#BookReview ~ Seas of Snow by Kerensa Jennings #BookBoost @zinca

1950s England. Five-year-old Gracie Scott lives with her Mam and next door to her best friend Billy. An only child, she has never known her Da. When her Uncle Joe moves in, his physical abuse of Gracie’s mother starts almost immediately. But when his attentions wander to Gracie, an even more sinister pattern of behaviour begins.

As Gracie grows older, she finds solace and liberation in books, poetry and her enduring friendship with Billy. Together they escape into the poetic fairy-tale worlds of their imaginations.

But will fairy tales be enough to save Gracie from Uncle Joe’s psychopathic behaviour – and how far will it go?

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Unbound (9 Feb. 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1783523115
  • ISBN-13: 978-1783523115

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About the Author

Kerensa Jennings is a storyteller, strategist, writer, producer and professor.

Kerensa’s TV work took her all over the world, covering everything from geo-politics to palaeontology, and her time as Programme Editor of Breakfast with Frost coincided with the life-changing events of 9/11.

The knowledge and experience she gained in psychology by qualifying and practising as an Executive Coach has only deepened her fascination with exploring the interplay between nature and nurture and with investigating whether evil is born or made – the question at the heart of Seas of Snow.

As a scholar at Oxford, her lifelong passion for poetry took flight. Kerensa lives in West London and over the last few years has developed a career in digital enterprise.

IN HER OWN WORDS…
I’ve been writing stories and poems ever since I was a little girl. Although it’s taken me a long time to get around to writing a book, I’m lucky enough to have had a long career in the media as a TV producer, writing television programmes. Most of the time viewers would have had no idea who I was, but my words have informed, educated and entertained millions over the years. I produced, directed, wrote for and worked with some of the most amazing people including Nelson Mandela, Sir David Frost (I was Programme Editor of Breakfast with Frost), Sir David Attenborough, Fiona Bruce, Sian Williams, James Nesbitt, George Alagiah and Rory Bremner.

I moved away from programme making to strategy and became the BBC’s Head of Strategic Delivery where I designed and delivered strategies for the Corporation, including a significant digital strategy (BBC Make it Digital). I now run The Duke of York Inspiring Digital Enterprise Award (idea.org.uk).

I’ve always used literature, and poetry in particular, for solace and escape. I happen to think literature is probably the best self-help on the planet! You can fly into other worlds and find ways through writing to make sense of life.

SEAS of SNOW draws together some of my passions and fascinations in life. While I was at university, I studied the psychoanalysis of fairy tales and got very interested in archetypes and the way characters and stories of good and evil are portrayed.

While leading the BBC News coverage of the Soham investigation, I had the opportunity to see first-hand a lot of evidence about the mind and motives of a psychopath. So in SEAS of SNOW, the protagonist Gracie uses poetry and playtime to escape the traumas and abuses of her life; the antagonist, her Uncle Joe, is a very bad man, a psychopath; and there is a subtext of fairy tale underlying the page-turning scenario which hopefully makes you want to read while half covering your eyes.

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My Review

I was lucky enough to receive a beautiful hard back copy of this book from the author. The exquisite cover gives a slight indication of what is inside.

This is a heartbreaking, though provoking story which brings many things into question. Are some people just born evil or do circumstances alter their state of mind. Who would you protect? As a mother my instincts are unquestionably to ward off any nastiness away from my children .. like a lioness, there is no doubt in my mind I would put them ahead of me every time. Yet this book explores the opposite characteristics.

It revolves around Gracie, a quiet little girl, who loves the simple things in life. Set initially around the war, life was tough but she drew pleasure from spending time with her Ma, blowing bubbles, reading, eating jam sandwiches. She had no Da and that did make her question whether she deserved one but she was happy with Ma.

Billy lived next door, he was a couple of years older than Gracie and her soul mate, they had such a precious bond. They played together, reliving fairy tales, exploring the woods, whispering secrets .. a perfect friendship.

All was well until ‘Uncle’ Joe arrived at Gracie’s house, he bought with him a sinister air, bad-tempered, violent, creepy. The more he began to beat his sister (Gracie’s Ma) the further Gracie retreated into her books. She was fascinated with poetry, the authors flair for writing becomes obvious at this point with the amount of poetic input and the descriptions of joining the dots, hearing the sound of the words etc. 

As time progresses we discover just how evil Joe can be .. will Ma be able to keep Gracie safe? 

The book moves between time periods, when the children were young and then featuring an old lady .. by doing this the mystery unravels along with introducing us to other family members and their particular story lines.

So many things about this book I enjoyed, I also love daffodils and they feature quite a lot. I adored Gracie she is a picture of innocence and Billy was her hero. I wasn’t keen on the ‘bird’ incident or the dismembered animals because I’m a softie but it was all relevant to create the tension.

A fabulous story, hauntingly magical, with an almost hypnotic quality. I didn’t see the end coming and it has left me deeply moved. I look forward to any further books by Kerensa, with her ability at writing there must be more to come, I hope! 

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