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After a working lifetime as a travel writer, in advancing years I have returned to my first love, fiction. For the most part it has been in the form of short stories until in 2005 I self-published the first book in a trilogy on what war does to people, especially the children and grandchildren of paprticipants. The first, 'Another Kind of Loving' is largely about the break-up of former Yugoslavia which I know well. The second, 'Beyond the Broken Gate' picks up the thread post 9/11 and has echoes of both the first and second World Wars. The third, 'Long Shadows' ties up all the loose ends of relationships formed in the first two. I am now working on new ideas, including a possible anthology of short stories.
on July 23, 2012 :
Another Kind of Loving is a powerful story of families surviving civil war. It is rich in the diverse characters one finds throughout the Balkans or the calm fields of rural Oxfordshire and the story switches between these two arenas, subtly shifting the strains that the overt conflict imposes on the players.
Sylvie Nickels knows the Balkans and its peoples well and this comes across clearly in her story. At the same time she is a master story teller, weaving complex plots from the simplest ideas and giving vibrant colour to her characters. Here we meet Mike, a foreign correspondent in war torn Bosnia who meets and brings a young girl, Jasminka, home to his unsuspecting wife in Oxfordshire. At first there is tension as the child speaks little English, but arrangements have to be made and she is soon sent to the local school. With the adaptability of youth, Jasminka learns fast, soon metamorphosing into Minkie, a popular and energetic teenager, secure in a loving home and making the best of all the opportunities Mike and his wife give her.
Then the war intrudes as she meets people she knew back in Bosnia. Also refugees from the conflict, they have very different standards from those Minkie has learned, and very different aspirations.
This book offers vivid insights into the minutiae of civil war and what it does to individuals and families. The characters grow on you until you feel they are part of your own family but in the background, lurking in the shadows, there is always that fear that something awful will intrude and shatter the peace. This is all woven into a beautiful series of love stories, each poignant in its own way and all interlinking whilst barely interacting.
Whilst Another Kind of Loving is the first book in a trilogy, it is complete and powerful and will stand alone, but it is even better when read with the two following books, Beyond the Broken Gate and Long Shadows.
(review of free book)