My talented friend, Fiona Howe, kindly sent me a copy of her new novel SHE DANCED for me to review.
As a writer and musician, Fiona Howe has long been fascinated by the interplay between words and music. Her professional background is in film and television. Having worked initially in production and script editing at the BBC and ITV, then as a screenplay writer for a number of European networks, she founded her own production company Scenario Films for whom she has produced, and composed the music for, an award-nominated trilogy of feature films, DESIRE, DELIGHT and DELIRIUM. She also produces film training programme Babylon, now in its tenth annual edition. A classical pianist and flautist with a BA in English Literature, she is also a singer-songwriter, having released her début album MERMAID’S WORK in 2016.
You can find my review below! She Danced is available on Amazon in both paperback (£8.99) and kindle (£3.99).
“Wow. An evocative piece of genius filled with extremely intelligent writing. I was hooked from the start as the author delves straight into the world of Mia with all of her complexities as she collides with Tom, an equally complex, but difficult character. There are strong thematic links you have to unpick and unravel and the storyline makes you really think; the interplay between love and desire and infatuation (the problematic nature of lust), secrets and family tensions, all with music and the urge to create at the beating heart of the novel. This was a fantastic read, well written, with a strong, emotional story line and diverse characters who are unnervingly relatable. This book is sitting proudly on my bookshelf and highly recommended if you are searching for a new haunting and powerful read. I look forward to further works from the talented Fiona Howe- New favourite author!”
You can order at this link. Please find a book synopsis below:
SHE DANCED tells the story of a successful, happily married woman whose certainties are upended by a chance encounter with a young musician living rough on the streets. Mia apparently has it all. Attractive, happily married, a successful film producer in her own right. But on the night she wins an award for her husband’s controversial documentary, her path collides with someone who will change her life forever. Singer-songwriter Tom is lost for love, betrayed by the object of his desire, Cleopatra, a ravishing but whorish singer with ambitions that won’t let anyone get in her way. Goaded beyond endurance, Tom walks out of her life and onto the streets where he has been living rough for three months. Mia passes Tom playing his heart out, barefoot and bleeding amidst the evening crowds, and gives him money for shelter. It might just have been an act of charity. He’s young enough to be her son. She’s on a roll, the production company she’s built up for so many years with her husband Stephen has achieved its first major success, and impulsively she wants to share her good fortune. Perhaps it’s also an act of atonement for her feelings about her daughter Lottie, whom she has idolised and sacrificed so much of her career to bring up, and whose sexual ambiguity makes her uncomfortable, stirring up feelings she was unaware of having buried. Her unease is transferred onto the young homeless man, whom she offers a room in her house, touched by his playing and his mysterious circumstances. Her unorthodox rescue mission sparks hostility from both Stephen and Lottie, and after seeing Tom through a spell in hospital she secretly rents him a flat, making him the subject of a new music documentary. Tom is handsome but weak, a moth-to-the-flame even as he charms those around him, and somehow Mia is falling under his spell without admitting it to herself. However, she has reckoned without the unscrupulous methods of her ingenious daughter to keep them apart.Alternating Mia and Tom’s emotional perpectives, She Danced explores the simultaneously transcendent and debasing power of infatuation, and the struggle to create. It’s a London novel, straddling west and east, bringing two cities, two generations into collision, a deconstruction of the politics of marriage between work-partners, a mother-daughter story, of deceit, duplicity and desire in the digital age.
She was a lilac sky
She was a pink sky
Warm and giving
She was a yellow sky
bright and waiting
She was an orange sky
Bold and waning
She was a red sky
She was a black sky
Cruel and dreamy
She was a green sky
A Strange, strange beauty
She was a blue sky
Moody; held onto heartbreak like a trophy
I was everything,
a kalleidescope of colours, feelings, emotions
They never know if they are coming or going, Just
Watch the colours bleed atop this flesh of white,
Just watch as he runs as he says:
that girl is too much, that girl is too much.
Please check out my poem ‘The Italian Tree’ on Free Verse Revolution
The August heat came with love and chance
A melodic butterfly gasoir dance
And stolen kisses underneath that old tree
The sapling brought from Italy
The one which grew up with me.
Ah, this old, crooked, strange tree
My mother loved to tell this story
how it could live for thousands of years
but would only ever bear fruit once.
What a gift it would be, in this lifetime
How wonderful, if the universe, aligned
In chance, in beauty, in laughter.
And like a bumblebee to lavender
That Summer the fruit came and so did you, to me
Your mouth on my mouth under the Italian tree
Orange fruit, sweet, and we
Two love birds perched underneath.
When the wolf fell in love with the girl.
When the leader of the wolf gang looks your way in
worn out leather and faded tattoos
Believe him when he says he is no good, he had lived longer than you
Ah but his smile, that jawline, his hands on the small of your back
You felt safe for the first time in your life, really, despite the bad.
He always smelt like hard whisky and smoke
Handsome with age
Hardened with age
You wouldn’t cross him
If only by mistake like the time you smiled at that man across the bar
But you knew this whisky wolf loved you, really
He would scream it at you all the time, he’d steal flowers from the cemetery too, See I can be Romantic, he’d say,
absent mother, abusive father, you never once saw him cry
You remember the wind in your hair, wild motorbike rides,
Dancing on bars
and tequila shots backwards,
That time you were so drunk you nearly got his name tattooed,
It almost felt end game, in bed, your head on his chest
the first time he told you he loved you,
The first time you told him you didn’t.
They say she was born with a Marilyn Monroe fate
And many a handsome James dean came her way
How she was always ready with a flash of a
Californian girl smile and a Hollywood laugh
Dressed up to the nines, pin-up girl thighs,
With that Dita Von Teese show girl vibe.
What’s a girl to do?
Break their pretty red hearts in two.
I fell in love
with a nightingale
He took my heart
And flew away
Do not fall in love
with a nightingale
They cannot stay
For this you pay
Its the wind
It calls them still
Fly away from her
She will never do you good
A home girl and a Wanderer
will always be apart
So take off now just be a man
Don’t mind her broken heart
The nightingale must fly away
There are so many things to see
I know you want to look at her
But think of Paris, Spain and Italy
So fly off now don’t be afraid
Her face, it soon will fade
Just remember it is yours, the sky
and soar soar soar
Everything made sense with you
Nothing made sense with you
Spoken Word Poetry
I think you were waiting for me to tell you that you were off the hook three years of your life wasted the sigh of relief at breaking the contract the oath of the long haul smashed my heart in pieces and ate the soft centre the look of surprise as though you were unaware there would be sharp edges blood dripping from your mouth onto our white pillows the ones we bought in the Zara home sale will you still remember my name five years from now and my lollipop tongue will you miss my smell my laugh and think of me sometimes like pepper spray to the eyes it will hurt like the pain I felt when you left remember the Ikea furniture flat pack all over our living room floor there is still a pink stain on the wall from the wine glass I smashed in a temper tantrum like a child I throw things and like an adult you walk away from me but difference is you don’t come back I leave the mark there for proof that I did not imagine our love that felt like forever but turned into regret what do you do when it is painful to stay and painful to go I think I will sit here and wait I think you will walk as fast as you can away from that rollercoaster girl.