I’ve been a writer since the age of eight and have studied astrology since 1987. In the past this has inspired a script, ideas for birthday cards and even the beginning of a fantasy novel. I feel that astrology and writing have a lot in common. Both explore complex dimensions of human experience, getting under the surface and behind facades. The astrological birthchart reflects what happens inside. It is a map of our inner dynamics and energies.
I love a good mystery, anything subtle because everything today seems to be in your face or in the papers, very little seems to be hidden nowadays. For that reason I also enjoy reading books by authors who like to explore the human condition and motivation, authors like Margaret Attwood, Anita Brookner, Ian McEwan and Nicci French. Being a Leo I also seem to be drawn to the past, to historical biographies, especially royalty and the work of Philippa Gregory. I couldn’t imagine a world without music or nature and wildlife, especially cats big and small (that Leonine aspect again!)
Having a Degree in English (with Creative Writing) and Drama along with a Certificate from the Faculty of Astrological Studies I decided to write a book of poetry inspired by astrology, blending two interests in one and hopefully inspiring writers and astrologers alike to look at the subject through new eyes. ‘Singular Voices’ is due to be published next year, I’m also putting together a workshop combing poetry and astrology, encouraging students to discover more about their sun sign through the creative word.
I enjoy reviewing because, like astrology it enables you to get under the surface of a story and to explore aspects of character, this time on the page or on screen. I have written several reviews of books and films. ‘The Story of You’ (June 2007) is one example, published on ‘The Daily Mail Book Club’ page and also ‘Altered States’ (September 2007) published in ‘Writing Magazine. ‘Notes on A Scandal’ and ‘The Painted Veil’ as guest film reviews both appeared in editions of The Evening Argus (February and June 2007).
'The Story of You' by Julie Myerson
What struck me most about Julie Myerson’s ‘The Story of You’ is her ability to pare an emotional life down to its bare bones. There is a raw quality about her writing along with acute perception and great sensitivity. It’s almost as if we are under Rosy’s skin, looking out at the world through her eyes. I loved the way she draws the reader into that secret world, engaging the senses with constantly falling snow, the healing power of touch, even the taste of mustard on bread.
To me, this was more than just a simple love affair. There is something mysterious, almost supernatural about the meeting with a lover whose name we never learn. The colour white, which begins and ends her story, emphasises this ghostly quality. Definitely a book to linger in the mind after the final page has been turned.
This Book Club Review appeared in The Daily Mail June 1st 2007
'Altered States' by Anita Brooker
I admire Anita Brookner as something of a literart surgeon, able to dissect lives and peel away layers. At the same time her acute perception of people often makes me smile and even laugh out loud.
Alan Sherwood, the central character in ‘Altered States’, is a London solicitor who leads a relatively ordered existence until he meets Sarah. Attractive and vibrant she is also self-centred, predatory and elusive to him, ‘as if a ringing telephone were doomed to ring ananswered throughout eternity.’ Communication is something we often take for granted and this sense of frustration is well explored.
Unable to have the woman he wants, Alan marries Angela, a fragile woman of pretty blouses who loves shopping but is totally unfit for the demands of the real world. The author is never one to shy away from opening her Pandora’s box of the difficult or the unpleasant. Disappointment, continued obcession, mental illness, death and loneliness are all explored in the following pages. There are no happy endings here, just a poignant sense of loss and the desperate need to maintain hope against impossible odds. Where being human is concerned, Anita Brookner has always been a writer of great courage.
Appeared in Writing Magazine September 2007
Notes On A Scandal
The thing I liked about Notes on A Scandal is the way in which it explores the darker side of human emotions. Ulterior motives, deception and manipulation lie under the surface just waiting to be uncovered and discovered.
Bathsheba Hart (Cate Blanchett) is the enthusiastic but inexperienced teacher harbouring a dangerous desire for one of her pupils. Her colleague Barbara Covett (Judi Dench) seems to be supportive but is in fact obcessed with Sheba and will go to any lengths, including blackmail and betrayal in order to gain her affection.
This is not an easy film to watch - it’s raw and intense. Our picture of the truth is often blurred and our sympathies challenged. Both women struggle in their lives and are vulnerable in different ways.
As in life there are no easy answers or neat endings and for that alone this film is worth seeing.
Appeared in The Argus February 16th 2007
The Painted Veil
A mismatched, unhappy husband and wife travel to a cholera-stricken province in China. Here, through adversity and suffering, the relationship is transformed into a passionate relationship.
Naomi Watts as Kitty Fane moves from bored, adulterous wife to a woman of spirit and purpose. Her vulnerability and heartbreak is very moving. Edward Norton, a subtle actor of depth and sensitivity shows Walter Fane’s bitterness and rigidity gradually thawing to reveal a warmer and more human side.
The scenery is stunning, with vast mountains and endless rivers adding a romantic backdrop. Yet this is a film about discovery and learning more personal than geographical.
Appeared in The Argus June 8th 2007