Book Review. Camera Girl by Doreen Spooner.

This book runs the gamut of one woman’s life. It begins in the present day of Doreen’s domestic life in the 1960’s, where she discovers the debts, and alcoholism, of her French husband. Previously a photographer in Fleet Street, Doreen gave up her career to raise their 2 children. When she makes this discovery, Doreen must return to work.

The narrative then takes us back to Doreen’s childhood. Her mother suffers a miscarriage and that triggers a depression that lasted throughout her life. Her mother’s story is a familiar one for women of that time. She became carer (i.e. skivvy) to a deaf mother, live in grandparents and siblings. This was what was expected of the eldest child.

‘domesticity became her reason for living. Somehow, like millions of other women in those days, she persuaded herself it was the highest calling a woman could have,’

Doreen’s father was where her love of photography came from. He had an editorial role at a largely distributed newspaper at the time The Daily Herald. It is he who encouraged Doreen to achieve her dream of being a photographer.

While in a school of photography, as a young woman, Doreen observed this,

‘all these people wanted to create were pretty paintings, smooth glossy images of bland perfection shot beside an urn with roses or a pair of fake French windows,’

Remind you of anything?

In those days in London, Fleet Street was the place newspapers were put together. It was also no place a woman was expected to want to work. Doreen didn’t care for that. From school we join Doreen in her early journey of capturing on film Lapland, America, Einstein and young royalty. She accompanied famous photographers at the time and learnt her craft.

Back home, Doreen found herself at a crossroads. She was invited by a friend to France, where work was available. This is where Doreen finds romance and her future husband. The narrative tos and fros between France and England, as they marry and have children.

This is when we return to where the book started, where Doreen’s husband is a struggling photographer and is also finding it hard to fit in with English culture. Doreen’s return to work as a newspaper photographer is a success, but this also causes friction within the marriage.

Doreen’s husband slowly retreats into his alcoholism and he loses virtually everything, as eventually Doreen is unable to help him and ends their marriage.

This book has many human stories and it’s a great read. One of my favourites.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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this continues to surprise me

i suffer (i sUfFeR) with depression and i am a writer. i am a writer who likes to share their work and sometimes that can become draining causing burnout – sharing on social media, updating a blog, Patreon posts, readings, sending subs out to publications etc.

if you’re a writer who likes to share their work, self-promotion is very important. It can consume you. i don’t do much of it anymore because of my aforementioned depression.

When i am depressed i do not want to share my writing. i don’t even want to write. i don’t want to do anything.

It can be difficult to recognise when you have stopped sharing.

i only notice when i have edited some of my poems, i have liked them, and i felt like sharing them. Then i’m like wait i want to share something new? and i realise it has been a while since i really wanted to do that. For me, sharing my poems is about connection. One thing you don’t want to do when depressed is be connecting with people. There’s a disconnect. And wanting to share signifies i want to be vulnerable and open again. 

i feel with depression so much shit builds up – it’s like a dam waiting to burst. And it’s a relief to be able to finally let it out. Which with poetry is a great combination. Any writing.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

The Worst Year of my Life

Hello. I hope you are ok.

I was going through my blog recently and editing some older posts or deleting them altogether. I cannot remember why but I changed my blog name a few times during this period. This blog starts at 2018 and right through to now.

I find my depression is so evident in this blog. There are huge gaps where I don’t post for weeks, and when I do – the quality of the post is not great. Apologies. I was trying to do a regular interview series called 4 questions with, which I stuck with and I am proud of. But in terms of my theme and the look of my blog, I had no idea. 2018 was the worst year of my life in recent memory. 2020 is trying hard to compete with it. in 2018 I started to realise and process what had happened to me when I was 17/18 years old. Sexual assault and rape. It was like a stuck record had suddenly started to find its groove and play again. The memories I had made me feel violated; any good memories felt tainted. My anxiety was crippling. My depression was too. I lost the habit of washing and relearning that was fucking hard. I did not leave the flat much at all, certainly not by myself. I tried, but I would get out of breath by the time I had gotten to the end of my road. I pushed and pushed myself, because I still had this thought in my head that I had to work, work, work. Otherwise I was failing and lazy. To be honest, a walk to the end of the road should have felt more like a victory at the time. That’s why I also struggled to blog because I had no Wi-Fi in my flat and I could only use the Wi-Fi in my public library. Obviously, getting to the library was difficult. I had to get my boyfriend to come with me and he was not always a willing participant. I could not settle in the library. if there was too much noise, it set my nerves on edge. I would lose motivation quickly. The library did not feel safe. Being around unpredictable people felt like being on a ship during a storm. The one place that did feel safe was my bedroom.


I look at some of the books on my blog at that time, books I was looking forward to reading, and I still haven’t read them. That makes me think – how much time have I lost feeling stuck and being sick? So much stuff collected and collected. I am now 25 years old and I could not tell you what I have done in these last 5 years. Apart from rot in my bed. I do wonder how on earth I am still alive. I have treated my body awfully and it hasn’t broken down yet. Every time I have tried to destroy myself, my body has refused to die. Bodies are pretty amazing, with what they can do.

Finding Henry Applebee by Celia Reynolds

Finding Henry Applebee is only 99p on Kindle at the moment! Set in past Blackpool, historical romance – an emotional read.

Poetic Insights

Waterstones

Foyles for books

The story of Henry Applebee is primarily narrated by the man himself, although characters Ariel and Travis do take parts in being protagonists. The timeline of the story switches between past and present. I was unsure of this book at first, until I got the gist of which path the story was going to take. Not that it is predictable. There is a huge build up, you have to wait for it though. I liked the setting of the train station in the present and loved being in Blackpool for the past. This is a story of lost love and once you discover how Henry met this woman and lost her because of his insecurities (and mobile phones hadn’t been invented) it did make my eyes mist over.

Unfortunately, the story lost its way in its conclusion. I felt like the author was trying to repeat…

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Book Review. I Left the House Today by Cassandra Calin.

Hilarious and relatable comics about one young woman’s life, relationships, and day-to-day humorous musings on why it’s good to leave the house sometimes—and when it’s better to stay home.

Cassandra Calin’s ability to document the hilarity of relatable everyday events in a series of webcomics has generated a huge following on social media. This beautifully illustrated compendium of first-person comics about the trials of the single life, school, stress, junk food, shaving, and maintaining a healthy self-image. Cassandra Calin’s comics frequently highlight the humorous gap between expectations and reality, especially when it comes to appearance and how much she can accomplish in one day. This book is funny, lighthearted, introspective, and artistically stunning—the perfect gift for young women, recent graduates, and anyone who might need a little comedic incentive to leave the house today.

I Left the House Today is a collection of comics on regular, relatable, day to day occurrences. This ranges across the seasons from feeling exhaustion, jubilation when you realise a dress has pockets, boobs and bra problems, and the one I loved – when you have eaten a yogurt and wake up in a cold sweat much later on in bed, thinking did I put the yogurt pot in the bin and the spoon in the sink or did I put the yogurt pot in the sink and the spoon in the bin? The comics were a joy and made me chuckle.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an ebook copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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