2

Fable paint chip prompt

This week Linda Kruschke’s paint chip poetry prompt is particularly challenging.

Your challenge, if you’re up to it, is to write an original fable in verse. I’ll accept prose, if you must, but verse is so much more fun and challenging. In keeping with fable tradition, your poem should involve at least two animals and should illustrate a moral principle important to you. Maybe you want to show that lying is bad or that working industriously will yield good results.

The paint chip words and phrases that you have to work with for your fable are ghost, pins and needles, parchment, gauze, whirlpool, relish, and dawn. I’d like you to use at least four of the chips.

The Hole Story

A mouse, a stoat and a fox
Needed somewhere to live.
Said the fox, ‘A cardboard box
‘Would do for me. I don’t give
‘A fig for fine houses’.

The stoat would prefer a boat,
But the mouse wanted a house.
The stoat would stay afloat.
He doubted a whirlpool would douse
Any floating houses.

The three animals set out
Together on their quest.
From dawn they looked about
Searching their very best
For future houses.

The fox was first to be fixed –
A large cardboard box found
By the mouse in woodland (mixed)
Gave much space to run to ground
Far from fine houses.

The stoat and mouse continued
To search beside a stream.
Spiders’ webs of gauze imbued
The suspicion of a dream
Of finding houses.

The mouse spotted the boat first.
The stoat began to gloat.
‘It seems you have come off worst!’
He clambered in. ‘Off I float –
‘Boats are good houses!’

The mouse was left all alone,
‘Til a hedgehog came past.
Pins-and-Needles said, ‘Don’t moan!
‘Troubles hardly ever last.
‘Who needs fine houses?’

The poor mouse scurried back home.
He saw the boat capsized,
And the cardboard box home
Had collapsed. He realised
They weren’t fine houses.

Before they began their quest
All the animals resided
In holes in the ground. Guest
Suites were not provided
In lowly houses!

The hedgehog’s philosophy
That things should be relished
Helped the mouse, fox and stoat see
Their old homes should be cherished.
Who needs fine houses?

The moral is not that it is wrong to live in fine houses, but that it is good to be thankful for what we have. As for gloating – perhaps pride comes before a fall.

3

Two more books I read in January 2021

The two novels I am reviewing here, Peter Abelard by Helen Waddell and the diary of Isabella M Smugge by Ruth Leigh, are opposites in many ways. Both are physical books. One is an old historical novel and the other a pre-publication copy of a contemporary novel.

A bookmark and two booksPeter Abelard was a book I inherited. I had not read it before. In fact, I vaguely remember choosing it off the shelf as a teenager and being told, ‘You don’t want to read that. Try this one instead.’ The replacement book may have been The Tiger in the Smoke reviewed here.

There is no character list for Peter Abelard, although I suspect that had it been published now rather than in 1933 (the edition I read was reprinted in 1950) such a list might well have been provided. The reader is rather thrown into the story at the deep end. It is set in France in the 12th century. There are some very vivid descriptions, while other things are only hinted at. The Christian beliefs of the time are very important in the story. There are quotations from earlier scholars including Augustine and Origen. The book is well-researched. There are phrases from familiar passages in the Bible, notably Psalm 139. Beliefs about morality at that time were very different from those of the present day. It is not a light read due to the language and the scholarly content, which includes quotes in old French and Latin. These are mostly translated afterwards, but the reader has to recognise or infer this. I found it very interesting.

I first met Isabella M Smugge (pronounced like Bruges) in a blog post in 2020. The novel in which she is the main character is being published by Instant Apostle later this month. (February 2021).

I received a copy through the post from the author, Ruth Leigh. I read it almost immediately, finishing it the day after I received it. It made me laugh, but there are serious issues addressed amidst the humour. The hashtags were fun, especially the oxymoron #planningforspontaneity. It ended with a lot of loose ends. I’ll have to be patient waiting for the sequel to this debut novel.

Readers, who enjoy books by Anna Bell, Sophie Kinsella and/or Stephanie Butland will probably like the diary of Isabella M Smugge.

Ruth Leigh has written a blog post about how she came to write a novel.

My other book reviews may be found here and here.

2 Books I read in September 2020

When I chose four library books I was looking for a mixture of light and more serious reading. The two books reviewed here are both fiction. The second one is a more serious book taking more time to be read.

Don't tell the Groom cover

Don’t tell the groom: Will Penny be able to keep her secret long enough to say I will? by Anna Bell

Don’t tell the groom was the book, about which I tweeted, ‘I accidentally read a book from cover to cover’. I had begun reading it in the car while I was waiting for hubby in the car park. I picked it up again after lunch and read to the end. Like It all began with a Tweet, which I reviewed earlier, this is a lighthearted amusing story with an underlying social problem as a key part of the story. In this case it is online gambling and the gambler’s web of deceit, which make the plot not just interesting but gripping right to the end. There are well-drawn characters and some puzzling things, which kept the pages turning as I wanted to discover the reasons behind them.

The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd

The Mermaid Chair cover

Having read and enjoyed other titles* by Sue Monk Kidd, I picked up The Mermaid Chair, a thought-provoking novel set in an imaginary location in South Carolina. The story explores issues of mental health, love, religion, superstition and life in close knit communities – family, an island, a monastery – using believable characters. The decisions faced by some of the characters make an interesting story with unexpected twists in the plot. As in all good novels the characters undergo a change in the course of the story.

An interview with the author and reading group questions were included in the paperback copy. I was interested to learn that Sue Monk Kidd attended Texas Christian University and is married to a theologian.

*Please click to read my review of The Invention of Wings. I also read Life of Bees before I began blogging about books.

An index of books I have reviewed may be found by clicking here (Authors A-M) and here (Authors N-Z).