– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –
Today I’m on the ‘Foolish Heroines’ blogtour, organized by Kenyon Author Services Blog Tours.
To promote this book I have an excerpt, but before I let you read it first some ‘basic’ information.
About the Author :
June Wentland is an ordinary woman who believes that extraordinary things can happen if you keep your eyes peeled and your heart open to new possibilities. She grew up in Hull, moving to Manchester and Bristol before settling in Wiltshire. June has worked in community development and outreach for libraries as well as being a rather lacklustre waitress and on an assembly line sticking tassels onto lampshades.
She has had stories televised and published by the BBC and her poetry has appeared in many literary journals and anthologies. Her first novel, Foolish Heroines, was published by Valley Press in September 2021.
Janina Reston is a language expert, translating fiendishly tricky Arabic and Asian mathematical and scientific texts. Words are her world. But she can’t find any to share with her husband Owen. Instead, she confides in a spider named Gladys (who may or may not be her deceased grandmother).
She lives in an ordinary city suburb where extraordinary things happen. Lily’s husband dies in a strange accident with a milk bottle, while Fatima writes biographies of unknown people living seemingly inconsequential lives, and Zosia – whose most daring adventure thus far has been replacing jelly and ice cream with lemon meringue pie – runs off to Delhi with an Asian Women’s Sewing Group.
Written with zest, zeal and humour, June Wentland’s debut novel is a surreal journey through the avenues and alleyways of everyday life. But forget dull domesticity. This is a suburb where dense jungle leaves creep through the patio door when you’re putting the kettle on, where porcelain shepherdesses have evil intent, and where a seven-legged arachnid can be a wise companion for a woman at the end of her tether.
June Wentland talks about writing the opening of her novel:
The first chapter of Foolish Heroines wasn’t the original start of the novel. I was planning to write a novel that was connected in some way to the Brontë sisters. I even spent a weekend in Haworth for inspiration! I wrote a few paragraphs but they were pushed out of the way by what is now the beginning of Foolish Heroines. This novel needed to be written instead. This first chapter came to me very easily. I think it had been brewing in my subconscious for some time and it really sets the scene for the world of Foolish Heroines. It’s firmly in our everyday world but unusual and remarkable things can happen – disappearances, sudden realisations and exuberant transformations.
When Janina Reston touched Owen Reston’s arm and her hand passed straight through it, it only confirmed what she’d suspected for some time – her partner was simply a figment of her imagination. He wasn’t really there at all. She wondered if he’d ever been real and, if so, whether he’d disappeared all in one go or whether it had happened gradually, bit by bit.
She had an acquaintance whose husband had vanished in the supermarket. One minute he was walking down the aisle between the cream crackers and the packs of lager, and the next he was gone. He’d undressed, leaving his clothes and shoes in a neat pile. Then he’d dived into the salty depths of a deep freezer amongst the battered cod and the new crabmeat fish cakes, never to be seen again, tossed about for infinity on the tides of consumer capitalism. Missing, presumed dead.
Owen had been looking increasingly transparent since the jumper incident. The question was, who’d put the jumper on to boil wash? Who’d committed the sin? Wash with care in cool water, the label said, delicate. A sure candidate for programme J: suitable for hand wash items with a crease guard and a gentle spin.
The jumper had hung from her hand like an unexpected blossom, an out of season bloom, defying horticulturalist theory. It emitted an aura of novelty, a self-conscious exclamation mark at its own existence. Perfectly circular drops of water clung to the surface, resisting its pull but inevitably absorbed by it.
“What the fuck’s that?” Owen asked as he and Janina stood in the kitchen. “Is it my jumper?”
Janina leaned against the sink and weighed up the possibilities, the jumper still hanging from her hand like a question for which a solution must be found.
When objects, or people for that matter, went through such drastic change could they really still claim to be what they’d originally been? How many married individuals were still the same people they’d been on their wedding day? Did that annul the marriage? Janina and Owen stared at the offending piece of laundry, still steaming from the hot wash. Neither could quite draw their eyes away from it.
“Do you want it to be?” she asked. It was a philosophical question but he took it as an insensitive reply.
“What do you think?” he said.
“I think you put it in with the fast colours.” she said. “Or it could have got put on with the boil wash.”
The impasse couldn’t go on forever in such a small kitchen, so Janina walked out into the garden. A few birds sang in the newly blossoming trees, pinprick specks of delicate colour, gently piercing the cool air; the trees’ roots like wooden toes entwined affectionately or engaged in a hidden power struggle beneath the grass. Concealed beneath Janina and Owen’s conversation had been the unsaid implication that, somewhere along the line, she was to blame for the jumper. As if, at some point, she’d been duped into signing a contract with unreadably small print that made her responsible for any shrinkages or mishaps that took place within the womb-like confines of the washing machine. Any mistake would be viewed as collusion between woman and technological hardware.
The Magic of Wor(l)ds