If you look at the back of almost any book these days, you’ll see glowing recommendations from big name authors or other celebrities. You know: a fancy version of “This book is the best thing since sliced bread!”
Writing ‘book blurbs’ has become such a going concern that some well-known authors make a good chunk of change off it.
But when my manuscript was complete, I wasn’t looking for big name celebrities to lend their names. I wanted people who genuinely “got” my book. And I wanted individuals whose own writing reflects a passion for the thing we call “home”.
I asked only a few people and was very lucky: they all said yes. You’ll see their kind comments on the back cover of A Good Home.
The review came by email from Colin McAllister and Justin Ryan, interior designers who live in Scotland, England and Canada, and whose TV shows and columns about home design are well known internationally.
I never miss their newspaper columns. They combine a passion for home design, insights into the deep connection between people and their homes, and a great sense of fun at the same time.
But when Colin and Justin both read my book and sent their review, it surprised me. I read it, got up from the computer, drank a glass of cold water, dabbed my eyes, and immediately forwarded the review to my husband. Here’s what Colin and Justin wrote:
“When Cynthia Reyes dips her pen in ink (for this is how we imagine her, immersed in traditional techniques and devoid of modern day conveniences like laptop or iPad) she creates magic; captivating, heavenly prose falls from her quill.
She’s indeed a gifted scribe and, leafing the pages of A Good Home (gripped, as we were, from the opening paragraphs) we hung on her every, emotive word.
Cynthia, bereft at her cruelly adjusted physicality following a car crash, somehow – against all the odds – learns a new sense of positivity. A new sense of order. Recounting her past becomes the key to unlocking a better future; a future she thought might never properly unravel.
Using a sequence of recollections from previous homes – homes where her life was shaped and her character built – Cynthia discovers how to live again in the face of cramped, cruel adversity.
Her fear she’ll never write again, post trauma, is terrifying enough, but it’s her fear she’ll never again be the wife her husband once loved that is truly heart rending. Around her carefully arranged words we crawled nervously with her in unstinting ambition for recovery… and, page by page our hopes and dreams for Cynthia were fortified.
Towards the end of the book, to illustrate her newly found sense of perspective, Cynthia quotes Wordsworth’s poem of consolation over the loss of the meadows and fields in which he played as a child.
‘Though the radiance which was once so bright
Be now forever taken from my sight
Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower
We will grieve not, rather find
Strength in what remains behind.’
This is what Cynthia does so perfectly. So adeptly. She learns to embrace that which she still has, rather than that which was lost when her injury happened. And she learns to understand she’s still the wife she always wanted to be.
Cynthia Reyes’ glass is always half full. Rarely half empty. But ours, as we read her uplifting story, brimmed over….”
Well, my tough guy husband rarely cries. As in – almost never. But he’s been by my side through the toughest period of my life, and this book is as important to him as to me. When he read Colin and Justin’s review of my book, he couldn’t speak, and when he did, about all he could say was: “They got it.”
Thank you, Colin and Justin, for taking the time to read my book. And for loving it.
Long may you continue to give us new thoughts and ideas about that precious thing we call “home”.