Book Review – Where Rainbows End by Cecelia Ahern

Where Rainbows End review - Pinterest Graphic

Where Rainbows End, or Love, Rosie, as it is more popularly known is one of the sweetest, most heart-warming books that I have ever read. Upon finishing it last night, well into the early hours of the morning with the heavy weight of sleepiness settling over me, I found myself turning the final page with a warm feeling in my chest and a smile on my face. If the aim of this story is to encompass the feeling of falling in love, then I think it succeeded.

Back in January, I watched the film Love, Rosie, on one of those rare quiet nights in at university when I felt like I needed a good rom-com in my life. I loved it immediately. The characters, the story, the soundtrack, the imagery, and the general feeling of the film was me all over. And when I found out that it was based on a book, I knew that I had to read it. I bought it the next day.

Where Rainbows End is, however, very different from the film. Although the characters, concept and heart of the story remain the same, there are several big differences. Personally, I found that this did not detract from either of them, but instead gave me more to look forward to as I was reading the book without knowing exactly what was going to happen next.

The book is about best friends, Rosie and Alex, who grow-up together but circumstances cause them to suddenly live on different sides of the world. The book follows them through their lives as they remain in contact, struggling to both fight off and come to terms with their feelings for each other. But life is never as simple as that and sometimes reaching a happily ever after takes a fair bit of time and effort.

The most unique thing about this book is that it is written in the form of lots of different documents – letters, emails, chat-room messages, newspaper clippings, and even a couple of obituaries. By writing in this unconventional prose, Cecelia Ahern has perfectly encapsulated a sense of life that many books fail to do. As we read from the points of view of different characters, their believability is so strong that I almost feel like I really know them.

I also feel like this form lends itself perfectly to the romance genre. There is a romanticism to letters that is often forgotten nowadays, and if this book had failed at everything else, the one thing that it has definitely done for me is give me a new goal of writing more letters. As we rifle through Rosie’s assortment of lifelong documents, we explore the journey of the characters’ lives in a new and revealing way.

So many themes are explored in this book, but some of the ones that stood out to me were love in every form – family, friendship and romantic – following your dreams, and the circle of life. All of the characters strive to achieve their personal goals in life, and I feel that this adds a whole other dimension to the story, making it more than just your typical romance novel.

One of my favourite concepts of the book is the use of mirroring between the generations. Rosie is best friends with Alex, and her daughter, Katie, is best friends with Toby. Alex dreams of becoming a doctor and Toby dreams of becoming a dentist. And both pairs struggle to realise their true feelings for each other. I thought that this was a very clever way of encouraging Rosie to act on her feelings, as she did not want her daughter to make the same mistakes that she did.

I also found that the timeline of the story was important. Unlike in the film where Rosie and Alex reach their mid-thirties, in the book they go all the way to fifty without recognising their feelings for each other. There is something so poignant about the thought of going half a lifetime without finding your soulmate. This may be just because I am used to reading stories where the characters are much younger at the point of their happily ever after. However, I believe that the concept of finding love at fifty is important. It reflects reality in that sometimes it does take a long time, but the end isn’t what is important; it’s the getting there that matters. All of the characters lead full lives and their years do not go to waste.

But their romance is pretty important too.

I’m so pleased that I found this book. It is bursting with all of the happiness and heartbreak of life, stitched together in a unique way that tells a beautiful, poignant story of true love. I highly recommend it to everyone who loves a good rom-com or chick flick, or who just needs a little bit of love in their lives. Where Rainbows End is practically the definition of the word ‘love’.

And if you don’t feel like reading, then at least watch the film. For Sam Claflin, if nothing else.

Star Rating: 4/5

Author: Cecelia Ahern
Publisher: Harper Collins
Year of First Publication: 2004

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Yoga Bomb (Bath Bomb)

My sister’s post on her feelings of Lush’s ‘Yoga Bomb’. It’s a great review.

Soap Soak Scrub

I’m unsure about this product, but I think I love it.

While it might look bland on the outside, this bath bomb puts on an amazing show. As soon as you drop it in the water it turns into a sunshine, firing rays around the bath and turning the bath water bright yellow. After a while a trail of purple spurts out and creates a magical swirl that is mesmerising. Seriously, I couldn’t stop staring at it, I think it hypnotised me a little bit.

I love the bath water at the end of the fizzing, which is a dark amber colour, which is quite fitting for me. The bath is also filled with gorgeous gold glitter that I enjoyed.

I can’t decide if I like the scent of this bath bomb or not, I keep changing my mind about it. It is very woody and earthy, which did make…

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Let’s Never Grow Up

This year, I turn twenty. That is so strange to me. Twenty seems like it should be some kind of cut-off point. You’re no longer a teenager at twenty. It’s the age when you’re expected to start putting your teenage tendencies behind you and try to act like an adult. Legally in the UK, you become an adult at eighteen, although most of us seem to think that we’re adults on our sixteenth birthdays. The truth is, we’re not. We’re only pretending.

At nineteen, we’re more like adults-in-training than real, proper, responsibility-having adults. I mean, yes, we have responsibilities but everything that we need to worry about is still way ahead in the future. We’re only tasting freedom. Especially us students – it’s all just practise. All of the Big Things – getting our own house, having a career, kids, marriage – for most of us, are things that might happen eventually but not right now, so we don’t have to think about it. Some of us might have our own houses already. A lot of us have jobs, and most people will be at least thinking about what career they want to work in. Some nineteen year olds might even have kids or be married, or both, but in my experience for the most part, we’re still only practising.

Some people disagree. When I’ve voiced this opinion before, I’ve been told firmly that no, I am definitely an adult, there’s no getting away from it. Yes. Legally, I am definitely, absolutely, no question about it, an adult. But I don’t feel like one, and I don’t think I will for a long time yet. I’m still learning. I’m still figuring everything out. All of the things that people tell you your teenage years are for, I’m still working on now.

For example, I don’t know what I want to do in my future. I know that there are some things I want out of life, like a career that involves writing, and way, way in the future, I want to be a mum. But other than that, I don’t have a clue. I’m at university. I’m on a very industry-specific course. There are people who expect me to have chosen a path by now and be working on getting to my chosen destination, but I think I’d prefer to go on an adventure and explore all of the beautiful places I could go before I decide where to spend the rest of my life. There are so many options out there, and I change my mind all the time. I don’t think I’ll ever grow out of that. The only thing that’s been a constant love of mine forever is writing.

And I still don’t know who I am yet, but I don’t think anyone does, really. I know some things about myself but they are prone to change every now and then, and the person I thought I was yesterday might be a completely different person to who I feel like today. We might broadcast one or two versions of ourselves to the world, but we’re not that person all the time. We act different ways with different people. If you could see yourself with your friends, your family, and when you’re on your own, how do you know which version of you is the real you? They all are. We’re not just one person; we’re many. We’re all growing as people with every passing day, and we learn more and more about ourselves as the days go on.

As well as that, while all of the high-flying drama that seems to thrive in the air around teenagers might be over, my life is still riddled with worries and conflicts and problems, just like everyone’s. I’ve had my fair share of teenage drama in the past. My story is really not that different to everyone else’s, except that I went to a peculiar little school in the countryside where we had to do compulsory Eurythmy every week and participated in Michaelmas festivals where we dressed up as a dragon and pretend to be slain. But even then, I know at least nine other people who have those same tales to tell. (By the way, if you don’t know what Eurythmy is, it involves robes, cloth shoes, and gracefully waving your arms in the air as you float around the room. No, seriously.) I’m more than relieved that that period of my life, when every little thing was huge crisis and I was shrouded in a dangerous lack of self-confidence, is over. But even so, there have still been dramas in my life recently that make all of that angst look like nothing.

My point here is that while I might be leaving my teens behind at the end of this year, that doesn’t automatically make me an adult. I won’t suddenly start reading the newspaper every morning, fretting about bills, and tutting at childish things like believing in magic. The truth is, the news scares me and so does money, and I would happily believe in magic for the rest of my life if I could.

I think that we carry our teenage years with us through our entire lives. We might get to ninety and look at ourselves, and still find that struggling, confidence-lacking, angst-ridden version of ourselves shining through in some way. That’s not a bad thing. It just means that, even when we’re old and have seen everything there is to see, we’ll still be learning and growing every day.

I don’t know who I am. I don’t know what I want to do. I don’t have a clue where all of those winding paths up ahead will lead me. And that’s great. I don’t want to.

Let’s just not grow up. Of course, let’s keep aging and experiencing and learning, but let’s just stay the same as we are right now – expectant and excited for things to come. Let’s remain wide-eyed and hopeful like children on Christmas Eve. Let’s keep having fun and finding sparkles in shadows, and never knowing what’s around the corner. Let’s live for now, like we did yesterday.

 

Below are some carefully selected images of me throughout my teen years, from the age of 14.

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A Pretty Epic Year

Goodbye 2015, what a crazy year you were! Although I haven’t done a lot of blogging lately, a lot has happened in my life and I can happily say that I am leaving the year a completely different – and better – person than I entered it.

The Film Academy crew. See if you can spot me! (Thanks for that, Haider)

March – The Film Academy crew. See if you can spot me! (Thanks for that, Haider)

It’s absolutely bonkers to me that this time last year, I was panicking about an A-Level drama performance that felt like it was going nowhere – but that I later passed with flying colours. Back then, I was just beginning to have doubts about the Creative Writing degree I’d applied for, and the BFI Film Academy course was creeping up on me with every passing day as I remained oblivious to just how life-changing it would be. I didn’t know half the people I know now. Everything was scary and intimidating. I had no independence. I was a different person. Before, the world was too big for me but now I’ve grown to fit the world a little bit more.

Family trip (minus Tom) to Conwy Castle.

April – Family trip (minus Tom) to Conwy Castle.

Last year, I made this post about my new year’s resolutions. This year, I’m not making any resolutions because for the first time in as long as I can remember, I’m completely happy with who I am. This is a huge deal for me. I’ve always been self-conscious, caring too much about trivial things like my weight and what people thought of me. Over summer, I lost a lot of weight but even if I put it all back on now, I’d still be happy, and I’ve realised that what people think of me really doesn’t matter. I am happy with how I look and who I am.

September - The girls (minus Georgie) from my first flat during Freshers.

September – The girls (minus Georgie) from my first flat during Freshers.

I think the main reason for this is university. To say that going to uni at all was a last minute decision is an understatement, and I truly believe that had I not gone, I wouldn’t be as happy as I am now. I’ve only done one semester so far, but already uni has given me more opportunities and experiences than I could have imagined. Just surviving on my own has given me a huge confidence boost. When you’re forced to be independent, you have to push your anxieties and fear aside and just go for it. And being thrust into a new city on the other side of the country where I know absolutely no one would have seemed like a nightmare to me last January – or even last August  – but now I could happily walk into a group of strangers and make friends. If I ever need to, that is.

November - Out with my new housemates on my birthday. Such a good night!

November – Out with my new housemates on my birthday. Such a good night!

My last uni update was back in September, and even more things have changed since then. I moved into a different halls of residence. When I took the first accommodation, I was told that I had to find somewhere new by December as the international students would then move in. So, the race was on for us to find somewhere else to live. I literally couldn’t have made a better decision when I chose this place. I don’t know if any of my new housemates will read this but there’s a good chance they will so I won’t make this too soppy. I’ll just say that from the moment I first set foot in this place, they welcomed me like family and I’m so glad I know them now. I’ll also say that before I moved in, I barely drank any alcohol. Now, thanks to them, I can probably be found lying on the stairs most Wednesday nights. Thanks a lot, guys.

December - the Morledge family takeover at Disneyland.

December – the Morledge family takeover at Disneyland.

Of course, the year hasn’t been all smiles, laughter and drunk antics. My final few months of college brought me a whole lot of stress and anxiety, and there was the terrifying few weeks at the beginning of summer when I passed out in hospital and the doctor said I’d had a seizure. But hey, if you’re gonna have a seizure anywhere, a hospital is probably the best place to have it! Even if it was the night before one of my exams. The beginning of uni was a difficult time too, when I wasn’t sure of anything, didn’t know anyone and missed home like hell. But clearly, as things have a tendency of doing, everything turned out alright.

And there are even more things to look forward to in 2016. First and foremost, my beautiful older sister is having a baby. We’re all so excited and I can’t wait to meet my little niece in April. Our family is going to make her the most loved little girl in the world. As well as that, we’re also going on holiday In the summer, straight off the back of this Christmas’s Disneyland trip, which is a whole other blog post in itself. And, of course, there’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them coming out in November. It’s all a Harry Potter fangirl can do to stay sane for so long. Well, as sane as I already am, at least.

Christmas day 2015. Surrounded by family and full of food.

Christmas day 2015. Surrounded by family and full of food.

All in all, 2015 has been a pretty epic year for me, and I hope it’s been just as brilliant for you. I am so grateful to my family and friends – old and new – for being there for me when I needed you. Thank you to all of my housemates and coursemates. All of you are fantastic.

Happy New Year!

My University Story So Far

I haven’t written anything for weeks. Literally, nothing. Not a single short story. That’s the bad news. The good news is that I am currently writing this sat at a new desk surrounded by pretty new fairy lights and lots of random paperwork I haven’t read yet. My new desk, fairy lights and paperwork are 105 miles from home, but I love it here.

My bedroom shelf at uni.

My bedroom shelf at uni.

Two months ago, I did not want to go to university. The thought of travelling so far away and being thrust into the world of adulthood without anyone to look out for me (not to mention more education!), was terrifying. But that was the only thing holding me back: fear. It was getting towards the end of summer and I had been out of college since the beginning of June. My days were blurring together, there was no sign of a job on the horizon, and I was sick of the sight of myself. I didn’t know what to do with my life.

Then, a week before A-Level results day, my mum casually mentioned ‘clearing’ at the dinner table. For those of you who don’t know, clearing is a system that universities use typically if a potential student doesn’t get the grades they need to get into their first choice uni. As I wasn’t going to uni, the thought hadn’t occurred to me, but all I had to do was get released from the course I’d previously applied for and no longer wanted to do (Creative Writing), and then I was eligible for it. This brought round a whole new world of potential. There are so many courses out there for everything, and I needed that week to whittle down all of my options to find the right one for me.

Having completed the BFI Film Academy course earlier in the year, I knew that I wanted a job in the media industry, and once I’d decided that, I looked for any and all courses that held the Creative Skillset tick. The Creative Skillset tick signifies that the course is very practical with excellent industry contacts, which was just what I wanted. Upon finding the Television Production course, I immediately fell in love with it and knew that was the course I needed to get on.

Clearing was both terrifying and surprisingly easy. Bright and early on the morning of results day, I stumbled downstairs and opened the email attachment containing my results. BBC! (That’s got to be a sign, right?) But there was no time to celebrate. After a quick glass of orange juice so that I didn’t sound like I just woke up (which I had), I rang the university and had a quick interview with the head of the media school, who then told me that I had a place. I had never been so happy! And once my accommodation was sorted out – which was super stressful but totally worth it – all I had left to do was go shopping.

Moving day came around quicker than any of us could prepare for. I was a complete bundle of nerves and excitement, although saying goodbye to my dog sobered me up nicely. The journey took about two hours with a heavy printer on my lap, and the four of us were all squished because I had decided to bring along half my bedroom. By the way, if you’re planning for university next year, don’t take along half your bedroom.

I’ve been at uni for a week and a half now and, although it’s hard at times, I can safely say that it’s the best decision I’ve made. That doesn’t mean to say that it’s what would be best for you as everyone’s different with different goals, but for me in particular, I’m so glad I decided to come here. Once all of our parents had left, a group of us in our flat walked into town. We’ve quickly become like a little family and I love everyone I’m living with even though we were strangers a week and a half ago.

If you’re reading this worried about who you’re going to be moving in with when you start university, please stop worrying. You’ll find that if you put yourself out there and really try to be friendly to everyone, you’ll make friends a lot quicker. Everyone’s in the same boat, and they’re more likely to make friends with the person who smiles at them than the person who hides from them.

I borrowed a picture of some of my flatmates - hope you don't mind! XD

I borrowed a picture of some of my flatmates – hope you don’t mind! XD

I know it’s difficult. I’m definitely not a very independent person and going so far from home was miles out of my comfort zone. I’m also pretty quiet and find it hard to be myself around people I don’t know, but whenever I’ve tried hard to talk to people, even if it’s a little awkward at first, everything has worked out well. Homesickness has also been a slight problem for me as I’m very close to my family, but a phone call always makes things better, and I have friends here who I know care for me and look out for me, which I am so grateful for. Having anxiety, this was bound to be a difficult experience at times, but despite that, I am loving every minute of it.

I’m sure the uni life will lead to some crazy adventures, and awesome friends are already being made. I’m excited to see what exciting thing happens next.

Ending Old Journeys and Starting New Ones

Well, this year has definitely been a journey. My 2014 resolution was to publish something, and thanks to the encouragement of my friends and family, I did just that. Granted, it wasn’t the book that I’ve envisioned in my future, but we’ve got to save something for this year, right? Nevertheless, seeing my theatre reviews in print in an actual magazine that people buy, gave me a feeling of pride that I’ll never forget. It was a huge moment for me. Thank you so much to everyone who helped me achieve this, especially Artsbeat’s editor, Amanda Penman, for giving me the opportunity to get my foot in the door.

I got through my first year of college this year. You may or may not know that I’ve found college to be a rather difficult challenge and have come close to giving up more than once. But I got through it, passed all my subjects, and so far my final year has been much better.

What else have I achieved this year? Well, this blog for one thing. Over the years, I’ve started and restarted so many blogs that I’ve lost count, but this is the first one that I’ve held close to my heart. And I think that shows because you have been so supportive of it. Thank you, everyone, for reading all of my mundane ramblings, putting up with my rants, and being interested in what I have to say. I wouldn’t be here writing this if it wasn’t for every single one of you.

I am so proud of all of my friends and family for what they have achieved this year. My dad’s football reviews are being published in the club’s magazine, my mum’s beautiful paintings are selling better than ever, my older sister has started a new (extremely busy) journey to midwifery, my brother has been promoted, and my little sister performed stunningly in her Class 8 Play before going off to Iceland with her friends at the beginning of summer. I can’t begin to describe how proud I am to have a family as kind and talented as them.

And what do I have to look forward to in 2015? In January, I’m attending a film course with BFI that could lead to all sorts of exciting things. I’ll be taking my exams and finishing college in summer, which will lead to me taking a new path into the unknown world of Adulthood, wherever that may be. Whether I start university or take a year out to focus on writing, I know that next year will be full of opportunities. And then, to celebrate my parents’ 25th anniversary, we’re going to Disneyland! Remember, this post from way back in May? Well, it’s finally happening! I guess publishing reviews was good enough. (Not that I’m giving up on the book front.)

I don’t truly believe in ‘resolutions’, as the word seems to discourage people to stick to them. But I do believe in making plans and goals for the coming year. So here are mine.

1. Write a book.
I’m not giving up on this. It will happen this year, I swear. I’ve made my first steps towards it, and nothing’s going to stop me now.

2. Write more, in general.
I’m going to write everything. Articles, blog posts, book reviews, theatre reviews, poetry, scripts, music, everything. If there’s something that I haven’t tried writing before, I’ll do it this year.

3. Learn guitar.
I’ve always wanted to be Ed Sheeran, but my chances of that were greatly diminished when I stopped my guitar lessons at five years old. Now, with a renewed sense of music, I will finally begin to achieve my dream of becoming a musical sensation (ha!).

4. Face my future.
I’m terrified of adulthood. Now, at eighteen years old, I’m not going to be scared anymore. Honest.

5. Eat healthier and exercise more.
This one is not a promise.

What are your New Year’s resolutions/plans? Let me know in the comments.

Merry Slightly Late Christmas, and Happy New Year!

Lots of love, from Beth.


Listening to: Wrecking Ball by Jasmine Thompson
Watching: Thor: The Dark World
Drinking: Schleur
Eating: Christmas chocolate