Weather it is Michael Ende’s “The Never Ending Story” (“Die Unendliche Geschichte”), Erich Kästner’s “Emil and the Detectives” (“Emil Und Die Detektive”) or Grimm’s “Hansel and Gretel”, German storytelling reveals a rich culture and a millennial tradition. But did you now that this country produces over 1200 different types of sausages? Surely the opulent German cuisine would have also infiltrated the expressive Teutonic language, as we can see from the following German idioms.
Kein Schwein war da
Translation: There weren’t any pigs there
Meaning: Not worth
going, a bad place to be (to understand this idiom you need to keep in mind the
German’s love for sausages.
Das ist mir Wurst
Translation: That’s sausage to me
Meaning: That doesn’t matter
Alles hat ein Ende, nur die Wurst hat zwei
Translation: Everything has an end. Only the sausage has two
Meaning: All good things must end (but said with a lot more feeling)
Sie spielt die beleidigte Leberwurst
Translation: She’s playing the insulted sausage
Meaning: She’s all
worked up (said with lots of gusto)
Eine Extrawurst haben
To get an extra sausage
Meaning: To ask for special treatment
Er muss zu allem
seinen Senf dazugeben
He has to add his mustard to everything
Meaning: Give his two cents
zusammen noch keine Schweine gehütet!
Translation: We haven’t
kept any pigs together
Meaning: We don’t know
each other all that well
Translation: To have a
Meaning: To be lucky.
Obviously to Germans having a pig means a lot more that having a cow means to
the English speaking world.
Mein Englisch ist unter aller Sau
Translation: My English is under all pig
Meaning: My English is
Wie die Kuh vorm neuen Tor dastehen
Translation: Like a
cow standing in front of a new door
much like someone faced with a new situation
Da liegt der
Hase im Pfeffer!
Translation: There’s a
rabbit in the pepper
Meaning: something that
is depressing, a catastrophe.
Da steppt der Bär
where the bear dances
Meaning: A great party
Jemandem einen Bären aufbinden
Translation: To tie a
bear to someone
Meaning: to deceive
someone into accepting something false
Meaning: An outrageous
behavior (Its origin lies back in the 19th century and the ambulant animal fun shows)
Sie hat ein Kater
Translation:She has a tomcat
Meaning: She’s got a
Das ist ein Katzensprung
Translation: That’s a cat jump
Meaning: Something is very close, a stone’s throw
Das Leben ist kein Ponyhof
Translation: Life is no pony farm
Meaning: Life is not
Vogel friss oder stirb
Bird eat or die
Pretty straight forward. It’s a do or die situation.
Der Fisch stinkt vom Kopf her
Translation: The fish starts stinking from the head
Meaning: Problems always start at the top (so very
true in politics)
Sie hat einen Vogel
Translation: She has a bird
Meaning: She is
Wo sich Fuchs und Hase gute Nacht sagen
Translation: Where fox and hare say goodnight to one another
Meaning: in the middle
of nowhere, in a remote location (and surely not in a story book)
Da liegt der Hund begraben
Translation: That’s where the dog’s buried
Meaning: That’s the heart of the matter – when you want to show that you know
what the situation is about
Katze in Sack kaufen
To buy a cat in a sack
To buy something without inspecting it first
Drie populêre kinderboeke, nou beskibaar in Afrikaans. Helder en kleurvolle illustrasies en beminlike karakters wat opwindende avonture deel. Vir kinders en ouers om saam te geniet.
I am a big fan of Patricia and her style of writing. She certainly knows how to capture the imagination.
Mandie Griffiths, Book Reviewer
Die Leeu en die Hond
Hierdie gedig was geïnspereer deur die ware verhaal van Bonedigger, die gestremde leeu en Milo die vriendelike worshond wat bewys het dat vriendskap geen grense ken nie.
“Ek hou van die mooi boodskappe van vriendskap, geloof, optimisme, en vriendelikheid oorgedra deur middel van hierdie verhaal. Die illustrasies is wonderlik en hulle gee duidelikheid aan die konsep en die outeur se woorde. Wat ‘n pragtige storie vir ouers om voor te lees vir kinders en kinders te help om die ware betekenis van vriendskap te verstaan en hoe dit geen grense ken nie!”
Die Olifant en die Skaap
Hierdie gedig was geïnspereer deur die ware verhaal van Themba, ‘n ses- maande-ou weesolifant wat aangemeem is deur Albert die skaap. Die twee vriende woon in ‘n natuurreservaat in Suid Afrika.
“We both liked the illustrations. They are colorful and cute.I really liked the message that Furstenberg put into this story. It is one that children need to learn at an early age. I recommend this book for anyone with young children.” 5* Readers’ Favorite Review for the English Edition
Die Jagluiperd en die Hond
Hierdie gedig was geïnspereer deur die ware verhaal van Kasi, ‘n wees jagluiperd mannietjie, en Mtani, ‘n Labrador tefie, wat ‘n merkwaardige vriendskap gesmee het en lewenslank vriende gebly het…
“An important and beautiful story for little readers. A book parents should read to their children, not only because it’s pretty and cute, but to also encourage children to learn about the little things that matter from our four legged companions.” 5 Stars Review of the English Edition by Rebecca Evans, Reviewer
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Cozonac is not only a culinary tradition , but a lesson in history as well. First baked in Ancient Egypt, sweetened with honey and filled with nuts, it soon appealed the Greeks – plakoús, πλακούς – who added raisins and walnuts into its filling. Next, the Romans loved it, adding their own spin to the recipe, dried fruits, and sharing it all over the Roman Empire – Romania included.
NOTE: this recipe makes 4 loaves (and 3 baby ones, please see below). Half it if you want to make less.
The cozonac is a sweet bread with filling, so having a filling is crucial for an all rounded taste.
TIME: preparation alone, between 3 – 4 hrs with baking time (because the cozonac must be allowed to rise twice). To reduce this time you can prepare the nut filling the day before).
The recipe for cozonac consists of two parts:
the filling (this is a nut filling, but if you are allergic to nuts or prefer not to use nuts, you can skip this part and use 250 g small cut Turkish Delight or plain chocolate spread instead);
the sweet bread dough.
Nut filling recipe (for 2 loaves):
250 ml milk (I used a lactose-free coffee creamer)
425 g ground walnuts (TIP: you can put the walnuts in a sandwich bag and roll them over with a rolling pin – please see below)
170 g white sugar
40 ml rum extract (you can substitute with 10 ml vanilla extract)
10 ml lemon extract (or lemon juice)
1 Tbsp lemon zest
2 Tbsp good cocoa powder (even 3 Tbsp if you love cocoa)
How to prepare the nut filling:
Melt sugar in milk over medium heat.
Add ground walnuts and stir for 10 minutes, until mixture is thickened.
Remove from the heat and add cocoa, rum extract, lemon extract, and lemon zest. Set aside and let it cool.
Sweet bread dough recipe (makes 4 loaves):
1 l milk (I used a lactose-free coffee creamer)
2 kg white flour
12 Tbsp white sugar
2 Tbsp lemon zest
40 ml rum extract (or use 5ml lemon juice + 10ml Vanilla)
6 -9 eggs at room temperature (depending on the size, e.g. 6 XL or 9 small). Use the freshest eggs you can find. The yolks will also give the cozonac, when cooked, a lovely light-yellow tint.
300 g butter (at room temperature)
1 tsp salt
3 packets fast rising dry yeast (3×10 g)
1 beaten egg for brushing the top of the loaves (or milk)
TIP: you will need a mixing bowl big enough to accommodate both your fists and still to give you enough space to knead the dough. A big cooking pot can also be used.
Mix butter, 1/2 of the milk and sugar in a saucepan and place it over medium heat until butter is melted and sugar is dissolved. Add the other 1/2 of the milk and let it cool until just warm.
Beat the eggs and blend them in the lukewarm milk mixture. Add lemon zest and rum / vanilla essence. Mixture should be +- 35 Degrees before adding it to the flour (too cool and the yeast will not be activated; too hot and it will kill the yeast).
In a large bowl place the white flour, sprinkle the salt and the dry yeast and give it a little mix. Make a hole in the center, like a well. Add the butter-milk-sugar-egg-essence mixture in this well. Mix with a wooden spoon until all ingredients are blended together – see images below.
Next you need to knead the dough with your fists for about 15 minutes. Knead then fold it over, turn the bowl 180 degrees and repeat. This will get the yeast to work. If the dough sticks to your hands pour a little bit of cooking oil (a teaspoon the most) over your hands and rub them, then knead again.
Just when you are done (15 minutes later) tug the dough in all around turning it into a nice, flat ball, rub a little bit more cooking oil over its top and all around the walls of the bowl. This is important as the dough will rise, you don’t want it to stick to the walls of the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic and a clean tea towel and place in a warm spot. Allow the dough to rise until double in size. (about 20 – 30min)
Meanwhile, oil and flour your loaf pans and sprinkle your working area with flour. You can feel like a kid again and draw something…
Once the dough doubled in size kneed it down the dough once or twice, then divide it into the number of loaves you decided to make.
Pick one of the balls of dough and, while holding it above the working surface, stretch it a bit. Lay it flat and roll it with the rolling pin until it is about 3-4mm thick. In lengths, it has to be a little bit longer than your cooking pan. With a butter knife divide it in three.
TIP: consider how many loaves you will make and divide the nut filling or the Turkish delight accordingly.
Fill each of the three strips with the fillings desired. Roll each strip, pinch both ends and pinch along the rolled edge. Plait the three rolls together into a loaf. Carefully pick it up and place it in the pan.
Repeat for the remainder loaves.
Place each cozonac into a greased and floured loaf pan, brush with egg or milk and cover with a lightly greased plastic and a clean tea towel.
Allow the loaves to rise for another 20-30 minutes in a warm place.
Switch on the oven at 170 degrees Celsius or 340 Fahrenheit (Gas 3-4).
Bake for about 45 minutes or until light brown.
Set the pans on their side for 5 minutes.
Remove from the pan using a butter knife and then allow the cozonac to cool completely before serving – if you can resist it.
Serve with milk, coffee, tea, ice cream, red wine or with hard boiled egg and spring onion for breakfast!
Merry Christmas! Craciun Fericit!
What about you? What is your favorite Christmas meal?
If you decide to make cozonac using the recipe above, do send me a picture of your cozonac. I would love to post it here!
Christmas Tree and Saint Nicholas, two Christmas Haiku
So tall for small child,
Only Dad reaches its top.
Christmas tree promise.
6 Decemberholds a special place and my heart, it brings the first thrills of Christmas joy and of small miracles.
You might not know, but in Christian Orthodox tradition 6 December is the day we celebrate Saint Nicholas (Saint Nicholas of Myra, Nicholas of Bari or Nicholas the Wonderworker), who was an early Christian bishop of the ancient Greek city of Myra in Asia Minor (now Demre inTurkey). It is said that he was legendary for his secret gift-giving. Saint Nicholas is the patron saint of sailors, merchants, archers, repentant thieves, children, brewers, and students.
How Saint Nicholas became the patron saint of children is quite an astonishing tale. Now remember that all the written records of his life were made on papyrus or parchment, less durable than present day paper, thus had to be re-copied by hand in order to be preserved for future generations. One story speaks of a wicked butcher who, during a dreadful famine, lured three little children into his house, killed them and placed their remains in a barrel to cure, planning to sell them later as ham.Nicholas, who was visiting that region to care for the poor and the hungry, saw right through the butcher’s white fabrications and resurrected the pickled children by making the Sign of the Cross.
Saint Nicholas Haiku
Clean shoes and bright hopes-
Children go to bed smiling.
Mom’s a child at heart.
Welcome to Christmas Haiku!This December you can enjoy a winter themed haiku each day until Christmas Day. From the 25th of December I will post a super-special series of haiku on a humorous theme. My Christmas prezzie for YOU! Subscribe to my blog (newsletter sign up on the right column or beneath this post) and never miss a haiku with your morning coffee or favorite cuppa! MerryChristmas!
You can enjoy more haiku on this page of my website or in my brand new haiku book: Christmas Haiku:
An inspirational collection of winter and Christmas themed haiku to help you relax.Enjoy a daily haiku paired with gorgeous seasonal images as well as haiku for “The 12 Days of Christmas”
Movie Music Monday, “Flying Over Africa”, music by John Barry, from “Out of Africa” via @PatFurstenberg #OutOfAfrica #quotes #moviemusicmonday
“When you have caught the rhythm of Africa, you find out that it is the same in all her music.”(Karen Blixen, “Out of Africa”)
It has been many years since I first watched “Out of Africa”, yet what made a big impression on me then stayed with, helping me outline an era, sketch what it takes to be a resilient woman in unfamiliar land and remember that nature’s beauty as well as people’s surprising humanity are everlasting treasures within reach.
“When in the end, the day came on which I was going away, I learned the strange learning that things can happen which we ourselves cannot possibly imagine, either beforehand, or at the time when they are taking place, or afterwards when we look back on them.”
Memorable aspects: John Barry’s music, Meryl Streep’s flawless Danish accent (she practiced her accent by listening to recordings of Isak Dinesen reading her own stories), Karen telling the story based on Denys’ first line:
“There was a wondering Chinese named Cheng Huan living in Limehouse and a girl named Shirley…”
the breathtaking views of the African game, the greatness of Ngong Hills, the coffee plantation with its noble Kikuyu people.
“Where did you get it?”
“Mombasa. Get in!”
“When did you learn to fly?”
Isak Dinesen (the pseudonym of Danish author Karen Blixen) lived for seventeen years in British East Africa (now Kenya). Her autobiographical book “Out of Africa” together with additional material from one of her subsequent books, “Shadows on the Grass” adapted into a screenplay and directed by into what we know as the magnificent movie we all know.
Below are a few of my favorite quotes from “Out of Africa”.
Karen’s precious memories of Denys shining a light on how deep their relationship was :
“He even took the Gramophone on safari. Three rifles, supplies for a month and Mozart. He began our friendship with a gift. And later, not long before Tsavo, he gave me another. An incredible gift. A glimpse of the world through God’s eye. And I thought: ‘Yes, I see. This is the way it was intended.’ I’ve written about all the others, not because I loved them less, but because they were clearer, easier. He was waiting for me there. But I’ve gone ahead of my story. He’d have hated that. Denys loved to hear a story told well.”
Perhaps one of the most widely known movie quotes of all times:
“I had a farm in Africa at the foot of the Ngong Hills. The Equator runs across these highlands, a hundred miles to the north, and the farm lay at an altitude of over six thousand feet. In the day-time you felt that you had got high up; near to the sun, but the early mornings and evenings were limpid and restful, and the nights were cold.”
A concept I try, how I try every day, to live by:
“Difficult times have helped me to understand better than before how infinitely rich and beautiful life is in every way, and that so many things that one goes worrying about are of no importance whatsoever.”
I may not dream that much, but I acquire the same joy through writing:
“People who dream when they sleep at night know of a special kind of happiness which the world of the day holds not, a placid ecstasy, and ease of heart, that are like honey on the tongue. They also know that the real glory of dreams lies in their atmosphere of unlimited freedom.”
Is this quote below unveiling an optimistic side of Karen Blixen, or a life-long, concealed, low self-esteem?
“Now take back the soul of Denys George Finch Hatton, whom you have shared with us.
He brought us joy, and we loved him well.
He was not ours.
He was not mine.”
The movie ends with this heartbreaking quote by Karen Blixen:
“If I know a song of Africa, of the giraffe and the African new moon lying on her back, of the plows in the fields and the sweaty faces of the coffee pickers, does Africa know a song of me? Will the air over the plains quiver with a color that I have had on, or the children invent a game in which my name is, or the full moon throw a shadow over the gravel of the drive that was like me, or will the eagles of the Ngong Hills look out for me?”
I like to believe yes. Did you know that the Nairobi suburb that emerged on the land where Blixen farmed coffee is now named Karen?
“Out of Africa” quotes are property and copyright of their owners. “Flying over Africa” movie clip is provided for educational purposes and personal use only.
Read more poems inspired by the force of sea and the bravery of animals in my latest books:
Vonk the Horse: Spark, the Bravest Stallion of the 18th Century. Sail the high seas to the end of the 18th century, the middle of winter in the southern hemisphere. When a ship hits a bank of sand near the Cape of Storms (Cape Town), all spectators on land fear for the lives of those on board for the waters are frigid and currents strong.
Jock of the Bushveld, Africa’s Best Loved Dog Hero. Jock, the runt of the littler, the smallest of puppies, lived to enjoy a full and adventurous life at the side of his master. Even those overlooked and picked on can grow to become brave and reliable dogs, deeply loved by their owners. Jock and his master shared a life of adventures in the African bush, transporting goods for a living, hunting their food together and sharing the warmth of the fire under a blanket of stars at night. Happy to have each other. eBook, 99c/99p/0.99EUR or read free on Kindle Unlimited:Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Australia, Amazon Canada, Amazon Germany.
Huberta the Hippo, Amazing Adventures of a Happy River Horse. Read about the adventures and misadventures of a real African hippopotamus that, one day, at noon, decided to migrate south: “The moon sees all from way up high, I wish to also see the world go by.” It took Hubert many years to travel 1 600km south, along the South African coast. Along the way Hubert made many friends and enemies as he was a friendly hippo but with a rather large appetite and he didn’t quite followed the human rules. Nobody knows why Hubert migrated, but we do know that he was happy when he reached his final destination and that only after his death was discovered that he was, actually, a girl. eBook, 99c/99p/0.99EUR or read free on Kindle Unlimited:Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Australia, Amazon Canada, Amazon Deutschland.
“It is uplifting, positive and a pleasure to read and as a dog lover it warmed my heart, some made me laugh, some made me think, some made me smile inside.” (Donna’s Book Blog)
“A beautiful, uplifting and endearing read – I loved it!” (5* Amazon Review)
As Good As Gold is also available in Large Print, colorful pictures, a dyslexia friendly edition: get it on Amazon UK, Amazon US
I chose the name Haiku-San as it derives from Haiku, meaning unusual verse in Japanese (hai=unusual, ku=verse, strophe) and San, the honorific Japanese title when speaking about people. San is also the phonetic transcription of the first syllable of the English word Sunday, Sun-day hence Haiku-San, a Sunday feature on Alluring Creations involving Haiku I write.
What the World Cup and Wimbledon Finals, Barack Obama’s Visit to South Africa and Mandela’s Centenary Have Taught Me
Middle of July is packed with world class sporting and political events. Russia hosted the 2018 FIFA World Cup, South African Kevin Anderson qualified in the Wimbledon 2018 Men’s Single Final (last time South Africa came this far was 97 years ago, Brian Norton in 1921), and former US president Barak Obama will deliver the 2018 Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture, marking the Centenary of Madiba’s birth.
For me, in the FIFA World Cup 2018the ball really began to roll in the Quarter-finals, with Belgium winning against Brazil 2-1 and Croatia winning on penalties 4-3 against Russia. Then, surprisingly or not, England lost 2-1 against Croatia in the semi-finals.
England’s lost against Croatia taught me that:
Even if you loose, you still achieved so much more simply by participating.
“‘It doesn’t matter that England lost. They came fourth out of all the countries in the world’#ENGCRO“:
My seven-year-old son just said:
‘It doesn’t matter that England lost. They came fourth out of all the countries in the world’#ENGCRO
I was touched by the thank you’s pouring from both sides (fans and team) as a result of The Three Lions’s journey through the Fifa World Cup.
Always remember to thank your supporters, no matter of their numbers or where they might be.
Don’t be afraid to dream.
“To everyone who supported us. To everyone who believed this time was different. To everyone who wasn’t afraid to dream. To everyone who knows this is only the beginning. Thank you. We hope we made you proud.”:
At the end 2018 Fifa Final, when Croatia lost 4-2 against France, the Croatian President KolindaGrabar-Kitarović stood in the rain, without any umbrella, to congratulate, hug and wipe the tears of the Croatian soccer players, showing her support, admiration and appreciation towards their outstanding game.
From Wimbledon’s Men’s Single Final there was a lot to learn on fair play, on being humble and on how to graciously accept defeat. The words of South African tennis player Kevin Anderson express all this:
Kevin Anderson also teaches us a great lesson on
giving back and remembering one’s roots:
“It means so much for me to have played in the @Wimbledon final. There are so many positives and great memories I will be taking with me. Thanks to everyone from South Africa and around the world for your support and messages”:
It means so much for me to have played in the @Wimbledon final. There are so many positives and great memories I will be taking with me. Thanks to everyone from South Africa and around the world for your support and messages. It has been an incredibly special fortnight. pic.twitter.com/WxKGvl6bho
On Barack Obama’s visit to South Africa, to deliver the 2018 Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture – celebrating the centenary of Madiba’s birth.
“A winner is a dreamer who never gives up” (Nelson Mandela)
There is a lot to be said about the Nelson Mandela’s legacy, teaching us that change for the better is always possible, never give up hope.
“Even when the odds are long and the times are dark, change is always possible. But only if we’re willing to work for it and fight for it.” @MichelleObama’s message to #ObamaLeaders gathered in South Africa this week:
Former US president Barack Obama will deliver the Mandela lecture in Johannesburg on Tuesday, the 17th of July, with 15 000 people expected to attend.
“It’s not about who we like but what we are trying to address in a particular moment and the audience that we are talking to.”(The Mandela Foundation’s chief executive, Sello Hatang)
Barack Obama will inaugurate his most significant international project as an ex-president, with an announcement on Monday that the Obama Foundation plans to convene 200 young people this July in Johannesburg for five days of meetings, workshops and technical training. (The New York Times) Also, Obama’s visit to South Africa:
“It gives him an opportunity to lift up a message of tolerance, inclusivity and democracy at a time when there are obviously challenges to Mandela’s legacy around the world,” (Benjamin J. Rhodes, a former speechwriter for Obama who still advises him.)
“There’s an enhanced sense of tribalism in the world,” he said. “Our unifying theory is that the best way to promote inclusive and democratic societies is by empowering young people in civil society.”
“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or his background or his religion…”(Barack Obama)
“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or his background or his religion…” pic.twitter.com/InZ58zkoAm
Writing about the Inaugural South African Indie Film Festival was such a thrill, I am so proud of these guys and of their achievements!
Local IS Lekker!
SA Indie Film Fest 2018 entry ticket – courtesy SAIFF
The Rainbow Nation, South Africa, has given the world the iconic, inspirational spirit of Nelson Mandela and the voice of Miriam Makeba; the talent and gorgeous looks of Charlize Theron and the spirited and witty Trevor Noah.
Drenched by the southern sun and bathed by two oceans, the South African spirit is forever replenished — this time, to give the world a blend of breathtaking scenery and dynamic, independent filmmakers. The inaugural South African Independent Film Festival (SAIFF) is a fresh platform for both emerging and experienced filmmakers, local and international.
The 2018 South African Independent Film Festival on May 24 celebrated some of the very best independent film from the world stage. SA Indie Film Festival aims to give a platform to the vibrant and diverse artists working in independent film today. (SAIFF Press Release)
With screenings taking place at the historic Labia Theatre — home of independent cinema in Cape Town — South Africa’s first Indie Film Festival showcased 22 short films, documentaries, music videos and even VR films from all around the world, from Belgium to South Africa.
The international panel of judges featured renowned South African and international industry professionals including actor Sean Cameron Michael (“Blood Drive”, “Black Sails”), actor Brandon Auret (“District 9”, “Chappie”, “Elysium”), director Ryan Kruger (“Doomsday”; musician; conceptual shooting style), lead singer of Prime Circle Ross Learmonth, actor/singer Steve Wall (“Vikings”, “Rebellion”, “Silent Witness”) as well as DOP Roy Zetisky and actor Joe Vaz (“Dredd”, “10,000 B.C.”).
Read my full article on the Huffington Post SA here.
My thanks go to James C. Williamson for his time and wonderful support in writing about the SA Indie Film Fest.
It gives me great pleasure to share with you the chat I had with lovely Jessie Cahalin best known as the original, highly creative and ever so supportive of all authors @BooksInHandbag. Jessie just released her debut novel You Can’t Go It Alone, a book focusing on life through IVF (In Vitro Fertilization), love and the importance of music and friendship.
Here are my thoughts on You Can’t Go It Alone by Jessie Cahalin
Sophie and Jack are the main characters of this novel and the story opens as they just moved in Vine Cottage in the village of Delfryn. We soon discover that life for this young couple is not a “picture postcard” as Sophie dreams of, as they undergo a treatment of IVF (In Vitro Fertilization). The emotional roller-coaster they both go through and the pressure it puts on their relationship are presented with feeling and in-depth knowledge.
Jack’s parents, Jeanie and Max and their camper nicknamed Molly, bring humor and, surprisingly, a lot of action into the story. They, too, have their own struggles. I enjoyed the positive shift in relationship between Sophie and her mother-in-law Jeanie.
Next door, in Dove Cottage, lives Ruby with her daughter Daisy and partner Dan. Ruby has to deal with her own personal struggles. We discover that, sometimes, by opening up to others, unexpected help comes when we most need it. Nearby is Rose Cottage where widower Jim Evans lives alone with his dog, Lassie. There are a few secrets here that burden his last days, but also unexpected, happy news.
The main setting for this novel is, however, The Olive Tree Café run by Italian descendants Rosa, her jealous husband Matteo and their talented daughter Olivia. Why is Matteo so suspicious of his wife and daughter? Is it only his Italian blood to blame? And what keeps Rosa’s spirits up?
As one character says: “Maybe all the secrets hide in each branch and they fall away with the leaves.”
My favorite character was Rosa. I liked her creativity, all the effort she put in her small yet chic cafe while making time for everyone, her dedication towards her husband (even since the times they were just engaged) and how she knew how to support her young daughter Olivia. I liked how she kept her heart young.
You Can’t Go It Alone is a novel that appeals to all the senses.
The nature comes alive through Cahalin’s picturesque descriptions: you feel the April breeze through your hair, the rain washing over your face only to be dried up by warm sunshine.
“As they neared Delfryn, the light vanished from between the lush green trees, and the grey sky absorbed the colour.”
You hear the sounds, thunder and laughter, billowing voices and a little girl’s giggles, soulful chitchat and women singing, happy clinking of cups and saucers mingled with guitar music, tires screeching, laughter and sobs. An innocent girl laughs as she skips along the pathway to her “Magic Garden” and you hear the pebbles under her shoes.
It is a book filled with fragrances too; rosemary and lavender, freshly grinded coffee and cocoa dust, the earthly scent of olive oil and sweet tomatoes on bruschetta; the scent of wet ground and leaves and the sterile, impersonal smells of hospital.
It is a book of memories and secrets, of what it could have been, of what it really happened but most of all of what the future holds for all the characters: hope. The importance of communication and of speaking the truth is intertwined with each character’s journey.
Just as in the opening line of You Can’t Go It Alone,
“As Sophie looked up at the sky, its vast blueness held endless possibilities.”
this novel is alive and filled with love, for each other and for life, and a zest for life. It is the perfect pick-me-up read, with warm, engaging characters, a gorgeous setting and unexpected situations, both sad and humorous.
For such an amazing novel setting I headed over to Jessie’s Blogger Cafe to discus her thoughts and dreams for this book.
Patricia: Jessie, we have been communicating for a year now and working together on my book launches. You seem happy and positive about life and we have developed such a special, supportive relationship. Can you capture your life in two sentences?
Jessie: I’m the proud author of You Can’t Go It Alone and creator of Books in my Handbag Blog. Life is great, and my only regret is not connecting with the bookish world earlier.
Patricia: How would you describe You Can’t Go It Alone and the central themes?
Jessie: You Can’t Go It Alone explores the impact secrets can have on relationships and pursuit of happiness. The themes of the novel are: love, infertility, bereavement, loneliness and literacy.
The reader is invited to the fictional Welsh village of Delfyn where you can gain a little taste of Italy while listening to the music.
Patricia: Identify one of the key emotional journeys in the novel.
Jessie: Through Sophie and Jack, I show how a couple struggles to deal with IVF while getting on with life. Surrounding the characters with other people meant I could integrate emotions, comments and situations faced by couples like Jack and Sophie. Moreover, I decided it was important to give the husband a voice and this is conveyed via a blog.
Patricia: You introduce women from different decades, explore differences in their opportunities, and move in and out of their lives. Can you explain this?
Rosa, the leading lady of the Olive Tree Café, must face issues in her marriage. Sophie, a teacher, helps others to communicate but struggles to communicate with her husband, Jack, about their IVF journey. Married in the seventies, Pearl struggles to pursue her dream.
Patricia: In your book you approach the medical and emotional struggles of a couple going through IVF proving that a lot of research went into it. Can you share how you went about researching for your book?
Jessie: The IVF journey is from personal experience. When writing the book, I did research fertility websites and records of our treatment. Over the years, I have also spoken with many women about the experience and have realised I was not alone. And, I am always happy to support others who are going through the treatment. In You Can’t Go It Alone, I wanted to covey the experience through characters placed in real situations; hopefully it will connect with the readers.
Patricia: Gosh, Jessie, I had no idea you went through IVF. Having just read Sophie’s story I do admire you so, your determination and strength… *hugs*
Which character was the closest to your heart?
Sophie’s struggle is close to my heart. I can connect with the frustration and anger she experiences. Sophie has worked through the anger at her situation and is learning how to count her blessings. I had to nudge her to think of her husband’s perspective as she had become a little self-involved, but she is a kind person who can’t stop helping others. Although Pearl has an absent presence, I also feel connected to her through Jim and may tell her story, in more detail, in the future.
Patricia: I would love to read a follow-up to You Can’t Go It Alone! Who would you like to read your book?
I hope the story will resonate with everyone and should appeal to anyone who likes a good story and real, flawed characters. Despite the heavier themes, it is a feel- good book and conveys my commitment to the simple things in life.
I hope the book would support to anyone who is going through IVF or is about to embark on the process. The novel has light-hearted moments and presents hope. As C. S. Lewis said, ‘We read to know we are not alone.’
Patricia: What do you do when you are not writing?
Jessie: When I am not writing, I adore walking, cooking and procrastinating. Walking helps me to sort out tangles in my narratives or blog posts. We live in an area where there are some impressive mountain treks and costal walks, and we also have beautiful castles on the doorstep.
Jessie Cahalin’s Biography:
Jessie is a word warrior, bookish and intrepid virtual explorer. She loves to entertain with stories, and is never seen without: her camera, phone, notebook and handbag. Having overcome her fear of self-publishing, Jessie is now living the dream of introducing the characters who have been hassling her for decades. Her debut novel, ‘You Can’t Go It Alone’, is a heart-warming tale about the challenges women still face in society. The novel has light-hearted moments and presents hope.
Jessie hails from Yorkshire, North England, but she loves to travel the world and collect cultural gems, like a magpie. She searches for happy endings, where possible, and needs great coffee, food and music to give me inspiration.
Connecting with authors via her Books in her Handbag Blog is a blast. She showcases authors’ books in the popular Handbag Gallery and has fun meeting authors in the virtual world. Fellow authors have deemed her ‘creative and quirky’ and she wears these words like a blogging badge of honour. The challenge is to get out there and meet the authors face to face. She has already set up a few interviews for June and have travel adventures planned.
Her debut novel showcased on the virtual red carpet and was supported by the wonderful bookish community. One day, she would dearly love to roll out the red carpet and host a huge book launch for indie authors.
About You Can’t Go It Alone
Love, music and secrets are woven together in this poignant, heart-warming narrative.
Set in a Welsh village, the story explores the contrast in attitudes and opportunities between different generations of women. As the characters confront their secrets and fears, they discover truths about themselves and their relationships.
The reader is invited to laugh and cry, with the characters, and find joy in the simple things in life. Listen to the music and enjoy the food, as you peek inside the world of the inhabitants of Delfryn.
Let Sophie show you that no one can go it alone. Who knows, you may find some friends with big hearts…
‘Jessie creates soulful connections between her characters and the reader. These relationships crescendo and blend until the reader is into the full depths of human nature. It’s not every day one finds a book they can’t put down. This is reserved for the undeniably human writer.’