All posts by Narrelle

Repurposed memories

I lived in Egypt in the early 1990s, when my husband and I taught English as a Foreign Language at a school in Cairo. When we left after two years (to go to Poland), as a farewell present I was given a watch which had the numbers in Arabic lettering. The strap was a slightyly odd design so when it broke the first time it was a bit tricky to replace it. Over the years it broke several times, and eventually a replacement couldn’t be found. I hung onto it for sentimental reasons but it sat in a cupborard.

Then my friend Mary began making jewellery. I gave her the watch and asked her to use her imagination, and this is what she made for me.

It’s so wonderful to have this memento of my life in Egypt made into a new memory, incorporating my friend’s creative gifts and her thoughtfulness in appling her talent and imagination to something that was meaningful to me. I also love the solidity of it, the weight of it against my skin, as though the memories associated with it have become more tangible.

If you like this, please visit Mary’s Etsy page, Subtle Lunacies. She gave me the pendant as a gift, and I would like to thank her by encouraging everyone to discover her work. Mary is also the author the The Wolf House series, the YA vampire series I so often plug on my blog.

Review: Subversive Activity by Dave Luckett

Subversive Activity - cover I picked up this book from Dave Luckett at Swancon in April. It’s been a while since I read one of Dave’s books, but I have always enjoyed his vivid, laconic style.

“Subversive Activity” is a reminder of why I like his work so much! Wry, deadpan humour; distinctive characters; fresh, deft writing;  solid research that enhances rather than overwhelms the story – it’s very satisfying!

It’s especially delightful that this book is about one of my favourite themes – someone waking up to life! Caption Horatio de la Terre of the Royal Navy is the Naval Attache to the country of Maldona. He is rigidly traditional, an Englishman and naval officer with a lifetime’s training in keeping his expression neutral and his mind clean of thoughts and opinions he ought not have. His has been a life lived in small brown rooms, until it has become a small brown life.

This is the story of how all of that cracks, and the light gets in, and he discovers he has an imagination, and opinions – and that neither of these are quite what he would have expected, if he’d ever thought about it, which he hasn’t.

“Subversive Activity” is set in a kind of alternative Victorian history – the Moldonan landscape is littered with the convoluted politics of Tsarist Russia, the Ottoman Empire, and the Hapsburgs. It features the brash, daring, brilliant Letty and Hetty, identical twins sisters who are in the midst of revolutionising seagoing engineering. There are spies and counterspies, and sometimes these are the same people.

It’s as warped and complicated as a plot by Wodehouse, charging on at a wonderful rate of knots. De la Terre is particularly fun, because his habitual non-expression leads other people to think he is more clever and knowledgable than he really is. His blank-faced puzzled silences are taken for cunning strategy, and this – plus his dazzlement by the exceedingly and captivatingly un-English Letty – are the chisel that cracks apart that small, brown shell of his world.

Buy Subversive Activity from Vivid Publishing