Just a quickie post to alert you to something special that’s on the horizon – Not from me, no sir – this time it’s all about someone else, and rightly and deservedly so as well.
Pop quiz, hotshot: There’s an author of exceptional talent releasing her book on 27th May. What do you do?
Now, I’m not Dennis Hopper (he says, adopting an Alan Partridge voice) but I do present you with a question, and that question is: ‘Why should I buy ‘Like Bees to Honey’ by Caroline Smailes?’ well, I’m here to tell you why, and what I say might shock you.
It probably won’t, but just so you know.
To use lazy internet vernacular, IMHO I happen to think that Caroline Smailes is quite simply in a brilliant class all to herself and I would scream myself hoarse defending her talent – but that’s not going to be enough for you – unless a) you hang on my every word OR b) you’re one of the growing army of fans that has been clamouring after this book ever since they turned the last page of Caroline’s previous masterpiece, Black Boxes OR c) you’re one of those stubborn types. She has an unparalleled respect for the lyrics to the song of life, and her latest book promises to be her most original work yet.
But if you’re not yet one of Caroline’s initiated fanbase then you’re going to want me to go into detail as to why ‘Like Bees to Honey’ is so great, aren’t you? OK then. I will.
First off: I haven’t read it. But guess what? I don’t need to. Knowing Caroline’s previous book, I know that it’s going to be a piece of talked about literature that will gain all the accolades that Caroline Smailes deserves. You want more facts? Fine. Let’s go…
Nina, her son Christopher in tow, flies to Malta for one last visit with her aging parents. Her previous attempt to see them ended in tears. Disowned for falling pregnant while at university in England, she was not allowed into the house. This will be her final chance to make her peace with them. But Malta holds more secrets and surprises than Nina could possibly imagine. What she finds is not the land of her youth, a place full of memories and happiness. Instead she meets dead people. Lots of them. Malta, it transpires, is a transit lounge for recently deceased spirits and somehow Christopher enables her to see them, speak with them and help them. And, in return, they help Nina come to terms with her own loss. One so great that she has yet to admit it to herself.
Like Bees to Honey is a story of family, redemption and ghosts. It is a magical tale that will live with you long after you finish reading.
Caroline Smailes’ previous works (In Search of Adam, Black Boxes) focused on (sometimes painfully) realistic characters that suffer the whips and bites of real life. There is something inherently and beautiful about the darkness, in that the light shines so much brighter. Moths aren’t drawn to the flame because they are transfixed by it, but because things are so much clearer in the dark.
She uses words and the moments in between to great effect, underlining her characters’ thoughts and motivations, giving them ever-changing shadows and distorted reflections, yet crucially, she makes them come to life in your hands. She is capable of tapping into a stream of consciousness that as a reader you almost feel that you know her creations, that they live across the street from you, their true identities hidden behind their closed doors.
Here are some of the absolutely true things that people have said about Caroline:
“Haunting, heartfelt and beautiful’ CHRIS CLEAVE, author of THE OTHER HAND and INCENDIARY .
“There is little in the way of relief in this harrowing first novel, but Smailes’ sensitivity towards her subjects — and the poetry of her writing — carry the story.” FINANCIAL TIMES
“A unique, exciting and unforgettable read.” RAY ROBINSON, author of ELECTRICITY
“In Search of Adam by Caroline Smailes, a stunning insight into the disturbed mind of a girl living in the North-East. It has re-defined what writing can do for the reader — it can change the way you look at people.” TERRY DEARY, author of HORRIBLE HISTORIES
“Black Boxes is the best novel I have read all year. I laughed, I cried and I cried some more. And came away a changed person.” AMERICAN JOURNAL
Look up there. Some fine names there. Respectable names. They can’t all be wrong, can they? And so to add my own (albeit far less respectable) name to her list of fans, let me say that Caroline’s work is like being a blood donor…you know that the needle might be a tad uncomfortable for a while, but the discomfort that you feel will pass, and you will end up with a totally rewarding experience that will live with you for some time.
‘LIKE BEES TO HONEY‘ by Caroline Smailes.
Released 27th May 2010.
Check out Caroline’s website for a list of places to meet her in the flesh: