Wednesday, March 2, 2016

An Open Book: A Disant Prospect

Carolyn Astfalk (author of Stay with Me) has begun a new link-up for us bookish types who've been missing the WWRW party over at Housewifespice.  She's calling this first-Wednesday-of-every-month event "An Open Book" (#OpenBook).
It just so happens that I'm reading a book that's very much worth sharing; so here I am, linking up--from Deutschland!  (Aren't the Internets amazing?)

I have just begun a new novel that I can already tell is going to become a favorite of mine.  It's one that's been on my Goodreads "to read" list forever, but which I finally purchased last week as an eBook.  To save space in my carry-on bag, all the books I brought on my trip over to Germany are Kindle books.  (Whaaatttt?!  I know, I'm as surprised as you are.  I never thought Little Miss I'm-So-Old-Fashioned would ever become one of those newfangled Kindle people, but she did.)
Here's the cover of this delightful book, a beautifully told coming-of-age story by Aussie writer Annette Young.
Although I've wanted to read this book for quite some time, I'm glad I waited until long after my own two novels were published.  I don't really like to read the work of other fiction authors while I'm in the process of writing a novel.  Sometimes there are passages in these books that are just a wee bit too similar to passages in mine, and I worry that readers will think I'm stealing others' words.  (For instance, I just skimmed through a few pages of Kate Alcott's The Daring Ladies of Lowell, another book I've been dying to read that is now downloaded on my Kindle and is next in the queue after A Distant Prospect.  I saw that there's a young mill worker named Delia who is nearly killed when her hair gets caught in one of the machines; and in Erin's Ring, one of my minor characters is an Irish mill girl with an eerily similar name--Deidre--who has an eerily similar accident and winds up scalped.  But I swear, I never looked at Alcott's novel while I was working on Erin's Ring!)

Aside from worrying about seeming like a copy-cat, I am also so often overwhelmed by how talented some writers are that I can't help but compare my skills and find them wanting--which is another reason to but a kibosh on pleasure reading until my own manuscript has gone through its final edits and is ready for publication, so that I can't obsess anymore about how to make it better.

But getting back to A Distant Prospect...

I knew I'd love this book when I read the author's bio.  Annette Young, a Catholic convert, is the mother of four boys, which of course made me feel an instant kinship with her.  And she wrote the first draft of this novel when she was a younger woman; then after it had sat for 17 years, she re-wrote it, and she wound up with quite a different book than the one she'd written when she hadn't had as much life experience behind her yet. “It is amazing what marriage and children do to your perspective," she says.  Oh, I heartily agree!  We seem to have so much in common!  I didn't start Finding Grace until my youngest son was starting high school and his older brothers were either in college or out in the working world, and I remember being very much aware as I was writing it that it was a much different book than it would have been if I'd set out to do it before I had all those years of marriage and motherhood behind me.

So what is A Distant Prospect about, you ask?  (I seem to be taking a long time to get around to that!)  As I'm not far enough into the book to give you a full review, here's the publisher's synopsis:

Australia promised a fresh start for Lucy Straughan and her father when they fled war-torn Ireland. Instead, Lucy was stricken by polio.

Having mastered the cello during her prolonged confinement, Lucy is now fifteen, lonely and full of questions. Suddenly she is thrust into a string quartet and meets quixotic Della Sotheby, hot-headed Pim Connolly and precocious Phoebe Raye. The experience transforms each of their lives as they forge friendships and share not a few family secrets.

Set against the vivid background of 1920s Sydney, A Distant Prospect is an intimate, hilarious and ultimately deeply moving coming-of-age adventure told with a touch of poetry by a quintessentially Irish narrator.

The very first chapter introduces the reader to a self-conscious and bespectacled 15-year-old girl and her dear, doting Irish dad...does this sound at all familiar?  Instantly, I was reminded of the first chapter of Finding Grace!  (Like I said, I feel a kinship with this author!)  I am only three chapters into the story now, and I am utterly captivated.  I can hardly wait to see what awaits the spunky young heroine who is a polio survivor, a math whiz, and a gifted cellist.  I feel confident recommending A Distant Prospect without even having finished it; but I promise to post a follow-up when I do.

Now if you're interested in seeing what others are recommending, head on over to the link-up!


  1. Thanks for linking up! I never thought I'd be a Kindle user either, but it can't be beat for saving space and portability!

    1. Yes, I've been dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century. And I have to admit, I an beginning to appreciate the merits of my Kindle. :)

  2. I still haven't read this book, but I have meet Annette a few years back, she came to one of my homeschool camps. So I do feel guilty for not yet reading this book

    1. I love her writing style and she's wonderful at character development. I think this novel will end up being a favorite.

    2. And Erin, I love that it's set in your homeland! :)