Taking Refuge In Secondhand Dreams

*If you're looking for sense, look away now.*

As someone who loves to tailor ideas to perfection, it frustrates me that, so often, I find myself unable to write or create as wondrously as I hope to. Too often is the idea of creating daunting, and, too often, I find myself picking up a book and taking refuge in secondhand dreams of others. And yet it was only recently, I realised this: that's fine.

We, collectively, are insane. We have so many ideas – too many ideas. An insane amount of ideas. And we have such beautiful prose, and so many words – and all of it so perfect. The desire for the individual to create shouldn't cloud the desire for the individual to enjoy the ideas of others. Sometimes, all I want to do is crawl inside the mind of another and to feel the words they've written… so why shouldn't I?

Taking refuge in secondhand dreams (as I've came to call it) is a necessary fuel for our own invention. I have to dedicate time to the ideas of others if I'm to enable myself to write as I want to.

We have to follow the other dreamers first; we have to live and breathe their ideas. We have to walk hand-in-hand, absorbing their honeyed words and secondhand dreams. And then? We let go, our fingertips no longer touching but our minds linked by cobbled bridges and whatever wonder lies beneath. And then, at some unforeseeable point, we become another dreamer, following the moonlight and the myriad of stars; our own firsthand dreams awaiting our own inked scribbles.

Just a few thoughts I wanted to put down, in some way, somehow. 
Book Photographed Above: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

REVIEW: Elizabeth Is Missing

Elizabeth Is Missing is a wonderfully bizarre thing. Not only has Emma Healey delivered an alluring mystery, but a sincere of depiction of family life in the face of illness. Our 84-year-old narrator, Maud, who's, ironically, not to be forgotten, suffers from dementia (a theme Healey deals with in a remarkably realistic and honest manner). And yet, despite Maud's inability to remember simple daily tasks, the one thing she remembers is something everybody else has forgotten: the answer to a seventy-year-old crime case.

Author: Emma Healey | Publisher: Penguin UK | Pages: 275 | Source: Gifted |

A mystery, an unsolved crime and one of the most unforgettable characters since Mark Haddon's Christopher. Meet Maud…

'Elizabeth is missing' reads the note in Maud's pocket in her own handwriting, and the one on the wall.

Maud's been getting forgetful. She keeps buying peach slices when she has a cupboard full, forgets to drink the cups of tea she's made and writes notes to remind herself of things. But Maud is determined to discover what has happened to her friend, Elizabeth, and what it has to do with the unsolved disappearance of her sister Sukey, years back, just after the war.

MY THOUGHTS: If you've ever known anybody who has dementia, you'll be shocked by how frightfully realistic Maud's narrative is. And not only this, but Healey depicts the complex relationships Maud holds with her family and friends (notably her daughter, her granddaughter and her carer) with complete sincerity. Even without the mystery aspect, ELIZABETH IS MISSING could succeed alone in its realism and gritty study of human relations.

The mystery itself is a fascinating one, told through alternation between Maud as she is now, and Maud as she was in her youth. The 84-year-old Maud is convinced of her friend Elizabeth's disappearance, whilst the young Maud is dealing with the disappearance of her sister Sukey. These stories run hand-in-hand, and, unlike many other reviewers, I really loved the disjointed switches between the two – it's almost as if this is to echo the confusion of Maud's mind and memories.

Perhaps my favourite detail of this novel is that, more than anything, it's about a personal conflict. Maud isn't solving the crime for the sake of solving a crime – heck, she doesn't even know what's happening half of the time. Instead, what Healey presents is far more complex and enthralling. What if your mind is the only thing that prevents you from figuring out the one thing you want to know? That's exactly Maud's predicament.

The only flaw I can find within in this novel is that, occasionally, confusion can be found – especially when it comes to tying together all the loose ends.

But, overall, darkly humoured, well-plotted and told through an accurate and compelling narrative, Elizabeth Is Missing is nothing short of fantastic. I truly recommend.

Favourite Quotations:    
“The sun’s in my eyes and it’s difficult to see. The shape of her is distorted by the light, circles of her silhouette removed as if by a pastry cutter.” 
“But it’s not true. I forget things—I know that—but I’m not mad. Not yet. And I’m sick of being treated as if I am. I’m tired of the sympathetic smiles and the little pats people give you when you get things confused, and I’m bloody fed up with everyone deferring to Helen rather than listening to what I have to say.” 
in One Word?
There was something strangely captivating about the narrative. The tale itself was powerful and irresistible, and I found myself both gripped and moved by this 82-year-old's battle against her own mind. It's a thoroughly compelling read.

Going Into Books Blind

When it comes to books, I'll be the first to admit a striking cover, a familiar author, or even an interesting title, is enough to win me over. And sometimes, when it comes to the excitement of beginning yet another book, the blurb serves at entirely futile.

For me, one of the greatest elements of reading is the unpredictability and the uncertainty of a tale – the untold secrets and the unknown (yet often welcomed) characters. When I began Vicious by V.E. Schwab, I didn't know any of the cast – I didn't even know the plot. And yet, funnily enough, this made the experience all the more intriguing – I had virtually no clue where the tale was going, or what the 'big' unresolved problem would be. And that was refreshing.

To read is to delve into the unknown – to put faith in the intrigue of another's mind. And sometime's it's best to embrace this, and to go into a book completely blind.

I've yet to read THE MOVING TOYSHOp by Edmund Crispin or THE FRANCHISE AFFAIr by Josephine Tey, but I'm glad I know very little about them. The prospect of going into a book so open and vulnerable towards surprise fills me with uncontainable bliss.

Perhaps the next time you pull a forgotten novel from the back of your shelves,  avoid the blurb, and leave yourself susceptible to the shock of unnamed territory and undefined mysteries.

Do you enjoy going into books without knowing what they're really about?
Books Photographed Above: The Moving Toyshop, Vicious, Lady Audley's Secret, The Franchise Affair, The Time Traveller's Wife, The Miniaturist.