Book Reviews

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Hilary’s Book Review: Poetry Books by Suzi Cairns

Pplease take care of this book – the parable of topsy

please take care of this book too – twelve steps home

Tucked away in a quiet corner of Lambourn and looking out onto a field of lush farmland, lives poet and artist, Suzanne Cairns together with her bouncy, hairy companion, Wellie and a Buddhist cat called Garlic.  On a damp autumnal day I had the pleasure of meeting her to discuss her two creations ‘please take of this book – the parable of topsy’ and ‘please take care of this book too – twelve steps home’.

The story behind them is, in itself an interesting one but I will save that for later.  The first is a jewel of a book, and chronicles, in photographs and poems the beginning, middle and end of a relationship – in the author’s words ‘the rise and demise of a love affair’ .   Now poetry isn’t for everyone and certainly, over the years, I have struggled with some of the more well-known ‘highbrow’ ones.  However Suzi has managed to write poems that are both simple to understand yet intelligent , carefully choosing her words to carry the message easily yet succinctly.  As a person Suzi, in her own words has been called verbose but in her writing she has controlled this, paring down her verse so that each line reaches its target brilliantly.

Don’t be fooled into thinking however that they are dry – humour floats through the ‘beginning’ of the relationship, gently mocking yet understanding the effects of early love.  The reality of the middle stage is playful, honest and SO truthful and, sadly, with the end, we have the poignant, painful  reality of a dying relationship.  They are clever yet unpretentious and their appeal would cross the generations.  Anyone who has loved and lost would relate to each and every poem.

Enter stage right, an old copy of a book, published in 1914, selected from numerous offerings by family and friends in the quest for the perfect tool.    The book, ‘Higher Wharfdale – the Dale of Romance by Edmund Bogg’.   This survivor became the link used within the photos, a reminder that books, amongst many other things can last the test of time if treated with care and kindness.

Please take care of this book crop 500pxSo – what next?  The poems written and the book printed , Suzi wanted her words to be shared.  In her aim to spread the word, she arranged for two rather ‘interesting’ characters to escort this book to Malham Cove in Yorkshire as a mark of respect for Edmund Bogg, where it was gently placed on a granite rock awaiting discovery by a passing walker.  Inside, a message requesting care be taken with the book, to enjoy the contents within and to pass it on and to register their find on social media.

And so begins book two ‘please take care of this book too – twelve steps home’, the stories of how the first little gem of a book moves from hand to hand, from place to place and finally back home again.  Whilst these little stories are fictitious they chronicle how this sensitive little tome is read, rejected, lost and found and ultimately survives.  The stories are written by Suzi’s sister Elizabeth with guidance and criteria issued by Suzi!  They are, like the poems, delightful, sparse and with a lovely use of language.

I hope that I have done these little treasures justice.  They are unique, meaningful, accessible, loveable and funny as well as moving and touching.  Whilst I haven’t touched on the basic underlying theme that, in this ever changing and fast moving world we should take the time to demonstrate kindness and care, it is, in Suzi’s words ‘a moment in history to draw a parallel between the  way we read our fiction these days and the way we treat our relationships’.   The instant soup, instant answers, instant partners, zap it in the microwave type of approach to life is not as deeply satisfying as the take time, care and be kind way.

These little books are a joy to read, a joy to own and a joy to share.  They would make a lovely Christmas gift for all ages.

To get a taster of the contents of the books and to find out more about Suzi, visit her website www.pleasetakecareofthisbook.com

Copies are available from the Lambourn Dentist (by the church) and the Lambourn café and Amazon.

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