Crooked Angels by Carol Lee
The tagline for this novel is :" The story of your life, your history, is written in your body."
Also on the front cover is a quote from Dame Judi Dench " A truly fascinating read."
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Carol Lee is obviously an author but she also writes as a journalist and is an Alexander Technique teacher which is reflected in this story as during the story there is a connection between what has happened to Carol in her life and how her body suddenly changed and behaved.
This novel is her sixth book but I don't know anything about the others and have not read any of them.
Carol is a successful, healthy, young journalist and during the book her life story is told in flashbacks as she remembers different things. These memories are a bit like a jigsaw and help her work out why her body has suddenly let her down after all these years.
Carol is a very believable character and as we hear more about her life I felt closer to her and became more impressed with the way she had managed to overcome some fairly unpleasant life experiences and become the success she was.
Carol's family consisted of her rather strict over religious and cold father, her rather dippy and seemingly useless mother, her younger brother from whom she was separated most of her life but who she was quite close to emotionally.
Carol also spent a lot of her childhood with her mother's parents, her grandparents from Wales who were loving and a bit chaotic and lived in a very small, rather untidy house.
Carol's father's mother hated Carol's mother and also it seems Carol and was an bitter and unhappy woman determined to makes everyone else miserable too.
Finally we have the osteopath, Renzo who was helping Carol with her problem. He repeatedly told her that he could help with the muscles but that only Carol who could work on her mind and that is what she would have to do to get better.
Carol wakes one morning to find that she is unable to move her arms and she is overnight trapped in a life of incredible pain. Some days are worse than others and she spends her time trying to work out which movements cause her pain .
Her illness confounds all the medical experts she contacts and indeed one physiotherapist makes the situation worse by trying to trying to rush the muscle repair before Carol had solved the mind/memory emotional issues which caused the problem in the first place.
The story is a sort of mystery with the illness and its cause being the case to be solved. During the flashbacks we learn about Carol's life in England, Wales and Tanzania, ,the Middle East as well as different boarding schools. We hear about her fears and her desperate desire to get her father's approval, her burning ambition to be successful in order to get some parental approval.
I found this book quite an eye opener at times. There are aspects of her life that reminded me of mine although I did have a very loving family unlike hers. I was pushed in and out of schools to suit my father's various movement s around the world for his jobs. I too traveled to different countries and was boarded out with different relatives but the difference was that mine were loving relatives but they still were not my immediate family and I did feel left behind at times.
I am not sure whether it was empathy with Carol's life that drew me into the story or whether it was just a very cleverly written novel.
I really found the way the story moved at quite a pace and at each turn we learned just that bit more about her life and how each event contributed to her sudden illness. It did make me think about RSI and ensuring that I sit properly and don't hunch over when I am typing on the computer as this was one of the many contributing factors to her eventual pain and partial paralysis.
I found the style of writing easy to read and was always keen to read on and find out more about carol's very varied life story and how different events had affected her emotionally and eventually physically as well.
Her story is told with much realism but at no time do we ever feel that the author is playing the 'poor hard doe by' card. The stories and events and descriptions of her time with some of her less than loving relatives are all told in flashback with Carol thinking back to those times. Often she has forgotten about these events and it is only by the therapist saying that she needs to really look back and see where the problems now showing as physical ailments may have begun that forces her to think back.. I am not sure whether she just did this herself or she was put under hypnosis as hypnosis is never mentioned.
This is a who dunnit or mystery and the cause of illness is the mystery to be solved. It is a story told well and at a pace that keeps you interested throughout.
REVIEWS FROM OTHERS
"A natural storyteller...complex, compelling and memorable. - Scotland on Sunday
Unusual, possible unique, in conception - and beautifully written." Readers' Review
" To write about this experience with compassion and insight is impressive in itself; to do it without rancour, and with such narrative sureness, is a major achievement." Joan Smith, Independent on Sunday
Yes it was a very different sort of read. A mystery but a very different one but it drew me in and I couldn't wait to get back to find out about more about Carol's life and her mystery illness. Having read this and enjoyed it I would certainly be happy to read her other books and will keep an eye out for them.
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