Sunday, November 24, 2019

Book Review: The End of the Affair by Graham Greene (romance)

One rainy autumn day, my friend Linda and I spent part of an afternoon discussing The End of the Affair by Graham Greene. 

'Linda' photo by ldyck
'[T]his is a record of hate far more than of love.' -Maurice Bendrix (p. 7)
Set during and after World War II, The End of the Affair is about three self-obsessed people and their struggle for love. Because they are unable to look beyond their own needs, they fail to obtain love and end up hating themselves and the person they think they love.

Linda:  Attraction is only a very small part of love.

Maurice Bendrix is writing a novel that has a civil servant as a secondary, comic character. Henry Miles is a civil servant. Why not use details about his life to craft the character, thinks Maurice. Who better to help him with his research then Henry's strikingly beautiful wife Sarah. Maurice asks Sarah out for dinner and... falls in love. Trouble is Maurice befriends Henry and so hates himself for being in love with Henry's wife.

Henry Miles loves and dwells on his job far more than he does his wife. For that reason, he says, ' "It was a great injury I did to Sarah when I married her." ' (p. 170) And he can't possibly forgive himself for ruining her life.

Sarah Miles can't help falling in love over and over again, but she stays with Henry out of a sense of loyalty. Then she meets Maurice and believes that she could possibly leave her husband for him. However, shortly after that realization she feels called to become a Catholic. There's no such thing as a divorced Catholic so she hates herself for wanting Maurice.

Linda:  Who can say that you can't love more than one person. Why should you be judged harshly?

Maurice writes of his relationship with Sarah, We 'were later to come together for no apparent purpose but to give each other so much pain.' (p. 173)

First published in Great Britain by William Heinermann Ltd 1951
First published in the United States of America by The Viking Press Inc. 1951
Published by Viking Company edition in 1961
Published by Penguin Books (UK) in 1962
Published by Penguin Books (USA) in 1977
My edition was published by Penguin Books (USA) in 1999

This novel is composed of five books. Maurice narrates the first two; Sarah the third, and Maurice the last two. The first two books are unputdownable. Comparably, the last two dragged a little.

Linda:  Of its time--especially how he writes about women.

Years ago, someone said, "Leanne, I think you should read Graham Greene. I think you'll really enjoy him."

But there are many authors. So it took me a while to get to him. But now that I have I can say to someone, "Thank you. You were right."


Henry Graham Greene was born on October 2, 1904 in Berkhamstead, Hertfordshire, England and died in April 3, 1991 in Vevey, Switzerland and in between.

photo by ldyck

December on this blog...

I've stuffed a lot of stuff in this short month--two lists, three short stories, and a book review.

December 1 (list)
A list of positive book quotes to guide you through this challenging month.

December 8 (short story)
Christmas Secret
I wasn't always the fine example of humanity I am now. 
You won't be after you read this short story inspired by a true event.
Please don't judge me too harshly.

December 15 (book review)
The Little Paris Bookshop
If you love books... If you have a romantic soul... If you struggling to reclaim your life... This book is for you.

December 22 (short story)
A Christmas Present
A true story inspired by one of my favourite Christmas presents.

December 24 (short story)
Christmas with Family
This short story is about how my desire to be with family for Christmas resulted in my husband and me becoming stuck in the snow on a rural island--and how we solved the problem.

December 29 (list)
2019:  Your Favourites
What you loved about my blog in 2019--based on your clicked links (page views). 

Sunday, November 17, 2019

The Island Storyteller on Stage (short story) by Leanne Dyck

This short story celebrates my love for reading my writing to an audience--and thanks all the people who have supported my author journey, people like you.

photo by ldyck

The Island Storyteller on Stage

This chair is supposed to be padded but it sure doesn't feel like it. I wiggle around trying to get comfortable. Annie Frannie Beau Dannie is a popular singer on Mayne Island so the Agricultural Society Hall is packed. It's really hard to see over all the heads. On stage, she sings, "country roads" and ends that song. She begins a long slow introduction into her next. Boring! But I have a story that I know will entertain. Unfortunately, try as I might, my voice isn't strong enough to reach the entire audience. 

"Leanne." "Leanne," the chant begins. Everyone wants to hear my story.

They mumble other things that sound like sh-hh or be quiet or... But I must be hearing them wrong or they're talking to their neighbours. 

"Leanne, would you like to come up here?" Annie asks.

Give the audience what they want, they always say. So I squeeze past the legs.

Some people wave at me as I pass.

I reach Annie and she sweeps her hand at the microphone. "Be my guest."

Two hearty breaths into the microphone and I even have the soundman's attention.

"Like I was saying," I tell the audience, "being in the Ag Hall always reminds me of MILT--Mayne Island Little Theatre. This is where they stage all their theatrical performances.

"In 2014, MILT presented me with a dreamed-of opportunity when they held a playwriting contest. My pen poured words onto the page and soon my short play was finished. I was blown away when MILT selected my play to be staged. But I needed a director... actors... Georgia Johnson stepped forward and became a director. She interpreted the play for the stage. Mary Crumblehulme, Deb Foote and Mike Nadeau said yes and became actors. They breathed life into the characters. All of us working together gave our play a happy ending. I'm truly thankful they decided to take that amazing journey with me." I smile to myself, "So when Hollywood comes knocking at my door, I'll remember that MILT said yes first."

The hall erupts with applause. 

My admiring audience.

I look across the stage and notice that Annie has joined me.

"Leanne, are you done?" she asks.

Rude! But all I tell her is, "Almost." To the audience, I say, "I came to Mayne Island directionless and in need of healing. The beauty that surrounded me and the friendship that I was given helped to heal me. The support I've received from islanders such as Eleanor Cocker, Su Everet, Terrill Welch, Pam Withers, David Burrowes, Amber Harvey and especially my husband Byron. And... and... so many others. It took an island.

"How about if I put it like this... Everyone who read or listened to one of my stories--that includes all of you--you helped give my life direction. For this, I remain forever grateful."

That said I return to my chair.


On Stage with the Island Storyteller is the second story I've written about

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Book Review: Akin by Emma Donoghue

In this interesting interview, Emma Donoghue talks about Akin. 

Eighty-year-old, newly widowed, newly retired, Noah Selvaggio travels to his hometown Nice, France with an envelope full of mysterious photos and his great-nephew.

Micheal Jerome Young is an impoverished (think of the expanded definition), very America eleven-year-old. What will he think of France?

Published by HarperCollins Publishers
Published in 2019

It's World War II, you're living in Nice, France. Do you...

A) Work for the Resistance
B) Wait and see what happens--even though it's pretty clear what is happening to your Jewish neighbours
C)Collaborate with the Nazis

It's 2017, during a trip to France you discover evidence that seems to indicate that a beloved relative collaborated with the Nazis. What do you do?
'[A]lthough so many had claimed afterward to have been involved in the Resistance, only around two percent--mainly students and immigrants--had actually committed themselves. Perhaps another eight percent had taken timid steps.' (p. 101)
'And after all, didn't [Noah's] kind manage to ignore today's awful wrongs? Read the paper, shook their heads regretfully, sipped their lattes.' (p. 102)
Emma Donoghue has crafted yet another compelling read. As there are rather long chapters, I'm thankfully for the page breaks.

Things I'd like to ask Emma Donoghue--given the opportunity...

1)I recall an interview in which you said that your son had inspired Room. Did your son inspire this novel as well?

2)Why is Noah so quick to think the worse of his beloved relative with very little evidence when the opposite could be equally as likely?

3)Was writing about Noah's obvious irritation with grammar and other language issues mistakes therapeutic for you?

Here are some questions Emma Donoghue has answered.

Next Sunday evening...

I'll share a short story I wrote recently for this upcoming event... 

Storyteller evening--with music
at the Agricultural Society Hall
on Mayne Island, BC
at 7:30 PM
on Saturday, November 30th

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Writing About Books (list of quotes) collected by Leanne Dyck

I started reviewing books for this blog in 2012. Recently, I re-read my notes. To celebrate this blog's ninth anniversary, I compiled this list of quotes.

So all together now, let's sing the praises of reading--types the dyslexic. 

photo by ldyck

Writing about Books

'[B]ooks are the nation's most precious possession.' 
Independent PeopleHalldor Laxness

'[W]hen you handle books all day long every new one is a friend and a temptation.'
The HistorianElizabeth Kostova

'A book lives in every person who reads it.' 
SweepJonathan Auxier

'[S]he would not be without guidance, she would not be without love, without faith; she had a good book with her.' 
Cider House RulesJohn Irving

'[H]e had made Nan read it a second time. That is the sign that you really love a book.'
SweepJonathan Auxier

'He had found her reading a book, which was a peculiar occupation for a woman who was not a nun.' 
The Pillar of the EarthKen Follett

'[P]ublishing a book is like scattering ashes from an urn.'
SweepJonathan Auxier

'She chirps the last bit as if that were all to say about a book:  It's good or it's bad. I like it or I didn't. No discussion of the writing, the themes, the nuances, the structure. Just good or bad. Like a hot dog.' 
Gone GirlGillian Flynn


This morning I took my dog for a walk and inspiration struck. I hope you enjoy the result.

A Poem for November

November did try,
she filled her skies with blue
and let the sun shine

Still people shared poems
about how dull she is

But July told November,
"People need moody days too."

Next Sunday evening...

Book review:  Akin by Emma Donoghue

Maybe I could summarize this novel like this...

"What did you do during the war, Mom?"
"What did you do to end poverty, Son?"

Please click the link to read my review next week.