Monday, August 9, 2010

On the Shore of the Wide World -- Book Recommendations

I love the kind of book that pulls me in, that creates such a compelling atmosphere that I buy into it completely. So completely that I have to blink, dazed and disoriented when I lift my eyes from the pages and return to my world. Enchantment. Books like these inspire and nourish, the ideas burble away in your subconscious and inform and fertilize your own simmering ideas. Good writing does that.

I've always loved beaches -- especially the beaches of PEI. There is a clarity, an openness that allows you to dream. And dreaming is essential to simmering and shaping stories. One of my favourite poems is Keats' WHEN I HAVE FEARS, especially the last three lines:

When I have fears that I may cease to be
Before my pen has glean'd my teeming brain,
.... -- then on the shore
Of the wide world I stand alone, and think
Till love and fame to nothingness do sink.

The shore, that place linking land and sea, on the brink of openness, of oblivion -- where the clarity of the sky meets the dancing of the seas and the solid comfort of the earth -- is for me inspiring, cleansing and uplifting.

So it's perhaps no surprise that Helen Dunmore's wonderful book INGO, and its sequels, enchanted and delighted me. I won't go into a detailed review --I don't believe in spoilers, and besides, anyone inspired to read these books will want to form their own personal relationship with the stories. Briefly, a fantasy novel set in the Cornish coast of England, INGO speaks to and of the aching pull of the sea and creates a compelling world, the world of Ingo, the world beneath the seas. Characters, including Mer folk, are full blown and fascinating, but it is place -- the ocean -- that swells and sings. I loved the book and promptly went out to buy the rest of the books in the series -- all as fascinating as the first. THE TIDE KNOT continues the story, followed by THE DEEP and THE CROSSING OF INGO.

During the hot lazy days of summer, these books are perfect to read on the shore of the wide world, with the hush and roar of the sea in your ears. Books to set your imagination a-stir.

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