Posts with the label book review
Showing posts with label book review. Show all posts
Showing posts with label book review. Show all posts

Tuesday 28 November 2023

He Sang to Me by Casey Tyler book review: A Delightfully Cheesy Ode to Broadway Romance

He Sang to Me by Casey Tyler
Self Published: 3rd October 2023 by Truelove Publishing

Casey Tyler's debut novel, He Sang to Me is a book that unabashedly caters to the delulu girlies, and as a self-proclaimed member of that tribe, I found myself both cringing and grinning through its pages. This 320 page tale, is reminiscent of a sweet and charming fanfic; intertwining the enchanting worlds of Broadway and romance – two of this reader's, favourite things.

The narrative unfolds amidst the hustle and bustle of New York City, and the author's vivid descriptions and location name drops skilfully bring the city to life. As well as this the pages are dotted with stagey references that act like hidden treasures for theatre enthusiasts like myself. The book really evokes the frenetic energy of the theatre district and certainly sparked my desire to hop on a flight back to New York to explore every corner of the city.

He Sang to Me follows Sunday Truelove, an aspiring actress who moves to New York to pursue her dreams. Within moments she wins tickets to the hottest show on Broadway and whilst she's there has a magical encounter with the leading man and famous British actor, Tyler Axel. From here the two enter a fairytale romance and discover whether they're truly meant to be.

Honestly, it's as cheesy as it sounds and I kind of loved it. There are all the classic tropes, from being spotted by paparazzi to caring for the sick partner and in a way it's pretty iconic. On the other hand, it's pretty basic. The characters aren't particularly developed, Sunday has extreme 'not like other girls' energy which is a little grating and the book, at times, tips into self-indulgence and lacks a grounded narrative. Despite the characters being in their late twenties and thirties, their personalities and emotional journeys comes across quite immature and lean towards a younger audience. It's clear that a bit more editing and development could add a layer of realism to their characterisations. Some of the British aspects were also inaccurate and took me out of the world a little but these are definitely things that could be tweaked and edited for future prints. Nevertheless, the book shines in capturing the essence swooping romance and is a sweet stagey story, with some charming moments.

There are elements of the characters that I truly enjoyed such as Sunday's bright eyed optimism and Tyler's love for his family and his craft. I know I would fall for an ex-Fiyero with a killer voice, although in my experience they're never quite as unproblematic as Tyler! 

The rest of the characters, while somewhat idealised, form a found family that's lovely to discover. The friendships and relationships are sprinkled with relatable moments, creating a sense of nostalgia for those who have ever dreamt of having a dreamy friend group.

The musical theatre aspects of the story are really fun but I do think it would be interesting to include more of the backstage aspect of Broadway. With both of the leads being so heavily ingrained in the world, it would be easy to explore but a lot of the plot points surrounding it are quite surface level and because of the idealised world they are living in, the challenging realities of the Broadway business don't get a light shone on them. I definitely think this is a story that could benefit from a sprinkle of grit to elevate it to the next level.

Casey clearly has a love and talent for writing and whilst I found the initial chapters a bit heavy-handed with unnecessary descriptions, the writing blooms and improves throughout and it's quite wonderful that she's has taken the plunge to write and self publish the story, I'll certainly be keeping an eye our for future (hopefully stagey) treats.

In a nutshell, He Sang to Me offers a quick and enjoyable escape for fans of theatre, celebrity/normal dating dynamics, and the allure of found family tropes. While it may not be a polished piece of literature, its endearing charm, lively New York setting, and relatable theatrical moments make it a worthwhile indulgence for those in need of a cosy break from reality.

Reviewed by Olivia

Follow Casey to keep up with her writing journey

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He Sang to Me by Casey Tyler book review: A Delightfully Cheesy Ode to Broadway Romance

Tuesday 28 November 2023

Tuesday 18 July 2023

Talking at Night by Claire Daverley book review: A Captivating Journey into the Depths of Human Emotion

embraces the honesty of life, presenting stories that feel authentic and sincere"

Talking at Night by Claire Daverley
Published: 6th July 2023 by Michael Joseph

Talking at Night by Claire Daverley is a beautifully quiet treasure of a book, taking readers on a heartfelt journey, through the complexities of human relationships. Daverley's storytelling is absolutely exquisite diving into the world's of her characters, leaving readers teary eyed and filled with a whirlwind of emotions.

The characters in Talking at Night are expertly crafted, with each one feeling genuine and relatable, baring their fears, insecurities and dreams for all to see. Daverley skilfully delves into their minds painting a picture of their struggles and victories. The protagonist, Rosie's, path of self discovery is captivating and truly inspiring while the supporting characters add a level of richness and depth that elevates the narrative and fully engages the reader.

The novel embraces the honesty of life, presenting stories that feel authentic and sincere. It beautifully showcases the significance of "normal" lives reminding us that they hold just as much magic and worth as those portrayed in larger than life media tales.

One of the books highlights is the interweaving of dual timelines featuring Will and Rosie, the leads. This technique enriches the plot and offers a reflection, on how our past shapes our present and future.

Daverley's poetic prose is another strong aspect of Talking at Night. Her use of words is incredibly powerful and she manages to captivate readers, by immersing them in the emotional world of the novel, never shying away from tackling difficult subjects. The exploration of themes like love, loss, forgiveness, and redemption are so thoughtfully handled, making the novel resonate on a profound level. The vibrant descriptions enable readers to feel the characters happiness and sadness as if they were personally involved resulting in a reading experience that's reminiscent of watching a film. Fans of Love, Rosie and Me Before You will certainly enjoy this tale.

My only slight reservation is that, in a few instances, the pacing felt slightly off and there was a slight lag. However, this is a minor flaw which doesn't really detract from how strong this book is, and in some ways could be seen as reflection of life and the up and down pacing of the real world off the page.

Talking at Night is an exceptional work of fiction that should be celebrated for its thought-provoking themes, remarkable character development, and lyrical prose. Claire Daverley has crafted a tale that tugs at the heartstrings and lingers in the mind, making it a must-read for anyone who appreciates a deeply moving and immersive literary experience. I wholeheartedly recommend this novel and hope that it will stay with you long after you've turned the last page.

Reviewed by Olivia Mitchell

{AD PR Product- book gifted in exchange for honest review}

Talking at Night by Claire Daverley book review: A Captivating Journey into the Depths of Human Emotion

Tuesday 18 July 2023

Wednesday 17 November 2021

My Name is Not Wigs, Angela Cobbin (Book) | Review

My Name is Not Wigs! | Angela Cobbin
Published: 11th November 2021 by Brown Dog Books
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

If you're a theatre fan (which I'd assume you are if you're reading this) then I would urge you to pick up My Name is Not Wigs! by Angela Cobbin. It's not just a look at theatre but it provides a deep dive into what goes on behind the scenes, and a look at all the hard work which goes into learning and perfecting a craft.

The book is an enticing and enthralling journey through theatre, fashion and history as Angela goes from a hairdresser/manicurist in the 1960s, to a wig maker for massive West End and Broadway shows. What's lovely about this book is that it feels like chatting to an old friend. Angela's writing is witty and natural from page one, with the whole thing reading like a very entertaining and humourous train of thought.

Angela expertly makes us feel part of her backstage adventures without being excessive or including gossip to make things seem extra dramatic. As far as stagey memoirs go, this is up there with the most entertaining and certainly broaches an aspect which is not often written about. Angela's career is super interesting, with so many exciting moments combined with hard graft. The beautiful imagery included in the book adds another element and takes you through the various locations Angela mentions. I particularly loved the photo of Angela's work place Nathans at the start which was so evocative of the time- I felt like I could breathe in the photo and would absolutely love to watch a film set purely in that work room!

My Name is Not Wigs is a fascinatingly beautiful insight into what goes on behind the scenes at theatres as well as a celebration of a theatrical aspect which is so important to shows but often goes unsung. My Name is Not Wigs! is a perfect addition to a theatre fan's bookshelf and you'll never watch a show without paying special attention to the hair on the characters heads after reading it!

My Name is Not Wigs! is available for purchase now

*This book was sent to me for review purposes. All views and opinions are my own*

My Name is Not Wigs, Angela Cobbin (Book) | Review

Wednesday 17 November 2021

Tuesday 21 April 2020

City of Girls, Elizabeth Gilbert | Book Review

Life is both fleeting and dangerous, and there is no point in denying yourself pleasure, or being anything other than what you are."

City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert
Published: 4th June 2019 by Bloomsbury Publishing

This book is just a dream. From page one I was completely absorbed in the glorious world Elizabeth Gilbert has brought to life. I was so wrapped up in it all, that I felt like I'd open my front door and be on the bustling streets of 1940s Manhattan... needless to say I could not open said door because #lockdown but what a welcome escape from all the craziness.

In 1940, nineteen-year-old Vivian Morris has just been kicked out of Vassar College, thanks to her lacklustre engagement in her studies. Her parents send her to New York to live with her flamboyant aunt Peg, who owns and lives in a crumbling theatre called the Lily Playhouse. It's here that Vivian's life changes as she's introduced to a host of charismatic and larger than life luvvies. Her life changes to a mile-a-minute wild ride that has it's fair share of highs and lows. Without giving too much away, this is a coming of age story and a love story that's a joy to read.

I inhaled this book for a few reasons, firstly because I love theatre and I love New York, so I just wanted more of the sumptuous descriptions of the wildly theatrical life Vivvie was living in the Big Apple. Secondly because of the writing itself; Gilbert gives so much life and energy to her characters that they really feel real. I actually cannot believe I can't google search them and endlessly find information about the stars mentioned. Each character is fantastically defined with differences, attractiveness and flaws that make them both vivid an truthful. 

With Mrs Maisel vibes in terms of the humour and boldness of it all, this is a dream for anyone wanting a bit of glamour in their life. If we weren't in lockdown I think I'd now be on the hunt for a whole new wardrobe and copious Gin Fizzes!

What's also miraculous about this book is that it manages to be utterly laugh out loud humourous and lighthearted, whilst also being profound and inspiring. I did find a few times when the story lagged and I certainly think I could have been cut down in length, but I still wolfed it down! 

This is a captivating, evocative, entertaining and moving read that I loved and would highly recommend for anyone wanting glamour, theatre and emotion.

City of Girls, Elizabeth Gilbert | Book Review

Tuesday 21 April 2020

Wednesday 15 April 2020

Laura Cassidy's Walk of Fame, Alan McMonagle | Book Review

Laura Cassidy's Walk of Fame by Alan McMonagle
Published: 5th March 2020 by Picador, Pan Macmillan
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

As a theatre fan (note: obsessive), I was thrilled when I was asked to review this book all about one young lady's journey to achieve her dream of stardom. Now it was not exactly what I expected. I had pictured Laura taking part in a rom-com esque battle to fight opposing actresses and pull out all the stops to achieve a coveted space on stage, and whilst that is a part of the story, the real driving force is Laura's mental struggles and falsely inflated sense of ego and stardom.

During childhood, when Laura's mother and sister were asleep, her father would fill her head with dreams of stardom as they watched classic films. When her father dies, Laura's whole life turns upside down and she never recovers from the trauma. Now in her mid 20s she hasn't managed to take Hollywood by storm and she lives an unbalanced life.

When a new Director comes to town, Laura thinks she will finally get her big break as Blanche DuBois in his new production of A Streetcar Named Desire. In an attempt to fulfil herself and make her father proud, she makes it her mission to land the role.

Needless to say, things don't go quite to plan. With Laura's globetrotting sister returning home and her kind-of boyfriend helping fill her head with daydreams, Laura begins a downward spiral and her feet fall out from beneath her in her own personal, Galway version of Streetcar.

I can't say this is in my top reads ever, but there's certainly some good moments and it's a very unique way to portray mental health. It's a hard book to explain because it doesn't really fit into a category. There are elements of contemporary chic-lit as well as darker moments, but it's never really dark enough to really be affective. Laura is continually an unreliable narrator so it's difficult to know how we should react. This partly makes it entertaining, having to try and pull apart the characters motivations and truth of her stories, but a lot of the time it feels laborious.

I found the writing somewhat hard to get into, which in part I think is intentional as it shows Laura's fragmented thought patterns, however, this didn't make it the most well paced book. The character development of course is essential but due to this, the key plot points often feel rammed in.

However, in saying all of this, I certainly think McMonagle has done a great job of showcasing passion for performing, and effectively creates some humourous scenes. There's a lovely sense of optimism throughout and you can't help but admire Laura's fervent desire to get her name on the Hollywood Walk of Fame!

Review by Olivia Mitchell

{AD PR Product- book gifted in exchange for honest review}

Laura Cassidy's Walk of Fame, Alan McMonagle | Book Review

Wednesday 15 April 2020

Thursday 26 July 2018

Theatrical, Maggie Harcourt (Book) | Review

Theatrical by Maggie Harcourt
Published: 28th June 2018 by Usborne Publishing ltd

Unless you've stumbled across this blog by an unexpected twister of fate (10 points if you get that reference) then I'm assuming you love or at least, like, theatre, so you'll more than likely be a fan of the book I'm talking about today: Theatrical.

The latest release from Maggie Harcourt, is Theatrical which takes us behind the scenes of the theatre and transports us to a world of romance and performance.

Our lead character Hope, dreams of working as a stage manager; her mother is a renowned costume designer who could easily get her daughter any job she wants but Hope wants to do it herself. When she lands an internship at the Earl's Theatre working on one of the biggest openings of the year, her secrets begin and she starts a journey she'll never forget. Now the story itself is fairly predictable and typical of contemporary novels but I'm a sucker for a cheesy romance so it's right up my street. What makes this book stand out is the theatre itself. Maggie highlights the world of theatre and makes it the heart of the story, showing the ups, downs and pressures of working on a production, especially one with a huge name attached and a lot of money invested into it! Of course the characters and their stories are crucial but throughout it feels as if the theatre is it's own character.

What I love about theatre is how it brings people together, not only the cast and crew, but audience members who know nothing about one another but are more than happy to launch into full conversations in the interval. There's also the pure magic of theatre when the perfect combination of great acting, stellar lighting, beautiful makeup, costumes and sets and every other aspect of a production come together to truly transport you to another world. As someone who goes to the theatre roughly 1-4 times a week I do find myself falling into a routine of going into London, picking my ticket up, watching the show and rushing home to write my review and I end up forgetting how special theatre is. Maggie has perfectly captured the magic of theatre and I found myself welling up towards the end when her writing reminded me of it and brought to the forefront why I put so much time into seeing as much theatre as I can. 

Now back to Theatrical! It's just so cute. The romance between Hope and Luke had me swooning and I really felt as though I was standing alongside Hope and she worked and worked to help get the show open. Hope's determination is inspiration for anyone hoping to get into theatre and she shows us just how much hard work goes on behind the scenes. So much of what makes a great production is the work that's gone on in the rehearsal room which of course an audience never see, so this book is not only a celebration of theatre but of the unsung hero's of the stage.

Theatrical is a brilliant read for any stagey, romance lover. You'll find yourself willing everything to run smoothly with the show and will definitely finish the book with a newfound appreciation for the crew who work tirelessly behind the scenes. If you want a swoon-filled summer read then pick up Theatrical and if you're not already a theatre fan then this might just be the book to make you truly stagey!

Theatrical is available now, more information can be found here.

Maggie gave us an exclusive and very interesting deep dive into her research for this book which can be found here.

Review by Editor, Olivia Mitchell

{AD PR Invite- tickets gifted in exchange for honest review}

Theatrical, Maggie Harcourt (Book) | Review

Thursday 26 July 2018

Monday 4 June 2018

When The Curtain Falls (Book), Carrie Hope Fletcher | Review

When the Curtain Falls by Carrie Hope Fletcher
Published: 12th July 2018 by Little Brown Books

The latest edition in Carrie Hope Fletcher's book empire, When The Curtain Falls (the same title as her debut album) is all about theatre and romance, aka, my dream. The book follows two young lovers, Oscar Bright and Olive Green as they meet backstage whilst performing in a revival of a show in which tragedy struck 50 years earlier. Through a series of flashbacks and memories, we discover what happened to the original lovers, Fawn Burrows and Walter Brown, and whether tragedy is set to strike again. With heartache, tragedy, theatre and a little bit of magic, When The Curtain Falls is the perfect read to wrap you up and transport you to the glittering lights of the West End.

Carrie's writing is lyrical but easy to read. Reading her books feel as though you're listening to a friend talk; When The Curtain Falls especially, has a relaxed feel about it. 

In a previous review of All That She Can See I wrote that Carrie's writing has a theatrical feel, this is obviously even more evident in this story which is all about the stage, performing and backstage antics. There are a whole host of stagey references which any avid theatre fan will love spotting. I especially loved the fact that the first musical Olive saw was Beauty and the Beast, which was my first too and that she lives in Turnham Green- West London represent! 

The section at the start where Olive is talking about being in the 'theatre world' and the 'real world' is just one very interesting and relatable moment. When you go to shows a lot and are part of the theatre scene it feels like it's the only thing that exists and that everyone knows everyone, but once you go back to the 'real world' very few people have the same connections. It’s the same with theatre stars, at their theatre they are famous, signing autographs and standing for photos but once they turn the corner they blend into the crowd and normal people wouldn't bat an eyelid seeing them. This ramble has very little relevance to this review, other than saying that it's very clever how Carrie has worked tidbits of the musical theatre world into the story without making it overbearing or factual. The entire story flows with the ease of watching a really good show.

The romance between the lead couple is extremely sweet, if at times cringey. You can almost see the way the pair look at one another and at times it feels like we're invading a private moment whilst we read. The mirrors between the 1952 relationship and the current one are well written and interesting to see. All the characters are well developed and I couldn't help but wonder if anyone, especially Tamara, is based on anyone Carrie has come across in her career! With Moulin Rouge vibes, I can so see this story as a swooping romance film.

When The Curtain Falls is a theatre fans dream. With stagy references, a beautiful romance and some unexpected plot twists, there's not much more you could ask for in a book. This is certainly my favourite of Carrie's novels and I hope she continues to include theatre in her work. I also hope that the magic of this book will welcome new people to the theatre so they can experience whatbthe stars of the story do (perhaps with less drama though!) 

It's clear how much passion and love Carrie has for the stage and it really comes across in her heartfelt writing. I urge you to pick up When The Curtain Falls and to escape into a beautiful world for a few hours.

Review by Editor, Olivia Mitchell

{AD PR Product- book gifted in exchange for honest review}

When The Curtain Falls (Book), Carrie Hope Fletcher | Review

Monday 4 June 2018

Tuesday 22 August 2017

In Conversation With... Alexandra Silber | After Anatevka | Interview

If you've been on the tube in the last few months I'm sure you'll have spotted the marvellous Alexandra Silber's face plastered over the walls for Today Tix. Whilst Al's face is up there for her performances both on the West End and Broadway, she is also a beautifully eloquent lady and recently published her debut novel, After Anatevka, which tells the story of Hodel after Fiddler on the Roof

Alexandra was lovely enough to talk to Rewrite This Story about her writing process, After Anatevka, her transition from West End to Broadway and so much more. Make sure you read until the end to find out how you can win a copy of After Anatevka!

For anyone that doesn’t know, can you explain a little about your career and highlights so far?

I went to drama school in Glasgow at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland before living in London and working the West End for several years. 

While I was in my final year at RCS, I was cast as Laura Fairlie in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Woman in White opposite Ruthie Henshall, Anthony Andrews and Damian Humbley

Among many other things, I have also played Julie Jordan in Carousel in the West End, made my Broadway debut opposite Tyne Daly in Terrence McNally’s Master Class, and have sung at Carnegie Hall, Disney Hall in Los Angeles, was nominated for a Grammy for singing Maria in a the first ever symphonic recording of West Side Story with the San Francisco Symphony, and of course, at Royal Albert Hall with the John Wilson Orchestra for the BBC Proms as the titular character in their production of Kiss Me Kate

Above all, I have been fortunate enough to play two of Tevye’s daughters, one on each side of the Atlantic— the first was in the West End, portraying After Anatevka’s protagonist Hodel (the second-eldest daughter of Shalom Aleichem’s Tevye the Dairyman who is the star of the 1964 musical Fiddler on the Roof) at the Sheffield Crucible and its West End transfer, and last year, played Tzeitl, Tevye’s eldest daughter on Broadway in the most recent Broadway revival. 

Portraying both characters for such lengths of time, and with such incomparable creative teams and casts, informed, inspired and shaped the writing of After Anatevka: it truly was a journey from stage to page. 

Have you always aspired to be a performer or did you have a different dream when you were younger?

I always knew I wanted to be a professional creative— I’m not certain that acting and singing professionally was the epitome of my dream. As a child and teenager I loved the theatre, felt at home and accepted amongst its “creatures” and had an outlet to explore new worlds, research new ways of life, get inside different people’s minds and heart, and to express so many of my deepest emotions. 

I’ve been thinking very deeply about “dreams coming true” recently— possibly because so many people are asking me about it. “Is publishing your novel a dream come true” they will ask, and I don’t entirely know how to answer that. Because of course it is, I have dreamed of sharing my stories with the wider world, to hold a book-shaped book, with actual binding and  I have written in my hands

The voices on Broadway cast recordings were not only my inspirations, but my companions, my teachers; I know many people for whom that is a familiar history. But I felt very much the same about characters in books. I was just as enamored with E.M Forster’s Margaret Schlegel as I was with the book and score of South Pacific. 

Other than writing, have you got any hidden passions you’d like to pursue?

I love the accordion and have taken several lessons, and I passionately want to visit Antarctica. 

What drew you to the roles of Hodel and then Tzeitel in Fiddler on the Roof— are the three of you alike in any ways?

There are too many to mention. I honestly feel this question is best answered within the pages of After Anatevka— and not only the similarities, but the differences, and the growth every human being hopefully acquires as they age and experience life. I had the uncanny joy of being able to understand each woman more deeply as I embodied the other— much like members of the same family come to more deeply understand their siblings as they all become adults. 

One of my most treasured passages from After Anatevka is from the penultimate chapter, an epistolary exchange from Tzeitel to Hodel:

Home, Hodelleh. That place beyond the place where we rest our heads every night. Where our centerpieces, our sewing, our carefully prepared meals, simply do not matter. Where our petty little differences and competitions with one another do not matter anymore.

And I thought of you.

It is odd, Hodelleh. Because I do not know if you shall ever read this, I feel compelled to tell you more than ever. Home—where love shall reign supreme. The kind of home you always held within your heart, my dear sister, the kind no meaningless skill of mine could ever fully capture. How I love you, Hodel. It aches within me that I failed to show you in so many ways. That I provided you with every comfort but the comfort of my heart.

Yet I know that we shall both, as we always did, return to each other. For the love beneath our struggle is so strong. Perhaps in time, the Lord shall reveal to us why it is so difficult.

My goodness, to embody two such women. What a privilege.  

Did you feel any extra responsibility or pressure playing one of the few Jewish female characters in musical theatre?

I believe that if you portray any character or story with honesty and vulnerability, the work will resonate. Our only responsibility as artists is to tell the truth. 

After Anatevka tells the story of Hodel after Fiddler. When you research for a role do you think about what happens to the character after the show ends as well as their backstory or was Hodel an exception?

Hodel was absolutely an exception. 

The Broadway community and wider world may know me as the most-recent Tzeitel,  from the 2016 Broadway revival of Fiddler on the Roof, but from October 2006 to February 2008, I played Tevye's second-eldest daughter, Hodel, in the last West End revival in London. That experience was, without exception, the most immersive and deeply felt of my artistic life thus far. It was like a “first love—” the kind one never forgets, and imprints itself upon you more deeply than any to follow it. Hodel’s strength and sense of purpose, your complex feminine spirit, her wit and determination, her devotion and loving heart. She offered me a chance to find all of these things within myself, and to grow with them. 

While all characters tend to endear themselves to you, Hodel haunted me— remained in my cells like an un-rinseable, inextinguishable fuel. Actors often embody traits of the characters they take on, but few characters weave in and out of the soul until you can scarcely detect the line between the emotional truths of one and the other. 

If you could write a continuation of any other musical theatre character, who would you choose and why?

Tzeitel. I think we can all agree that I’m now intensely involved in this family’s “future story—” I do feel compelled to finish what I’ve started. Additionally, I don’t think I’ve heard the last of Hodel. We leave her at quite a cliffhanger in After Anatevka

You’ve made the transition from West End to Broadway and from acting to writing so well. What would your advice be to people hoping to do similar?

Being a “multi-hyphenate” is simultaneously straightforward, and tremendously complex. 

To “do” something other than what is listed on, say, your tax return, there is very little required other than to just DO it. You want to write? Don’t wait for a permission slip from the Gods of Writing; just write. An essay. A blogpost. A Tweet. It does’t matter what you create as long as you actually create it, and create it from a place of authenticity. 

What’s your writing setup like? Do you have a certain playlist you listen to or a drink you always have?

Yes. I have a beautiful vintage pull-down writing desk! It has been handed down from my mother— she found it on the street when she was in college. When she discovered it, it was covered in layers of paint that she subsequently stripped away, to reveal a beautiful raw wood. The desk has been in my home since childhood, and the handle where you “pull-down” is the face of a lion, that I always thought was the face of Aslan from The Chronicles of Narnia

I write for about one hour every day, with a pot of tea poured from my perfect little tea pot (gifted to me by actress Lara Pulver), under the supervision of my cat, Tatiana. 

Whats a fun fact people might not know about you?

I’m an introvert. In fact, according to the Myers Briggs personality test I’m an INFJ (which is a very rare personality type, about 2% of the world’s population). Many people challenge me on this, based on their mis-impressions of not only me, but introverts in general. Introverts are not necessarily aloof, shy, people-hating trolls, we simply recharge our personal batteries in solitude. Despite my highly developed extrovert behavior, I still require (and enjoy!) lots of time alone to process life. 

Also, I have a (fabulous, diva, rescued) cat named Tatiana Angela Lansbury Romanov. She is a star (cue: Mama Rose music)!! She has her own Instagram page, which is: photographs of “Tati” (as I call her) with theatrical captions called @ifeelkitty.…..You’re welcome. 

What’s your best piece of advice for an aspiring performer?

For anyone, really: success is not about what you do, it is about how you feel about what you do. 

A massive thank you to Al for taking the time to do this interview. Read my review of After Anatevka here.

Interview by Olivia Mitchell, Editor

In Conversation With... Alexandra Silber | After Anatevka | Interview

Tuesday 22 August 2017

Saturday 12 August 2017

After Anatevka, Alexandra Silber | Book Review

Not just a writer, but a renowned actress both here in the UK and across the pond, Alexandra Silber has successfully made an incredible transition from stage to page with her debut novel, After Anatevka. The novel is a study of love and tradition in Russia in the early twentieth century and is the perfect continuation of Fiddler on the Roof and Hodel's story. Silber's writing is stunningly eloquent and she conjures up images of the long gone world with a delightful flow and accuracy.

With the ever growing popularity of sites such as fanfic and wattpad, there seems to be a desire to continue the stories of our favourite characters, but whilst these can sometimes be cheesy and idealistic, Silber's is raw, truthful and gritty.

We last see Hodel, the second eldest daughter of Tevye and Golde, when she is leaving her father in Anatevka as she gets on a train to Siberia to work and be with her love, Perchik who has been branded as a political criminal by the Tsarist government. As the train approaches, Hodel promises her father that one day, she and Perchik will be married in a traditional Jewish ceremony although they both know Tevye will never see this happen as she says "God alone knows when we shall see each other again". This is the final time we see Hodel and are left to to deal with the heartbreaking reality of what she would have faced when she reached Siberia.  

After Anatevka tells us exactly what Hodel faced in the corrupt, violent world she was placed in on her mission to reach her fiancĂ©. I think what's most heartbreaking about this novel is how much truth is in it. Whilst this is a work of fiction, the happenings are not fictional and many, if not all prisoners of the state were treated in the same atrocious ways. What's clear is how painstakingly meticulous Silber's research was and how she was able to weave this all in to create a shockingly truthful portrayal of Siberia in the early twentieth century. 

As well as showing the pain Hodel experiences in the present, Silber also throws in little anecdotes about her childhood and her relationship with her sisters, especially her somewhat combative but loving sister, Tzeitel. Their love is clear and provides moving passages showing the longing she feels to see those she left behind. Perchik's backstory is also particularly interesting and adds a layer which is not seen in the show and shows why he fights his way through the Gulag's challenges so ferociously.

After Anatevka is a profound debut novel. Alexandra provides a sentimental, insightful and truthful take on a world where change and tradition and forever at war with one another and a beautiful look at love. Silber's writing flows with an ease and simplicity that makes it a joy to read and she is an extremely accomplished story teller.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

After Anatevka, Alexandra Silber | Book Review

Saturday 12 August 2017