From “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” by T.S. Eliot – favourite and much quoted.

“I grow old . . . I grow old . . . / I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled. / Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach? / I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the / beach. / I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each. /

I do not think that they will sing to me. /

I have seen them riding seaward on the waves / Combing the white hair of the waves blown back / When the wind blows the water white and black. /

We have lingered in the chambers of the sea / By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown / Till human voices wake us, and we drown.

The beginning of “Mousetrap”.

The first time I got really angry was two days ago at lunchtime. I was in the kitchen toasting a ham sandwich when I heard the front door open and Jack’s step in the hall. He was soaked, he said. The sea was coming over the wall, he said. He ran upstairs and I went out and saw the flowers – a huge bunch of lilies, all pale and greeny-white and tied with ribbons. Freezing cold they looked. I knew they weren’t for me but there was a card and I watched my hand reach out and take it.

“For Louise, love and congratulations, Jack.”

I shoved the card back, biting and biting at the inside of my lip, and then Jack tore down the stairs, hardly seeing me until I spoke.

“Are the flowers for me?”

“What?” He stopped and gazed at me. “No, pet, they’re for Louise of course.”

“Is she dead?” I asked.

Jack drew in a breath and the lilies shook a little. I could see the blood gather beneath his eyes.

“In the name of God, woman, what did you say that for? What kind of a thing is that to say? Especially now!”

“I’m sorry, Jack. I’m sorry, but . . .  ”

I smiled up at him.

“Lilies are for funerals.”

“Louise likes them,” he said and he turned his face away from me. “I’ve asked her to come round for dinner again tonight. You don’t mind, do you?”

He was fussing with the ribbons, tidying them and tucking them in.

“No, Jack,” I said. “I don’t mind. That’s all right, that’s fine.”

And I smiled and smiled but he wouldn’t look at me and I knew I shouldn’t have said that about Louise being dead.TWITTER WWD

To read the whole story you can download “Woman With Doll & Other Stories” from amazon.com or smashwords.com.

 

My sister’s favourite poem by Yeats

Aedh wishes for the Cloths of Heaven

Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,

Enwrought with golden and silver light,

The blue and the dim and the dark cloths

Of night and light and the half light,

I would spread the cloths under your feet:

But I, being poor, have only my dreams;

I have spread my dreams under your feet;

Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

 

 

An excerpt from my story, “Happy Birthday”.

“May 20th 1.00 a.m.

Nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing. All day nothing – again. The worst is when I think I feel something and I go to check and there’s nothing. Sometimes I convince myself there’s a trace of blood but it’s no use. Paul is asleep already. Look at him – the huge bulk of him in the bed, feet pushing the sheet out at the bottom. I feel like whacking him with something – big, oul lump, sleeping there like that without a worry. You’d think he was dead, the way he sleeps.

I thought I was going to scream at dinner today and I was afraid I was going to be sick. Chops and cabbage. What a strain meals are now, and me that always loved my dinner. I don’t know if it’s because I’m pregnant – God! Even to write that down – or because I’m so worried, because I think I might be. I sat there thinking that if it was real, if it was true – the cabbage would be good for me, but the words didn’t make any sense in my head. I looked out the window at the bits of an old boat the men were working on and I looked at the cat sleeping on the window-sill, the sun shining in through the yellow curtains – everything so peaceful and normal, and all the time I was hot and sick and sweating, and so scared.”

You can read this story in “Woman With Doll & Other Stories” available to download from amazon.com or smashwords.com.

Some forgotten authors

Taylor Caldwell – From Wikipedia

Janet Miriam Holland Taylor Caldwell (September 7, 1900 – August 30, 1985) was an Anglo-American novelist and prolific author of popular fiction, also known by the pen names Marcus Holland and Max Reiner, and by her married name of J. Miriam Reback.

In her fiction, she often used real historical events or persons. Taylor Caldwell’s best-known works include Dynasty of Death, Dear and Glorious Physician (about Saint Luke), Ceremony of the Innocent, Pillar of Iron, The Earth is the Lord’s (about Genghis Khan) and Captains and the Kings. Her last major novel, Answer As a Man, appeared in 1980.”

Denis Wheatley – From Wikipedia

“Dennis Yeats Wheatley (8 January 1897 – 10 November 1977) was an English writer whose prolific output of thrillers and occult novels made him one of the world’s best-selling authors from the 1930s through the 1960s. His Gregory Sallust series was one of the main inspirations for Ian Fleming‘s James Bond stories.[1]

Irving Wallace – From Wikipedia

“Irving Wallace (March 19, 1916 – June 29, 1990) was an American best-selling author and screenwriter. He was known for his heavily researched novels, many with a sexual theme.[1]He was a blue-collar writer who wrote for a blue-collar audience. Wallace loved and championed the underdog. He enjoyed writing the stories of outsiders.”

Irving Stone – From Wickipedia

“Irving Stone (born Tennenbaum),[1] July 14, 1903, San Francisco, California – August 26, 1989, Los Angeles) was an American writer, chiefly known for his biographical novels of noted artists, politicians and intellectuals; among the best known are Lust for Life (1934), about the life of Vincent van Gogh, and The Agony and the Ecstasy (1961), about Michelangelo.”

Frank Yerby – From Wikipedia

Frank Yerby (September 5, 1916 – November 29, 1991) was a popular American writer, best known for his 1946 historical novel The Foxes of Harrow, which was the first novel written by an African-American to become a best seller.[1]

Annie M P Smithson – From Wikipedia

“Annie M P Smithson (26 September 1873 – 21 February 1948) was an Irish novelist, poet and Nationalist. Smithson was born into a Protestant family in Sandymount, Dublin. She was christened Margaret Anne Jane, but took the names Anne Mary Patricia on her conversion to Catholicism.[1] In 1917 she published her first novel, Her Irish Heritage, which became a best-seller.[1] It was dedicated to those who died in the Easter Rising of 1916. In all, she published twenty novels and two short story collections. Other successful novels included By Strange Paths and The Walk of a Queen. Many of her works are highly romantic and draw on her own life experiences, with nationalism and Catholicism featuring as recurrent themes.[1] In 1944 she published her autobiography, Myself – and Others.[5]

Mrs Henry Wood – From Wikipedia

“Ellen Wood (née Price; 17 January 1814 – 10 February 1887), was an English novelist, better known in that respect as Mrs. Henry Wood. She is remembered most for her 1861 novel East Lynne, but many of her books became international bestsellers and widely known in the United States. She surpassed the fame of Charles Dickens in Australia.[1] “

The Flight of the Pickerings by John Grayson Heide

This is a book about life and how we choose to live it, and with whom. It is also about death, our attitude to it, our reluctance to deal with it, our making peace with it eventually. But mostly this is a book about love, real, true love, and how far we are prepared to go for the beloved. It’s an unusual book to come across these days of dark, graphic thrillers and erotic love stories. The prologue is exciting and welcomes the reader into the lives of Guy Pickering and his wife, Dorothy.

Guy is the main character, a devoted, caring husband to Dorothy who is both senile and terminally ill. Guy will do anything to make her life, and death, easier. He had been a courageous soldier in his younger days, in both Korea and Vietnam, earning himself a Purple Heart; he needs this courage now. He is a very lovable character, as is Dorothy and the reader becomes deeply involved in their problems.
The narrative is well paced and the characters are believable, including the teenage grandson who swings between being mature and thoughtful, and uncaring and hostile, in the space of a minute. The dialogue is realistic and carries the story forward.
There is a lot of humour in this story, with a fussy daughter, Darlene, and a very nosy neighbour across the street. These characters, and the sulky grandson too, lighten the sadness of the Pickerings in a natural, unforced way.
A strange thing about this book is the way the author assigns thoughts and feelings to the family cat and also to the cars that Guy drives, as in:
“The modest Ford Fairlane sedan that had sat for years in the shadow of the big beautiful Olds, cringed once again in self-loathing beside the blustering growl of the mighty classic.”
And, when the car realises what Guy is up to:
“This can’t be! No! Oh, goodbye, sir! This can’t be what’s best for you.”
It’s a strange quirk which adds nothing to the story, only popping up now and again.
Some of the prose is overblown and a bit purple:
” . . . his voice enveloping her body with a soothing balm.”
And:
“A sense of honorable dignity joined a hint of relief and breathed its wonderful scent over Guy.”
Overall, this is a lovely story, well worth reading – and thinking about. It covers a difficult topic with humour and compassion. The ending is perfect – and very exciting.

Originally written for “Books and Pals” book blog. May have received a free review copy.