The thought of someone reading my novel over Easter is  wonderful enough but her tears are strangely heart- warming. We all need empathy and now more than ever.  I’m amazed by the brilliant reviews of Brushstrokes in Time on Amazon and  the 55th by  levitatemeon  posted today 17 April 2017.

5.0 out of 5 stars I do not wish to give the plot away here (the joy of reading a story is discovery)

“I come into this world

Bringing only paper, rope, a shadow.”

My Bank Holiday Monday has not quite gone the way I expected it to. I had planned a Spring clean, preparations for the coming week at work, perhaps a walk. None of this has yet happened. I have instead read, from start to finish, Brushstrokes in Time by Sylvia Vetta. The story, based (heart-wrenchingly) on real-life events, is set in China and spans decades, through the 1950s to the 1990s. Prior to reading this book, I had not considered life in this period as particularly difficult in China. I was born in 1988, and this struggle has been invisible to me before now. Of course, I have seen the image of the solitary man in Tiananmen Square holding up the tanks, but I didn’t know the reasons for this, nor had I considered the human stories behind it.

As with all my reviews, I do not wish to give the plot away here (the joy of reading a story is discovery, surely?) but to briefly overview – we follow a young woman who just wants to experience the joy and beauty in the world. Perhaps unwittingly, she becomes a scapegoat for a regime which is violently and embarrassingly lacking in self-confidence by this time.

By the time I finished reading, I (normally stone-hearted, as anyone who knows me will tell you) was wiping tears from my face. Perhaps the most beautiful part of the story is that our main character was relaying her life story to her daughter, born in America and unaware of the struggles her immigrant mother had faced.A truly human story, in equal measures enlightening and disheartening. I read this story as an ebook but will be purchasing a physical copy for my bookcase so I don’t forget it.

Other news

Brushstrokes in Time is Essential Audiobooks best- selling title. It has just been given a good review in Audiofile magazine. Essential Audiobooks have responded to the reflection about the music and will now use it only between the 5 parts. Caroline’s voice is indeed silky and delightful.


TV interview :
If anyone can make a success of a small publishing company that person is Katie Isbester of Claret Press. The lovely Eve Ahmed interviewed us on Talk Oxfordshire TV.  Part One is about the background to Brushstrokes in Time and in part 2 we tackle the thorny question of ‘Cultural Appropriation’. I mention  the philosopher Kwame Antony Apia  who gave the  2016 Reith Lectures. Like my sons he is of mixed heritage.  I agree with him that in this modern interconnected world,  you shouldn’t confine imagination, empathy and creativity.  What matters is the quality of the writing .  In November, Beijing born Joy Zhang , lecturer in Chinese Studies at Kent University interviewed me for the  Meridian Society . She is recommending  BiT to her students . One of my castaways , Charlotte Bannister Parker  has broken through a 1000 year stained glass ceiling by becoming the first female vicar in charge of the University Church of St Mary’s. Charlotte  emailed to say that Brushstrokes in Time should be compulsory on courses about 20th century Chinese history. Thank you Charlotte and Joy. In meantime my novel will only spread through word of mouth.  So all reviews good or bad on Amazon and Goodreads are very welcome.

German edition

Brushstrokes in Time has been sold to Drackenhaus Verlag  so hopefully it won’t be too long before it can be read in German.

Qu Leilei 

This seems like the right moment to remind ourselves of our common humanity. Meeting Qu Leilei in 2005 at his exhibition Everyone’s Life is an Epic started my journey to writing Brushstrokes in Time. Watch this video and I hope you will understand why I was impressed by him and his work. Listening to his story triggered my desire to write about the Stars artists. To reach as wide an audience as possible, I decided to make it a novel told against the background of real events. I do believe Everyone’s Life can be an Epic and that we should encounter people as the unique individuals we all are and not label anyone thus making them ‘other’.