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

From Buses to Broadway to BFI BFFs

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Three months. It’s been three months since I last wrote to you. It’s unforgivable, I know, and I apologise profusely from the bottom of my heart. However, I do have an excuse: I’m a filmmaker now.

Since January, I have been attending a BFI Film Academy at Broadway Cinema in Nottingham (a lovely place by the way, with delicious cakes in the café – you should go there if you’re ever in the area). I honestly don’t know how I got onto this course. I remember my Media Studies teacher telling me about it after I moaned about the fact that I didn’t know what to do with my life, and then the next thing I knew, I was filling in an application form. I think I knew this was going to be an amazing thing when Ella (a tutor on the course), replied to thank me for the application and wish me happy birthday for the next day.

And then I got in! And so began the panic. I had only been to Nottingham maybe once in my life before, and my memory of getting the bus then didn’t go too well (cue lots of running and panicking and no money and no time and it was the last bus, and I didn’t know where I was or who I was with and gah! But that’s another story). I don’t know why I always panic about public transport so much. It’s not like anything bad has ever happened to me on a bus (touch wood!), but never mind. It turned out, as I was on the bus on the way to my first day of Film Academy, Dom, a guy from my drama group, was also heading to the same course. So I didn’t have to worry after all. Who’d’ve thought it?

I was so nervous on that first day, surrounded by a bunch of strangers (and Dom) who I was going to be working with for the next three months. I remember we had to write something down and I already had a pen in my hand, but Ella was handing them around and in my panicking, blustery mind I tried to take it from her, fumbled and dropped it, and wanted the ground to swallow me up. I was weird back then.

On that first day, I also met Shannon, who it turned out also went to my college but I’d never seen her before. We had to film a three-shot silent film with only one character and one prop, on a mobile phone. Guess who ended up as the actor. (Me.) Shannon was filming it. I think it might have been the scene where we left the lift and I had to turn dramatically to the camera that might have been the moment we clicked. Or it might have been the unstoppable laughter that came after that.

Over the next few weeks, we were given various lessons on things such as how to use the equipment, how to structure a story, how to dress a set, and many others. I don’t think I was particularly good at any of these things, but I enjoyed it nevertheless. And before every weekday session, in the time between college and Film Academy, we would gather in Broadway’s café and take advantage of our magical free teas. Those were the best.

The actual production project happened all of a sudden. One moment, 10968036_1069429213082493_1286670538_nwe were learning how to turn on the camera. The next, six of us were in a small, hot, smoke-filled room full of equipment, telling actors to make life difficult for each other. It was actually amazing to see the script that I had written be brought to life. I also brought in some props, which included a disgusting yellow blanket to go over the back of the chair. If you ever see the film, please ignore the continuity errors that occurred because of this prop from hell.

We had so much fun shooting this film, and our group was brilliant. Eleanor, Ben, Jordan, Finn and EB – if you ever want to make a film, these are the people to call. And the actors were amazing!

After the shooting was done, so began the editing process. As far as I know, the film is still being edited as we speak, and then the sound will still need doing afterwards. But once that’s done, the film will be all finished and shiny, and that’s when we’ll have our premiere.

The premiere is what I’m looking forward to the most. Not only will it be our chance to show off all of the hard work that everyone at BFI put into these films, the group will also be reunited.

Our last Film Academy session was pretty epic, and I think it stands to show how much we all loved this opportunity, because Joe Dempsie was just down the road giving a presentation at a local college, and no one ran away to meet him. Well, Jordan did, but he came back. One of the best moments was when, because we had bought a thank you card for the tutors, we all had to sneak out to sign it, but instead of going to the ‘toilet’ one at a time like normal people, we all went at the same time. As all of the girls crammed into a tiny public bathroom to sign the secret card, the boys were left to cover for us in the workshop. I’m not exactly sure how or why they chose this story, but they decided that when we came back in, we all had to dance. I did not.

But Sophie and Finn did! With a few of the classic dance moves (the shuffle and ‘reel him in’ included), they successfully distracted from the fact that we were blatantly doing something secret. The best part was when they began to feel awkward and decided to ‘teach’ us like Al and Roger, our tutors. Sophie snuck away in the guise of Roger by saying, “Roger would sit down and stroke his beard,” and she did just that. And then, of course, there was pizza and drinks, and lots of hugs and a little bit of crying, as we all departed from BFI for the last time.

Until the screening. Has it really only been three months since I didn’t know these guys?

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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

The Outsider (a poem)

A bed and a bookcase, and a small writing desk.
A doll and a sock, and a bit of a mess.
Through the window, the sunlight is just coming up,
But the nightlight’s still on, illuminating a cup.

The cup is half full, or half empty, or neither.
And the milk in it is old, a disgusting creature.
The clock on the wall watches. It ticks and it tocks.
And at the small, narrow door, there are three quiet knocks.

No one replies. Not a voice shouts, “Come in!”
And the outsider waits, listens closer. No noise from within.
There is not a sound besides the ticking wall clock.
Tick, tock. Tick, tock.
Tick, tock. Tick, tock.

Not a bated breath, not a whisper of life.
Not a sigh of contentment, not the chink of a knife.
So they push at the door, but it seems to be jammed.
They’ve their heart in their mouth and their nerves in their hands.

They push even harder, panic rising in their soul.
For locked out of the room, they are out of control.
And they shout and they scream the name of the child
But there’s no sound from within, and their heart’s going wild.

Finally, the door moves and they fall against it hard,
And open it’s thrown with the weight of their guard.
Adrenaline filled, they look to the bed
And stare in horror as they see their own head.

The outsider looks into their own glazed eyes,
And they see their own face that has already died.
And after such a wretched, sorrowful sight,
The outsider leaves. And the outsider smiles.

– By Bethany Morledge.

Worlds on Blank Pages

(Disclaimer: This is just a bit of nonsense I wrote during a free period today.)image

Faced with a blank page you have two options. The first, and by far the easiest (if also the dullest), is to sit and stare at it. You can think all you want, but if the voice in your head isn’t transferring to words on paper, what good is it going to do? You can watch the white and wait for something to happen, but if your fingers don’t start forming words, then nothing is ever going to happen. You will simply watch and wait forever.

The thing is, things will only start happening when you make the first move. Ripples in water will only occur when something touches it. Reactions only happen when there is an action already made.

So, unless you want to spend the rest of your existence waiting for something to happen that never will, the second option is what you should go for. You can start writing. It doesn’t matter what. It doesn’t matter if every single word that appears on the paper is complete nonsense.

Words should bubble from your imagination and seep into your mind, where they proceed to leak into your brain and drip through the veins in your arm right to your fingertips. From there, they should flow through the pen and into the ink, transforming into beautiful patterns and pictures that become: your writing.

And before you know it, the page is not blank. It is not vicious white, taunting you with its snowy complexion. Instead, it is positively brimming with fragments of your mind. The page is bursting with your creativity, and you can sit back, breathe it in, and think this is my world.

***

This is Earth. You and I are from the same Earth, but we are not of the same world. We share the same planet, but we live it different ways. We might not have the same culture or customs. We might not eat the same foods or tell the same stories, yet maybe we live in the same village. Maybe we have lived in the same village our entire lives and mixed with the same people as each other, but we’re still from different worlds. We still see our own worlds differently.

There are no two worlds exactly the same. Every person – every single human life, even those who are remembered by no one, has their own world. So does every animal and tree and flower. Some people have more than one world within them, so they need to find some way of getting it out of there system. Thus, the arts are born.

Every single book is its own world. Even if the setting is the exact same place that you grew up, right down to the flowery wallpaper, the pages still know things that you do not. You will see it from a new perspective – through a character’s eyes or a bird’s eye view.

And really, when it comes down to it, that’s what worlds are all about: perspectives. If everyone saw everything from exactly the same perspective, we would all be the same person. So, it’s not that the people make the worlds; it’s that the worlds make us.

That is why stories are so important. Every story we hear, read or watch, sinks into our membranes and becomes part of us. We breathe stories. Stories seep through our beings and, sometimes, they take over. Every aspect of life is a story. And every aspect of a story is life.