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Posts Tagged ‘Fir for Luck’

Punch cover inc. quotes

** My thanks to Barbara Henderson for my copy of Punch and for inviting me to be part of her blog tour **

 

Description:

Wrong place. Wrong time. A boy on the run.
THE MARKET’S ON FIRE. FIRE! FIRE! THE BOY DID IT!

Smoke belches out through the market entrance.

And me?

I turn and run.

Inverness 1889.

When 12-year-old Phin is accused of a terrible crime, his only option is to flee. In the unlikely company of an escaped prisoner and a group of travelling entertainers, he enters a new world of Punch and Judy shows and dancing bears.

But will Phin clear his name?

And what can he do when memories of a darker, more terrible crime begin to haunt him?

My Thoughts & Review:

Once in a while, an author comes along that possesses the rare gift of being a true storyteller.  A storyteller who can weave together a tale so wondrous and fascinating that you can barely pause for breath or tear your attention away, and for me that is Barbara Henderson.  From the first pages of her debut Fir For Luck I knew that this was an author I would be devotedly following from now on, and you cannot begin to imagine my happiness when I heard about her next book Punch.

A wonderfully rich and exciting plot awaits the reader behind such a vivid cover, and one of the most impressive things about this book is that it is narrated from the perspective of 12-year-old Phin which allows readers the opportunity to experience the world from a very different point of view.  The reason that I am most impressed with this is the fact that as a woman in her 30s, I rarely see the world without my over analytical (and sometimes anxious) mind, whilst the world is never black and white, through the eyes of Phin we see the world entirely different.  Phin’s take on the world around him, and indeed the adults that have thus far shaped his life make for interesting reading and really add another layer to this novel.  He is an exceptional character, and despite the cruel hand that has been dealt to him, he never fails to show compassion and decency towards others.  I was particularly struck by the compassion he showed towards the children in the audience at one of the shows of Professor Merriweather Moffat’s Royal Entertainment Show. 

Victorian Scotland really comes alive from the pages as Barbara Henderson masterfully casts her spell on readers.  The vivid descriptions are utterly beguiling, I could conjure clear images in my head of settings and characters, I felt like I was there in 19th Century Edinburgh and Balmoral.  It was almost like stepping back in time when reading this, and I loved every second of it.

A captivating novel that I have no doubt will steal the hearts of readers across the generations and I know I will be saving my copy of this remarkable book for my daughter to read in a few years time.

I would urge you to buy a copy, I cannot recommend this (and Fir For Luck) highly enough.

You can buy a copy of Punch via:

Amazon
Wordery
Book Depository
Waterstones

 

 

About the Author:

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Barbara Henderson has lived in Scotland since 1991, somehow acquiring an MA in English Language and Literature, a husband, three children and a shaggy dog along the way. She now teaches Drama, although if you dig deep in her past you will find that she has earned her crust as a relief librarian, receptionist and even a puppeteer. Her worst job ever was stacking and packing freshly pressed margarine tubs into cardboard boxes while the plastic was still hot – for eight hours a day. She is still traumatised!

Barbara has been interested in the history of the Highland Clearances since the early 90s. But it was when she stumbled across the crumbling ruins of Ceannabeinne, near the village of Durness on holiday, that her current novel Fir for Luck began to take shape in her imagination – and that story simply wouldn’t be ignored.

Over the years, writing has always been what she loves most: Barbara has won several national and international short story competitions and was one of three writers short-listed for the Kelpies Prize 2013 with a previous novel manuscript.
Barbara currently lives in Inverness and spends her time researching how on earth other people manage to make money from writing.

She blogs regularly at www.write4bairns.wordpress.com

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Welcome along to another Friday, and another post to celebrate Indie Publishing!  Today I am delighted to introduce you to Cranachan Publishing headed up by Anne Glennie and Helen MacKinven.  Today I have  a review of the awe inspiring “Fir for Luck” by Barbara Henderson to share with you and a short interview with the woman behind the tale.


Book Feature:

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Published: 21 September 2016
5 out of 5 stars

Description:

Would you be brave enough to fight back?

When 12-year-old Janet’s village is under threat– she decides to take action. It’s a split-second decision that could cost her everything: her home, her family – even her life.

Can Janet save her village from being wiped out? Or will her family and friends be forced from their homes to face an uncertain future?

Based on real life events, Fir for Luck is a tale of the brutal Highland Clearances, when land owners cared more about sheep than people.

 

My Thoughts & Review:

When I first saw this book advertised as a “Children’s Book” I was sceptical, would I enjoy it, would it hold my attention, would there be enough story there to fascinate me – these were just some of the initial ponderings I had, and happily I can say I needn’t have worried.

“Fir for Luck” is a magnificently written book,  and one I think may well sneak onto my top books of 2017.
Steeped in rich history, Barbara Henderson weaves together the tale of a young girl in a Highland village who struggles to comprehend the fate of her community.  For those not familiar with the history of the Highland Clearances, this is a book well worth reading, it acts as a little guide to a brutal point in Scottish history, but by adding the human element through young Janet, Henderson really brings the tale alive.  During the Clearances, tenants were driven from their homes and villages (often with violence) to free the land for sheep farming which was seen as the more profitable use for land at the time.  The villagers were given little to no notice that they were to be evicted from their homes, and little opportunity to find somewhere else to go before being left destitute.

One of the best things about this book was the idea of a young girl being the first to find out about the eviction order.  The innocence of childhood, the black and white thinking that comes with a mind uncomplicated by adult themes makes this a truly remarkable read.  Janet is a wonderfully endearing character and one I think many readers will feel a bond with.  Her determination to save her family and community makes my heart break at times but also swell with enormous pride.  Her fierce intelligence and headstrong ways means she is not afraid to speak out when she believes something is wrong (up here we’d call her “thran“).  Her defiance towards following the set gender stereotypes is something I think many of the female target audience will appreciate – why shouldn’t she be allowed to go with the men on Bent Day?

The vivid descriptions used in the writing transport the reader to early 19th Century Sutherland, the reader can smell the peat in the air, see the beautiful rugged setting, envision the smoke filled cramped homes of the villagers.  There’s a richness to this that I had not expected and I thoroughly enjoyed stepping back in time reading this.  The pace of the story is swift and excellently matched to the tale, this makes for a spellbinding read.  The inferences of Scottish folklore and superstition (fir for luck in the chain of the cooking pot, not allowing the Writ to be touched by any of the villagers to complete execution etc.) were a lovely nod to tradition and added an authenticity to the story.

Despite this book being aimed towards an audience of 8-12 year olds, I would recommend it everyone.  Yes, it is a good book for children to read to gain an understanding of the Highland Clearances, but it also teaches the audience to find the courage that lies within them and embrace what lies ahead.

A very impressive debut novel from a very promising author, one I will be keeping an eye on in the future.  I just need to find out if Barbara Henderson will be at any literary events so I can get a signed copy of this beautifully enchanting book!

You can buy a copy of “Fir for Luck” via Amazon here or Book Depository here


Author Feature:

barbara-henderson-bio-photo

Barbara Henderson has lived in Scotland since 1991, somehow acquiring an MA in English Language and Literature, a husband, three children and a shaggy dog along the way. She now teaches Drama, although if you dig deep in her past you will find that she has earned her crust as a relief librarian, receptionist and even a puppeteer. Her worst job ever was stacking and packing freshly pressed margarine tubs into cardboard boxes while the plastic was still hot – for eight hours a day. She is still traumatised!

Barbara has been interested in the history of the Highland Clearances since the early 90s. But it was when she stumbled across the crumbling ruins of Ceannabeinne, near the village of Durness on holiday, that her current novel Fir for Luck began to take shape in her imagination – and that story simply wouldn’t be ignored.

Over the years, writing has always been what she loves most: Barbara has won several national and international short story competitions and was one of three writers short-listed for the Kelpies Prize 2013 with a previous novel manuscript.
Barbara currently lives in Inverness and spends her time researching how on earth other people manage to make money from writing. She blogs regularly at www.write4bairns.wordpress.com

 

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

To be honest – there are loads of things I love about being an author. But most of all, I love the way that an idea can take hold of you, and – in time – that very idea, these very characters and situations and places, can take hold of a reader’s imagination, too.

For such a long time, I was the only person who knew about Janet, the main character in my clearances novel Fir for Luck. Now I get kids coming up to me at school visits, saying ‘I like how Janet is so brave’ or ‘Wee Donald is my favourite character’ or (as a kid said to me yesterday) ‘your book is the best book in the world!’ My story, the one that started only in my head, is now in lots of heads. There is no better feeling than that!

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

It’s slow work, and sadly, there is no guarantee that somebody is going to publish, sell or buy your book. I’d love to write full time, but there is not quite enough certainty for that yet. I have written so many manuscripts that have yet to see the light of day. You have to have quite a thick skin! Perseverance and tenacity are probably just as important as talent.

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

This varies a lot. Saying that, I really admire authors who write funny fiction. It’s one of the hardest things to achieve: series like How to Train your Dragon or Mr Gum have me in stitches. Wish I’d written those!

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

I play fiddle, I walk my dog, I hang out with my beyond-crazy family, and I read lots. Boring things like housework and taxi-ing kids around need to happen too – but my part-time job as a Drama teacher is interesting and varied, and I get to spend a lot of time with young people – the very audience I like to write for! All good!

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

Not rituals as such, but coffee helps – ideally from my favourite Inverness café, Velocity. I’ll often go there when I have trouble getting started – at home there are so many distractions! The ‘white’ noise of a café doesn’t disturb me at all, but I find that the traffic of kids and teenagers in my own house is harder to ignore. I leave the last sentence unfinished at the end of a writing session, so it’s easier to start straightaway the next day. I read every word aloud before I show it to a living soul! And photos and images really help me focus on the world I try to create, so the study is plastered with pictures. My best writing happens when others in the house are sleeping: sometimes last thing at night, but often first thing in the morning. The bags under my eyes bear testament to that!

A huge thank you to Barbara for taking part and letting us know more about her, if you’d like to know more about Barbara and her books you can check out her website www.barbarahenderson.co.uk or follow her on Twitter @scattyscribbler

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If you are an independent publisher or author and would like to feature on “Celebrating Indie Publishing” Friday please get in touch – email and twitter links are on the “About Me & Review Policy” page

 

 

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