Diana’s January Book Review ~ The Strawberry Thief by Joanna Harris

Diana’s January Book Review ~ The Strawberry Thief by Joanna Harris. I must be the last person to read Chocolat, so when I spotted this paperback in Waterstones before Christmas, I was drawn to it. I think it is the fourth in the series, but great as a standalone novel too.

I’m not strictly following the theme running through many books I choose to review this time, for reasons you’ll read in my review:

  • They tell a tale linked to history
  • The books are often set in two time periods
  • The location is a place either I have an affection for, or one I would dearly love to visit.

Why did I choose this book?

Strawberry Thief was set in a small (imaginary) village in south west France near Bordeaux, where some of my family live, and so it was easy for me to imagine the scene from the start. I did not know at the time, but Vianne tries to make sense of the present by reflecting on her time with her mother in the past… but above all, I chose it because I love chocolate; and wild strawberries too.

Did you feel empathy for any particular character?

I could not help but feel Vianne a kindred spirit, trying to settle into a new home – a quiet village; quite a contrast to her last base in the city. Suddenly coping with all the joys and drawbacks of living in a smaller tight knit community. Mind you, as a chocolatier she had an advantage; chocolate.

Is there a lasting thought or memory of the book which remains with you?

Yes ~ What will the wind blow in today?

A mysterious book of life’s struggled, neighbourly conflict, misunderstandings, guilt and love ~ maternal and romantic and of course CHOCOLATE!

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Personal Writing Hopes, Dreams and Plans for 2022

I love being in the world of writing. It gives me a buzz, whether supporting other authors or working on my own projects and so I am looking forward to the challenges of 2022!

Aims for the year are to GO WIDE with some of my books, support other authors, raise more money for the foodbank and pick up and finish one of my on going projects. Which one, I have yet to decide.

Go wide!

We aim to begin to go wide with my books beginning with MURDER Now and Then, which will be available on KOBO, Barnes and Noble, Apple and Google Play for 1st February.

Then, gradually we’ll introduce other books ~ Riduna next.

Support other authors.

Eventispress is a writing Collective and we have gained two new authors in our family. It is such a privilege to work with them and support them through the maze of options. Their enthusiasm certainly rubs off and is like a positive energy snowball, increasing in momentum and brightness. More news about them both shortly, but Eventispress introduces Ian K Pulham here.

The Healing Paths of Fife

In order to continue to support Kirkcaldy Foodbank I need to update this little book. Cafes mentioned have closed down and others opened; some have changed hands making descriptions also untrue. I need to remove most of these, unless they are integral to the flow of the book, and write a forward saying that the walker will find it a delight to discover eateries for themselves.

I would like to write a short afterward to bring the walk up to the moment.

Finally I would like to encourage more cafes to sell the paperback in aid of the Foodbank. With over £700 raised for local charities I aim for £1000 by the end of 2022!

Three other personal projects ~ which to choose first?

Prequel to Riduna

My Mum and Dad’s prequel to Riduna written in tandem to my own still needs work to bring it to print but it would be a wonderful tribute to them both.

Sequel to MISSING Past and Present

The manuscript to this novel is over half way there and the plot still there ready for the moment when my brain says yes, It’s time!

Final book in my Riduna Series

I began this years ago. It is on my hard drive and a few people who enjoyed the first two books still ask me ‘when?’ I’m not sure if it is a project for 2022. We’ll see.

Watch this space. Which one would you choose?

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Looking Back before Moving Forward to 2022

Before turning a new page, I look back on 2021 and I am pleased to say I did make progress with my writing life in a positive way.

What did I achieve in 2021 to be thankful for?

A. I published a little book of encouragement Search for the Pearl Inside Yourself for young people struggling through this pandemic. I wrote the bones of it and gathered quotations and photos before I took voluntary redundancy from teaching at Barnfield Further Education College in Luton, Bedfordshire over seven years ago. I dusted it off, updated and improved it, had it edited and proof read and finally organised a print run in June 2021.

Hoping to make a difference:

I am still giving away copies to those who need it. If you know a young person struggling at this time then please get in touch: contact Diana Jackson

The e book is available on Kindle too.

B. My continued support for authors on their journey into writing and publishing seemed to flourish too. It was lovely to focus on others rather than myself.

C. I met a lovely group of new authors on Twitter (I’m @Riduna) who were happy for me to dip in and out of their boundless enthusiastic responses, when I felt able to do so. Thanks to Cheryl Burman and all her friends who worked so hard to set up a Christmas on line bookshop. I have always enjoyed the mutual support of other authors I’ve ‘met’ on Twitter, but this took it to a new level.

D. I also met a group of local Fife authors from East Neuk for some uplifting Zoom events and an early Christmas meal, where we met in person down in Anstruther; just before the warnings of get togethers was highlighted on the news. To be part of this select, welcoming group of authors is heart warming. I had forgotten the joys of being in a writing group and had been longing for this to happen since leaving Bedfordshire, where I was a founder member of Ampthill Writers (then known as the Albion Writers after the pub where we used to meet) I have even joined them on line on a couple of occasions too.

E. I have a couple more personal writing projects I have been working on; those I could pick up and stir that creativity from within in a very gentle way, but more about those in my next blog.

In all honesty

… it was a tough year, as it was for many, but I can be thankful and look forward with hope to 2022!

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