Today's post comes from author Lari Don who has a review of Watch Over Me* by Daniela Sacerdoti as well as an interview with the debut author.
Over to you ladies....
This is a simple, clear, moving story, which carries the fact that it is told from at least four points of view very lightly. It paints a picture of a very particular kind of Scotland welcoming, beautiful, life-giving, creative that I would love to live in myself. And perhaps if I stopped and looked around, it would turn out that I already do!
Watch Over Me is about a young woman who has lost a pregnancy and a marriage, and has come back to her childhood home to recuperate. Will she find love, and a future? Or is she too damaged to let anyone else into her life?
But the perfect man is there, waiting for her, he just doesn't know it. And the force trying to bring them together is a ghost. I know. I worried about that too. But the author manages the ghost very subtly, without any rattling chains (the occasional flicked curtain and one guilt-laden broken ankle is as physical as this ghost gets.)
Im not normally a fan of ghost stories, I prefer my deaths to be final, but this afterlife is handled in a philosophically fascinating way the ghost in the book is not stuck permanently and forever in her old home, she has a period of grace during which she is part of the scenery, the loch and the air, then she will pass away completely. I find this a more reassuring kind of ghost, one enjoying a fading farewell, using gentle nudges to sort out the lives of those she left behind.
I recognised the world of this book. The hell of small girl ballet classes, sarky mums at school gates, and rural Scotland trying to work out what it is (local gossip, small shops, new art galleries).
And I cried. Yes, I cried, at the sad bits and the happy bits. I cared about the characters, and felt convinced by their world and their lives. And I thought more kindly about ghosts than I ever have before! A moving, warm, and inspiring book.
Interview with Daniela:~
You weren't brought up in Scotland, so do you think that allows you to see the country more clearly?
I suppose so! I think my husband helped me understand the Scottish character. He suggested a few books and films, the most diverse things such as Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, the poems of Sorley McLean and George McKay Brown, the work of Donald Murray. It took me several years to gain a certain understanding of the Scottish psyche…My very first impression of it was the warmth and loyalty experienced in my husband’s family, so that stayed with me. It’s very much reflected in Watch Over Me, I think. Another aspect of the Scottish character that doesn’t cease the amaze me is the incredible resilience and inner strength that I find very inspiring.
I am amazed at how authentic your Scottish dialogue was in Watch Over Me, and I don't mean in an Och Aye The Noo sort of way. Do you spend a lot of time listening to how people speak?
The way English in spoken in Scotland fascinates me, especially the way the older generation speaks. The dialogue from Peggy and Elizabeth is very much based on how my mother in law and my father in law speak. They have a beautiful way with the language, expressive, soft, and it makes me think of a simpler, gentler time. Of old Scotland, really.
You created a very original and fascinating form of afterlife in Watch Over Me. Do you believe in ghosts?
Ghosts as apparitions, I’m not sure. My mum saw the ghost of a neighbour, when she was a wee girl…A lady sitting on a stone wall in our home village of Caravino, who waved at my mum and smiled. She had died that morning. My mum is a very rational, no-nonsense person and she maintains that it really happened, so who knows? Ghosts as memories of the generations gone, yes, in that sense I very much believe in them. I think Sorley McLean in his poem Hallaig describes perfectly how spirits and stories are never really gone. In that sense, I very much believe in ghosts.
Most of the female characters in the book are defined in some way by their attitude to motherhood, and the main male character is an artist. Do youthink what we leave behind us when we go needs to be physical - children, art?
Not necessarily, I think it can be ideas, memories…some people are born to be facilitators for others, and that’s an infinitely precious role to have. So no, I think our inheritance can well be immaterial.
This is your first book, but you are working on several other books right now, in several different genres. What kind of writer do you see yourselfas?
I think I’ll probably end up writing mostly for young people and children, but ultimately I’ll just write whatever story wants to be written. I’ve been working on a new adult novel too, on and off. I’ve had to stop and start that particular book a few times because the subject matter is so emotional, and I find writing it quite draining, but it will be ready sooner or later. So I suppose that doesn’t answer the question much! I’ll say I see myself as a writer, that’s it.
Daniela on twitter and her blog
Lari on twitter and her blog
We would like to thank both authors for taking part in our Winter Warmers event.
*Although Watch Over Me is not a YA book, here at Midnight Reads we think it's a brill cross-over story.