Book Review: The Mag Pie Tree by Kathrine Stansfield

Picture: Carole Burns on the left and Katherine Stansfield on the right

I actually met Katherine Stansfield last week, as part of our writers in conversation event at Southampton University. For our course we had to read the second book in her Cornish mystery series ‘The Magpie Tree’. The first book is called ‘Falling Creatures. Although Katherine said this book can be read on its own, I think it would have been more beneficial to have read the first book first.

In ‘The Magpie Tree’ the two ladies Shilly and Anna are investigating the disappearance of a young boy. Sir Vivian, a wealthy land owner and magistrate employs the two ladies to find a young boy that went missing in the woods. His fragile, pregnant wife is very worried and stressed about the incident. He lets them stay in the summer house in the woods near the waterfall. There are also two foreign women, that also life in the woods, who are said to be witches and everybody beliefs that they are responsible for the missing bouts death. But things are never quite as simple as they appear to be…

It took me a while to get into the story of the book, as I mentioned before, it would have been better to have read the first novel first. The book is very much about the power of women. Shilly and Anna are in a relationship. Which for the time the book is set in, would have been outrageous. The book is very carefully set up and really well researched. It is set in 1844, a time were women would have had very little or no rights at all, other than to be married and to have children. For two women to be ‘private investigators’ would have been unusual, or even unheard of. But the story is carefully set up and it makes sense why the two women are there to investigate the disappearance of the child. To start with I found it annoying that they were in a revaluation ship, but it is not ‘in the readers face’. There are just subtle hinds. The way the wood is set up is very good, it takes on its very own role, like a separate character, with its own temperament.

I can highly recommend the book. It is a mixture of Daphne du Maurer meets Sherlock Holmes and ‘The Birds’.

Soulmate

People always use the term soulmate to describe a special link they have with a partner, or better the love if their life, the one and only person they were destined to meet.

But a soulmate is much more than that. I liked Elizabeth Gilbert’s description of a soulmate from her book ‘Eat, Pray, Love’:

People think a soul mate is your perfect fit, and that’s what everyone wants. But a true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that is holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life. 

A true soul mate is probably the most important person you’ll ever meet, because they tear down your walls and smack you awake. But to live with a soul mate forever? Nah. Too painful. Soul mates, they come into your life just to reveal another layer of yourself to you, and then leave. 

A soul mates purpose is to shake you up, tear apart your ego a little bit, show you your obstacles and addictions, break your heart open so new light can get in, make you so desperate and out of control that you have to transform your life, then introduce you to your spiritual master…

Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love
A soulmate is a mirror that reflects back at you. Over the past few months I learned a lot about myself through my new partner and sometimes what was reflected back at me was ugly. I saw a side of myself I am truly ashamed of. I hurt him through my actions. What I have noticed about myself is, that I have learned behaviour patterns I need to change. Thank goodness he has been very patient and forgiving and I am grateful he stuck by me despite my terrible behaviour. But it has been a learning curve for the better and I think I can say, I have truly found my soulmate ❤️

Reading and writing

I came across this blog post and thought I’ll share it with you:

https://literacyworldwide.org/blog/literacy-daily/2015/07/16/reading-is-like-breathing-in-writing-is-like-breathing-out

I totally agree with this. During the past few weeks at Uni I realised how important reading is for my own writing. Even books that take you out of you usual genre can really enrich your own writing so much. Especially if you read like a writer and pay attention to how characters, plot, time or place are set out in a book.