From the author – not yet published

I loved Christine’s previous novel, "The Dangerous Sports Euthanasia Society" and was eager for more by this quirky and original author.  So, when a discussion about my new copy-editing and proof-reading business led to a new opportunity, I leapt at the chance to work on "Paper Lanterns".

I feel that Christine is a great chronicler of the "ordinary" person, a person often overlooked or relegated to the cast of supporting characters in the modern novel.  I praised "The Dangerous Sports Euthanasia Society" for its lovely truck drivers and housewives, and "Paper Lanterns" opens with us meeting Ann, so ordinary that she doesn’t even have an "e" on the end of her name, middle-aged, plain and self-doubting.  Ann has always been in the shadow of someone else, and it’s with a sinking heart and a sense of duty that she prepares to fly out to Hong Kong to console her mother over the loss of her partner.

Vivienne has always been the shining star, and Ann has suffered throughout her life by the comparison with this beautiful mother.  Her grandmother, Grannibelle, absent through death but present through Ann’s memories, was beautiful too, but redeemed by her warmth, love for and celebration of Ann.  Vivienne, on the other hand… well, there’s rivalry, bitchiness, betrayal…

Ann starts to feel more free as she starts her long journey to Hong Kong, until she has a rather embarassing accident involving a businessman and a china cow.  Surely she won’t ever have to see him again… But once in Hong Kong, beautifully evoked through lovely descriptions which really bring to us the sights, sounds and smells of the lesser known Lamma Island, she begins to find she is appreciated for herself by the disparate community of which her mother has become part.  

As usual with Christine’s works, the secondary characters are beautifully drawn, whether a young traveller, open and welcoming, or the delightfully dotty octogenerian, Poppy.  And we are drawn into an older world, still on Lamma, when Ann is given a parcel of documents belonging to Grannibelle’s earlier life.

Ann, and we, end up reassessing our impressions of several of the main characters, including Ann herself.  We watch her blossom in self-confidence as she finds time to examine her own life as well as those of the other strong women in her family, and as she finds new family, and new ways to relate to family.

The double layered timescale gives a rich depth to the story, as Ann finds herself revisiting places her grandmother knew well, and visiting some of those strong emotions too.  We find out the family revelations as Ann does, and find ourselves rooting for her as well as falling in love with a beautiful island and a happy, free way of life.

A good read, a satisfying range of characters, an engrossing plot and a new place to learn about – highly recommended.

Christine’s web page is here.