What’s in a Name? (Vol 1)
I always feel sad reaching the end of a Sally Cronin book.
It is not simply because I feel a chapter of my life has closed.
Nor because I will no longer be dragged along, a willing, nay eager, voyeur into the lives of people I have just met, but feel I have known for years. People who I am convinced will go on to live happy lives off the page, but who I will never see again; although I will think of them often.
Neither is it because I have not laughed hard enough or had my eyes mist over more than once and had to sternly tell myself: Get a grip you old fool. It’s only a story. A story it might be, but only a heart of stone could remain unmoved by Sally Cronin’s prose: even a heart of ice would melt.
It’s none of the above. Quite simply, when I finish a Sally Cronin book I really miss my mum who died some 20 odd years ago. Yes I know, even though they are gone they are with us. But truth be told, I no longer think of her enough.
If she were alive, knowing how much she would love What’s in a Name? I would jump in the car and take it down to her, like I used to. Although these days I would probably email it for her to download into her e-reader or tablet, or whatever it is the old folks do these days.
And I would look forward to her out-of-the-blue phone calls. Well, not really out-of-the-blue. Actually I would more surprised if she didn’t ring. We would discuss each point, nattering on about the twists and the turns: how we never saw that coming; exulting in the triumphs of our new mutual friends and crowing when those who’d dun ’em wrong got their comeuppance.
From there I start thinking about my Nan, aunts and cousins, how this circle of sisters and daughters would have enjoyed passing Sally Cronin books back and forth with a buzz with excitement and aglow with pleasure.
That’s all gone now.
My mum was a frustrated author. She wanted to write but didn’t know where to start. For this reason she would have loved Sally Cronin, whose writing looks so effortless: with her beautifully constructed stories and engaging characters.
By making it look easy, Sally Cronin empowers budding authors. They think- I can do that. Little realising how hard it is it to make your work look natural. By the time they do, it’s too late. They have either given up or are already hooked.
The short story is a subtler art form than the novel. It is a single idea ending in a killer punchline that flows seamlessly without clutter, waste or doubt. Every word of every sentence must contribute to the story or be ruthlessly stripped out. And this is where Sally Cronin excels. She can paint an entire scene in a handful of words and conjure any emotion with a well-turned phrase. In short she is both a delight for the reader and an object lesson for the writer.
So what can I say about the latest book I read: What’s in a Name? (Vol 1)
The answer has to be nothing at all.
How can I deny you the same immense pleasure I had discovering it for myself. In all conscience I could not do that to anyone.
But as you have been so patient and deserve some crumbs, how about a game?
In What’s In a Name? (Vol 1) you will find:
- A bride of Christ in the autumn of her life
- A man, saved as a child, dedicated to saving others
- A garden reminiscent of another magical place
- That we all need someone special
- An un-cowed wife
- A mid-life crisis
- An ancient heritage living on
- How to handle a bully
- A special letter
- A randy old fellah
- Twin souls torn apart
- An old hand at being a new mum
- Revenge is a dish served cold
- A mother and daughter act
- A hero by any other name
- A hard-hearted mother
- A quiet woman’s secret
- A man waiting for his long lost love
- The helpful neighbour’s terrible burden
All you do is put the name to the clue.
So, I hear you ask, What’s the prize?
Hey, you read the book.
Can you think of a better prize than that?