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Books & Literature

Book Review: Every Note Played, by Lisa Genova

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In her latest book, Every Note Played, Lisa Genova explores the complexity of forgiveness in the face of tragedy. How does a person let go of a series of wrongs in order to do the right thing?

Richard Evans is known throughout the world for his concert piano skills. His fans adore him, other musicians aspire to play like him, and women want to be with him. However, when he finds himself diagnosed with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease), no one wants to know him. He is all alone in the world, except for an ex-wife whom he hurt and betrayed time and again and a daughter who he barely knows. He chose the piano, touring and other women instead of being with his family. Now alone and becoming more and more helpless, Richard realizes the mistakes he has made. But is it too late to make amends?

Karina, his ex-wife, has been trying to move on for the last few years without much success. She is in the same house, doing the same job, and is filled with anger for the life she never had. She also wanted to be a successful pianist and was, in fact, much better than Richard when they were starting out. But when she got pregnant, she let her dreams slide away. She loves her daughter, but still blames her ex-husband for being a part of losing herself. However, she has some things to be forgiven for as well. She had her own secrets during their marriage.

When Richard can no longer live by himself and doesn’t have the resources for round-the-clock care, who will step up to help him during the last stages of his life? Will it be Karina, who can barely stand to look at him, or his daughter Grace, who is filled with resentment for having a father who was never around?

Genova shows the devastation of a disease that has no cure and slowly robs its victims of every function, until it takes away life itself. She also portrays the power of family and what forgiveness can do for the soul.

Lisa Genova lives in the United States and is a New York Times best-selling author who has appeared on Dr. Oz, the TODAY show, CNN, PBS Newshour, and NPR. She has a degree in Biopsychology and a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Harvard University. To find out more about her, please go to https://www.lisagenova.com/.

Review by Susan Baldani.

Books & Literature

Local Book Launch: Myth and Mischief in Allenby Park

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This wonderful book offers three stories, three poems, a story for children, and the watercolour, Allenby Park by local artist Charles Nightingale on the cover.

Five authors, with links to Allenby Park, including award winning Lesley Glaister, fictionalise the mysteries and history of Felixstowe’s small park.

The foreword, by Dominique Roche, introduces Joan Rich, to whom the book is dedicated, and her links with the park. Written before the outbreak of Covid-19, no-one could have predicted that 101-year-old Joan, who worked for many years at Felixstowe General Hospital, would be a Suffolk hero by the time the book was launched. Joan is walking the paths of Allenby Park 102 times to raise money for the NHS.

Price is £5.99. Profits go to Suffolk Wildlife Trust

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Books & Literature

Book Review: The Constant Rabbit by Jasper Fforde

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A book review by lovely local, Janine, a.k.a. The Felixstowe Book Dragon.

I’m a big fan of authors like Terry Pratchet, Robert Rankin, Jasper Fforde, and Tom Holt. Books written within the realms of the ridiculous, that make me smile, definitely get my vote. So when a new book by Jasper fforde comes out, about a society of anthropomorphised rabbits, I’m definitely on board.

The premise is really interesting. Decades ago an unexplained event led to a bunch of rabbits morphing into humanoid form. They’re still rabbits in essence, but just the size of humans and with the ability of human speech. Well these rabbits bred like the proverbial rabbit, and cut to present day where there are millions of anthropomorphised rabbits living in Britain. Still being the ‘sub-species’ though they live and work in a lesser capacity than most humans. 

This book is a very intricately woven story about the prejudices that the rabbits face, their efforts to overcome it, and their ultimate acceptance that things are never going to change. Interspersed with the usual Fforde humour, where Humans are often referred to as ‘Fudds’ (a reference to Elmer Fudd), and a detailed description of the ‘Beatrix potter’ clothing range. There are also some harsh ‘close to the bone’ observations. Our protagonist works for a certain government department as a ‘spotter’, his job is to go through the database and identify certain rabbits. It’s a special skill, as to most humans, ‘All rabbits look the same’. ​At a time when the subject of racism is very much in the forefront of everyones minds and in the news every day, this is an interesting book. He’s not making light of the subject of racism, far from it. His jibes are more at the state of the UK and it’s various political and ethical issues. For example, in the book there is a group called ‘TwoLegsGood’ a supremacist factor. This group, on finding out that a certain rabbit has committed an act that THEY consider a crime, drag him from his house in the middle of the night and ‘jug’ him! This involves upending him in a forty-gallon drum of cheap gravy that had been seasoned with bay leaves, celery, thyme, juniper berries and red wine (I see you smiling there!)  It is later discovered to be a case of mistaken identity with TwoLegsGood showing no remorse, under the presumption he’s a rabbit and is bound to be guilty of something. 

Funny right?

Now take out the fact the victim is a rabbit and the drum is filled with cheap seasoned gravy, and it’s not so funny anymore, it’s actually a serious and reprehensible crime. 

That is the beauty of satire and the genius of this book. 

A well thought out piece of satiric writing tackling the ‘hot potato’ subject of race. A light-hearted read with a serious message. 

Regards,

Janine

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Books & Literature

Felixstowe Online Book Festival a Resounding Success

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George Alagiah

From temporary studios of laptop computers, microphones and lights, set up in the home of authors and interviewers, the Felixstowe Book Festival’s venture into the online world was a tremendous success. 

Meg Reid, the Festival director said,

“What a wonderful weekend! A feast of diverse and varied talks watched by people from all over the world. Thank you to everyone who has contributed to taking Felixstowe Book Festival online and to everyone who has sent such lovely appreciative messages. On our Facebook page we can see that over 8,000 people watched some or all of the online Festival and that figure is still rising as all of the videos are still on Facebook, and the Festival webpage, to watch or watch again.”

Felixstowe Book Festival  had people tuning in from Ohio, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Jacksonville Florida, California, Australia, Cape Town South Africa, Ontario Canada, Shanghai, Omagh Northern Ireland, Netherlands, Belgium, Paris, North Yorkshire, Devon, Basingstoke, Nottingham, Berkhamstead, South Godstone Surrey, London and (closer to home)….Norfolk, Ipswich, Bury St Edmunds, Hadleigh and… Felixstowe. 

The Festival went live through entertaining interviews with Paul French, Liz Trenow, Nick Cottam, Carol Drinkwater, George Alagiah and Harriet Tyce. A fascinating evening was spent with Brontë expert Nick Holland on Friday evening and Martin Bell mused on his life and career on Saturday evening. The weekend was peppered with video insights into the days in the lockdown lives of some favourite authors. The younger festival fans enjoyed story readings and drawalongs to keep them busy. 

“All in all, our packed programme provided some much-needed literary sustenance to everyone during one of the strangest and most stressful year of our lives. Next year’s festival will be held on the last weekend in June and we hope to be back at our home at The Orwell Hotel, Felixstowe.”

The festival organisers raised over £1000 from donations via JustGiving and the festival was also supported by local sponsors.

A huge thanks to all participants!

Images provided by Felixstowe Book Festival

Rachel Sloane and Carol Drinkwater

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