• Feedback Friday 17th November

    Posted by Jeannie Mehta on 17 November 2023 at 12:01

    Title : Hold Fast to Dreams

    Bookclub fiction

    Amy’s getting sorted before their trip begins. She’s up first, and feeling excited and happy.

    Up in the dark, next morning, to leave early for their final week’s safari trip to Murchison Falls National Park, she crossed the courtyard of the house to the new western style toilet Darshan had installed specially for her. Back inside the silent house, Amy pulled the tiny light switch cord over the wash hand basin.

    Shit!’ she mouthed to herself, head jerking back from the horrifying sight. The burst of light revealed two cockroaches, four inches long, at face level, on the mirror, antennae even longer, waving menace at her. Their light brown carapaces glistened. Clinging to the edge of the basin she swallowed down the fright. She blinked. In that second they disappeared. Staring at the glass, she thought, ‘Did I just dream that, or were they really there? Am I hallucinating?’ Quaking, she blocked the image from her mind. She observed herself in the mirror wondering why she was so jumpy, and stood quiet, listening to her own breathing, till the thumping of her heart calmed. The creatures had vanished in the blink of an eye and though her mind began to doubt their actual existence, she knew she had seen them.

    ‘Amy, you need to get a grip,’ she thought, taking a slow deep breath to find a means of grounding her over-hyped emotional state.

    ‘Just go and check the bags.’

    She filled her mind with this mundane task and the cockroaches memory faded as she hurried to their bedroom.

    Having risen at four, then out in the inky black night, they left Kampala behind around five, past tiny villages and townships, no signposts or names, past silent dark banana groves, grass woven huts, mud walled cottages and the occasional lone Ugandan man, walking in the pitch dark. Pravin and Amy felt a little scared at driving through the bush at night, but overlying that were bubbles of excitement about the trip ahead.


    Rose Blakeney replied 1 week, 2 days ago 5 Members · 4 Replies
  • 4 Replies
  • Sophie Ebeling

    17 November 2023 at 12:45

    Sounds like they’ll be lots of bugs and animals in this book!

    I think the excitement could be built up more at the beginning as you’ve mentioned Amy is up first and excited. The change in emotion to scared of the cockroaches works well and added interest with the did she imagine it or are they so quick they disappear quickly.

  • Anthony Balkwill

    17 November 2023 at 14:47

    Wow. Those cockroaches are huge! We have big ones here in Cyprus but nothing like that. Is she really seeing them or is she hallucinating?

    The transition between feelings works well.

  • Diana Melville

    17 November 2023 at 16:15

    I like the change of emotion and I think you can heighten it further. For example take out ‘the horrifying sight’ as you are already showing us her physical reaction and we just need to know what’s triggered it. (Personally I’m not sure I could stay in there – but Amy might be braver!)

  • Rose Blakeney

    20 November 2023 at 16:25

    Hello, Jeannie.

    That first sentence is very long and deals with two aspects. This passage would probably be improved by dividing it into two parts; the getting up part, then the crossing the courtyard part.

    If “Just go to check the bags” is still Amy speaking or thinking, it needs to be added immediately after “emotional state”.

    In “they left Kampala”, you need to state who “they” are. No doubt you mentioned the other character(s) earlier, but readers would need reminding by the time they reached this point.

    The image of the coackroaches is striking. They seem to have a special meaning. If not, and they are just an illustration of something, you might need to reduce the description to de-emphasise.

    Well done, though.

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