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Thursday, June 16, 2016

The Writer's Life 6/16 - The Very Thought of You

Among a recent batch of a books donation was The Very Thought of You, published in 2009, the only book from Rosie Alison, a Brit who has directed TV documentaries and produced films for the big and small screen. The setting is England, 1939. The Nazis have invaded Poland and London is preparing for war. Anticipating bombings, the government and citizens sponsor the relocation of children, taking them out of harm's way. An eight-year-old girl is among many evacuees sent to the estate of an aristocratic family experiencing a brutal run of luck. Her experiences there have a profound lifelong effect. Although the bulk of the narrative spans four years, her entire life is cataloged. The author deftly portrays the human condition through the characters. The themes are separation, loss, loneliness, love, and the inability to escape the past. Although the tone is melancholy, it is not depressing but it is very sad. I got misty at several points. The prose and dialogue are solid, the 306 pages of the large paperback edition a smooth read. The subjects are approached with a good reporter's objectivity. The author is non-judgmental, despite the sins of some of the characters. My only quibble is that I believe the novel could have used another flush, the elimination of extraneous words, to make it even stronger. It was nominated for several literary prizes. Seven years have passed since it surfaced in England. It is a mystery why Alison hasn't followed the auspicious debut with another work. At one point the aristocrat muses: "How can you feel the loss of someone you've never possessed?" The line is so similar to one of my own: "How can you miss someone you've never had?" I may have used it in a short story, but I know it was originally in notes I gathered for a memoir, one I now doubt I'll ever write. I'd rather air personal experiences through fictional characters. Late in the book, when the protagonist is an old woman, she thinks: "Perhaps life was one long story of separation... From people, from places, from the past you can never quite reach even as you lived it." 36 users at Amazon have rated The Very Thought of You, forging to a consensus of 3.6 of five, a tad low in my estimation. Lovers of standards will recognize the title, taken from the Ray Noble classic covered by so many great singers. The aristocrat is a pianist. Kudos, Mrs. Alison.

I just picked up my first prescription drug at Stop n Shop, ten bucks for a count of 30, a lot less than I expected. I'm supposed to take one every morning after breakfast. Drug companies have to protect themselves, so a long list of possible side effects is detailed on a form. That's not very encouraging. I wonder if the pill will eliminate the flushed feeling I often experience. Of course, that could just as likely be attributable to pollen or remnants of the Shingles virus or something else.

My thanks to the woman who bought a Tess Gerritsen thriller. The best part of today's session of the floating book shop was getting the chance to personally congratulate "Thirtsy" Dave Hansen for the quality of his vocals on his band's CD, Western Caravan. As I expected, he's not a Brooklyn boy. He was born in the south and traveled extensively with his family.
Vic's Short Works:
Vic's 5th Novel:'s 4th novel:
Vic's 3rd Novel:
Vic's Short Story on Kindle:
Vic's Short Story Collection:
Vic's 2nd Novel: Kindle:
Vic's 1st Novel:

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