I had been following Jessica Bell’s blog, The Alliterative Allomorph, for awhile when she announced her book String Bridge. I practically jumped through the computer with excitement when she asked for reviewers. I may or may not have danced a jig when my copy arrived in the mail. Then I prayed it would be good so I could write a great review. I would hate for things to get awkward. Lucky for me Jessica did not disappointment.
When I read I crave two things: to go on a travel adventure and to feel an attachment to a character which reveals aspects of myself I like or hate. In String Bridge, I had both my cravings satisfied.
String Bridge is set in Greece. I’ve never been to Greece but Jessica was able to bring me there. Her carefully crafted descriptions had me sitting in the traffic, smelling the sea, feeling the heat and wishing I would book a ticket on the next plane to Greece. An aspect of any person and consequently any character is their surroundings. It is why people watching is so fun. Watching people interact or move within their environment reveals pieces of them. I can never discuss the core of who I am without mentioning Kansas. It is a part of my soul. The main character of String Bridge is Melody, a woman mostly raised in Australia. This works wonderfully with the presentation of Athens. Since I’m not Greek, I can relate with Melody’s movement within Athens as it is not completely her home base. Her husband Alex is Greek, therefore, I was not as comfortable with his character. It is my opinion, it is difficult to fully understand someone if I do not have full knowledge of their culture. A piece of them will always be a mystery for me. The String Bridge story line works perfectly with my ability to relate more with Melody than Alex. I refuse to discuss the characters more in fear of giving away any delightful morsels.
The viewpoint of Melody is one in which I was able to fully connect. She is a wife, mother, career woman and frustrated musician. I’m an actress but I find it doesn’t matter what area your art is in the aspects of all artists is similar. The internal burning desire to create tends to clash with the necessity of paying bills and maintaining relationships. Melody wants to be on stage playing. Her inner fire is feeling smothered. But why? Is it her husband? Her job? Or her own fear? I’ve struggled with those very same questions.
Jessica Bell creates an interesting bit of magic with String Bridge. The way she is able to imbue music into the story is enchanting. The lexicon of music used throughout and the inclusion of lyrics adds to the atmosphere. Bell formulated this additional depth to Melody giving her a full character which can be hard to do when attempting to craft an artistic character. I found the structure impressive. In addition to the book, Bell has created a soundtrack. The attention to detail is inspiring.
Overall, I highly recommend String Bridge especially if you are an artist. Jessica Bell was able to take me on an adventure and to touch the artist within me. By the end, I felt as if I had discovered new truths about myself. It is a slice of life. Life is not about all the big events. Life is about all the day to day bits and bobbles and how we are able to weather them.
Full disclosure: I was given a copy of String Bridge but the review is my own thoughts and feelings uninfluenced by gifts or bribes.
String Bridge Website: http://www.stringbridge.com/
String Bridge Merchandise: http://www.cafepress.com/janicephelps/8155170
retreat & workshop site: http://hwrw.blogspot.com/
Jessica Bell is a literary women’s fiction author, poet and singer/songwriter who grew up in Melbourne, Australia, to two gothic rock musicians who had successful independent careers during the ’80s and early ’90s.
She spent much of her childhood travelling to and from Australia to Europe, experiencing two entirely different worlds, yet feeling equally at home in both environments. She currently lives in Athens, Greece and works as a freelance writer/editor for English Language Teaching publishers worldwide, such as HarperCollins, Pearson Education and Macmillan Education.
In addition to String Bridge, Jessica has published a book of poetry called Twisted Velvet Chains. A full list of poems and short stories published in various anthologies and literary magazines can be found under Published Works & Awards, on her website.
From September 2012 Jessica will be hosting the Homeric Writers’ Retreat & Workshop on the Greek island of Ithaca, home of Odysseus.
On one final note: If anyone would like to sponsor my attending Jessica’s Homeric Writers’ Retreat next year, feel free to drop me a line. My desire to go is larger than my wallet.