Behold Sarah by Lindy Henny ~Goodreads~
Published by Clink Street Publishing 2015
Paperback edition 214 pages ~Book Depository~
Hey everyone I hope you’re all well. Here’s to another Blogival day and another review to a brilliant book I’m sharing with you all, but firstly I’m delighted to say the author herself Lindy Henny is sharing with us the inspiration behind ‘Behold Sarah‘ a really fascinating read in my opinion I hope you enjoy reading too…
“Sarah is fed up of growing old, has lost her enthusiasm for life and, if she doesn’t rediscover a modicum of meaning she will kill herself; and who would even give care if she did?
After the death of her lover and her sister, Sarah wakes up one day to the realisation that she is just existing and no longer living. Once a vibrant, beautiful women — or so she vaguely remembers – Sarah decides that if she’s going to avoid being discovered dead and naked in the shower she must rediscover the zest for life she once had. A pilgrimage into her past may hold the key to her future happiness.
The inspiration behind Behold Sarah is really my own life, so in a way it’s a semi-autobiographical novella -I say semi because I don’t want my children/grandchildren to dig deeper and realise the truth about my wild and wanton younger years it’s probably best those stay a little in the shadows, retain a little mystique -rule 1 of life: Always Keep People Guessing and Wanting More. Anyway I digress, Behold Sara is a blueprint for my own self-analysis however, instead of a memoir I decided to do this through the eyes of my protagonist Sara. As a trained physiotherapist I thought I could view myself through the prism of Sara and somehow treat her as one of my patients -apologies is this sounds a little too deep or self-centred. I applied my professional expertise to my own life holding a spotlight to the actual and the real, and commented on it. Along with Sara I spend time in an imaginary place I call in the book, The Hut or The Willow Cabin, where I reflect on such things as old age, adoption, sex, love, writing poetry, relationships, croquet and tennis. To find the value, or not, of Sarah’s (my?) life and its meaning. To discover what was the point of the rubbish times. To search for evidence of some form of God if only to give this ‘idea’ a name that people can identify.
All the characters help Sarah define her life her ‘ Gods’ in various forms -although not in the traditional sense. Her sister Gill as child and adult, therapeutic clients, her analyst, her adopted children Richard, Timmy and Caroline who taught her about love and parenting, middle aged tousle-haired man with whom she enjoyed liberated love-making and mother who was adored by Sarah, but an alcoholic. The characters are all taken from my own life, especially that one of Sara’s mother. I was evacuated from London during the war and taken from my own alcoholic mother, she drank herself to death and I still miss her terribly and wonder how my life would have been if I’d been able to have returned to her after the evacuation from London during the war.
Also, as I move into the final stage of my own life – I am older than our Majesty the Queen – and by using Sara couldn’t help shake the feeling that I haven’t yet achieved everything. I also wanted to highlight that even though I’m a grandma (and a great grandma) that I’m not actually dead yet and the feeling of being socially invisible is not one I care to put up with. Behold Sara is both a reflection and a therapy and it’s shown me that if I want something then the only person standing in my way is me -this is a message I wanted to convey to my readers also if you want it GO AND GET IT -there’s really no point waiting for it to happen to you.
In reality, I guess I’ve lived rather a full life I’m an author, playwright, actress, director and painter, living on a houseboat moored on the Thames in Chelsea Harbour and when I’m not creating characters in my mind I’m visiting my three adopted children, ten grandchildren with step-children and step-grandchildren to boot!
But as I said before, I still want to achieve things… and shout to the world that my wrinkly face is still beautiful – even more interesting than before as you can see my character lines and my eyes have not changed a jot – as expressive as ever.”
Sarah’s autobiography will interest anyone who is curious about life’s meaning, the value of self-discovery, and the search for some form of God. It is, in itself, a blueprint of self-analysis, and at the same time a description of Sarah’s raw, rich life, and her restoration from despair to wanting to live.
In reading ‘Behold Sarah’ you will time travel with her through her singular, often murky, ever emerging past. She shares her story with an italicised god – but whose voice are we actually hearing? Perhaps Sarah’s voice and God’s are one and the same. Prepare to float on the flotsam-jetsam Thames, be guided through quirky parts of London, be banged up blissfully in a high security prison, fall in and out of love, and out and into sex, and, deep breath, find yourself in the painfully comfortable paradox of the therapy room.
First off I want to point out how very different this book is to anything I have read before, as it invites you into thinking about all kinds of questions about life that may or may not be answered with one thought or opinion. For this I have to confess it was a little slow going to begin with but nonetheless it has left me with a lot of thoughts in my head that I hadn’t gone into greater detail before.
Another distinct part of this book is where in the beginning we’re pretty much given a back story of the protagonists life from the past to the present, and so there isn’t so much of a plot shall we say but its not necessary. This is a book that focuses on self-reflection of what could have been, and thoughts on how things could have been dealt with differently and what consequences this could have had and so on. A lot of “what ifs” circle around this book, and for some readers this might not be for you because you prefer to look forward rather than back on some things and likewise.
However, Lindy Henny has done a brilliant job of creating character exploration in this way and I found it very cleverly done. With the added play scripts and poetry it certainly carries a lot of interesting elements for a book that’s what Lindy calls “semi-autobiographical.” With every turn in life this book explores the character Sarah goes back over previous writings and reflects on her own thoughts and insights that she describes at the time and how this has or hasn’t changed as she has grown up and matured.
The setting for this novel begins where Sarah is explaining her feelings and cannot decide whether she should live or die. We discover she herself is a psychotherapist, and decides to analyse her own life and thought processes and come to a conclusion of what her life has achieved. This is what made me stick to this book, the approach is remarkable and throughout God’s voice comes through the pages in italics and speak to Sarah on a subconscious level. Sometimes she reacts to what God is saying, but unaware she’s acted upon it. Bringing God into this novel is also an interesting one to explore with regards to the debate of what/who God is, is he real like many believe or perhaps something inside us that acts as a coping mechanism. All questions I’m fascinated in myself!
A way in which we see how Sarah is thinking and not how it looks strictly on paper is presented in some passages where there isn’t punctuation at all but a string of thoughts from Sarah’s mind. I wouldn’t say I necessarily liked or disliked Sarah because she does have some controversial thoughts and opinions, but like with anyone we like some things about them and things we don’t and that’s what makes herself and Lindy’s writing unique and very real to read where we see her irrational emotions on matters of the past that only make her human like yourself and I.
This book isn’t a read to be taken lightly as it is a little hard going and thought provoking, but as someone who loves asking questions on life I enjoyed it very much and I think its a book that some mainstream publishers aren’t confident enough to take advantage of when really they should.
This book really got me thinking, and Lindy Henny is an excellent writer!
“I, Lindy Henny (like Sarah in many respects!) am a psychotherapist, and an author. I love to write in different styles and genres – plays, poetry, novels, both profane and sacred. Accompanying Sarah on her journey, she and I spend time in an imaginary place which she calls The Hut, or The Willow Cabin; there we reflect and ponder on such things as old age, adoption, sex, love, writing poetry, relationships, croquet and tennis.
I hope you enjoy ‘Behold Sarah’, and might be encouraged to ‘Behold Yourself’ and like Sarah find understanding, meaning, and whatever it is you are seeking.” (Source: Goodreads)