Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Anya Seaton and Avalon

Avalon, by Anya Seaton, is an amazing book, a book I almost didn’t read, but once I picked it up, I could hardly stop reading until I had reached the end. It took me to a whole new world.

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It opens in England, around the turn of the first millenium, when people had names like Aethelred and Aelfrhryth which is enough to make me NOT want to read the book. But I read another book by Anya Seaton, Katherine, and I really liked it. It, too, took place in very early English history, and had such an authentic feel. It wasn’t like you pick up the book and all the lords and ladies are in gorgeous clothes, Seaton captures the primitive life many lived in “castles”, freezing cold most of the winter, no plumbing – many of the poorest laborers in Kuwait live better, in terms of food, a roof over their head, toilet facilities – that these early nobles. And the life of villagers was even more basic, a true scrabble for survival, and under filthy conditions, not a lot of time of opportunity for bathing, so people had quite an odor most of the time.

Avalon begins with a chance meeting of a young man and a young woman, a tragedy, and a journey. Their story, as first one love and the other doesn’t, then the other does and misses the opportunity – takes us from the southernmost part of England to Iceland, to Ireland, to Greenland and to the new world, all in the space of these two intertwined lives. They never marry, and yet the book, and their relationship, is a romance.

As you can see, once I got into the book, I couldn’t put it down until the last page. These people are so real, so genuine and so human – and Seaton makes you care about them. She manages to throw in enough detail that I could almost swear I visited these places – a thousand years ago. I have spun wool to buy necessities for our sod house in Iceland, I have embroidered tapestries in the Bower of my husband’s castle, I have sent my son off to settle with his Irish bride in the new world – yes, I think I have done.

The political situation in England at this time is chaotic, with Vikings raiding their coastal cities, and deep up the rivers into the interior, feuding over who will wear the crown, and problems with the capabilities of rulers to rule. There is a constant friction between the church and state, for land, for power, for wealth. The majority of the novel takes place during the reign of – I am not kidding – Ethelred the Unready.

At the very end, I found to my astonishment, that this book also concerned the ramifications of a big lie, just as my previous book reviewed. This is a total co-incidence, something that surprised me, and this book ends in a totally different way, as the main character comes to grips with her deception, owns up to it, willing to suffer the consequences.

Is this what I want? Merwyn thought, and at once came the answer. Yes, it is. There would be boring days ahead, but never again the depressions and miseries of before . . . She felt cleansed, peaceful, and there was much gratitude. . .

That totally cracked me up, but this is a romance of a different nature, a very real romance, with the real kinds of choices that real-life romances entail, and the real life consequences. The hand of God is a major player here, and the beliefs of the characters shape events in a way consistent with the times. Dreams are taken very seriously, and the power of curses, and sorceries, which I never give two thoughts in my daily life in the 21st century.

The main characters have their own nobility, based on their choices, their growth, and their coming to terms with their lives and situations. I learned a lot reading Avalon, and I also had a great time while learning.

All in all, a fascinating read.

May 17, 2007 Posted by | Adventure, Books, Community, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Fiction, Generational, Geography / Maps, Health Issues, Language, Lies, Living Conditions, Poetry/Literature, Political Issues, Relationships, Social Issues, Spiritual, Women's Issues | 2 Comments

Tire Killer DeFanged

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My husband is willing to bet that too many people ignored the sign and then got mad at the Holiday Inn when their tires shredded! The teeth are gone, but the sign remains:

May 17, 2007 Posted by | Adventure, Communication, Cross Cultural, ExPat Life, Financial Issues, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Lumix, Photos, Random Musings, Social Issues, Uncategorized | 2 Comments