firefox until I updated my PDF viewer – try viewing the blog in Chrome if this is the case for you too)

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My Review

This is the first book of Sinéad’s that I have read and it is adult contemporary fiction – not my usual genre, but, as I said above the premise was so intriguing.

The Way We Were is told from three different points of view: married couple Alice and Ben and their youngest daughter Holly (aged 11 -13). The adults’ sections are in third person but Holly’s is first person.

Now, I have to say I didn’t really like how Ben was at the beginning of the book although after ‘the incident’ I warmed to him and I loved the relationship between him and Declan (another doctor). I think maybe I’m quite like Kevin in the snippet above, not all that familiar with compromise in relationships and so Ben seemed initially seemed quite like someone who might irritate me. Especially, as we have some pre-insight to what is to come, I was as annoyed as Alice at his decision to go to Eritrea in Africa. As a health professional the idea of Doctors without Borders has always been really interesting to me but also very scary and I can’t say this book really added to my pros list for offering my services anytime soon but it has increased my respect for those that do and obviously the situation here is a very extreme one.

Even though, as the reader you are aware that Ben is still alive you are very much taken on the bereavement journey with Alice, Holly and Jools (the older daughter) and identify with Alice’s conflict about moving on. I also found myself swept up in her new relationship and felt sick and as stuck as she does when Ben returns. I don’t think this book will split people into “Team Ben” and “Team Dan” factions though. Instead most people I see joining “Team Poor Alice has a near impossible choice” instead, especially as no one here is perfect.

I tend to judge a book by how much emotion it makes me feel so the fact that my eyes were often brimming, and at points overflowing with tears means it gets thumbs up from me. I did almost find this uncomfortable at times and maybe that’s why I shy away from this genre – a bit too realistic? I definitely recognised aspects of the book in things I see and hear around me. But, I can cope with grit and this book has that in spades, although there is also a fair bit of humour and, thanks to Declan, a few knock knock jokes that I was unfamiliar with.

In Holly’s section you see her grow from a fairly naive young girl to someone prepared to step forward and have her say in situations that perhaps would have scared her to start with. As a slightly geeky bookish character I did find myself drawn to her.

As an avid young adult fiction reader the only thing I might have liked to have seen was some scenes from Jools, the teenage daughter’s (16-18) point of view. Although, seeing her through the eyes of the other three, you still get a good sense of what she is like.  I just would have liked to have gained a little more insight into her particular response to the tragedy. Considering her fascination with Keeping Up with the Kardashians though, perhaps Sinéad made the best choice!

Themes of family, love, bereavement, war and plenty of conflict meant this was a book I didn’t want to put down although at times I had to, unless I wanted soggy pages. Thanks Sinéad for the heartbreak.

 

Please take a look at the other blogs involved in the tour where you will find further extracts and interviews with the author.

Thank you to Rose at Penguin Random House who provided me with a review copy of the book. This did not affect the content of my review.

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Divergent Premiere Experience

Today sees me off to see the Divergent film again – viewing number FOUR!!

First things first, I urge you to go and see it on the big screen before the wait for the DVD begins.

You’ll have seen me post about being invited to the Premiere in Leicester Square and today I’m going to share my views, and pictures, of the experience.

Once again I’d like to extend a huge thank you to HarperCollins for the invite.

I invited my best mate Stacey, who introduced me to Divergent, to come with me and despite our age we decided to follow the request to dress up as our favourite faction and went dressed as Dauntless, fake tattoos and all.

Being Dauntless on the train

Being Dauntless on the train

 

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As we entered the square it had been transformed and decorated with faction banners.

square

We entered the Fan Experience having to pass some Erudite actors. Inside were a whole host of actors, some of who really got into their parts and some who…didn’t.

Our first stop was the aptitude test with very swively chairs – we answered three questions on an iPad screen and my mate and I only answered one question differently, she came out Divergent and I got Erudite (which I didn’t like one little bit ;o)).

Kirsty apt

This is a much better quiz! (Divergent – though Dauntless is actually my lowest here ;o))

Divergent

Then we posed for our green screen pictures with Theo and received a laynard with the movie picture with us in place of Tris.

me and four proper

Stacey and I also had a very fun and frenetic game of capture the flag where we were made to salute, fire at targets and race back to get our flag in the post first. I won – yay – I actually hit 5 out of 6 targets.

target

Finally we got our faction tattoos and we both went with our faction of dress and had the flames of Dauntless added to our existing tattoos.

more tats

We didn’t go on the climbing wall or trampolines, we didn’t really have time and weren’t really dressed suitably but I would have liked to give it a little go despite the inevitability that I would have fallen off.

We had a very long queue to get into theatre which meant that we had to make do with viewing Veronica Roth and the actors arrivals from the big screens from the other side of the square. This blog post by @liveotherwise does represent my slightly disappointed feelings, though I am happy I got to go, I think I thought we might have an autograph opportunity or two.

It was a bit windy so I held on tight to Four!

It was a bit windy so I held on tight to Four!

Once through the barriers we were ushered to quickly choose a wrist band from the choosing bowls which represented where you would be sitting in the cinema. We chose Candor – Dauntless having already gone.

I managed to perform my usual trick of closing my eyes when I have my picture taken thus ruining my red carpet shot.

eyeshadow

Stacey’s is much nicer.

Stacey on red carpet

My Four balloon caused excited squeals by a couple of girls on the red carpet and a ‘I get what you’ve done there’ from a Dauntless actor. I didn’t get to give it to Theo and they took it off me in the cinema with the promise I could have it back at the end.

In the cinema they were showing the film of the red carpet goings on – a better view than from the queue.

By our seats were a drink and a T-shirt the sizing of which means it is decorative only. Ours was white – Candor colours and we were all asked to put them on. I rested mine over my front!

Once we were all settled the director Neil Burger came out and introduced the cast in attendance, Ben Lloyd-Hughes (Will), Kate Winslet (Janine), Shailene Woodley (Tris), Theo James (Four) and finally author Veronica Roth – here’s my wobbly video.

Afterwards so my unsigned book (sniff) didn’t feel left out we took some shots with the film background.

Divergent backgroundStacey smile

I managed to get my balloon back. It’s still just about inflated and floating on my upstairs landing.

four balloon

The film itself was brilliant, yes there were a few changes, but they worked fine for me. Below are a few bits that I enjoyed the most. I’ve tried to limit it because I could go on all day.

  • Abnegation Tris climbing up a building pre choosing ceremony giving a hint at what she might choose.
  • The Dauntless arrival – that scene and the music in it is just awesome (in fact the Soundtrack and the Score are spot on).
  • The comic touches throughout, ‘It must be because you are so approachable’.
  • I might have cheered along with the rest of the audience when the gorgeous Theo James as Four removed his T-Shirt to reveal his tattoos.
  • Jai Courtney as Eric was deliciously evil.
  • In the ferris wheel scene there’s a bit where they show a close up of Tris and Four’s hands that reminds me of the Abnegation faction symbol which I thought was a lovely touch.

I’ve just finished a re-read, via audiobook of the trilogy, and I’m still holding off writing my review of Allegiant – more for fear of writing it without spoilers. I enjoyed it more this time round – not that I didn’t the first time mind – I didn’t seem to have as violent a reaction as some; recognising it as a fitting conclusion.

As a bonus I was very happy that my keyrings from Empire Cinemas glow in the dark. Hoping to replace my cups though, that are not actually dishwashable despite displaying the symbol, they are all scratched and we can’t be having that.

cupsglowing keyrings

Have you seen Divergent yet? Which were your best bits? Did it live up to the book for you?

W is for… Why I Write (Orwell) (Book) #AtoZChallenge

W is for… Why I Write (Orwell) (Book)

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This is a short little book containing four essays written by George Orwell. The one I was most interested in, is the 10 page title essay – Why I Write.

As a side note I didn’t realise he was so young when he died, only 47. A quick Google told me that he had tuberculosis. Even more surprising was that he wrote 1984 when he was ill publishing it just a year before his death.

Some choice snippets from this essay:

He talks about making up his own story – writing his life descriptively in his head (p.3)

Subject matter is determined by age the writer lives in (p.4)

Before starting writing one acquires an emotional attitude from which you can’t escape (p.4)

To escape early influences might kill the ‘impulse to write’ (p.4)

Other than for money, four main reasons to write – shifts in balance or focus on these over time:
1. Sheer egoism e.g. to be remembered
2. Aesthetic enthusiasms e.g. Perception of beauty ‘in words and their right arrangement’
3. Historical impulse e.g. Record for posterity
4. Political purpose e.g. ‘Desire to push the world in a certain direction’ (p.4-5)

‘every book is a failure’ (p.10)

‘Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand’ (p.10)

He concludes by saying that his political purpose is his driving force.

Do you recognise elements of the four main reasons to write in you? Which do you think is most important at this time?

What do you think he meant by ‘every book is a failure’ – this isn’t expanded on – is it self confidence or something else?

Do you voice-over your life, e.g. ‘Kirsty walks into the pub, spies the pool tables and fishes the 50p out of purse at the request of a friend.’? (I don’t think I do normally)

Thanks to Colin Smith for awarding me the Wonderful Team Member Readership Award.

This award comes with some rules and I will obey some and break others. Below is the award logo and also my completion of the sentence ‘A great reader is…’
The bit I’m going to break is listing 14 other people to give this award to – Sorry Colin hope you don’t mind. I’m not one for chain mails etc either. If I like what the mail says I forward it but where possible take out the send this to x no of people bit. I will however say a huge thank you to Colin in particular who has commented lots on my blog during this challenge and thank you too to each and everyone of you who have commented this month and before, especially if you’ve come back more than once – that has been very appreciated. In short I would give this to everyone who has taken time to read what I’ve written whether you’ve commented or not.

A great reader is one who reads their own story as well as the one that is written.

WTMRA

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