Poet Posing on Prose Platform

Beta Reader’s Review Rocks.

Posted by David Collins-Rivera into wordsacross time on tumblr:

Shared here in full appreciation of the effort he gave in first reading, then reviewing my WIP.  My aim is to publish this story on April 21, 2018. That would have been my mother’s 100th birthday.  During her life-time she shared with me a recurring dream during which she walked down a long corridor, doors on either side closed to her, but at the very end there was a book. My autobiographical account of my life before lithium was greeted with “if it helps someone, I guess it is okay”.

I like to think she would have enjoyed MIXED FORTUNES as my effort to have a dream of hers brought into reality.

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Mixed Fortunes [work in progress]

[Mixed Fortunes, by Isabel Storey. Unpublished work-in-progress at 12 July 2017]

I recently had the privilege of reading a beta version of a novel called Mixed Fortunes. It’s by Australian poet and author, Isabel Storey.

This book is a sprawling multi-generational saga, steeped in both history and magical realism. It moves forward though eras and locations, with events playing out in the UK, Australia, South Africa, and upon the high seas. A rich, compelling tale of dynasty, dispossession, and changing times, it concerns noblemen and wanderers; it touches pioneers, soldiers, and lawyers. It lives in history, framed by trusts and family legend.

The itinerants of this tale are occasionally referred to as Gypsies – a term that, in modern times, can be seen as pejorative for those of Romani (or Roma) ancestry. To be clear, though, the traveling people here are not solely of Roma descent. Many are part of a lesser-documented population of 19th Century economically-displaced nomads from various backgrounds within the British Isles, many of whom became closely associated with the Roma of that time, intermarrying, and adopting many of their habits and traits.

On the other side, we have Douglas, Duke of the vast estate of Holywood, along with his wife and children…and eventually, their descendants. This family intersects with the Gypsies in strange, inconsistent, sometimes appalling ways. Entitled, powerful, and feeling the creep of time, this noble family exerts vast (though diminishing) influence, informing generations by what they choose to do, and what they choose not to.

A tiny Scottish law firm, sporting the charming name of Peacock & Oates, has personal and professional ties to both these groups, forging bonds that run deeper than any contracts or legal trusts between them. These solicitors are the glue, binding tribes and individuals through the years. Using keen expertise and unwavering professionalism, they subtly affect the lives of their sundry clients, who, in time, are spread far across the globe.

It begins in 1865, with a young solicitor in the aforementioned firm, named David Lamont. David is mugged in the street, and gets befriended by a stranger who, subsequently, introduces him to a world and culture he never knew existed – a secretive, marginalized population in desperate need of his aid. Among these new clients, we meet the wise and mysterious Jorie Moneypenny, gifted with rare insight, and a deep understanding of human nature. It is Jorie’s desire to safeguard her people’s freedom that sparks an alliance stretching across decades; it changes lives, lives that help to shape history itself.

Watching the gentle, sometimes vaporous imprint of an old wanderer woman’s strange vision for her people slowly play out across the globe is a compelling pleasure. Isabel Storey effortlessly sculpts a tale of desperation, mysticism, and perseverance, offering up drama and adventure while linking the past to the near-present. Indeed, with so many characters doing so many things at once, Storey is like a juggler with a blur of balls floating through the air – far more than could ever be caught – and yet somehow it always happens, and with style. A magic trick, a technical feat, this degree of control would be impressive all on its own, regardless of the complex narrative and arresting characterizations in which it’s wrapped. Taken together, the effect is simply marvelous.

A sumptuous, stunning tale of many tales, Mixed Fortunes, once published, will be that rarest of achievements on the literary scene, something that can almost never be so-labeled free of hyperbole: a symphony of the written word.

David Collins-Rivera

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13 July 2017

#David Collins-Rivera #wordsacrosstime #Words Across Time #July 2017#Beta Version #Work In Progress #Novel #Multi-Generational Saga #History#Magical Realism #UK #Australia #South Africa #High Seas #Dynasty#Dispossession #Changing Times #Noblemen #Wanderers #Pioneers#Soldiers #Solicitors #Romani #Roma #Scottish #1865 #Desperation#Mysticism #Perseverance #Sumptuous

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