Today its my pleasure to welcome author Cassandra Parkin to the blog to spread a little #BookLove. We’ll find out all about Cassandra’s greatest love of all in just a moment, but first here is a little more about Cassandra.
Cassandra Parkin is a Yorkshire-based writer with Cornish roots and a passion for fairy-tales. She write darkly beautiful contemporary fiction with a strong magical flavour. Her short story collection “New World Fairy Tales” won the 2011 Scott Prize, and her debut novel “The Summer We All Ran Away” was shortlisted for the Amazon Rising Stars award. She has since written two more novels, “The Beach Hut” and “Lily’s House” and her fourth novel “The Winter’s Child” will be published in September 2017.
You can follow Cassandra at the following site:
When Jen goes to her grandmother’s house for the last time, she’s determined not to dwell on the past. As a child, Jen adored Lily and suspected she might be a witch; but the spell was broken long ago, and now her death means there won’t be any reconciliation.
Lily’s gone, but the enchantments she wove and the secrets she kept still remain. In Lily’s house, Jen and her daughter Marianne reluctantly confront the secrets of the past and present – and discover how dangerous we become when we’re trying to protect the ones we love.
The Beach Hut
It is autumn time and on a peaceful Cornish beach, Finn and his sister Ava defy planning regulations and achieve a childhood dream when they build themselves an illegal beach hut. This tiny haven will be their home until Ava departs at Midwinter for a round-the-world adventure.
In the town, local publican Donald is determined to get rid of them. Still mourning the death of his wife, all he wants is a quiet place where he can forget the past and raise his daughter Alicia in safety. But Alicia is wrestling with demons of her own.
As the sunshine fades and winter approaches, the beach hut stirs old memories for everyone. Their lives become entwined in surprising ways and the secrets of past and present are finally exposed.
The Summer We All Ran Away
When nineteen-year-old Davey finds himself drunk, beaten and alone, he is rescued by the oddly assorted inhabitants of an abandoned and beautiful house in the West Country. Their only condition for letting him join them is that he asks them no questions.
More than thirty years ago in that same house, burned-out rock star Jack Laker writes a ground-breaking comeback album, and abandons the girl who saved his life to embark on a doomed and passionate romance with a young actress. His attempt to escape his destructive lifestyle leads to deceit, debauchery and even murder.
As Davey and his fellow housemate Priss try to uncover the secrets of the house’s inhabitants, both past and present, it becomes clear that the five strangers have all been drawn there by the events and the music of that long-ago summer.
Favourite book from childhood
I’m going to cheat shamelessly, and pick a Top Three: the “Alice” books by Lewis Carroll, the “Moomin” books by Tove Jansson, and Grimm’s Fairy Tales. You may have noticed that I’ve also cheated on my already-cheating Top Three, by picking collections rather than individual titles. In other news, you probably don’t want to play me at Monopoly.
The first book you fell in love with
“The Pie and the Patty-Pan”, by Beatrix Potter. I loved all her books, but “The Pie and the Patty-Pan” hooked me right in my heart and held on to me – mainly because I didn’t quite understand it.
The actual plot: Duchess the dog goes to tea with Ribby the cat, but doesn’t want to eat Ribby’s mouse pie so attempts to substitute a pie of her own (which has a patty-pan in it). Ribby then serves Duchess the mouse pie anyway. Duchess feels ill and can’t find the patty-pan and thinks she’s eaten it and is going to die, only then she realises it was just because she ate the mouse pie after all and is all embarrassed because Ribby sent for the Doctor, who is a magpie called Doctor Maggotty and who mainly likes shiny things and making a mess. My four-year-old interpretation of the plot: Duchess goes to tea with Ribby, Duchess eats a pie with a patty-pan in it, but somehow doesn’t die, and also Doctor Maggotty has nobody’s best interests at heart and is terrifying. I think I liked it because it scared me a little bit.
Biggest book crush
The book character you’re totally in love with
My favourites are usually villains, monsters and anti-heroes, so I don’t know if I’d say I’m in love with any of them. They’re more like the friends (or friends-with-benefits) who you really look forward to seeing, but wouldn’t have the energy to live with full-time.
That said, I probably wouldn’t kick Rawdon Crawley from “Vanity Fair” out of bed on a cold morning.
Weirdest book crush
Jay Gatsby from “The Great Gatsby”. I have no idea why, because he’s an idiot. But…
Here’s his character arc: he meets Daisy Faye and pretends to be someone he’s not so she’ll sleep with him. Then he realises he lurves her, and (without stopping to think about whether she lurves him, actual him, or just the person he pretended to be so he could get her knickers off), he decides this means they’re going to be together, like, for ever and ever, because only his feelings are important and valid and if he feels something, she must feel it too. Then he goes off to war, and she gets bored of waiting for him and marries someone else.
Then (my favourite part) Gatsby throws all his energy into building a vast criminal enterprise so he can get crazy rich and buy a big old Stalker House right near hers, and break up her marriage and make her marry him instead. Only Daisy doesn’t want to marry him; she only wants to fool around with him a bit to make her husband jealous. Gatsby, being an idiot a starry-eyed romantic, sees precisely none of this coming, and is heartbroken. Then he gets murdered because someone got him confused with Daisy’s husband, and no-one comes to his funeral. The tragedy! The irony! The deconstruction of the American dream! The end.
Why do I find any of that attractive? Why? Why? I don’t know. Everything about Gatsby is bad news. But I still totally would. Even though I’d spend all night laying myself out on a plate just to get him to kiss me, once and half-heartedly, and then we’d go upstairs and he’d sit on the end of his bed and sob onto my shoulder about how much he loved Daisy. I already know just how it would go, and yet I still would. There’s no hope for me. I’m doomed. I’ll stick to Rawdon Crawley.
Hardest break up
The book you didn’t want to end
“Miss Smilla’s Feeling For Snow” by Peter Hoeg. Oh, I was so in love with that book – the atmosphere, the strange central characters, the dark romance that blossoms and then fades again, the gradual unfolding of the central mystery. I remember reading the last sentence and actually shouting “NOOOOO!” out loud.
And I understand why he ended it the way he did. I really do. It was brilliant. I’m still devastated.
The one that got away
The book in your TBR or wish list that you regret not having started yet.
A while ago now, I heard a really interesting interview with Edith Hall, talking about her book “Introducing the Ancient Greeks”. I bought a copy the first chance I got, put it on my bedside table, and then…never got around to reading it. And it sounds like such a great book! I must make time for it very soon.
Guilty Reading pleasure
I feel no actual shame about this, but I own and regularly re-read Jacqueline Susann’s entire body of work (even “Dolores”, which, I will admit, is a bit crap). She wrote about being rich and successful with an insider’s eye for the darkness beneath the tawdry surface. Every single one of her leading men is worthless and despicable, and they all basically get away with their poor behaviour. Not one of her leading women (with the possible exception of Maggie in “The Love Machine”, but I still reckon she was heading to her doom) gets a happy ending. They’re trashy and glitzy and tragic and brilliant. I love them.
Love one, love them all
Favourite series or genre
I’ve already mentioned Tove Jansson’s “Moomin” series, so I’ll go for Terry Pratchett’s “Discworld” novels. I love their evolution from silly spoofy fantasy to a beautiful, rich series about the human condition. And there are so damn many of them! I’ve still not found time to read them all. It makes me so happy that there are so many for me to discover.
Your latest squeeze
Favourite read of the last 12 months
“Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman” by Haruki Murakami. It’s one of the most beautiful short story collections I’ve ever read. I bought it on impulse in a bookshop last summer, and I’ve been regularly re-reading it ever since.
Blind date for a friend
If you were to set a friend up with a blind date (book) which one would it be?
“The Secret History” by Donna Tartt – another impulse purchase, many years ago. I picked it up entirely because I liked the texture of the cover, and I’ve since read three copies to utter destruction. Now I think about it, I quite often do set my friends up with it for a blind date. It’s my go-to gift for birthdays when I’m feeling short on inspiration.
Greatest love of all
Favourite book of all time.
I have a revolving top three that varies between “Mansfield Park”, “Emma” and “Persuasion”, depending on which one I happen to be reading at the time. I was given the beautiful Macmillan Collectors Library edition of “Persuasion” for my birthday, so at the moment it’s “Persuasion”
Thanks Cassandra. I really love your childhood choices. I just want to shout Moooooooomiiiiiiiiins. Loved them as a kid (but not the odd sticky person they hung around with – freaked me out). And it’s certainly a very varied collection of books there. Nice to see some new titles.
What do you reckon? Were you as keen on Moomin’s as Cassandra. I have to admit I love the Moomin shop in Covent Garden. I even have Moomin cookie cutters! 😉
Please do join me next week when I’ll be featuring the #BookLove of Linda McDonald and Lainy Swanson.
Have a brilliant day all