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A Retrospective
 
 

A Retrospective [Kindle Edition]

Valerie Bird
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £5.95
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Product Description

Product Description

‘I wasn’t the first man to put a pillow over a woman’s face, even with love. … “I don’t want to live anymore, let me go!’

That’s what I’d heard her say, my mother. When it was all over, I stood beneath the cherry tree, the blossom growing whiter as I watched, more glorious than I’d ever known. I felt an awful relief. … But I’d forgotten about the child. The child who was there at the window, starring in at me, weighed down by a large and elaborate birdcage.

Edward kills his mother, Celia, to prevent her suffering more pain from terminal cancer. Consumed with guilt, the sudden appearance of Eleanor, a ten-year-old child, intrigues and frightens him. Did she see him put the pillow over his mother’s face? How can he equate what he knows of the mother he loved with the woman Eleanor describes and from the letters he finds amongst his mother’s papers? Over the years, he continues to be haunted by thoughts of Eleanor so when she arrives as a young woman at the art gallery he runs with his partner, Tom, he is uncertain how to react. ‘Retrospective’ is a story of obsession and redemption.

About the Author

Since completing an MA in Creative Writing with Distinction from Southampton University for which I wrote ‘The Eye of God’, now published as an eBook, I have had three short stories published; in The New Writer, in Staple Magazine and in a Cinnamon Press anthology, ‘Exposure’. I have had poems commissioned and published in two anthologies by Michael and Peter Benton. More recently two of my poems were chosen for anthologies published by United Press. ‘A Retrospective’ was taken up by my agent and is published as an eBook. ‘Angel Child’ is to follow.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 598 KB
  • Print Length: 273 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1494241323
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00GCFKLBK
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #658,185 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Since completing an MA in Creative Writing with Distinction from Southampton University for which I wrote 'The Eye of God', now published as an eBook, I have had three short stories published; in The New Writer, in Staple Magazine and in a Cinnamon Press anthology, 'Exposure'. I have had poems commissioned and published in two anthologies by Michael and Peter Benton. More recently two of my poems were chosen for anthologies published by United Press. 'A Retrospective' was taken up by my agent and is published as an eBook. 'Angel Child' is to follow.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Generous Novel 27 April 2014
Format:Paperback
This original and atmospheric novel focuses on the themes of loss, grief and identity.

It explores thoroughly the disconnect between who parents - and parent figures - actually are and who their children need them to be.

Eleanor believes everyone whom she loves will leave her [usually in the most finite sense] - a common youthful conceit but no less agonising for its wrongheadedness. Edward's anguish is more focused: will he ever resolve his conflicted relationship with his late mother, or the nature of her death?

And where do Tom and Harry fit in?

The all too human frailties, errors and misconceptions build to an authentic and wholly satisfying climax.

And the vivid word pictures which describe the paintings linger in the mind as vibrantly as the imagined canvasses themselves.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
I had three more chapters to read. Valerie Bird’s fluid story line had drawn me on at such a pace, that I wanted to return to various scenarios to relish the richness of the description. I had scanned the last few pages to pre-warn myself of possible traumas. When I could leave the characters no longer, I again delved into web of intricacies that their lives had created.

What a surprise! My scanning and surmising had been inaccurate. My journey with Eleanor, Edward and Tom had reached a satisfying conclusion. I could safely leave them to slip back into the covers of the book.

I can thoroughly recommend “Retrospective” and I look forward to the publication of “Angel Child”.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and hope it gets the audience it deserves. The construct of allowing us to see the inspiration behind each piece of art as the story unfolds creates a wonderful dual imagery of what is captured on canvas and then elegantly realised in the world of the two protagonists. The writing has the quality of the art it depicts and I also found the story quite moving, often in unexpected places ! The ending came too soon for me but I think that engrossed in the story and reading on kindle I just didn't realise I was running out of pages. I would definitely recommend - a book to savour.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars prepare to be moved 1 Nov 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
I was lucky enough to see a review copy of this beautifully-written book, the story of a young girl who becomes a successful, as she looks back on her life and her early experiences. As a child, she witnesses - what? the murder? the mercy-killing? of an elderly neighbour who has befriended her and encouraged her to draw and paint. I don't want to give any more of the story away, except to say that each chapter heading is the title of one of her paintings in a retrospective exhibition, and the paintings are milestones in her life.
Another great story from this most accomplished author.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Delicately crafted art 8 July 2014
Format:Paperback
'A Retrospective' resembles an afternoon spent wandering, unplanned, into an art exhibition to pass the time, initially taking in each piece rather casually but then, with a gentle thrill and growing attention, detecting there are connections between everything being presented, connections that reveal themselves gradually through careful consideration and further exploration.

Told initially through the life of Edward who runs a small but ambitious London art gallery with his partner (the energetic Tom who has a keen, enterprising eye for new artists), 'A Retrospective' tells the stories of lives crossing and mingling, each relation to the other revealed in layers and over the maturing years. It is not simply a story about a son's discovery of his mother's past, but also about discovery of another kind, the unfurling of another life, Eleanor, from her childhood with rather odd parents to her eventual evolution as an artist. The connections between the characters are gently revealed through the points at which their lives encounter each other in the present as well as through the discovery of their pasts.

Written in a confident yet gentle style, with beautiful turn-of-phrase and well-crafted descriptions, 'A Retrospective' drew me in, gently and persuasively and I found myself eager to spend time with it. I look forward to Valerie Bird's next exhibition.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Looking backward to the future... 23 Dec 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
'A Retrospective is in may ways a quietly brilliant journey into the past, not only as the title suggests, but also a walk into the footprints that are quintessentially 'Bloomsbury'; not only along Forster's well traveled A11, but also along the more difficult terrain that is assiduously drawn from the themes of co-incidence, connections, language, perception and also aspiration and expectation. Whether determined by contrivance or emerging ideas born of enthusiasm (I suspect both)is difficult to know, but what cannot be denied is the complete artistry that gathers sentence and theme into as perfect a structure as possible, which is no small feat given the overriding plot. And this for me is the 'piece de resistance' particularly in the age in which we live. How could a young girl who happens upon a man some ten years his senior, form a relationship through which a novel unfolds; one can almost hear 'damning with feint praise' from agency offices. But in truth, not only does it succeed, but it succeeds with a vehemence that would have 'liberal' thinkers (Forster included)heaping praise and goodwill.

Like a perfect tasting apple, it is not without blemish. A reluctance to go too deeply into character, particularly in book two, does show both Eleanor and Ed to be a little tetchy and pathetic respectively; elements that could have been ironed out by 'drawing out' more psychological exigency. I believe that this would gain reader empathy - and since this is 'de facto' the essence of the novel, would 'raise the stakes' a little. However, given the difficulty in achieving balance here (and of course it is also a criticism of some of Forster's characters eg Mrs Moore and Margaret Schlegel) particularly given the age differences and relationships generally.
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