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Books & Literature

Book review of The Night Olivia Fell

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A phone call in the middle of the night is the beginning of a nightmare for single mother Abigail Knight. The person on the other end of the line is informing her of an accident involving her 17-year-old daughter Olivia. But Olivia is in her bedroom down the hall, isn’t she? After all, it’s 4:00 in the morning and she is always home by curfew.

As she runs down the hall, hoping against hope that the caller was mistaken, she looks into Olivia’s room and sees the empty bed. At that moment, her whole world changes.

When Abi arrives at the hospital and is told her daughter is not only brain dead, but pregnant, she once again thinks there must be some sort of mistake. Her daughter, whom she has always tried to keep safe from the world with her numerous rules, has always obeyed without question. Hasn’t she?

What is even more disturbing is the realization that the “accident” may not have been an accident at all. But why would someone want to harm her sweet, beautiful daughter? And why are the police so insistent that she must have just tripped and fallen off the bridge on her own?

With the help of Anthony Brant, a victim’s advocate within the police department, she discovers that the enemy may be closer than she realized. At the same time, the fiercely independent Abi is forced to let someone inside the barrier she has set up around herself to get the help and comfort she so desperately needs.

Christina McDonald, in her novel, “The Night Olivia Fell,” published in 2019, weaves a tale of a mother’s quest for the truth in order to find justice for her daughter. It shows the power of persistence and the difference that people can make when they don’t stop fighting for what they believe.

Originally from Seattle, Washington, in the USA, McDonald received her MA in Journalism from the National University of Ireland, in Galway, and now resides in London, England. This is her first novel.

Written by Susan Baldani

suebaldani@yahoo.com

Twitter @mywritingwall

www.mywritingwall.com.

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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