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WARNING: A long review probably follows this. If you're not aware that I seem naturally disposed to write reviews of essay proportions and you have a short attention span (or perhaps you just dislike ramblings), you'll be glad I've mentioned it. It's okay, you can buy me a drink sometime.
+ WHY THIS BOOK, THEN? +
Mum saw it in Asda, and knew instinctively that she just HAD to get this book and that I would enjoy it as much as she would. So strong was this feeling, that she didn't even want to wait for the book to come out in paperback when it'd be a wee bitty cheaper - this itself shows the sense of urgency in procuring said item in question! I'm not even sure how much she got it for... hmm. I'd ask her but my phone is over *there* and I'm sure you don't want me bothering her. Cheers.
Anyhow... Mum had owned the book for a wee while though before I spied it and she recalled that part of the reason she had bought it was because she somehow KNEW I'd get as much out of it as she would.
The basis of the book is fairly simple in theory, but in practice is a little more complicated as we discover - Mia takes on a student to 'teach' her how to be psychic like her. So was I interested? You bet your ass I was.
+ WHO'S THIS MIA BIRD? +
Mia Dolan, some of you may recognise, as the resident psychic on the ITV2 programme 'Haunted Homes'. My Mum had also gone on to explain that Mia Dolan previously released a well-received autobiography, 'The Gift', detailing her life (awful childhood experience, abusive marriage, and loss of her brother and son included) up until and after the time she realised she had a psychic ability.
Although perhaps not as well known here in Scotland as our lovely 'Psychic Barber' Gordon Smith (a barber who just happens to be psychic, the newspapers spent a lot of time making up that moniker...), my initial thoughts were fairly positive. Well, when I say 'fairly positive' I mean 'Nice one! A book by someone who doesn't ham up a performance on television at every opportunity with his invisible sidekick Sam...' *cough*Acorah*cough*. What? *looks innocent*
While Mia's picture and name are displayed very prominently across the cover of the book, you do catch at the bottom in smaller type 'with Rosalyn Chissick'. Now, I doubt I'd know Rosalyn Chissick if I fell over her. But as well as being the student in this wee adventure, she's apparently also written a couple of novels and has contributed to a Marian Keyes collaboration with other authors (don't worry, even I know who Marian Keyes is! I didn't live with a chick-lit lover for nothing... *waves to Paula*).
+ CHRIST, NOT ANOTHER GHOSTBUSTER... +
Ehh, I think you're confusing her vodka and tonic and fags for a Proton Pack... Yes! Good news folks, the blonde bombshell Mia drinks and smokes and eats junk food just like us!
The book begins with Mia waiting in another hotel room to be interviewed by another journalist in the year after her book 'The Gift' has been published, feeling rather anxious and apprehensive but with her feet firmly on the ground. Rosalyn (henceforth referred to as Roz) meanwhile is sitting in her car outside, reflecting how it was her magazine editor's idea to interview Mia, and is determined to discover whether Mia's reputation is founded, and if she is 'the real deal'.
As Mia is speaking to Roz about herself, her first psychic experience at 22, and her views on life and how she believes everybody has the same ability as she does, but just don't have the 'tools' or knowledge on how to use it or develop it. Quite unexpectedly (for them both!), Roz asks Mia to teach her to be psychic and since Mia feels that Roz has a genuine interest and appears quite open minded, she agrees.
And so the adventure begins! Well, it will... just as soon as both women are able to clear a space in their diaries to dedicate time to the training.
+ "SIX MONTHS FROM SCEPTIC TO PSYCHIC" +
It took a year, but both Mia and Roz were able set aside 6 months so Roz could be introduced to 'Mia's World', as it were, and what follows is a pretty insightful read.
The way the book is written is quite unusual - or I'm just not used to having two separate and obvious inputs. The narration is from both Mia and Roz's point of view, and each block of text begins with one of their names, depending on who is 'speaking'. Simple, but effective - and it's wonderful to find out what each person's first impressions are of the other, along with each person's take on a shared experience. If something happens that Mia is completely used to, then Roz is perhaps a bit shaken or amazed by it. However, the great thing is that Mia usually admits that when these things first happened to her, she reacted in pretty much the same way or somewhat naively as a young 'un until she knew better or had learned more about the best way to handle such experiences or situations.
Because of this, I feel this makes Mia a much more likeable figure and much more human - not some untouchable, flawless demi-god on a pedestal. She herself keeps saying she's not special, she's just like everyone else and "swears, drinks, and eats junk food" which I feel is quite refreshing and doesn't sound at all hackneyed (as much as the cynical bitch in me would like it to be lol).
+ ANY GHOSTS, GOBLINS, OR GHOULIES? +
Back up, this isn't Poltergeist! There's no wee mysterious woman declaring 'this house is clean'! No, this is meant to be a spirtual journey (apologies for sounding cheesy!) and to understand more about the human need and reasons why so many people - even the hardheaded types - seek out help from those with answers no one else seems to have, those with a gift like Mia's. This rings true since all those psychic hotlines continue to rake in the cash (I recall seeing a Mia Dolan psychic hotline advertised once though, that put her down a wee bit in my estimations though).
That itself sounds a little thin for the purpose of a book, doesn't it? Have no fear! Yes, the first thing Mia tries to show Roz is how a psychic gift can help people in need, and I have to say that it's quite touching to read about how Mia found it difficult to cope with the loss of her brother and son, but helping the bereaved also enabled her to help herself and pass on the message that when loved ones pass on, we will see them again. Reassuring? Absolutely. Easing dear Roz (and our inexperienced readers) into things gently? Of course.
We're pretty quickly learning about auras - a sort of life force around all living things - and even taught how to see and feel them and understand what the different colours in an aura indicate (an aura can indicate a person's personality as well as any health issues); if soulmates exist; how hauntings differ from 'visitations' and whether Roz is able to 'feel' if a place has a spirit (ok so I fibbed, ghosts are involved a wee bit) but as Roz is making such great progress, she has a minor setback and gets utterly freaked out by something (spooked by a spook... hehehe).
So this stalls things momentarily, as Roz doesn't feel quite so safe and secure anymore and Mia has to convey to her that there is a lot more to 'her world' than predicting some future events or feeling someone's aura. My initial thought was 'big wimp', but then I recalled something Roz had said earlier in the book - "... I could not stop thinking about the film 'The Exorcist'. I hoped my lessons with Mia would not involve my head spinning around while I vomited."
This comment pissed me off a bit, I'll admit. It was a fairly ridiculous statement, or a poor attempt at humour. Or perhaps trying to reassure any severely misinformed and misguided souls who don't get out much. The fact she seemed to react so badly just seems to suggest that she is only human after all and is not used to the things that Mia is, but it's a bit of a pain when she accuses Mia of "messing with my head". Human nature to point fingers, I suppose.
Again, Mia admits that when her spirit guide Eric first began speaking to her, Mia thought she was going crazy and was very frightened - she even ended up seeing doctors and psychiatrists who all concluded that she was perfectly sane but apparently hearing a voice no one else could. Needless to say, Roz decides she will continue with the teaching after Mia tells her about a visualisation technique to 'shut down' her newly opened sixth sense in case she isn't comfortable with being so sensitive and 'aware' of things around her - everybody loves a get-out clause!
+ THOUGHTS ON THE BOOK +
I borrowed this from Mum almost 2 years ago, and I still have it in my possession. Don't ask me how many times I've read it, I couldn't possibly tell you. It is definitely re-readable, and is very encouraging as the entire time that Roz is learning about auras and techniques and whatnot, the reader is given an opportunity to learn and practice it too because of the way it is written. As we find out about Mia's spirit guide Eric, Roz is quite astonished to discover she has one too - in fact we all do. Someone who is with us our whole lives from the day we are born, almost like a guardian angel. Mia even encourages Roz to communicate with her spirit guide, although it doesn't appear to be something that she is totally comfortable with since we don't hear much more about him and she doesn't divulge any conversations she may have had with him.
As I've said already, the way the book is written is very easy to follow and easy to read - the only thing that niggled me a little was the fact that I could not assume that the conversations were faithfully down in print as they had actually been spoken (if they had been at all). With Will Storr you knew that he had a dictaphone and intended to write a piece on his experiences, so if this book had been planned then surely Roz and Mia would have done the same? Or kept diaries to accurately represent their thoughts and feelings when things were happening? Or perhaps these writings are the gists of the conversations and their reactions... who knows (mind you, how can you dictaphone a spirit guide?!).
Whenever I read this book, I always feel content with things - like it's a spiritual pick-me-up (aside from my normal liquid spiritual ones). It doesn't gloss over or ignore the bad things that happen, but is reassuring as you're told that things happen for a reason and there are lessons in life that have to be learned, and you will always be much more stronger for it. Again, the cynical bitch in me wants to say something but can't - Mia just seems so damn nice and sincere, and more importantly - someone I could have a drink with (or four).
Definitely recommended, no matter what category you may fall under...
- For newcomers to the world of psychic abilities, this book is a great starter and covers a few topics in a very easy to understand way - heck, Roz is a bit clueless about it all too, so you're not alone!
- If you're already quite knowledgeable about it all already, there will be some techniques and things to hold your interest and try out if you're so inclined.
- If you're a dab hand then obviously you know pretty much all there is to, but it never hurts to have another's perspective on things.
+ AVAILABILITY, ETC. +
Amazon.co.uk - from £2 new and used for hardback, from £1.80 new and used for paperback
Also available for purchase from official site:
ISBN (hardback): 0007182473
ISBN (paperback): 0007208928
© bandcamp 2007-onwards, plagiarists will be subject to haunting and spiritual warfare