Blog Tour Guest Post: Ten Things You Need to Know About #AskMetoDance Author @SylviaColley @MuswellPress #RandomThingsTours

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Sylvia Colley's extraordinary understanding of a woman's struggle to deal with grief, the denial, the anger, the loneliness, is described without sentimentality. A beautifully written and moving story.


Guest Post:

Ten Things You Need to Know About Author Sylvia Colley


1. When I see the word ‘Blog’ I have to lie down. I panic. Then I curse my-self for being so - well- stupid and wish I was part of the younger genera-tion. But probably I’m just lazy.  

2. I keep chickens on my allotment at the bottom of the garden. Brown ones with names like Queenie and Jumper. I sit and watch the way they scrabble at the earth and continually peck up bits of this and that, their heads dipping and rising, their tails upwards. Busy Busy.  And it’s been really useful in the novel I’m writing at the moment because one of the characters is an artist who paints like a modern Stubbs and he does paint chickens sometimes.

3. Now I come to think of it, animals feature in all my books. In Lights on Dark Water the cat, Fido, the only reminder of Anna’s husband left in her life, is stolen and dumped by some roadside by a jealous work col-league  and in Ask Me to Dance (just published), an old, simple-minded monk who had been brought up cruelly in a catholic boys home, is al-lowed to keep a wild rabbit - brought in to the kitchen by the monastery cat - much to the disapproval of some the brothers who make life very difficult for him  

4. I drink whiskey, not all day, (although I am tempted now I have to write this blog)

5. I make silver jewellery and my slogan is IMPERFECT BUT UNIQUE.

6. On holiday I always paint the wild flowers in a toothbrush glass. Water colours. I don’t think much of them at the time and then months, per-haps years, later, I come across them and think ‘actually I really like them’. They’re quite good and I find a frame from somewhere and put one up . My house is full of my paintings, of my girls amongst other things, because I can’t afford to buy anyone else’s!

7. I love singing and dancing A LOT.  If I go to a musical I can hardly stop myself from JUMPING ON THE STAGE, so although it is not an autobiography Ask Me To Dance was just the title I wanted because as a child, the protagonist, Rose, only gets noticed by her mother when she dances. I had great difficulties finding a good title for what became Lights on Dark Water but Ask Me to Dance was perfect from the start.  Dancing is symbolic in the novel as well as literal.  

8. Instead of getting on with my writing I go shopping or decide to make soup. It’s all there in my head, the people I mean, but I find any excuse not to get it down on paper. I’ve always made up stories, all day, every day, in my head. That’s probably why I’m so hopeless at general knowledge. I daydream too much 

9. My latest novel Ask Me To Dance is NOT a romance.

10. What fascinates me and what I try to explore in my poetry and novels is how we cope with loss; the masks we wear to hide behind and how we deal with our sense of powerlessness over things that happen which are out of our control. When someone says they have enjoyed or been moved by my work, I am absolutely thrilled. My great champion, Piers Plowright says my latest novel, Ask Me To Dance, is all heart. 


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Book Review: Dancing Over the Hill by @CathyHopkins1 @fictionpubteam

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Image is from my Instagram

When a boxset of Broadchurch is more appealing than having sex with your husband, then perhaps it’s time to hide the remote…
Cait and Matt have been married for 30 years. They are rock solid; an inspiration to others; stuck together like glue – aren’t they?
But Cait can’t shake off the feeling that something is missing. They are fit and healthy, if a bit skint – but the whole world should be their oyster now that Matt has retired, giving them the time to do those things that really matter – and more importantly – together. So why is she left wondering if this is all there is? Has Matt always been this annoying and infuriating? And where have those ants-in-her-pants suddenly come from?
It’s not helped by the reappearance in her life of Tom Lewis, the love of her life who broke her heart at university and who, despite the fact she hasn’t she hasn't seen him for decades, is still exerting his magnetic pull.
Her friends are Lorna, who recently lost her husband, and Debs whose husband recently left her. The three women must all question what they want out of the rest of their lives – and how they are going to get it…

Review:


I discovered Dancing Over the Hill through a Netgalley email from Harper Collins. I was looking for a change from all the crime fiction and psychological thrillers I'd been reading. All I can say is I am so glad I didn't pass this gem up and I will be purchasing Cathy's previous book ASAP.

What immediately endeared me towards Dancing Over the Hill were the two main characters, Cait and Matt. They weren't young, success hungry go-getters as is typical of this genre. They both are in their 60's and facing retirement while wondering, "Is this all there is?" 

Matt has lost his job, the only thing he's ever felt good at. He find's it difficult to fill in his time and feels like a nuisance around the house. Cait, on the other hand is used to her alone time, filling her days with choir practice, yoga and lunches with friends. She finds it difficult to make time for her newly unemployed husband and is completely unimpressed with his lazing about the house in his dressing gown.

I think I loved this book so much because I could really relate to the characters. Like Cait, I love to be organised and I adore a good to-do list. I also saw similar struggles in my own house when my dad lost his job and struggled to find his place in the house as he searched for a new one. All I'll say is Cathy has captured the reality of retirement-the good and the bad!

As for the writing and structure, no complaints there. The characters are well rounded and authentic. Each character (even the secondary ones) felt well researched and developed, like the had a past before the reader opened this particular chapter in their lives. 

There are no major twists and turns in Dancing Over the Hill, and that's not a bad thing. The familiarity of the story actually allowed me to get sucked in. This really is a comfort read. That doesn't mean it's dull though. I loved every page of this book and laughed out loud more than once. I genuinely didn't want it to end. 

Dancing Over the Hill is a solid, enjoyable 5 star read.

Rating:

★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 

Buy the book: UK/IE | US

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