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Friday, 10 May 2013

"The Art of Leaving" A portrait of LONDON and so much more

We are really pleased to welcome Sandra Tena to the Tripfiction Team, born in Durango, Mexico, but currently citizen of the world, doing a master in Creative Writing in at the University of Newcastle, UK.  She was finalist in Voces sin Fronteras II in Canada and in Cada loco con su tema in Mexico, and thus published in the corresponding anthologies of both contests.  Her first novel, La Sombra Detrás, can be found in Amazon Kindle. She also has a collection of short stories waiting for publication. As of now in Newcastle, besides having the time of her life, she is working on her first novel in English, Iar, which is to be the first of a five-part fantasy saga for young adults titled Pentacle, and putting together her first collection of short stories in English.  When she is not writing she is reading everything humanly possible given the shortness of each day, hanging out with amazing friends from all over the world, watching T.V. shows and movies that make her laugh and think, and missing her cats and the people she adores from across the ocean. 

There are three things that must be said about Anna Stothard’s latest brilliant creation, The Art of Leaving: first, as I picked the book out of the love I feel for London I think it’s fair that I begin with my insight of Anna’s masterful portrayal of the wondrous city in her novel.  The rushing adrenaline of the city’s hurried way of life, the greatness of the historical streets, buildings and landmarks, the anonymity of the population, the tiny or sometimes not so tiny portals that go unnoticed every now and then, the intimacy of the walks under the rain or through the parks or inside the uncountable buildings…  it’s all there, sitting in black ink and white paper, looking up at you as if the city was reading you instead of you reading about the city, trying to capture your reactions to the descriptions of places from known to unknown, from idyllic to stale, from open to hidden, and so forth.  But there is also an aspect of London that jumps at you from the beginning: the feeling that you can belong in London, that no matter your background or personal history, London wipes that slate clean for you, or at least helps you find your rightful place in the world.  London, in the end, is London, a place where life goes on and the world keeps turning no matter what goes on in your life and you don’t have to rush to keep up, but instead it allows you to take a step back and reassess.  Eva walks a large part of the city in the book, and at each step she takes we’re right there with her, seeing what she sees, knowing the city through her eyes.  And very much also through Regina’s, as the eagle flies above and beyond, and sets foot (or claws) here and there and expects us to look at her in wonder much like the population of London does in the book.
Second, the depth and meticulousness in which Anna has developed her characters is impressive.  Eva, Luke, Grace and even Regina perform a dance in which they slowly reveal their hidden traits, real motives and darkest secrets, making The Art of Leaving a really hard book to put down.  The way Anna slowly untangles her characters is delightful, down to the point of awakening in yours truly a desire to reach out to them, to know what will become of them, to be with them till the end.  The thorough detail of the writing depicts the surrounding and the way it resonates within Eva in a most poetic manner: from the busy London Streets to the cramped Echo Books to what each character wears or how their hair, eyes or hands look; it made me feel for Eva, try to understand her and wonder about her at the same time, want to unravel her as I read.
And third, the way Anna delivers Eva’s wild imagination to us is magical, how Eva wanders in and out of her daydreams and hangs on to the memory of her grandmother at the same time is simply beautiful.  We are taken to a world in which the impossible becomes a part of Eva; where she can feel herself, safe and true; and where fluffy bunny rabbits and flowers speak of her wishes louder than she does in real life.  The constant mention of books, movies and stories allows this second world to exist in an almost tangible manner in Eva’s life and her relationship with Luke and Grace. The moment when her two worlds collide and she is forced to make a decision we are taken behind her mirror, and we see the truth that was hidden from us all along, and we understand that from there it could easily go both ways… and we are grateful for her imagination and her pursue and her truth… and we call out to her, urging her to never stop.

Anna Stothard is also the author of The Pink Hotel set in Los Angeles.

Thank you for visiting today, from Sandra and the TripFiction Team. To find our more about The Art of Leaving, click on the cover; and to find more books set in and evocative of London click here

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