A review of
All The Light We Cannot See
by Anthony Doerr

published on my sister site,
Entertaining Angels Bookshelf.


Lee Abbey

Poem for a ‘thin’ place.

Rugged beauty passing through the valley,
Rumbling over the cattle grid,
Announcing our arrival,
A greeting in a warm and peaceful place.

Coffee and cake in the gallery,
Slowing down, a time to think ,
A time to pray, a time to give thanks,
Breaking bread with friends old and new.

Quiet music, gentle on the ears,
Candle light flickering in the chapel,
A verse or two from Scripture,
Thoughts reach out, together in silent prayer,

Hands warmed around a hot coffee,
Alone in the silent gallery,
Grey beach looming through dawn’s twilight,
The promise of the coming day.

Leaves shivering in the breeze,
Feet crunching on a gravel trail,
High over the pebble beach below,
Waves breaking over jagged rocks.

A warm room, an open window,
Wind in the trees, a hooting owl
Sounds of the sea soft to the ear,
The lullaby of God’s thin place.

Ruth: Chapter 4.

A modern re-telling of the Old Testament story of Ruth.

Previous chapter here.

The next weekend Nadzia was sitting in the back of Bozydar’s car behind Ruth, on their way to Nadzia’s inherited house. They went first to Oporow, where Nadzia signed papers at the adwocat’s office and collected keys from him. Then they drove on out to Smolec, to Nadzia’s property.

‘That can’t be mine.’ Nadzia exclaimed as the house came into sight. ‘It is.’ replied Ruth. ‘I can’t live in a place that big, not on my own.’ ‘We might as well take a look inside since we’re here anyway’ added Bozydar, as he drew the car up in front of the door. Ruth helped Nadzia out of the car and together they went up the steps to the door. Bozydar had to help Nadzia unlock it, as the lock hadn’t been used for a while and was stiff.

As they wandered through the house, looking around, Nadzia said to Ruth, ‘If I still had all my family, I’d love this place but I can’t live here on my own.’ Coming to the kitchen Ruth said as they looked around, ‘This would be good for our little business. So much easier to work here than in our tiny kitchen.’

Bozydar took Ruth and Nadzia home, but didn’t linger as he often would when taking Ruth back. After leaving the ladies he drove hurriedly back to his own home, and pausing only to make a drink began making a series of phone calls to various relatives, and to one other number that he had to look up, though he had the name and address.

For the next few days Ruth hardly saw Bozydar. When she did he seemed preoccupied and not his usual self and when he dropped her off he left quickly, seemingly with something on his mind. Ruth began to worry that she had upset him in some way.

Five days after the visit to Nadzia’s inherited house, Ruth didn’t see Bozydar at all. Unbeknown to Nadzia and Ruth that same day Bozydar had assembled a cohort of his family, for a family conference. He had something important he needed to discuss with them. Bozydar’s Mother, his Father had died years before he met Ruth, his two brothers with their wives and his unmarried sister were all assembled in his home.

Bozydar’s family had arrived early in the evening. It was well after midnight by the time they had all left. After they had, Bozydar went to bed but barely slept that night. After scarcely four hours in bed and less sleep, he gave got up and made coffee, not because he wanted it but simply as something to do. He made cup after cup that he didn’t really want until it was a time he could reasonably phone Ruth. He arranged with her to collect her the next Saturday morning. He wouldn’t say why, asking only that she bring Nadzia accompany them.

10:00am promptly Bozydar arrived to pick up the two ladies. He drove off still without telling them where he was taking them or why. It took about half an hour driving before Bozydar turned into a road in Smolec. They had all been there before but Bozydar had arrived by a different route. Ruth was the first to realise where they were and a moment later Nadzia gave a startled exclamation ‘What are we doing here.’ as they pulled up at the house she had inherited.

As Nadzia turned to the house getting out of Bozydar’s car, she was even more surprised when the front door swung back and her adwocat Dominik Dąbrowski, stood at the top of the step smiling and beckoning them in. ‘What are you doing here? We don’t have an appointment.’ ‘No.’ he replied ‘we don’t but I have some good news and wanted to tell you personally. I’ve found you a buyer for the house already. It’s a good price. You won’t be rich but with a little care, you should be able to live comfortably for the rest of your life. You just need to sigh these papers he added’.

‘Who’s the buyer,’ Nadzier asked ‘who wants my house?’ I can’t see the name on these papers.’ ‘The buyers adwocat is acting on his behalf until the sale is complete.’ Dominik Dąbrowski said. ‘I am not allowed to tell you the name until after you sign the papers.’ he added. ‘It’s what you wanted, what have you to lose. Sign them.’ Nadzia looked at Ruth as she spoke, ‘You think it’s allright?’ she asked. Ruth nodded and held out a pen. Nadzia hesitated for a few moments longer before taking the pen and letting it hover over the papers for an instant before adding her signature.

Underlining her signature Nadzia looked up at her adwocat. Dominik Dąbrowski spoke up ‘I can now tell you who the buyer is,’ he paused a moment ‘or maybe I should let him introduce himself.’ he said taking a step back and leaving the room still and silent with just the four of them. ‘Well’ said Nadzia ‘how long do we have to wait for him?’. ‘No time at all.’ uttered Bozydar stepping forward.

Both Nadzia’s and Ruth’s eyes widened as they realised who had bought the house. ‘I’ve been busy with my family this last few days’ Bozydar said. They’ve lent me the money I couldn’t raise myself to buy this house. But it’s not a house I want, it’s a home. You said it was too big for you Nadzia,’ he went on ‘but it’s not too big for a family.’ A family of three perhaps at first, then later, well later who knows.

‘You’re asking us to come and live with you?’ Ruth asked Bozydar. When he looked directly at her before continuing his eyes softened meeting hers, ‘That’s partly what I’m asking, but it’s not all. I’m asking Nadzia if she would come and live with us, Ruth.’ Bozydar paused, his voice softening as his eyes had earlier. ‘I’m asking you to marry me?’

Ruth could barely speak as she turned to Nadzia with tears in her eyes. The older woman just smiled and nodded.

Previous chapters:

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3

Ruth: Chapter 3.

A modern re-telling of the Old Testament story of Ruth.

Chapter 2 here if you missed it.

It didn’t take Nadzia too long to notice how often Bozydar was bringing Ruth home, or the time she lingered at the door of their small home watching him drive away each time.

After this had gone on for a while, one evening over their meal Nadzia broached the subject that one day Ruth would want a home of her own, and maybe starting her own family. Although Ruth wasn’t happy about the thought of leaving Nadzia, she could see the sense of it. The home they shared was only just big enough for them.

“What about our business.” Ruth asked. “There’s no reason we can’t continue that. And besides, I’m getting a few extra orders from friends of people you’ve sold food to who have heard of us. We’re going viral.” added Nadzia.

A few days after their discussion, Nadzia heard Bozydar drop off Ruth and before driving away ask her out for an evening. ‘Where’s he taking you’ Nadzia couldn’t resist asking as Ruth came in. ‘Oh my what big ears you have.’ Laughed Ruth. ‘He’s asked me to a social evening that he gives every year for his staff. I haven’t said yes yet.’ ‘You will, won’t you’ Nadzia said, ‘and since you’re not an employee, you’ll be his date for the night. You like him, I know you do.’

On the night of the social, although Nadzia was already in bed, she couldn’t resist getting up and peeping out of the window for a moment when she heard Bozydar’s car draw up outside their home. Usually Nadzia heard the car door shut and a few seconds later drive away. Tonight it went quiet as the engine was turned off. Nadzia returned to her bed and smiled to herself as she went back to sleep.

A few weeks later, Ruth was in no hurry to leave Nadzia, even though she was growing closer and closer to Bozydar, property details started landing on the doormat with the daily post. It saddened them both a little but they could see the practicalities.

Then one day in amongst the property details an official looking letter addressed to Nadzia dropped onto the doormat too. She opened it with some trepidation and began to read through it, her face slowly brightening as she did so. ‘It seems,’ Nadzia told Ruth later ‘that through a number of distant family deaths I have inherited some property that would have become Elek’s.’ Then she asked Ruth, who confirmed what Nadzia thought, to read it too to make sure she had understood it correctly.

‘Do you think Bozydar might drive us over there to look it over’ Nadzia asked Ruth. ‘I’ll ask him. He’s picking me up later. Perhaps he could take us at the weekend.’

Previous chapters:

Chapter 1.
Chapter 2.

No Passion For Fashion

Even if it’s green, it’s not eco. friendly.

As I write, it’s London Fashion Week, which is a misnomer as it only runs from 21st to 24th September. It’s when designers and fashion houses show off, er, I mean showcase their latest clothing designs. Designs that will make a lot of money for the designers, some money for the manufacturers and some for the cheap-jack makers of copies.

What the new designs almost certainly won’t do is be kind to the environment. The fashion industry relies on making people discontent with what they are wearing, so that they can be sold something else.

It doesn’t matter that most of today’s clothes are still perfectly wearable, there is a drive to sell the consumer something else. The latest, completely unnecessary, fashion to suck in the gullible who are too afraid to resist peer pressure, to wear what they want instead of what they are persuaded they want. Fashion seems to me to bea parasitic industry, preying on insecurity in people trying to ‘fit in’, instead of having individuality.

No matter what the industry may say, fashion is consumption and it is not eco-friendly. Even if it is using re-cycled material, it is likely to be unnecessary recycling of useable clothing. Remember that while the material might be reusable, energy is still used in the recycling process.

To be eco friendly the cycle should be reduce, re-use, recycle. I suspect the fashion industry, when it does make a token effort at being green, jumps direct to the recycle option. It never reduces, that would hit profits and it doesn’t want us to reuse, when we can spend money buying something else.