Archives for posts with tag: classics
My father wore a Canadian sailor suit and my mother wore her English high school lab coat when they met in the middle of WWI and preserved love letters we can now read.

My father wore a Canadian sailor suit and my mother wore her English high school lab coat when they met in the middle of WWI and preserved love letters we can now read.

Patricia Zick of  Author-Wednesday interviews Margaret Kell Virany whose books include A Book of Kells: Growing Up in an Ego Void, the love story of an English young woman and a Canadian young man set during World War I. Kathleen’s Cariole Ride is set during the same time period.

Q. How do you envision yourself in this role of writing romantic historical books based on your life and that of your parents?

A. Lover of life, language and literature. Note-taker, journalist, editor, author. I write. Little things turn me on, like scraps of paper in a keepsake box and the memory of strawberry socials, harvest suppers and silver teas. The act of being a witness, a record-keeper, a storyteller, and the one who remembers has always excited me.  I feel like I am part of a wider community. My ideal is to help others “see eternity in a grain of sand” (William Blake) and gain access to the best truth we have. As the historian, Sallustius said in 4 A.D, “What happened is what always happens.”

Q. I love that. It’s very poetic, which is very fitting based on your style of writing. Do all your books have a common theme or thread?

A. Yes. Love is my theme. It comes in various specialties: the romantic love of a young couple, parental love, filial love, family bonds, charity, love for other human beings, and the all-embracing divine love brought to earth and presented as an ideal by the Gospels. For me, it was a personal pilgrimage of going home to my parents after finding their love letters had been left in a keepsake box, surely for some purpose.

Kathleen Ward let her lover sail home after he came back to court her after WWI. Later they married and their daughter wrote their story, based on love letters (A Book of Kells).

Kathleen Ward let her lover sail home after he came back to court her after WWI. Later they married and their daughter wrote their story, based on love letters (A Book of Kells).

Q. What a wonderful and powerful perspective. Why has it been so important to explore this theme of love?

A. If people don’t get or give enough love they go searching for it, and a good book can be their voyage. When I was coming of age in the fifties, it was still a bit of an anomaly for a woman who had children to work outside the home. Women like my mother came out of a world, both deprived and romantic, that had untold, inestimable influence on the direction of children, husbands, and society. Such love practices inspired the line, “the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.” (William Ross Wallace, 19th century Indiana poet)

Q. That’s a perfect quote to express what you’ve done in your writing. What’s the best thing said about one of your books by a reviewer?

A. “Virany’s account of their (her parents’) adventures … is riveting. (She) has the natural gifts of a born storyteller who keeps you caring about the characters no matter where they are. When the Kells finally return to civilization the pace of the narrative doesn’t flag.” From a review by Ellen Tanner Marsh, New York Times bestselling author.

Here's the picture of my mother I used on the cover of Kathleen's Cariole Ride.

Here’s the picture of my mother I used on the cover of Kathleen’s Cariole Ride.

Q. I’d be very proud of that review as well. Very nice and I’m sure rewarding. How did you choose the title, A Book of Kells: Growing Up in an Ego Void?

A. In my years spent studying English literature at the University of Toronto, I noticed certain things about classics. I wanted to do things that would identify my memoir as that category of book. Fortuitously my family name, Kell, is the same as that of the most famous manuscript of ancient western civilization, The Book of Kells. Millions of tourists go to look at it in Dublin each year, so it would have a familiar ring even for those who couldn’t pin it down. Beginning the title with “A Book of …” gave it a serious, nonfiction tone. My literary background also led me to load my title with words that had multiple meanings and associations which would give clues to the type of content inside. My parents lived their married life as if it were a book. There is an ancient concept of life being one’s “book of days.” For dates and events, I leaned on my parents’ daily diaries. The title could also refer to the Bible, the book that most guided my ancestors and parents. I hit the jackpot, I felt, when I disovered that the root of the name Kells was, according to some scholarship, a synonym for all Celts or Kelts, the dominant tribe who inhabited the region north of the Mediterranean Sea in 500 B.C. This was generic; anyone with a name with the Kell prefix is one of the tribe so the word should have wide appeal. Another meaning for “kell” was a hair net or covering and that was an appropriate symbol for my upbringing as a minister’s daughter. My title might make people think it was a family history, which it partly was, at least for the most recent four generations.

It would be a long, lonely journey for my father from the white cliffs of Dover back to the Indian reserve in Oxford House, MB. But he was not one to give up hope too easily.

It would be a long, lonely journey for my father from the white cliffs of Dover back to the Indian reserve in Oxford House, MB. But he was not one to give up hope too easily.

Q. That’s fascinating. I’m always interested in the creative process, so how did you decide to write this book?

A. I wanted to write it as a romantic novel while sticking rigorously to the facts as I knew them or was able to reconstruct them by careful logic. It should have a beginning, middle, climax and end but these should not be superimposed. They should emerge from what I could find out; the story must be allowed to tell itself. It was a test to see whether the literary structures I had been taught really worked. I had to discipline myself not to make things up. I already had on my hands a self-described knight and lady who had rubbed shoulders with real prime ministers and princes. They courted and treated each other accordingly. I did not have to manufacture their raw emotions because I had their seventy-two authentic love letters from the 1920s. I had been blessed by a bonanza in a keepsake box; I just had to call forth my muses to elicit it and do it justice.

Here is a beautiful quote I just received as a comment on my “About” page of my blog. “Memories are a nursery where children who are growing old play with their broken toys. Kells is an extraordinary book, presenting the extraordinary story of extraordinary people living in extraordinary times.” John W. Bienko

Q. That is lovely. I’m so glad you stopped by today, Margaret. Yours is a unique story and one worth telling. Won’t you tell us  more about yourself?

Oceanbound to a Family Reunion in 1937 (illustration from A Book of Kells)

Oceanbound to a Family Reunion in 1937 (illustration from A Book of Kells)

A. About Margaret Kell Virany: Born on a farm on the northern fringe of Toronto, I got a degree in English Language & Literature and married my Varsity heart throb. Early employment was at the Toronto Telegram, Maclean-Hunter and freelancing for the Globe & Mail, Toronto Star, Montreal Star, and Montreal Gazette. My most fun jobs were as professional public relations secretary first of the Montreal YMCA and then of the Toronto YMCA, and as a program organizer of CBC-TV’s first live nationally televised conference The Real World of Woman (1961). Following a move to Canada’s capital region, I became editor/co-owner of the weekly newspaper in my home town of Aylmer, QC and had the busiest, best career of a lifetime. Upon discovering the keepsake box full of love letters, journals and photos my parents left, I published A Book of Kells: Growing Up in an Ego Void. It records my family’s lives and my uneasy coming of age as a minister’s daughter. Then I wrote Kathleen’s  ariole Ride recounting my parents’ transatlantic courtship and adventures living on a Cree reserve in the north. At the 2012 Centennial Conference honoring the literary critic, Northrop Frye, I learned that my notes of his lectures would be among those posted on the fryeblog, available for public download. This success brought me back to the day when I dropped out of college for a year and learned shorthand on my very first job, as a receptionist at the ‘Tely’.

Thank you for dropping in. This blog for all lovers of life and language aims to be useful and entertaining. Topics vary from how to build a canoe to how my mom moved from “prince to preacher and fog to bog” as a war bride after world war one. Author’s tips are offered by word and writing advice by example.

Happy Reading from Cozy Book Basics! http://www.amazon.com/author/margaretvirany  www.margaretvirany.com

Being a minister’s daughter is a life full of social and personal pitfalls with exaggerated penalties hanging over her head. Writers seize the juicy topic of a sweet girl as a focus for the battle between good and evil. George Orwell couldn’t decide whether his The Clergyman’s Daughter itself was good or bad. First he banned it from publication, then let it go because his heirs needed the money. In Emily of New Moon, L.M. Montgomery didn’t resist getting a snicker from the idea of a minister’s daughter eating grapes from around a grave and riding on a pig. The whole tragedy of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter centers on a strict religious community’s revolt against an embryo in a womb who turned out to be an accidental minister’s daughter.
1941family

Off to church in Toronto, 1941. A minister, his wife and girls are all set to hop over from the manse to the United church next door to start the Sunday morning shift in the pulpit, at the organ, in the Sunday school and choir.

The latest addition to the literature is Julie Hearn’s The Minister’s Daughter. The reviews describe it as a real potboiler with a surprise ending. One thing is for sure, it has a great cover. hearnministersdaughter

Inside, the reader is reminded of witchcraft, conflicting religions and the perceived sinfulness of sex, children and women in our history. Minister’s daughters came to public notice after the Protestant reformation brought in Christian churches with no policy of celibacy for clergy, just a lot of moral hang-ups around sex.

My book about a minister’s daughter will break the mold because it is autobiographical. First I brought it out as a subtitle but now I have decided to do more research, expand, publish and release it to fly on its own.”Growing Up in an Ego Void” actually means “Growing Up as a Minister’s Daughter”. Right now I’m wondering what the cover and title should be. Book front2

What I hope to add to the world of writing is:
1. Practical tips for minister’s daughters trying to survive.
2. A contribution to the genre of identity literature. Charlotte Bronte, an Anglican curate’s daughter who wrote the classic, Jane Eyre, is credited with being the first to write about woman’s independence, a theme that still resonates today.
3. Insights for psychologists trying to help minister’s daughters who have fallen into depression because of their stressful role.
Conventional wisdom is that the minister’s daughter is clueless about the world but actually she has social skills and has learned how to manipulate a whole community. Jane Austen, an Anglican rector’s daughter, is still guiding us with her books, such as Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility.

My nonfiction story will be dramatic, entertaining and dedicated to all minister’s daughters, especially those who were aborted in a more cruel past because of the delicate situation.

Thank you for dropping by. This blog for all lovers of life and language aims to be useful and entertain. Topics vary from how to build a canoe to how my mom moved from “prince to preacher and fog to bog” as a war bride after world war one. Writing advice is passed on by word and example. To find out more about A Book of Kells: Growing Up in an Ego Void, Kathleen’s Cariole Ride and Eating at Church  please click here.

Happy Reading from Cozy Book Basics!

The girl in this picture could have been Fiza Pathan, now a 25-year-old teacher and writer from Mumbai. Instead, today she is publishing  her novella Nirmala, The Mud Blossom on Kindle.

The cover of Fiza Pathan's new Kindle book

The cover of Fiza Pathan’s new Kindle book

Pathan just celebrated the first anniversary of Classics: Why We Should Encourage Our Children to Read Them.

Due largely to hard promotional work in the social media, it has been a great success during the year, selling hundreds of copies worldwide and engaging parents and children in choosing the classics that are just right for them. This can empower them individually and help save the world.

Nirmala, The Mud Blossom cries out on behalf of thousands of slum children who are abandoned to filth and poverty in the big cities of India. The scourges of prejudice against girls, communicable diseases, domestic brutality, hunger, infestations, street crimes and hatred scream for kindness, attention and reform.

Pathan’s own life story began with her mother being ordered by her father-in-law to remove herself and her baby girl from his house because she had not produced a male grandchild. Consolation for the little girl came from books in the school library where her mother left her while busy teaching. Today, when Pathan writes about books, she is talking about the living friends of her childhood, the dreams, the ambitions and the view of the world she formed when so young and sensitive.

From books, she discovered herself, particularly in the horror-filled, bloody Dracula. When Pathan shows a precocious mastery of many genres — fable, poetry, short story, novel, non fiction, essay — it is because she is at home with the best writers in all those genres. When she delves right into deep passions and bloody scenarios it is because that is where she is coming from. Her writing has a special quality; her works on Amazon are ‘must- reads.’

Like others before her (even the Angel Gabriel exhorted Muhammed to “Read!”), Pathan seeks to define the essence of reading and why the world must have it. She wants to engage other twenty-somethings and younger readers in saving the world through books and writing “a brave new story for mankind.”

I highly recommend Nirmala, The Mud Blossom as a compelling read. No one with a heart can come away from it without being changed. You will feel the pain and the love behind every word and image, Pathan identifies herself so strongly with her creations. You will have to give of yourself and no doubt end up being a more empathetic person, more likely to help save the world, for it.

As for my anniversary gift, it is a big bundle of love, congratulations and wishes for continued success in your writing, teaching and life, Fiza!

Thank you for dropping by. This blog for all lovers of life and language aims to be useful and entertain. Topics vary from how to build a canoe to how my mom moved from “prince to preacher and fog to bog” as a war bride after world war one. Writing advice is squeezed in between. Find out more about A Book of Kells: Growing Up in an Ego Void, Kathleen’s Cariole Ride and Eating at Church on Amazon, Goodreads or my website.

Happy Reading from Cozy Book Basics!

 

6209113I’ve discovered a fantastic e-book and suggest you may want to buy a copy too (for $2.99) and write a review to encourage the author. Here’s why:

  • At age 23, Fiza Pathan of Mumbai, India feels “totally cool and self-actualized” due to reading the classics since childhood
  • reading a classic a week or a month is a habit she’s trying to spread to all parents, teachers and students
  •  her 90-page Amazon e-book, Classics: Why We Should Encourage Children to Read the Classics, states her case with passion, personality and  precision. The 90-pages divide into 17 mostly four-page chapters
  • she lists favorite girls’ and boys’ classics as voted on by her students
  • language skills and vocabulary, imagination, general knowledge, love for literature, descriptive powers and morals develop from reading them

The content is particularly rich with details of her own and her students’ development.  Artistic and scientific temperaments are dealt with engagingly in the chapters entitled My Encounter with Dracula, Frankenstein and Science, and Classical Characters Who Have Influenced My Reality.

Pathan’s insightful tips are gems for the reader to take away:

  • choosing the right first classic is very important in the education process
  • classics cause children get better grades, speak and write articulately,  and grow up to be happy people
  • classics are like bound movie scripts for our brain production house
  • classics are the safest and most time-tested method to ignite the flame of creativity
  • classics are defined as “books of all time rather than books of the hour” and “clean, decent fiction written primarily to tell a story rather than make money”
  • classics are tools of information that encourage the student to think practically
  • more than anything else, classics give a middle school student some direction in life
  • The world is not a humdrum affair of facts but an adventure without limitations
  • Children need a bit of good fiction to nourish them in a world that seems out to kill them
  • A good writer will manage to help the reader create a good ending for him or herself in real life

Teachers will want to adopt Pathan’s original techniques for enlivening English classes. Parents and grandparents will be empowered to see how they can have an effect. It’s easy to follow her prescription of reading a classic a week or month by downloading classics available free due to the Gutenberg project.

As well as feeling “totally cool and self-actualized”, Pathan also writes, “The growing globalized society of the late 1990‘s has developed to such greatness that though I am 23 I feel completely ancient”. In wisdom, yes, she is ancient. With our support, her book can be a work of rejuvenation, not just for literacy but for humanity also.

Margaret Kell Virany   lover of language and literature, note-taker of Northrop Frye, journalist, editor, author

www.amazon.com/author/margaretvirany   margaret@kell.ca

http://www.margaretvirany.com  

http://wp.me/p2dNT0-Mw