By Jacqueline Grima
This summer, independent publishing company, Orenda Books, will be releasing How To Be Brave, a remarkable debut novel by short story writer and Glass Woman Prize-winner, Louise Beech. The novel, shortlisted for the 2014 Luke Bitmead Bursary, tells the story of how a mother’s love and determination, alongside the magical power of story-telling, saves the life of her daughter and keeps her family from falling apart.
When her nine-year-old daughter, Rose, is diagnosed with a life-threatening illness, Natalie finds her life suddenly becoming a whirlwind of hospital visits, medical treatment and worry. With her husband serving abroad in the army and her daughter refusing to co-operate, Natalie soon begins to feel stressed and isolated but is comforted by the ghostly visions she has of a man in a brown suit. It is only when she discovers that Rose is seeing the same man in her dreams that Natalie begins to investigate the story of her grandfather, Colin, and, with the power of story-telling, transports her daughter, and the reader, to the Atlantic Ocean of 1943. Using Colin’s diary she tells Rose the story of her grandfather and his shipmates, close to death on a lifeboat after their merchant navy ship is bombed in the Second World War. Thus the story within the story begins, Natalie desperately hoping that Grandad Colin’s tale of strength and survival will finally bring her closer to the daughter she adores.
Based on Louise Beech’s real-life experiences, How To Be Brave is beautifully told, the story of Natalie and Rose’s struggle, as well as Colin’s dogged determination to survive for the sake of his future family, both inspirational and uplifting. Speaking to Humanity Hallows, Louise said,
“How To Be Brave was inspired by the time I shared my grandfather’s incredible survival story with my ten-year-old diabetic daughter, Katy, who was refusing her life-saving insulin injections. I didn’t write the novel straight after our experience though – I’d already written a couple of other novels and forty or so short stories but I wanted to be the best I could at my craft to give Grandad Colin the voice he deserved. I wanted to explore the transformative power of story-telling: how it can unite us with loved ones, help us through traumatic times and stay with us long after we’ve whispered the end.”
The Kindle version of How To Be Brave will be released on 15th July with the paperback following on 17th September. Both are now available to pre-order from Amazon. For more information about Louise Beech, visit the Orenda website or follow her on Twitter @LouiseWriter
Jacqueline Grima is currently studying for an MA in Creative Writing. When she’s not writing, she loves listening to music, going to concerts and baking. Follow her on Twitter @GrimaJgrima