I’m having a week of catching up, doing those things I’ve been meaning to get round to for a while. I’ve written letters that were long overdue, sorted out some paperwork and filing (my most hated chore) and now I am going to write a blog post in praise of my writing friend Lisa Shambrook.
Lisa and I have never met in person but we have followed each other on Facebook and Twitter for almost a year and we read each other’s blogs. She is without doubt one of the most encouraging people I have met on-line, regularly leaving positive feedback everywhere she goes.
Like me she is a woman who dreams of writing as a career, unlike me she has actually written a whole novel. Not only has she written all the words but she has gone that extra mile getting it to a standard to self-publish via Kindle, putting in all the extra work of editing, designing a cover and promoting.
I am in awe!
It was months ago I read her book “Beneath the Rainbow” and promised her a review.
Of course because it was so long ago I can’t remember everything that happened but like any good book you read there are lasting thoughts and memories that have stayed with me so I will concentrate on them (and refresh my memory by reading about the novel on Lisa’s blog here!)
“Beneath the Rainbow” is the story of seven year old Freya who tragically dies in a road traffic accident. We follow Freya’s family as they come to terms with their grief but also see what the afterlife is like for Freya.
My immediate thoughts on reading the book was how it reminded me of the books I’ve read by Mitch Albom, it has an ethereal quality to it taking you beyond this world to the next. Exploring the “what if” questions of life and death.
Freya has to come to terms with the fact she has left her family for good and made them sad in the process. When death comes unexpectedly there are always things are left unsaid, undone and so many questions go unanswered. The death of a child is especially harrowing and Lisa has tackled the subject with great sensitivity.
There is a lovely contrast in the novel as Freya watches over her elderly neighbour Tom who is terminally ill. Although he has lived a full long life he still has unfulfilled dreams and Freya and her family become instrumental in helping him reach his goals.
Meanwhile Freya dreams of creating a rainbow for her parents, each colour is particularly poignant, matching a much loved item.
Chasing dreams and rainbows are recurring themes woven throughout the novel and you get the sense they are important to the author too.
Eventually Freya, her family and friends are ready to move on, as they inevitably must.
I happened to be reading “Beneath the Rainbow” around the anniversary of Andrew’s death so as I read Freya’s experiences I thought about him even more than usual. As Freya longed to reach out to her family I thought of how Andrew might be feeling leaving us in a similar sudden manner. Wondering what he had left unresolved and how we might move forward without him.
Some books forever get caught up in real life events of the reader, something the author cannot predict, but in this instance it made my enjoyment of the book even richer helping me process a bit more of my own grief.
For me this is why I thought it was a great first novel and I would recommend it to anyone grieving because it is so beautifully written and thought provoking.
Yes there are issues with it being self-published, some of the editing could be a bit tighter but Lisa knows and acknowledges that on her blog, “unpolished” she calls it.
However she has achieved a great feat – fulfilling her own dream of writing a novel and it is something she is rightly proud of. What's even more exciting is that there is another on the way.
“Beneath the Old Oak” takes some of the characters from the first novel in a new direction. Lisa started it for her NaNoWriMo project last November and she is still working on it, unlike those of us who have come to a complete standstill!
Lisa you are truly an inspiration teaching me on your blog and through your writing to always remember…
“It’s those silly dreams that keep us alive”
For those who want to find out more, click on the links in the text that are highlighted a different colour.
If you want to buy "Beneath the Rainbow" and download it onto your Kindle click here.