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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Two Days at the Derby Book Festival

This week was the grand opening of Derby’s debut Book Festival. This was the first year that the city has put on the festival and they definitely pulled out all the stops. The week was packed full of exciting events, from writing workshops to performance poetry. Special guests included Rufus Hound and Michael Morpurgo, author of War Horse.

I attended two of these events. The first one was ‘A Conversation With David Nicholls’. David Nicholls is the author of the bestselling novel, ‘One Day’, and also the screenwriter of many Hollywood films including ‘Great Expectations’ and the recent ‘Far From The Madding Crowd’. David Nicholls is a very funny, down-to-earth man. He told us all about how he came up with Douglas, the main character of his new novel, Us, and how one particular incident in the book was inspired by a real life event involving an angry biker gang in Amsterdam.

The other event was on publishing – both the life of a publisher and how to get published. As someone who one day dreams of being published, the information I learned from this event was invaluable. The speakers – Julia Murday, a publicist at Penguin; Karen Ball, a publisher of children’s books; and Diane Banks, a literary agent – were fantastic. They explained what they look for in an author, and also gave advice on how to self-market your books. For example, we were told that as long as you’re careful with what you put out there, being active on social media is a huge help to your career, as it enables you to prove that your have contacts and potential book-buyers. They also stated that it’s incredibly important to keep an eye on the ever-moving trends, so if the time for bestselling sci-fi novels has passed, hold onto that manuscript and wait for the trend to come back round. Publishers are much more likely to choose your book if it fits in with the bestsellers at the time.

I highly recommend visiting a book fair to those of you who enjoy writing and reading. There are so many opportunities out there to meet and network with other people who one day might just be the contact you need to take a leap into your career, as well as all of the events that are held to teach you everything you need to know about the industry. There are over 350 book festivals in the UK, and the number keeps growing as they become increasingly popular. This was my first time attending one, but I know it will not be my last. I can’t wait for next year’s!derby book festival1

Entering Fictional Worlds

The thing that I love the most about reading, writing and binge-watching TV shows on Netflix is that they introduce me to new worlds, ideas and people that I never would have known otherwise. They completely sweep me away. It’s not that I’m not satisfied with the world I live in now because I freaking love my life, but fictional worlds give me a sense of exploring my world deeper.

One of my favourite questions to ask people (and I do ask it quite often) is which fantasy world they would most like to visit: Narnia, Hogwarts, Neverland, Wonderland, Panem, Middle Earth or Westeros? All of the characters from that world would be there for you to interact with. You can explore the worlds to your heart’s content. I think the answer that people give is always interesting. It says something about the person – not only that they are a fan of the story, but also what they want out of life. The kind of people they want to mix with. The kind of adventures they want to spend their lives having.

My answer is Hogwarts. Make of that what you will.

Just think. When you’re standing in the middle of a library, you’re surrounded by thousands of different worlds. Thousands of different characters to get to know. Thousands of adventures to be had. And when you write, more worlds, characters and adventures spill from your fingertips.

Everyone has a story in them. A writer’s job is to dig deep and pull them out in as many different ways as they can want. An artist does the same thing. So do actors, directors, musicians, chefs, builders, and basically every job you can think of. Everyone’s story is different. So is everyone’s world.

There are over seven billion people on Earth. That’s seven billion different stories. Seven billion different perspectives of the world they live in. I once read that every single person you meet knows something that you don’t, and I think that is a magical sentence.

What’s your story?

On Disneyland, Fan-Fiction and the Seven Dwarves.

Something that you will most likely know about me if you know me in real life, is my passion for writing. Writing is my everything. It’s one of my necessities of life. If I go a day without writing, I turn into Grumpy from Snow White & the Seven Dwarves. So if I can help it, that doesn’t happen.

However, for the past three years or so, my writing has revolved almost entirely around one single format: fan-fiction. I love it. You can go anywhere with it. Let’s say, for example, that you’re an emotional wreck, sobbing over the final page of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. If you’re not in denial about at least three deaths then I’m afraid I’m sending you to counselling. (Yes, I know it’s been 7 years. Let me wallow in despair, dammit!) But you can’t handle the fact that those characters never got their happily ever after, so you go back and rewrite it. You resurrect those poor souls who lost their lives in the Second Wizarding War and give them the happy ending that they always deserved.

Or, say, you ship (fangirl terminology) Romione or Hinny. They are you’re world, your OTP (more fangirl terminology), your gods. So you take a piece of paper and a pen, and you build their lives in your own words. You tell their story of passionate romance, heart-thumping excitement and adrenaline-filled adventure. And the best part is, they’re yours to play with. Your favourite character speaks the words you write, does everything you tell them to do. Or maybe you prefer Hermione with Draco (Dramione) and it’s up to you to tell their untold forbidden love story. You can even add characters of your own, building them out of nothing and slotting them into the wonderful fictional world that you fell in love with.

With fan-fiction, you can explore the uncharted lands of Middle Earth, have snowball fights in Narnia and play Quidditch at Hogwarts. And it’s not just books! Take a look at this website. There is fan-fiction for everything: TV shows, films, comic books, video games, professional wrestling – there’s even fan-fiction of the Bible (although that’s generally the weird side of the website – best avoided)!

Some people are strongly against fan-fiction, but they most likely have never tried it themselves. It’s understandable if you’re the author. Your writing is your baby. The characters are your children and the setting is your home. Personally, if an author has expressed a wish for fan-fiction of their baby to stop existing, then I’ll stay away from it. But I don’t see the problem. There are thousands of fan-fiction authors out there, and millions of stories. It is illegal to try to gain money through it, but I’ve never heard of anyone attempting it. Fan-fiction is a hobby, a method of writing practise. What better character practise is there than mimicking an already existing character?

And agents are scouting them out, too. More and more authors are being found through fan-fiction. Everyone has to be inspired by something, and as long as the fan-fiction is changed enough from the original that it is unrecognisable, then I don’t see any problem with it. If anything, I encourage it.

Now, my problem is that I have become so invested in writing stories based on existing stories that original writing has become nothing more than an acquaintance to me. For the past year, people have been telling me that I should be writing a book. have been telling myself that I need to write a book. A proper book. A real, original, all-my-own book. But the moment I set myself up with Microsoft Word all ready on my laptop, an idea pops up. I wonder what life was like after the Battle of Hogwarts? I start writing. So if Angelina dated Fred and married George, what if there was another girl who the other twin liked? My fingers fly over the keyboard, rapidly channelling words that flow from my brain to the virtual paper. How exactly did James and Lily end up together? And before I know it, there’s another first chapter of a new Harry Potter fan-fiction.

A few days ago, I was offered a solution to my problem: motivation. A deal has been made. If I have a book published by the end of next year, I’m going to Disneyland. And would you look at that? No ideas. Blankness. This was almost a week ago and only today have the seeds of an idea begun to form. Scene one of my future novel is complete. From here, it’s onwards and upwards.

Disneyland, I’m on my way.