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The Onion Stone - MP Novella

 
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F.H.Lee



Joined: 28 Dec 2011
Posts: 938
Location: Oxford County, Ontario, Canada

PostPosted: Fri Dec 07, 2012 9:21 pm    Post subject: The Onion Stone - MP Novella Reply with quote

THE ONION STONE
by Mandy Pannett
Pewter Rose Press, Nottingham, UK - 2011
Paperback: 198 pages

Recently, a fortune cookie revealed my curse... "The real secret to success is enthusiasm." After three reads through this majestic novella, to better absorb the "marble layering" within THE ONION STONE, I might now attempt to do it justice. It is important for me not to reveal anything to anyone about the plot, since many will be familiar with the controversy regarding the writings of Shakespeare, but many will not. Preferring not to simply list plot puzzle pieces, or character action, I would much rather attempt to explain why Mandy's writing is so appealing.

The first immersion, was for the sake of story ... just the pure enjoyment of a well balanced unpredictable plotline. The second time through was simply to appreciate the poetry, the writing, and the references. To unearth the wonderful pieces of renowned literature, blow off the dust, and appreciate their timeless shine, but also to luxuriate in the fine poetic sense of the author. Mandy Pannett writes poetry, teaches poetry, judges poetry. Mandy has already had three books of poetry published, with a fourth out later this year. The language in the book is delicious! Each word or phrase has been selected for its precise meaning, rhythm, and detailed description that only a poet can capture. Pinpoint accuracy and satisfied appetite. Finally, the third time through (but not the last!) was to absorb history, real or fictional. The author sprinkles it generously on this fine feast of words, for my benefit, welfare, health. My grade 9 history teacher is likely still shaking his head ...

What is the book about you ask? Well dahhhhlings it depends entirely on what you already know. Some chapters walk us through present day issues, characters, deeds and misdeeds. Noble and neurotic. Other chapters launch us into the 16th century, where we can revel in Shakespeare's muddy world. Two different love triangles exist ... one woman (Frances) is caught in a nasty spider web that dates back to her youth, when she chose between two suitors, and now has to deal with them both, later in life, as they mature into nasty spiders. They fight over scholarly prestige of the unsolved mystery, and she is the fly caught between them. Yet, I like Frances, and rather than perceiving her as incompetent or bullied or blasť, I find her refreshingly feisty, with her own reasons for her own conduct. They may grind on her from the outside, eroding her protective armour, but inside she is spry and smart and self-propelled, rebellious as ever. Shards of spirit still razor sharp. Now Anne is another story. She is stuck firmly in her web, held fast by protocol and position, with a father, husband, and lifestyle to pity. Tension and suspense exists in past and present worlds, as does love and deception, astounding betrayal and adamant devotion.

Mandy's words, research, vast knowledge, and creativity within the confines of an old theme merge together to consider the paradox of reality vs possibility; past vs present; young vs old; pristine emotion vs pouty old crabgrass (the two main male characters, take your pick!). I shake my spear and begin again. Primitive man I am not - I appreciate the genius of Shakespeare, his poetry and plays. I ingest the best Mandy has to offer; a poetic tasteful tale, delivered fearlessly. Driving to Stratford, Ontario (and Greenview Zoo with Shakespeareland) to read the book and write this review seemed fitting; to sit on the banks of our Avon River, in a sunspot of my own, opposite the grandeur of Festival Theatre (celebrating its own historical 60th season in 2012) provides a stellar backdrop for my tribute, my slipping between The Onion Stone layers.

I have shamelessly admitted that my priority for any piece of reading lies as thus: 1) place 2) plot 3) people
In this book, all become equal. I could not wait to get my hands on the first novella by this brilliant UK poet. I cannot imagine reading it on my Kobo (or other eReader device) but needed to activate my senses with each page turned, each chapter peeled, each character sharpened under her watchful eye. I am no scholar when it comes to Shakespeare, but I still love it. His stories and insight activate something within the heart. Mandy leads me gently by the hand through both sets of conflicting relationships, their frustrations, frequent plot twists, truths, assumptions. Many contrasts are mixed; personality, relationships, physical appearances, past/present/future, speculation/research, men/women/children, dreaded and beloved, bossy and resistent, just and unjust, endless possibility and burned bridges, closed doors, brick walls.

She makes each shine. She builds tension until I am almost late meeting my kids at the schoolbus stop. I do not want to leave this imagined but realistic world, made tangible and meaningful and current, just for me. I will return often. I will take my three sons for a spin through her wonderful words. Introduce them to Robert Browning and the other noted poets. I will read this to my daughter until she is perhaps able to read it herself. Mandy is kind and generous to the special needs community, and has included something for every age and stage. For Shakespeare nuts and novices. For actors and audience. For serious English Lits and those just dipping toes into cool refreshing irresistable waters. The book has its own full moon, its own tides and currents, its own comedy and tragedy. I am grateful to correspond occasionally with this "pen pal" chez UK. I am so thankful that Mandy mustered the courage to attack a novella in her sound, profound, poetic way, and that it found its way across the ocean to me. And although there is not a flaw found from stem to stern, my favourite thing about the book is the humour. The wonderful dazzling unexpected nuggets buried between the pages. It is so very serious and sad at times, that the uplifting corners of the mouth moments are truly delicious. My favourite character is a child who cannot speak. My favourite mishap is a confusion of colours. I love every drive taken, every launch into history, every memorable moment. You "WILL" too!!

**NB** This was written earlier this year, but got lost in the shuffle. FHL
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"Now I want Spirits to enforce, art to enchant, And my ending is despair, Unless I be relieved by prayer, Which pierces so that it assaults Mercy itself and frees all faults. As you from crimes would pardon'd be, Let your indulgence set me free."


Last edited by F.H.Lee on Sat Dec 08, 2012 2:12 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Mandy Pannett
The Stirred POeT 2012 winner


Joined: 23 May 2008
Posts: 3210
Location: West Sussex

PostPosted: Fri Dec 07, 2012 10:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you Francine Smile
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Eilidh Thomas



Joined: 02 Mar 2010
Posts: 2049
Location: Moray Scotland

PostPosted: Fri Dec 07, 2012 10:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Francine - an eloquent review of a marvellous book. Smile
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Mandy Pannett
The Stirred POeT 2012 winner


Joined: 23 May 2008
Posts: 3210
Location: West Sussex

PostPosted: Sat Dec 08, 2012 8:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Eilidh! If anyone would like a copy of The Onion Stone please pm me for Christmas and New Year special offers Wink

Festive discounts as well on 'All the Invisibles' (poetry collection) Smile
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Mandy Pannett
The Stirred POeT 2012 winner


Joined: 23 May 2008
Posts: 3210
Location: West Sussex

PostPosted: Sat Dec 08, 2012 9:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

While I'm plugging my own books I might as well mention and recommend other publications by TWI members: Ottawan (E.Russell Smith) has his poetry collection 'Petroglyph Beach', there is Catherine Edmund's novel 'Serpentine', Jon Pinnock's short story collection 'Dot Dash', Rachel Green has a new book just out ... Who have I forgotten?!
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Mandy Pannett
The Stirred POeT 2012 winner


Joined: 23 May 2008
Posts: 3210
Location: West Sussex

PostPosted: Sun Dec 09, 2012 9:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

And of course there is 'To the Edge of There and Back' - the 2011/2012 Whittaker anthology of poetry and prose Smile
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F.H.Lee



Joined: 28 Dec 2011
Posts: 938
Location: Oxford County, Ontario, Canada

PostPosted: Sun Dec 09, 2012 2:27 pm    Post subject: and... Reply with quote

Also saving pennies for Juliesea's chapbook released earlier this year, The Stirred POeT 2012 whenever that materializes, and all back issues for the complete set... what else is there but food & books?! Feed the body, feed the brain, so bring it on!
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"Now I want Spirits to enforce, art to enchant, And my ending is despair, Unless I be relieved by prayer, Which pierces so that it assaults Mercy itself and frees all faults. As you from crimes would pardon'd be, Let your indulgence set me free."


Last edited by F.H.Lee on Mon Feb 25, 2013 2:47 pm; edited 2 times in total
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F.H.Lee



Joined: 28 Dec 2011
Posts: 938
Location: Oxford County, Ontario, Canada

PostPosted: Mon Feb 25, 2013 2:45 pm    Post subject: patience is a virtue Reply with quote

I stand corrected. Here is the link ... finally!! Go O.S. Very Happy
Hey and it is full moon tonight! Fitting. (see 3rd last paragraph in the edited & shortened QBF version... )

http://quick-brown-fox-canada.blogspot.ca/search?q=pannett

Writing credit #25 - thanks Mandy!!! Idea
_________________
"Now I want Spirits to enforce, art to enchant, And my ending is despair, Unless I be relieved by prayer, Which pierces so that it assaults Mercy itself and frees all faults. As you from crimes would pardon'd be, Let your indulgence set me free."
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Mandy Pannett
The Stirred POeT 2012 winner


Joined: 23 May 2008
Posts: 3210
Location: West Sussex

PostPosted: Mon Feb 25, 2013 3:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Loads of thanks, Francine. Really appreciated Very Happy
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