HOPE FROM THE OCEAN
Writer, artist, Wife, Mom, MomMom, 9-5er in her free time, P.S. Bartlett’s question made me dig deeper inside her world. “I’m taking a fantastic voyage. Won’t you join me?”
I decided to take the voyage inside her new book, “Hope from the Ocean”, published in March, 2014 and which according with the author’s affirmations, is a prequel to her already published first novel “Fireflies”.
Having to write a review, it is necessary to comment on the novel from a critical perspective, offering suggestions for improving the writing elements. From this point of view I am somehow confused because there are not too many suggestions to make. So, according with my own experience during this book’s reading, I will start…
“Hope from the Ocean” brings to the reader’s attention portions from the lives of two orphans, who after their parents’ death are taken to be cared for by their relatives. Describing the rural activities of this poor family, P.S. Bartlett succeeds to bring to life some very interesting characters which completely kept my attention.
The fact that the author describes these relatives as good people impressed me very much. I really believe that is necessary to point to people’s kindness rather than their cruelty; especially when it is about orphans as in this book.
I see this novel like a fragment from a family saga. After ending the book I remained with a deep longing to know more about Brianne, Dan, Loch, Dillon and Patrick’s cruel grandmother who “claimed the only book which they had in their room, in the morning when she came to claim their mother’s body”. The short description of the scene in which the grandma appears made me feel the need for a pause from reading while I was thinking and wondering a lot about this character. Evidently she’s the “bad guy” type but I would like so much to know more about her life and about the reason which made her act like this.
The book contains many scenes which made me feel very emotional. I will only superficially touch them here and I will let the reader find the pleasure from discovering these feelings while reading the novel; a very good novel. I make this statement not based on the revealed writing techniques or on a very organized plot, but based on the gift which the author revealed in writing this book; I am talking here about a gift which I appreciate very much… the gift of touching the reader’s heart.
Not being a native English speaker and for sure having no knowledge about the Irish language, the beginning of the novel found me totally unprepared to read it. I was first somehow shocked to find that I am dealing with a language with lots of Irish influences. For sure I thought I would not be able to handle reading the book so well. But… after the first pages I had one of the biggest surprises of my life… yes, sounds too much to call it like this, but… let me finish the statement. The gift which P.S. Bartlett has is that kind which succeeds to immerse me inside the story, to make me be one with the multiple characters; after only a few pages into it I found myself totally understanding the language about which I knew nothing before. So, yes, from my point of view, this was a really great surprise, to understand a new language without even trying to learn it… but only due to the author’s talent to include the reader into the plot.
But let me remind you that a book’s review means to point out the critique part. So, while I was reading I tried to find what there is to critique about. Not finding major aspects, I will mention here the minor things. Speaking about so called shortage, from my point of view I would like the preconditions of an event to be described further. I am saying this not because it is the author’s lack, but because the author is so gifted in describing things that I as a reader want to read more and more; and this is only because this author could touch my heart. When something or someone can do this, I want more and more… of course because I am an egoist on this planet.
For example I would like to know more about what determined Patrick to feel such a sudden rage against Loch’s attitude in the beginning of the action.
Falling in love with Dan’s family since the first moments, of course I would like to know about these characters’ past, present and future. The end of the novel left me in such a state that I wondered where the second volume of this book is.
For sure I would love to know more about Dan and Loch and this feeling which came over me in the moment when a talk between them regarding Patrick’s behavior, brought tears into my eyes: “Find yer heart son. Find yer heart. This world will pull it outta yer chest if ye let it. That boy’s heart is buried in the ground”.
Even if Dan was not a main character in this book, he succeeded to capture my attention. And this, due to the author’s talent in giving me one of the best descriptions, based on the comparison of an animal and someone’s heart: “To Dan people were no different than horses. He could look into a horse’s heart through its eyes and know the good ones from the lost causes. Patrick wasn’t a lost cause. He was just lost”.
I am saying this not because the description was very developed, but because the undeveloped description made me again take a pause from reading and provoked me to think a lot… made me dig inside the human feelings.
I am coming back to the definition of a professional review; it says that a good one must not exceed one thousand words. I know, I know… some moments ago I exceeded this limit. But what can I do when I have more things to tell? I will write a short variant for this review, but for the moment let me go on.
“You’re a man of few words, Mister Flynn” Pierce abruptly said. “Words, especially the wrong ones, just cause trouble.”
How can I finish the review without mentioning the multiple moments while reading when I found tears into my eye; not because it was about a tragedy or something similar, but because P.S. Bartlett knows how to handle words that can deeply touch someone?
How can I not mention the loop inside this book… the moment in which Patrick encounters his first crises? He was so good in taking care of Dillon but at some point his services were not needed anymore. Patrick’s reaction was totally uncontrollable; he preferred to leave the continent. Is it somehow a resemblance with the Oisin and Niamh’s story in the land of Tir na NOg? By the way… deep story… it reminded me of another story that I read in my childhood: Youthfulness without Oldness and Life without Death (no, don’t try to find the English version… it is a Romanian story for children and adults).
How can I finish this review without mentioning Owen’s first kiss which made me understand the feelings from such moments, from a boy’s perspective (do you somehow ask yourself who is Owen? When you will come to that point in your reading, you will have enough clues to know who he is in fact).
Or the unexpected turning point when Raina talks about her marriage? Yes, I was again unprepared to find out about this; and what about Rachel’s death which in my opinion came too soon and gave me a longing to know more about her life?
How can I not mention the moment when Sarah said the grace in the last few pages of the book? I laughed so much that I hardly could stop myself.
And how can I not mention the surprise of such a concise ending? I am not sure what the author has in mind about this, but I know that I want a next volume which will not talk about the after moments, but about parallel moments with the ones already described; and this I say for the only reason that I fell in love with many of characters who live inside this book.
So to conclude this review which was longer than I expected, what I recommend to P.S. Bartlett is to continue to write; because she is really gifted. And what I didn’t mention till now is the fact that the kind of subjects described inside the book, were not of my interest until now. For sure I was a reader for other literary genres; and now, due to this writer… I will probably add another genre on my list. The one developed by Hope from the Ocean’s author.
This book has the capacity to change your mood instantly; and this is something which I appreciate so much.
Will you ask me if I would recommend the reader to open this book? Definitely yes! And not only open this novel’s covers, but I also recommend to confidently immerse into its pages and breathe its words.
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