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Review by Suze
Sophie loves her high school sweetheart Matt with all her heart. When a devastating afternoon ends life as she knows it forever her best friend Anna convinces Sophie to go on a holiday to Montenegro. There they view a house in the Bay of Kotor and Sophie, who desperately needs a fresh start, decides to buy it. At first Sophie can only give in to her despair and loneliness, but slowly her life and her house start filling themselves with people.
Sophie's house comes with the belongings of former inhabitants. There's just one thing that actually interests her, a stack of letters written during the Second World War. The writer went through a different kind of suffering and Sophie can't help but feel a connection. While trying to get herself together again with the help from old and new friends Sophie starts to look into the past. Will she be able to discover more about the woman who wrote the letters and will she be able to find the parts of herself that she lost while doing this research?
Under an Amber Sky is a beautiful story about grief, longing, love and hope. My heart ached for Sophie because of everything she's going through. Rose Alexander describes her pain in such a realistic way that it brought tears to my eyes. Sophie is stronger than she thinks though. She might not want to go on, but she keeps fighting and love eventually has a healing effect. Her wounds will never disappear, but slowly they become more manageable. I loved how Rose Alexander describes her slow progress with ups and downs with sympathy and respect. It makes the story moving and very impressive.
The Bay of Kotor is a stunning setting and I loved Rose Alexander's gorgeous detailed descriptions of it. I was immediately curious about Sophie's new surroundings and couldn't wait to find out more about them. I admired that Rose Alexander made an important part of Montenegro's history such a vital element of the story. Under an Amber Sky is mostly set in the present, but the past is an essential part of it and I think that works really well. What I loved best about the story though is the group of people Sophie gathers around her, it feels like she has a wonderful welcoming family, even though they aren't actual relatives, and it warmed my heart to read about each member. Under an Amber Sky is an amazing captivating story and I enjoyed reading it from beginning to end.
If you love stories about beautiful settings and people who meet by chance, but clearly belong together, you will love Under an Amber Sky.
About Rose Alexander
Rose has had more careers than is probably strictly necessary, including TV producer / director making programmes for all the major broadcasters, freelance feature writer for publications including The Guardian and secondary school English teacher, not forgetting cocktail waitress, melon picker and interior designer.
Writing a novel is, however predictable the line seems, the realisation of Rose’s childhood dream and the result of finally finding ‘a voice’. The triumph is that the voice was heard above the racket created by her three children plus rescue cat (tabby white, since you ask). Rose likens the experience of penning Garden of Stars, a multi-layered love story, to another recent achievement of learning to ice-skate: progress is two-slides-forward-one-back; insecurity, self-doubt and despondence reign supreme; onlookers laugh, mock or even worse, smile indulgently.... But the finished manuscript, polished and pristine, is like the perfect pirouette performed on freshly raked ice. (Rose can’t do pirouettes yet, obviously, they just made the best simile.)
Rose is currently working on several new projects including a novel based on a relative’s true story of an epic journey as a ‘flüchtlinge’, fleeing the vengeance of the rampaging Red Army as Nazi Germany collapsed.
How do I write?
By Rose Alexander
‘Writing is easy. All you have to do is cross out the wrong words.’ So said the late, great Mark Twain and I’m trying to take his advice but it’s not easy. All writers know that we should sit at our desks and get down x thousand words per day, come what may, but knowing something makes sense and actually doing it is where the problems start, right? Like we all know asparagus is better for us than Haribo but it doesn’t stop us from reaching for just one more Tangfastic....
The writing process for me is convoluted to say the least. Quite apart from anything else, I work full time as a teacher in a tough inner London secondary school. After a day in front of anything up to 130 stroppy, hormonal, disaffected teenagers, plus a few hours planning and marking, a meeting or two, and a detention for the worst miscreants, spending the evening writing gripping and inspirational stories is the last thing I feel like doing. But do it I must, otherwise nothing would ever be achieved and I wouldn’t be a writer, I’d just be an over-worked, underpaid public servant.
Relentless self-discipline has enabled me to publish three books in just over a year - Under an Amber Sky and Garden of Stars being the first two with the third, a psychological thriller called The Missing Twin due out in August under the author name Alex Day. Now the school summer holidays have just begun and over the next six weeks I hope to get a good way through two new manuscripts. I’m brushing off a school year’s worth of exhaustion in the hope that, if I ignore it, it will go away.
The fact that I am the unlikely possessor of three children of my own puts yet another spanner in the works. (Sorry kids.) Every now and again I feel compelled to show some interest in my progeny and sometimes even to spend time with them, doing what they want to do. But wherever I go, my writing comes too. I can, and have, written whilst waiting for a bus, for a theatre show to begin or for an orthodontist’s appointment. I’ve written at magic parties, trampolining parties and ice-skating parties. (Not whilst skating. That would be silly.) I’m currently writing in my (minuscule) garden whilst builders attach a new section to the bathroom waste pipe running down the wall beside me. This is possibly going to turn out to be unwise place to sit right at this moment. But I can’t stop or the schedule will fall apart!
So on that note I’ll leave you with some wise words about the writing process. I’d like to say I wrote them myself but I didn’t so it would be a lie. Instead, Brian Clark, thank you for laying out the most accurate ’10 Steps to Becoming a Better Writer’ that I’ve ever come across and that, in my writing life, I live by:
2. Write more.
3. Write even more.
4. Write even more than that.
5. Write when you don’t want to.
6. Write when you do.
7. Write when you have something to say.
8. Write when you don’t.
9. Write every day.
10. Keep writing.
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