Charlie Gracie, Meet the Author, Fruin Farm review by Mary Irvine
Meet the Author
Charlie Gracie – ‘To Live With What You Are’
The final meeting of the Meet The Author events for 2018 took place once again at the picturesque Fruin Farm, Glen Fruin, Helensburgh G84 9EE
This time we welcomed Charlie Gracie, originally from Baillieston but now domiciled at the other side of the Ben. Well known as a poet and writer of short stories Charlie took us through his writing history, the whys and wherefores, illustrating his talk with readings. One poem that brought a literal tear to several eyes was ‘Am I to be an orphan’. He then introduced us to his debut novel ‘To Live With What You Are’. In his reading of extracts we met the two protagonists and the audience was hooked. I couldn’t wait to read the book which I did in one day.
The reason was the first two pages. Openings are so important and often determine whether or not the reader will continue. The first page of this novel created an idyllic scene, very poetic. The scene is quite clear in the reader’s mind. I turned the page. The switch of mood was electric. I had to turn back and re-read the first page to check I’d missed something. I hadn’t. A brilliant beginning with the use of the present tense making it exceptionally emotive. Sorry, no spoilers in this review! I do not propose to summarise the ‘story’ or ‘plot’. It’s compelling and flows with the pace been steady throughout.
The narrative is in Standard English making the story easy to follow. How pleasing to read a modern novel that is well written with good command of spelling and grammar. The speech patterns of the two protagonists are clearly defined by use of discrete and effective dialogue. There are long sentences when internal dialogue is being used – in James’ head – but the author keeps tight control and these sentences work well.
The descriptions are vivid, reflecting a poetic leaning. We see the ‘same’ scenes from different perspectives, giving further insights into the characters. The titles of each chapter makes it clear the who and when. As a lover of the classics I applaud the author’s return to title summaries.
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