Broken Ties of Time

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Josie Arden appreciation

Josie Arden

Josie is one of TSL’s early signings. At the time, she was a member of the Harrow Writers’ Circle (sadly since closed) along with various other TSL authors. In some ways, Harrow Writers’ Circle could be said to have provided TSL’s core.

Josie had self published her Broken Ties of Time as a paper and hard back book which TSL launched as an ebook. This is an epic read, covering continents and classes. For all its length I recall it being a fairly fast and engaging read. Drugs, shady business dealings and double crossers out for their own gain abound.

In addition to Broken Ties of Time, Josie also published two collections of short stories – essentially pieces she wrote for Harrow Writers’ Circle competitions, etc. These cover a variety of topics and styles. You can see a bit more below of what I thought of the collection soon after publishing it.

At the time I was working with Josie on both Broken Ties of Time and the two volumes of This and That, she was nearly blind. Her tenacity in ensuring all was as perfect as it could be are an enduring memory. Josie is old school – something to be valued in this day and age of quick change. Whilst she could, although not engaing with social media, she would promote her books in her own way, sadly however that was not for long as her declining sight restricted her independence. Her three books, all available through TSL are testiment to a bye-gone era of writers.

The two volumes of This and That contain a total of 47 short stories arranged alphabetically by title. In some ways it’s an odd assortment of stories, all written for competitions at various stages throughout the author’s writing career.

In the main, however, the stories can best be described as sweet and gentle, ideal for someone wanting relaxing, pleasant read without having to work too hard. It’s the kind of book one can sit down and enjoy with a cup of tea. Having said this, there are some twists and turns in many of the tales, some going in unexpected directions.

The following stories stand out for me, months after having read the book, which is testament (at least in my opinion) to a story well told or which hit a nerve:
Can do Cindy (vol 1): This is the only story in the book which is specifically for children and was written to help the author’s granddaughter through a difficult patch. I love the talking trees.
Foxton Locks (vol 1): It must be the history research aspect of this story that hooked me. Investigating a painting can lead to some incredible discoveries.
Lotta Terracotta (vol 1): the colours evoked by the terracotta and the twist in the tale make this one a highlight.
Just a little pet (vol 1): every parent’s (and aunt’s) nightmare come true. Little boys will be little boys. I say no more, except mention reptile, so as not to give the story away. The young lad should be given credit for ingenuity.
York Express (vol 2): Things are not what they appear in this station encounter. How many times do we misread a situation and end up suffering the consequences unless a chance encounter gives us a second chance.
Norwegian experience.
The last rose of summer (vol 2): people are not always what they seem, but a bad situation can be turned to something good.
Carry on Red Cross (vol 1): What a community can achieve working together, or is it because of who you know?
The Spanish Christmas (vol 2): all’s well that ends well. Who knows how and why things go the way they do. A story of love and friendship.

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Epic Reads

What is an epic read? In my books, it’s a ‘very’ long read – whether a series or a single book.
Doris Lesing’s 5 book saga of life in Rhodesia in the 1930s, collectively called The Children of Violence, has been my most challenging fictional epic read. Somehow non-fiction epics are different. They require a different reading strategy, possibly because I invariably know the outcome, unlike with a novel.
Two single book epics I found less challenging than Doris Lessing but still thought provoking are Leslie Tate’s Love’s Register and Josie Arden’s Broken Ties of Time.
The three books are very different.
Lessing follows the life of Martha Quest, the interwar years, colonial development and the arrival of the Communist Party in Southern Rhodesia, today’s Zimbabwe. The books include Martha Quest (1952), A Proper Marriage (1954), A Ripple from the Storm (1958), Landlocked (1965), and The Four-Gated City (1969).
Tate explores relationships in their diversity and climate issues. Loves Register brings together three separate stories in a single volume.
Arden, meanwhile, tells of the challenges a young wealthy woman has getting into a relationship with a determined and dominating man working on the wrong side of the law, crossing cultures and continents.

I’ve also included some other long reads (350+ pages) for you to consider reading… all worthwhile in my opinion.

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Green Eyes or Brown? #books #readingforpleasure

Some time ago, I saw mention that only 2% of the world’s population have green eyes. The majority have brown and 10% have blue.

Seeing this, I wondered how important it was for authors to specify their characters’ eye colour, so took a look through TSL’s books to see what authors have done. The result is below. Do you think it’s important to specify eye colour or should that be left to the reader’s imagination? Marthe Kylie-Worthington in Family are the Friends you Choose also questions authors focus on eyes.

The cat, Ginger, in Anna Ryland’s A Second Chance
Marla in Josie Arden’s Broken Ties of Time
Raphaela in The last rose of summer in This and That 2 by Josie Arden
Isabel in The Visit in Tea at the Opalaco by Jane Lockyer Willis
Fairytales and Oddities by Ezra Williams
Grey-green eyes feature in A Perfumed Holiday in Stuffed! by Johannes Kerkhoven
In a break from green eyes, brown eyes are mentioned in The Stillbirth Marriage in The Roots that gave Birth to Magical Blossoms by Amna Agib (Bit Nafisa)

Other books:
Doris Lessing’s lead character in The Summer before the Dark has brown eyes.

Thanks Pablo for the image

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Ships, boats and things that float

Ships have been featuring quite a bit in my life. In particular I find it incredible how the huge hulks of metal can float on water whilst the little ones stay upright. I’m not a water baby, much preferring to fly (it’s more likely to be a quick end) than boats (slow, sharks and cold water). This hasn’t stopped me travelling by boat on occasion but more significantly being around people who like boats.

An abiding memory are two cousins whom I hadn’t seen for many years at their 21st birthday party. They were water babies and their party was at a lake where those who wanted could waterski. During the afternoon a storm brew and the boats were being tossed around. Never fear the two were out there tightening the ropes and whatever needed doing to prevent the boats sinking. The rest of us watched hands in mouths and I recall our grandmother freaking out at her son for not helping his children. He nonchalantly replied ‘They know what they’re doing, they’ve done it often enough.’ My other abiding memory was joining my uncle and aunt on their yacht (thankfully in a quiet harbour) from where we attended a party on a huge cargo ship. A potent punch was the highlight of the day but alas I cannot share ther recipe as it went AWOL some years ago. It well deserved its skull and crossbone warning.

These two annecdotes lead beautifully into two autobiographies I’ve read about a life on the water, enhanced by having met the authors.

George King’s A love of ships (1991) described as “The story of BP’s huge growth during the tanker boom, told by a Scotsman who worked for the company for 40 years, working his way up from midshipman, to captain, to managing director of BP Tankers with 100 tankers to supervise.” (Amazon.co.uk). All I can add to this apt summary is to be sure to read the book with a Glaswegian accent. I met George well into his retirement and a more unassuming man you couldn’t imagine.

Martinique Stilwell’s Thinking up a Hurricane (2012) I happened to be in South Africa when I heard there was a book launch of Niki’s book at Love Books in Melville. Naturally I had to buy a copy and what an honest account of growing up on a yacht. It clearly demystifies the glamour of yachts in tranquil blue harbours we see on telly.

Linking in with TSL’s Great War in Africa imprint, three books come to mind:

Tarzan of Greystoke ended up being born in Africa when the ship his parents were travelling on sank off the African coast. In volume 7 Tarzan participates in the First Wrld War in East Africa. Another African shipwreck book is The Caliban Shore by Stephen Taylor (2004)

The African Queen by CS Forester (1934) The film is wonderful but I much preferred the book written before the movie version. It tells the story of a little boat going to sink the German von Goten (today’s MV Liemba still serving on Lake Tanganyika). The factual account behind the battles on Lake Tanganyika was published by TSL in 2016.

Finally, John Jewell’s factual Dhows at Mombasa (1976) John first went to Africa in 1918 when his mother joined his father, a doctor who had been On Call throughout the East African Campaign.

Ships feature in TSL published novels The Celebration Husband (2015) by Maya Alexandri – a novel set in the First World War in East Africa, and in Broken Ties of Time by Josie Arden – a family saga stretching over 400 years.

And a final nod to the article which promoted this post being completed.

First published 23 July 2016