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Bookish Influences: The One That Cost Me an Arm and a Leg
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Alright, I’ll admit it – a book made me purchase a violin. Which, of course, probably says more about me than I’m comfortable with admitting.

[cough *gullible* cough *easily influenced* cough]

In my defense, read this and see if you don’t want an instrument that understands you and …

… instead of playing any of my classical pieces I drifted into improvising as I went along, and then, as my thoughts took me far away, I gave myself up to them entirely. ‘Dwell deep’ was ringing softly but clearly in my ears. Storms could come and storms could go, but in all and through all were those two little words of peace and quiet. And my violin was with me, and understood my mood. I don’t know how long I played, but when I came to myself and surroundings, soothed and comforted in spirit, I found them all staring at me in astonishment.

The violin understands her. Her moods are translated into sound. Is it any wonder that I purchased a violin? Is it any wonder that I wished to do the same?

But alas, I found to my surprise that … well, to be perfectly honest, Fiction doesn’t always meld well with Real Life. The eardrums of my poor family will attest to this. I can only say that if Heinrich – my violin – truly did translate my moods, than I am in dire need of therapy. Dire need.

What book was this that prompted such expense, such existential crises brought on by Heinrich?


Dwell Deep

by Amy Le Feuvre

I suppose that I ought to delve into the basic plot. It is thus: a newly converted Christian [Hilda Thorn] goes to live with her non-Christian guardian and his family in the country. Morals and Principles clash and through many trials, Hilda Thorn learns to ‘dwell deep’ as it says in Isaiah.

Now look, here is the link to Dwell Deep – go ahead and read it if you do not want mild spoilers, but otherwise, let us commence this recounting/bookish influence post.

I must admit that I’m not going to talk about the trials that Hilda endures because of her new-found faith. But I’d better note that they are good, encouraging and some of the things she doesn’t do – like dancing – are a matter of conscience. But on the whole, her journey is one that I found to be inspiring.

I’ve already told you of how Dwell Deep influenced me, or rather, influenced me into emptying my bank account with the purchase of Heinrich, who was either the wrong violin for me, or I the wrong musician for him. (Or rather, the wrong untalented musician for him).

Now let’s move onto the Recounting side of things. Or, as I like to call it: my Pet Rant.

My Pet Rant

Kenneth is the son of Hilda’s guardian. This book would not be one that I enjoyed without Kenneth. He teases Hilda, calls her ‘Goody-Two-Shoes’, and watches her narrowly for any chance of slipping up and becoming a hypocrite. He’s just … Kenneth.

‘I don’t think she possesses a temper,’ put in Kenneth. ‘I know for a fact that I often lose mine in trying to make her lose hers!’

It’s a typical case of a boy provoking a girl because he likes her. The proverbial ‘Pigtail Pulling’ and I can’t deny that a delighted part of me whispers: dawww, he wuvs her.

‘Why do you love to make people uncomfortable if you can?’ I said in desperation to him, after he had been chaffing me unmercifully on the same subject before a lot of people in the drawing-room one afternoon.

‘Because it is my nature to, I suppose,’ he retorted. ‘I don’t think anything would make you uncomfortable, Goody! You go serenely on your way, wrapped in a cloak of supreme self-content and satisfaction. Except for bringing a little extra pink colour into your cheeks, which I like to see, no words of mine can ever stir you.’


But alas. A new player appears on the stage. His name is Philip Stanton and he is Perfect For Hilda. Naturally, he and Hilda fall in love.

Now, I would like to make it clear that it is not that I dislike him, he is after all, a good gentleman, a Christian and seems to be a decent sort of chap. And yet – and I’ve just noticed this – he calls Hilda ‘his darling child’. Child. That’s worse than ‘babe’.

Ahem. Anyway, they fall in love and drama ensues when he disappears and will they ever see each other again?

(Hopefully not.)

I am a firm believer that Hilda and Kenneth were the perfect match and nothing can tell me otherwise. Philip, you say? Philip who?

‘There are moments, Goody Two-Shoes, when you and your fiddle are before my eyes, that I think I should like to marry you and take you away with me somewhere where you should charm me with those strains continually. Don’t look so frightened. We understand each other. I know you wouldn’t dream of having me, so I am never going to ask you.’

Hilda, you should have waited for him. People change and he could have. Why?!!! You belonged together. Or rather, he needed someone and that someone was you. (I have decreed it, so it must be so.)

And yes, I am passionate about books which are old and no one else seems to have heard of. Join me next week for my recounting of The Rose-Garden Husband, and the week after that: He Fell In Love With His Wife (Don’t worry, I won’t spoil the ah-may-zing plot twist. But here’s a clue: he falls in love with someone who he is possibly wed to. It’s like, totally unexpected).heinrichmylove

In the mean time, Heinrich sits, neglected, tucked between my bookshelf and my black leather chair that only ever seems to hold my childhood soft toys, or if I’m in an untidy mood, an array of clothing and books and papers which I fondly call ‘My Doom’.

I’m so, so sorry Heinrich. But do not be frightened – I’ll wring a mood out of you yet, even if it takes me a thousand tries of ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’.

books, ness rambles

Bookish Influences – Real-Life Tales and Conflicting Opinions

Have you ever felt the urge to stand high up on a mountain, face a night of freezing cold, sleet and snow all the while staring heroically out into the distance? No? Well you obviously haven’t read Rora then.



by James Byron Huggins

I can remember when I first read this. The copy in my possession isn’t actually mine – it is my elder brother’s. I’m, er, looking after it for him.

I can recall reading this on the way home – by the light of the street lights, catching a sentence here, a paragraph there. I loved it. I hadn’t read anything like it before.

But first … the description:

The winds from the valley known as Pelice carried an ominous tale of sorrow and destruction. The army of the black-robed Inquisitors had laid seige to the defenseless inhabitants of the valley, destroying churches and killing those who refused to renounce their faith. Yet high on a granite mountain above the land that forms the border between Italy and France stood Joshua Gianavel—one man who held the fate of his people in his
hands. In the valley below Europe’s mightiest army gathered to lay siege to his people. He would not allow the same desolation to reach his home and people in the valley of Rora. With lionlike courage he waged warfare against the Inquisitors with a brilliance the world had never seen.

Based upon the true story of the historic stand of the Waldenses in 1655, Rora is a spellbinding tale of a legendary hero, of international intrigue and subterfuge, of cloak-and-dagger tactics, of a faith that refused to die.

What I thought then …

Rora was awesome, there was no doubt about it. The characters, oh the characters. They stayed with me – most prominently the warlord Pianessa and the courageous Joshua Gianavel, followed by the (very) evil Incomel, the young ruler Charles Emmanuel II, the noble Sir Morland and so many, many more – long after the book was closed.

It was bloody and brutal. Tender and bittersweet. Haunting. Full of shadowed halls and open battlefields.

Spies and warriors, thieves and priests, poets and kings, all were written on its pages. It was a sweeping tale full of opposites – bravery and fear, right and wrong, truth and lies. There was both sorrow and hope, nobility and greed.

I was enthralled by it – by this story that was about being prepared to stand up for what you believe to be right – no matter what the consequences were.

The Influence:

I started a story. “The Valley” I entitled it, and it began with a girl on a hill overlooking the land of her birth (the girl has since been exchanged for a boy, but that was a later addition). There was a Sir Morland character and persecution and hidden doors and all sorts of very cool things [EDIT: not the persecution, that wasn’t cool. The hidden doors and secrets, however, were].

I was inspired by Rora, greatly so, and perhaps the story started off like a mirror to it, however, it soon spiraled away as I created my own characters – one of which is waiting in the wings to be used in another story.

Rora taught me to write on a greater, more sweeping scale than I had thought to before.

What I think now …

[in the middle of battle] There are aproximently four hundred and seventy tw– no, four hundred and seventy one ants on the field. *clang* tenth dent in my armour. The clouds are cirrus. A sparrow just flew over- *thump* arm severed.

I still love Rora, but recently I’ve been rereading it and have found some characters to be unnaturally larger than life (is it really possible to notice every single thing that goes on around you? I tried to do it, but found myself strangely deficient in this awesome skill. I’ve begun to wonder if the skill is based in reality, I’m looking at you, Pianessa).

It is funny, but rereading a book after a long period of time (and many different books read in-between) shines a different light to it. Almost like my soft-toy dog – Fudge. He was huge, honestly – the largest soft-toy dog you’ve ever seen. Until, that is, he was put up in the loft and came down a couple of years later.

Goodness gracious, but the loft had shrunk him!

 Most Favoured Quote:

This one has stayed with ever since I first read it years ago:

What chains can hold belongs to a man. The rest is God’s.

[also, brief note – the letter Gianavel sends to Pianessa? Yes, that is the actual one that the real life Gianavel actually sent. Wow.]

Want to see for yourself if the characters are unnaturally larger than life? Or maybe you just want a story about a real-life story to read. You can purchase the kindle version here.