Sunday, July 10, 2022

Her Sister's Shadow by Catherine Wimpeney

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 Greater Manchester DCI Kay Harris is haunted by the memory of her sister's recent suicide. Concerned for her mental health, her superiors  push her into taking some time off. Kay retreats to her family's holiday home in the Scottish Highlands, taking with her, Ava, a young woman she prevented from committing suicide. 

Wimpeney is a former mental health nurse and qualified psychotherapist, and used her experience in writing this thriller. The subject matter is fairly heavy, including issues around expectations of women in the workplace, bullying at work, mental health support and trauma recovery, but the book is lightened by a good sense of humour.

As a birdwatcher, I liked the frequent bird based similes that Kay used to describe things, eg "Their phones rang intermittently, like robins marking territories". I was disappointed that this disappeared from the book quite quickly, though perhaps that was a deliberate attempt to add to the sense of Kay's deteriorating mental health. 

It's an engrossing read, though slightly uneven (and perhaps could have done with better editing). Definitely worth reading if you're interested in the issues.

Her Sister's Shadow by Catherine Wimpeney, published (2021) by Northodox Press, a publishing company committed to books from the north of England.  

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Disclaimer: I won this book in a competition on Twitter



Friday, July 01, 2022

Poetry in the Chess Cafe

“Poetry is like chess” the old man said to me.

He was sitting in the corner of a diner
looking vacantly through the window
at the sunlit city street.

“Not only in the sense” he continued quietly
“of the length of time you need to think.
But also there's an instinct -
the right move or the right word
can arise it seems from nowhere
and inspiration is all around.
For example, I am no past Grand Master
so why do I talk of chess?”
 
He looked downwards at the floor
where the black legs of the diner chairs
stood quietly on black and white tiled squares.

“Perhaps we are but pawns” he said
“but that is just the starting point
for another poem another day.”

He nodded briefly at me
then turned his gaze back to the street.


Previously published as part of the Ekphrastic Challenge in response to the painting The Poet, by Lily Prigioniero (Italy, b. USA) 2021