Hello dear readers!
A very warm welcome to this week’s blog post, although the same cannot be said for the actual weather. It is officially scarf and glove season; the endless dilemma of whether to keep your hands warm by keeping them gloved, or to skip that song and text your friend back. The trees outside are being pushed around in every direction by the howling wind, it’s raining, and I’ve left the bins out so no doubt it will be carnage in the tenfoot when I eventually go to pick them up and put them in their rightful places. I woke up rather chilly this morning, the heating was threatening to come on on its own accord and the stubborn Yorkshire woman inside is saying ‘but its only September!’.
However, all that being said, colder weather has its perks of course. We now have perfectly reasonable excuses (like we needed them..!) to stay home wrapped in blankets, reading, drinking tea. Perfect! So get comfy, for here is my latest review.
THE LIVES WE TOUCH, BY EVA WOODS
‘In our lives, we’ll meet something like eighty thousand people. Most of them just in passing, sitting beside them on a bus, buying a latte from them, overtaking them too fast on the motorway. Others will become friends, lovers, family. Some will stay in our lives for ever, and some will be swept away by the flow of life. But we touch all of these people in some way, tiny or huge, making more of a difference than any of us can imagine’.The Lives we Touch, Eva Woods.
Wow. Have you ever thought about life like that? 80,000 people? I mean now I don’t feel so bad for forgetting someone’s name in a room full of people after just being introduced to everybody. 80,000 people; thats a lot of first impressions! Isn’t it interesting that we choose who to keep in our lives – I’m now wondering why we do that and what we see in people that makes us think ‘yes, you shall be in my life, stranger’, or ‘thanks, bye’. I guess when we think like that, it makes the people we do keep in our lives even more special to us.
This particular story revolves around two sisters, Rosie and Daisy, and it’s honestly one of the most interesting modern day story lines I’ve read in some time. You see, for most of the story, Rosie is in a coma, unable to communicate but able to hear everything that is going on. Daisy is devastated and is trying to learn about Rosie and her life – who she has been somewhat distant from recently – whilst also learning more about herself.
The book opens with a road accident, Rosie’s road accident – and a little bit like a butterfly effect, it describes all of the knock on impacts that this has to other people’s lives, not just those directly involved. For example, people who lose their jobs because they were late to work as a result, marriages that occur, children that are born, changes of career – a ripple effect. You never quite think like that but it’s a really interesting view.
We get to learn about Rosie’s life in a bit of a Charles Dickens’ ghost of Christmas past style of story telling. Rosie, who’s brain is clearly trying to repair itself and also understand how it got there, pieces together the story so that it all makes sense, through the creative method of seeing family, friends, teachers or acquaintances that have died, to show her her past and how she got to her present. It would seem that everybody who could have been in Rosie’s life, recently made a swift exit, so very little is known about her current life or wellbeing.
Daisy on the other hand is very much in the present, juggling a difficult boss, a boring fiancé and two squabbling parents, alongside a sister in a coma. Daisy is frantically trying to piece together the puzzle of how Rosie came to be in the road. Was it an accident or was this an attempt at suicide?
While the novel is uplifting and witty, it holds a deep message; an exploration of the mistakes we feel we made in our lives and the shame, guilt and negativity we hold onto. The responsibility we feel for what we may have done to others, but this story shows that actually these things could have had positive impacts for other people, just because you feel ashamed of something does not mean that it didn’t actually create a positive outcome.
I really warmed to this book and thought it very clever and light, given the topic of some heavy conversations (suicidal thoughts, divorce, infant death). The author very cleverly challenges these themes with a lot of respect and thought. I would however say that for me personally, the writing was a little immature at times and not as well rounded as I would perhaps have enjoyed, although whether this would have changed the feel of the book, I’m not too sure. For example, there are too many similies for my personal liking, things were often described as ‘like xyz’ to express familiarity or humour. It was witty the first few times but got a bit annoying after a while.
I also found that there was some super stereotypical characters such as Gary and Maura, which kept things light hearted but I feel it could have been developed further rather than keeping these people at surface level as they were pretty important characters in Daisy’s life. Also, I didn’t get how Rosie was seeing a lot of the stuff that wasnt a figment of her imagination, if her eyes were closed. The realist in me just wouldn’t shut up!
CAN’T PUT IT DOWN RATING: 4/5
This is a really endearing read that makes you think. It makes you think about the importance of friends, family, keeping relationships, apologising for mistakes, keeping communication open and importantly, not holding onto the weight of negative things or events that we feel responsible for. It’s a bit cheesy, a bit predictable, but its message is really cleverly portrayed and I liked the main characters.
It is encouraging in the thought there is positivity to find in many situations, even those where your life is hanging by a thread. This is definitely a book that is in the #bekind vibe of reading; if we meet 80,000 people in our life time, we need to consider the impact our meeting may have on them. It could be a too long lingering look at the feature they’re most self conscious of, it could be as simple as not saying ‘thank you’, or returning the question ‘how are you today’ with ‘I’m great thanks, how are you?’. The people we meet in passing are more than just strangers so it’s a pretty good idea to try to be a kind and conscious human. But if you have an off day, it’s okay, positive stuff can happen as a result too.
‘All that matters is the lives we touch’The lives We Touch, Eva Woods
Where to Buy:
I found this beauty for £2 at my local ‘The Works’ (love that shop), but you can find it at most places for between £6-8 (book depository is retailing at £6.35 currently).
WASHED DOWN WITH
So I’m SUPER excited to share this with you! Very very shortly (Date TBC) on the beautiful Humber Street in Hull, a gorgeous tea and flower shop is opening! There will be cake and locally sourced Loose leaf tea to consume and buy. I cannot wait for their opening weekend to see what new goodies I can find.
In August, I headed down to see the lovely Emma and Nicola, owners of the new store, ‘Ophelia’, when they were selling samples of their blends on a lovely sunny weekend. I came away with a tummy full of tea samples, and a test tube sized portion of a tea called Oolong Zest. I’ve brewed this in my favourite teapot for around 5 minutes and used three teaspoons of the loose leaf blend to achieve the flavour. It’s a fruity, zingy, fresh flavour, light in colour that still manages to pack a punch. It was £3 for the test tube sample which I believe I’ll get around 2 teapots out of (so 6/7 cups of tea), so working out at around 50p a cup. They will be selling these in larger jars, but I’ll be looking forward to sampling this (and many others) when I visit them once they open. I will also definitely be buying some of their Goji Berry blend, it was so good.
Follow them on instagram @opheliaflowersandtea or visit them when they open at 23 Humber Street, HU1. Seating will be available for 20 people and opening times are Mon-Sat 8.30am-5pm, Sunday 10am-4pm.
Join me in wishing them the very best of luck!
The next blog will be on a dark and mysterious new thriller being released very shortly..! To keep up to date, sign up for email updates or follow me on socials @papyrusandpeppermint
Enjoy your weekend – and read!
Until the next Chapter,