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Archive for the tag “Monique Roffey”

My reading week: 27/52

Currently Reading

My current novel is Black Rain by Masuji Ibuse, which is this month’s choice for the Japanese Literature book club. It tells of the aftermath of the Hiroshima bombing and its effect on the survivors.

Recently Completed

I finished listening to The Mermaid of Black Conch by Monique Roffey. Set in the Caribbean, it tells the story of David, a fisherman who rescues and falls in love with Aycayia, the mermaid of the title. The mythic quality of the novel particularly lends itself to the audio version, which is beautifully narrated and transports the reader to the town of Black Conch. I love the fact that Roffey has created a mermaid far removed from the blond-haired beauty stereotype, and hers and David’s story is painfully touching to witness. This is an unusual and hypnotic novel.

I also finished reading/listening to The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley. This is one of those novels that seems incredibly popular, appearing everywhere, so I had high hopes. A group of friends spend the New Year in the Scottish wilderness but things go horribly wrong when one of the party is found dead. This is not just a story about identifying the killer, who is one of the group, but the identity of the suspect is also withheld. Potential motives abound, which made me question why these people wanted to spend time together at all. I guessed the victim early on but had no idea as to the perpetrator, and by the end of the novel I honestly didn’t care. I found the characters irritating and paradoxically although the novel centred around their back stories, it felt very much plot-driven. I can understand its popularity but as I prefer a character-driven novel, it wasn’t for me.

Reading Next

My next choice is Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez, which I’m going to read and listen to. It’s part of my exploration into magical realism and is also one of the set texts on a two week literature course next month.

I’ve chosen this week’s quotation as I’m always fascinated by the ways people use journals. It comes from Black Rain.

Her way of keeping a diary was to deal with the day’s events in a brief five or six lines for four or five days, then, on the fifth or sixth day, to devote one entry to describing the past few days in greater detail.

Masuji Ibuse

Intentions: review and setting (week 27)

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Here is a review of last week’s intentions, and my aspirations for this week.

Health and Wellbeing

I ate healthy snacks in the evening and went to ballroom and Latin dancing. I also did more yoga and walking than usual.

I’ve noticed that my to-do lists and becoming too long and overwhelming, causing unnecessary stress.

This week: Reduce the number of items on my to-do list.

Personal Development

I made a list of the outstanding reading from my Critical Reading course, which has now finished. I will work through this in my own time.

Although I haven’t done any art journalling for a long time, I have been feeling a spark of creativity return but have a desire to explore with fabric and stitch rather than paint and paper. Inspired by this post on the Willow in Winter blog, I ordered the Craftpod summer box:

This week: Make a start on the embroidery in the Craftpod box.


I finished listening to The Mermaid of Black Conch by Monique Roffey. The next books I need to read are The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley and Black Rain by Masuji Ibuse.

This week: Read The Hunting Party.


I finished working through the first section of A Swim in the Pond in the Rain by George Saunders and wrote an outline for a short story I’ve already drafted in order to give it more structure. I’ve also signed up to a Making People course with Writers’ HQ.

This week: Begin working through the exercises in the course, applying them to my short story character.


I managed to tidy the spare bedroom and the kitchen.

This week: Organise my desk and workspace.

My reading week: 26/52

Currently Reading

I’m still reading Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid and listening to The Mermaid of Black Conch by Monique Roffey, both of which I’m enjoying.

I’ve also started reading Busy@Home by Tony Crabbe, which is a guide on how to survive and thrive during the Covid crisis. Hopefully, I’m a bit late to the party on this one.

Recently Finished

For the first time this year, the answer is: nothing. I didn’t complete any books this week. After reading Leaf Storm by Gabriel García Márquez, I was a bit slow to decide what to read next.

Reading Next

My next read will definitely be The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley, which I need to read by mid-July for my book club.

This week’s quotation comes from The Mermaid of Black Conch and expresses the idea that when all else fails, we still have our story:

I am an ol’ man now, and sick sick so I cyan move much, sick so I cyan work, go out to sea, and so I go write my story.

Monique Roffey

My reading week: 25/52

Currently Reading

My current read is Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid, which was longlisted for the 2020 Booker Prize and has been recommended by my daughter. So far I’m enjoying it and this is from the blurb:

When Emira is apprehended at a supermarket for ‘kidnapping’ the white child she’s actually babysitting, her employer Alix resolves to make things right. So begins a crash course that will upend everything they think they know – about themselves, each other, and the messy dynamics of privilege.

I’m also listening to the audiobook of The Mermaid of Black Conch by Monique Roffey, which is beautifully narrated by Ben Onwukue and Vivienne Acheampong in a way which transports you to the Caribbean island. It’s the July choice of the No Book No Life book club.

Recently Finished

This week, I finished listening to Bullet Park by John Cheever. The novel tells of the collision of the world of Eliot Nailles with that Paul Hammer and is set in the ordinary American suburbs where extraordinary things happen. It’s both bizarre and interesting in an unlikely sort of way.

I also finished Leaf Storm by Gabriel García Márquez, a novella which spans the period of time between 2.30 and 3.00pm on a Wednesday afternoon in September as the Colonel fulfils his promise to provide ‘an honourable burial’ to the doctor, who has committed suicide, knowing that by doing so he will inflame the town’s residents. He instructs his daughter and her son to join him and the story is told through their multiple first person narrations. Through flashbacks, the reader is slowly able to piece together the events which has led to this day. For a short book of 119 pages, I found it a slow read requiring intense concentration. In the constant switching of narrative voice, it was not immediately clear who the narrator was until a couple of pages into the section, which made it quite confusing. Having said that, I still enjoyed its slow-paced revelation of the past.

Reading Next

My next read is The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley, chosen for my July book club. This has been highly recommended by so many people so I’m looking forward to seeing what I think of it.

This week’s quotation is from Leaf Storm, as Isabel speaks of her father, the Colonel:

Actually, he’s spent his whole life doing things like this; giving the town stones to chew on, keeping his most insignificant promises with his back turned to all convention.

Gabriel García Márquez

Five things I learnt from a discussion between Monique Roffey and Salena Godden

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This was an amazingly inspirational conversation between two extremely interesting writers, hosted by the Cambridge Literary Festival. Monique Roffey’s latest novel is The Mermaid of Black Conch and Salena Godden has just published her first novel, Mrs Death Misses Death. Both novels were already on my ‘future reads’ list. Here are five things I learnt from their discussion.


Monique Roffey has a Trinidadian/European background, which she describes as being like ‘a fish out of two waters’. I think this is a great way to describe that sense of being between two cultures, with each seeing you as being an outsider.


Salena Godden is predominantly a performance poet, which became apparent when she read an extract from the novel – it sounded wonderful. I rarely listen to audiobooks but as she narrates the audio version herself, I will definitely ‘read’ it in this format; it will be a delightful experience.


Monique Roffey writes about a different mermaid to the blond image she believes Disney hijacked. Traditionally, mermaids were not white, and she sees them as disrupters. The novel concerns itself with people and things being shut down, and she crowd-funded its publication.


Salena Godden challenges the idea of death being a man, ‘the grim reaper’, instead considering death from a female perspective. It is a novel where the character of Wolf is referred to without using pronouns, which made it quite difficult to write. It concerns itself with facing fears about death, darkness, success, failure…


Both authors do not confine themselves to writing but do various other things. Roffey is an activist who teaches and mentors; Godden is a performance poet who has written a memoir and had a documentary made about the writing of her novel. Neither has children, which they say allows them to focus fully on their work without distractions.

This discussion felt like meeting of like-minded souls who had a genuine respect for and understanding of each other. It was like listening to a relaxed and cosy conversation between highly intelligent friends, who would be happy to include you in their group. I felt truly inspired both during and after it and am grateful to the Cambridge Literary Festival for hosting this fantastic event.

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