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Posts Tagged ‘Evie Gaughan’

When I started this feature all those many moons ago, it was my way of shining a wee spotlight on a book or an author, and I had no idea about the many brilliant books or authors I would discover on this journey. But I am happy to say that the books I’ve bought have been fantastic, the authors who’ve taken part in the Q&As have all been brilliant and I’ve fallen in love with so many new books. I hope that others have found a new book or two to love!

Today’s book in the spotlight was written by a wonderful Irish author who I discovered a wee while ago, having read one of her recent books, I was keen to go back to her earlier books because I loved the way she could weave a tale effortlessly and bewitch me with her words.

  • Title: Betwixt
  • Author: Evie Gaughan
  • Publisher: Self published
  • Publication Date: 25th August 2015

Copy purchased via Amazon.

Description:

An atmospheric short story set in the Irish countryside.

Catherine returns to Hollowbrook Cottage on a cold November night, looking to escape her present life and lose herself in the past. However, her journey crosses the path of a mysterious stranger who will change her life forever.

My Thoughts:

I should admit that I’ve had Betwixt on my Kindle for a wee while now, I kept saying to myself that I would read it soon, but as we all know, the best laid plans and all that … so in an attempt to read more of what I fancy and when I hunted it out on my Kindle the other night and curled up on the sofa.

Although it’s a short story, only 36 pages, there’s a lot of detail and atmosphere packed into this story.
The emotions of the main character Catherine are so strong from the outset, taking readers along with her as she attempts to navigate the foul weather and reach Hollowbrook Cottage and the sanctuary it will provide, but first she has to contend with the owner of the cottage Mrs Donnelly. Mrs Donnelly is an old fashioned, perhaps brusque woman who is curious about the young woman renting her cottage in the winter season, but she’s not one for doing favours for anyone and soon makes it clear that the accommodation is barely adequate due to it being so out of season for rental.

Navigating narrow country lanes in pitch dark and torrential rain would be a challenge for any driver, but Catherine has a lot on her mind. She’s trying to remember exactly where along this unmarked stretch of road Hollowbrook Cottage is in relation to where she is when she happens upon another traveller on the road.

I’ll leave you to discover the plot for yourself, but I will say that I found myself utterly spellbound by this story. The scenes were brought to life with vivid descriptions, I could almost smell the peat that warmed the cottage, I could see the inside of the cottage, it all felt so real. The characters feel so real, their stories written in such a way that they come alive for the reader, even in a short story. I felt that I could understand the emotions of Catherine, make sense in the things she said and heard, absolutely loved one line in particular “Life doesn’t get easier, we get stronger”, so much sense in those seven words, a message from the author perhaps.

If you’re after a captivating tale to curl up with on an autumnal afternoon or evening then this is a book worth checking out. It’s packed with detail, beautifully descriptive and well written.

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Welcome to another Friday, and a post to celebrate another great book from a brilliant indie publisher.  Today’s book is the magnificent The Story Collector by Evie Gaughan which was published Urbane Publications on 14th June 2018.


Book Feature:

thestorycollector-667x1024Description:

A beautiful and mysterious historical romance from the author of The Heirloom and The Mysterious Bakery on Rue de Paris.

Thornwood Village, 1910. Anna, a young farm girl, volunteers to help an intriguing American visitor, Harold Griffin-Krauss, translate ‘fairy stories’ from Irish to English.

But all is not as it seems and Anna soon finds herself at the heart of a mystery that threatens the future of her community and her very way of life…..

Captivated by the land of myth, folklore and superstition, Sarah Harper finds herself walking in the footsteps of Harold and Anna one hundred years later, unearthing dark secrets that both enchant and unnerve.

The Story Collector treads the intriguing line between the everyday and the otherworldly, the seen and the unseen. With a taste for the magical in everyday life, Evie Gaughan’s latest novel is full of ordinary characters with extraordinary tales to tell. Perfect for fans of Jess Kidd and Eowyn Ivey.

 

My Thoughts & Review:

Every now and again a book comes along that utterly captures your attention, takes your breath away and roots itself deeply in your heart….
I’ve been fortunate enough to have encountered a rare handful of these books, Rose McGinty’s Electric Souk, Hans Fallada’s Alone in Berlin, and William Ryan’s The Constant Soldier instantly spring to mind, but it’s fair to say that Evie Gaughan’s The Story Collector will be joining them.

This is a beautifully written tale that captures the heart and imagination of readers as it deftly weaves together two stories from different timelines that pull a range of emotion from the audience.  Readers first encounter a hint of mysticism, folklore and sadness from the opening pages, setting the tone perfectly for what lies ahead.

The two lead female characters in this book are not dissimilar in their struggles – both trying to find their place in the world and rebuilding after heartbreaking loss.  2010 sees the reader meet Sarah Harper, an American woman on a slow spiral of self destruction.  Life hasn’t worked out fairly for her, events have robber her of joy and happiness, her marriage has broken down and she seeks solace in alcohol.
Alcohol being the catalyst for a journey that takes her hundreds of miles from home, where she discovers a diary written by Anna, a young Irish woman in 1910.
Anna is an eighteen year old woman who lives in Thornwood Village, surrounded by tales of fairies, superstition and folklore, tales that the villagers are fiercely proud of.  An American scholar, Harold Griffin-Kraus, arrives in the village with the desire to hear the tales and collect them for publishing and soon takes Anna on as his assistant.  Their joint explorations of folklore and myth are beautifully and hauntingly captured through Gaughan’s awe inspiring writing.  The tales, whilst “otherworldly” are entrancing and having an interest in mythology and folklore, I found these utterly beguiling, wanting to read more.

Clever use of diary entries give narration from Anna’s perspective and breaks up Sarah’s story, slowly giving readers a heartbreaking tale from both of the main characters.  Only when the time is right does Gaughan reveal the full extent of the tragedy that befell her characters and by doing so, ensures that readers have become invested in her wonderfully crafted creations.

The exploration of emotion and human nature is beautifully written, at times the decisions made by the characters may not be fully understandable.  But when faced with the facts of what they have encountered, you soon begin to see that the decisions, actions etc are those of a fragile and damaged person, trying to do “the right thing”, without any concrete idea what the right course may be.  The evocative and descriptive writing is magical!  I found that I could see the grandeur of Thornwood House, the cramped but homely cottage of the Butler family, the warmth of Anna’s love for Betsy the family cow, but also the vivid rawness of Sarah’s emotional state.
Initially I struggled to connect with Sarah, something about this character felt hard and unreachable but the more I read, the greater my understanding became.  I found that I needed to know what went so wrong in her life, I want to find out more about her and I wanted her to stop and take a moment to just ‘be’.

An absolutely enchanting story that captures the heart of readers and transports them.

You can buy a copy of The Story Collector via:

Amazon UK


Author Feature:

evie-goodreads

Evie Gaughan is the author of The Heirloom, a fusion of historical and contemporary fiction set in Ireland and The Mysterious Bakery On Rue De Paris, a magical story about a French boulangerie.  Her third novel, The Story Collector, will be published by Urbane Publications in June 2018.

Living on the West Coast of Ireland, which is not renowned for its sunny climate, Evie escapes from the inclement weather into a converted attic, to write stories and dream about underfloor heating. Growing up in a walled medieval city, Evie developed a love of storytelling and all things historical. With a taste for the magical in everyday life, her stories are full of ordinary characters with extraordinary tales to tell.

Evie is also an artist and has been known to hold the odd exhibit of her works in her native Galway.

 

What’s your most favourite thing about being an author?

Escaping into my imagination and creating something tangible out of nothing.  Seeing my manuscript make the journey from my head, to my laptop and ultimately to a book that I can hold in my hands.  I don’t think any author takes that process for granted, because from the moment that little idea pops into your head, you’re never really sure if it’s going to make it.

What’s your least favourite thing about being an author?  

Aside from the crippling self-doubt??  I suppose, it’s having to fight to be taken seriously.  I think when people hear that you are a writer, but they haven’t heard of your books, they assume you’re delusional!  Lots of people are writers, it’s not some sacred vocation, we don’t wear robes (well, not all the time!)  So yes, that can get a bit tiring.

If you could have written any book what would it be and why?

Oh my God, this is tough!  Actually, I’m going to give myself a get-out clause and choose a non-fiction book.  I wish I had written The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron.  It’s like a bible for creative types and has inspired millions of people around the world to pursue a more creative life.  I don’t know if I would be a writer today, had I not read that book – so yes, I would love to have written something that helps others find their inner spark!

How do you spend your time when you’re not wrapped up plotting your next book?

Honestly, I’m not sure I know how to switch off properly!  Do any of us?  But when I do, I like the simple things in life like being in nature, being with people I love.

Do you have a set routine for writing?  Rituals you have to observe? I.e. specific pen, silence, day or night etc.

If being disorganised is a routine, then yes!  My favourite place to write is in my attic (when it’s warm enough).  I feel high above the world up there, so I put on some music and try to escape into the world I’m creating.  I’m not so much disciplined as dedicated.

What’s on the horizon?  What can your fans look forward to next?

I’m slowly piecing together the beginnings of my fourth novel, which I’m hoping will be a bit like Cloud Atlas but not as confusing!

Finally, if you could impart one pearl of wisdom to your readers, what would it be? 

Read what makes you happy – life is too short to read books you don’t enjoy.

Can you tell me a little about your latest book?  How would you describe it and why should we go read it?


The Story Collector begins in 1910, in a small lrish village called Thornwood, where a young American scholar undertakes a study to prove the existence of fairies.  He hires a local girl, Anna Butler, to help with his research, but before he can finish his work, he is thrown into prison and charged with murder.  One hundred years later, a young American woman arrives by chance in the same village, uncovering the true story that has been kept hidden for a century.

The Story Collector is a novel full of folklore and superstition.  It explores the unseen world that lies just beyond our fingertips, the fluttering of wings against the windowpane, blurring the lines between reality and imagination.

If you love stories that find magic in the everyday, then this one is for you!

 

Social Media Links:

Website: https://eviegaughan.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/evgaughan
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/evgaughan/

 

 

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