Thank you to Sarah for hosting my Sea Babies narrative poem on her blog, as part of the #SeaBabies #LoveBooksGroupTours
Lauren Wilson is travelling by ferry to the Outer Hebrides, about to begin a new job as a social worker. When somebody sits opposite her at the cafeteria table, she refuses to look up, annoyed at having her privacy disturbed.But a hand is pushing a mug of tea towards her, and a livid scar on the back of the hand releases a flood of memories.
Some people believe in the existence of a parallel universe. Does Lauren have a retrospective choice about the outcome of a terrible recent accident, or is it the bearer of that much older scar who has the power to decide what happens to her now?
SEA BABIES Narrative Poem (Based on the author’s novel) By Tracey Scott-Townsend
It was always about the baby.
Not long afterwards, I wondered how I could grieve so much
For someone that I never knew
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I enjoyed sharing thoughts and memories on Joanne’s blog.
I’m delighted to welcome Tracey Scott-Townsend to the blog today with a fascinating and very personal #TenThings, accompanied by some wonderful photographs.
Ten Things about Tracey Scott-Townsend
1- I am Mother.
For six years it was to a Little
Girl Lost. In my imagination, I left her on the last walk I took during my
six-month pregnancy, along the clifftop at Kilnsea in the East Riding of
Yorkshire, on a path that has now been swallowed by the sea. My only memorial
to her is the mudflats, the river beach and the wild sea itself. And everything
I write. Six years afterwards I gave birth to Felix, in the same hospital. The
old maternity hospital in Hull is now a ruin and they’ve built a new(ish)
maternity unit attached to Hull Royal Infirmary. But memories are never
swallowed by the tide of years as land is by nature and the…
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Then Simon inveigles his way in, and everything does change. A mysterious letter-writer turns out not to be who they say they are but Gabrielle’s vanity has already entrapped her into a seductive but misrepresentative relationship with Simon. He arrives in her village during a snowstorm with a rucksack and no way of getting home, and Gabrielle is forced to take him into her home.
Throughout the narrative of this book we watch Gabrielle sinking into a murky mixture of desire and mistrust, led into the centre of the maze of Simon’s fury and need.
The truth of the past will have to come out in the end.
This is a beautifully-written book full of anguish and regret but in the end, hope. The narrative is unhurried but there are no extraneous words to slow it down. It’s clear to me that the author is a poet. And like every good story, it contains a dark secret. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoyed such books as Diane Setterfield’s The Thirteenth Tale and Claire Fuller’s Swimming Lessons.
In 1920, William and Edward arrive in Margate, Edward to play piano for the summer season at the Winter Gardens. William is his manager. Both men carry the emotional scars of their time on the battlefields of the First World War and Edward has spent many months being put back together physically, following his appalling injuries. He wears a tin mask over the missing part of his face and he and William frequently joke about painting the benches in the seaside town blue.
Evelyn has also recently arrived in the town, to assist the younger wife of her clergyman-father’s oldest friend in their tea shop before the birth of Alice’s baby. Evelyn’s evening job is in the cloakroom at the Winter Gardens where she quickly becomes close friends with Catherine, who works in the ticket office.
The four of them become entwined in each other’s lives. Every character is utterly believable and the townscape and landscape of Margate, as well as the hop fields of Kent and the interiors of the various guest houses, musical venues and tea shops – and the moving descriptions of the amassed crowds in London, welcoming the coffin of The Unknown Soldier – are evoked crystal-clear in my mind as I read.
The scene at the very beginning of the book is set twenty years after the main narrative, and the final scene of the book is set one year after that, and it made me want to cry!
An informative, well-written and poignant story of the devastation left behind by war. From my point of view, I would only have wanted to increase the pace of the writing in some places, as I sometimes felt a scene would be cut off at a crucial point and a new scene begun, during which the reader was given a summing-up of what had happened in the last one. In some ways, though, this is appropriate to the detachment from strong emotions indicative of people’s behaviour at the time.
Recommended for lovers of historical fiction about the emotional and social consequences of war.
Thank you so much to Trace Ford in her reading shed, for this wonderful endorsement of #SeaBabies
My last #BookReview of 2018. And boy it’s a belter from the local #indiepublisher @Wildpressed … Once again @authortrace had me gripped with this wonderfully written book.
This is the second book I have read of Tracey’s and I’m a massive fan.
Sea Babies is a psychologist drama set mainly in the Outer Hebrides and Edinburgh from the 1980s to the present. As a teenager in the 80s this book isn’t too ” historical” for me so had me completely ensnared in every turn of each page.
I love the characters and the way Tracey brings them to life. It’s wonderful and I can see Sea Babies sailing off the shelves.
In September 2016, Lauren Wilson is travelling by ferry to the Outer Hebrides, about to begin a new job as a children’s social worker. She’s also struggling to come to terms with the recent drowning of a Sheena…
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Thank you to Kirsten Luckins, for including two of my “Postcards from the Van” on the Celebrating Change Blog.
In the wake of our short season of ‘changing home’ poems as selected by Clive Birnie, we’re making the executive decision to feature just a handful more poems that were mentioned honourably in dispatches! Here are two from Hull-based poet, author and publisher Tracey Scott-Townsend, which contrast living in a van with the lure of bricks-and-mortar.
When we parked the van it was beside salt marshes.
Later, on our return, the sea had flowed onto the land,
Obscuring ditched slices of green.
Where before, sheep had grazed,
Restless water now raced so close to our van it appeared, from the window
That we were on a boat.
As darkness fell I knelt with my arms on the sill,
Fixated on the rushing tide.
The dogs dozed on the bench beside me,
While gentle snores rose from the bed behind.
History’s croft lines are visible on…
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