A week or so ago, I had the pleasure of going to Caroline Smailes' launch of her third book, Like Bees to Honey. Although I hadn't read her previous novels, I'd heard such good things about her writing that I had to buy this book.
Here's the synopsis from Amazon:
Nina, her son Christopher in tow, flies to Malta for one last visit with her aging parents.
Her previous attempt to see them ended in tears. Disowned for falling pregnant while at university in England, she was not allowed into the house. This will be her final chance to make her peace with them. But Malta holds more secrets and surprises than Nina could possibly imagine. What she finds is not the land of her youth, a place full of memories and happiness. Instead she meets dead people. Lots of them.
Malta, it transpires, is a transit lounge for recently deceased spirits and somehow Christopher enables her to see them, speak with them and help them. And, in return, they help Nina come to terms with her own loss. One so great that she has yet to admit it to herself. Like Bees to Honey is a story of family, redemption and ghosts. It is a magical tale that will live with you long after you finish reading.
I read books usually before I go to sleep, so this struck alarm bells. I didn't want anything too ominous or depressing, something that would keep me up all night staring into dark corners and imagining shapes. But Caroline's spirits are nothing like the ghouls in fairytales: these are spirits who are just as real as humans, with their own anguish over not being able to touch the ground or missing out on reality TV (Jesus, in particular, seems to harbour an obsession with telly!).
This is such a beautiful book - unique and unlike any I've ever read. A former linguist, Caroline plays with language and sound to fully immerse you in the world of the main character, a woman who goes to Malta to seek respite from her grief. You breathe the dust of the island and feel the cracks of the pavement almost as if you were there. It's vivid, lyrical writing that wraps around you much like the spiritual inhabitants of the islands themselves.
You can order Caroline's book through Amazon UK or from The Book Depository, with free worldwide delivery.
Coming up tomorrow: an interview with an author who's just signed her FIRST CONTRACT! Yippee!
(I will try my best to get around to everyone's blog tonight but I seem to have acquired a pounding headache over the course of the day thanks to some lovely drilling by my neighbours, so please excuse me if I don't make it over!)