Rosie’s Book Review Team #RBRT Alison reviews Twilight’s Indian Princess by Margaret Langstaff

Our review today comes from Book Review Team Member Alison, she blogs at http://alisonwilliamswriting.wordpress.com/

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Alison has been reading Twilight’s Indian Princess by Margaret Langstaff

Twilight's Indian Princess

Here is her review.

Twilight’s Indian Princess

This is a well-written novella with moments of stunning prose and an intriguing central character. Busy teacher and mum Sarah is looking forward to some well-deserved time to herself – time that is marked by an empty block on a calendar that is normally chock-a-block with responsibilities, appointments and promises. She is a woman that most of us will see some of ourselves in – spreading our time too thinly, making promises that we wish we hadn’t, loading ourselves up with commitments that leave us rushing around craving a few moments of silence and solitude. But Sarah’s planned ‘me time’ doesn’t pan out how she, or we, imagined.

I must admit that I was left feeling a little confused. I’m not entirely convinced by the length of this story. The characters and situation would lend themselves really well to an engaging short story. Alternatively, with some development of character, this could unfold into a great novel, but as a novella, I was left feeling a bit unsatisfied. I wanted to know more about Sarah, her children, her husband and what happened after the potatoes J.

That said, I do recommend this – it’s a great story to while away some precious time for yourself.

4 stars

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Guest Author Margaret Langstaff

Today we welcome Margaret Langstaff to the blog, author of yesterday’s book “Twilight’s Indian Princess”. Here is a link to the book post. (Link to be added)

Margaret Langstaff

Let’s find out more about Margaret and her writing.

Where is your home town?

I live in a small town just west of Gainesville, FL (home to University of Florida, my alma mater) on a small farm with lots of large animals, many of them “rescues,” and crawling with wildlife. I moved here 12 years ago after leaving a career in book publishing to write full time.

How long have you been writing?

I started “writing” in elementary school when I was about ten and took advanced degrees in English Lit and writing at UF.

What genres do you enjoy writing and why?

I don’t really write genre fiction if by that you mean romance, fantasy, sci-fi etc., although I’ve written two funny satirical mysteries starring one Garnet Sullivan, a snoopy over-wrought reporter for a tiny newspaper in the fictional “Punta Bella, FL,” a town and area much like my childhood home. It’s a little series I started and there will be more titles coming.

The first one, Marlin, Darlin’ was #3 on Goodreads best mysteries list when it came out.

Mainly I write short stories and am working on a novel of which “Twilight’s Indian Princess” is the first “installment.” Originally I planned to publish it serially, first as ebooks, then in hardcover. But I am having second thoughts about that, and may have a larger publisher bring out the hardcover.

My stories have a small but fierce, intelligent and loyal following. They are all humorous and a bit off the wall. Surprising, I guess you might say. Flannery O’Connor is my role model for the short story, her wicked humor, moral sense and her amazing talent and skill with the form.

I’ve learned so much from studying all of the great writers, but I feel a particular affinity with Flannery O’Connor and Mark Twain. Both have been cited by way of comparison by some reviewers of my work. Both are from the American South, my native soil as well, and I too write with a southern sensibility and most frequently with a southern setting in my books.

 

I’m not really what you’d call a humorist, but I’d always rather make the reader laugh than cry! Laughter, I think, is healing, the best medicine, and affords us a means of transcendence over (and an antidote to) the all too common sorrows and anxieties of life.

What was the one idea behind “Twilight’s Indian Princess”?

I never start any piece of fiction with a concept or idea. My inspiration begins with a certain character in whom I’m interested. I want to know who they are, what makes them tick, why they do the things they do. Ideas emerge as I explore the character by writing about him or her. In the case of Sarah Sloan McCorkle of “Twilight’s Indian Princess,” I discovered this was a wonderful woman with a huge heart and huge sense of obligation to help others, not just the people she loved. She was very smart, but made (as we all do inevitably) some poor decisions. She was trying to do too much for everyone else as well. I’ve known people like that, of course. They are always in danger of burning themselves out, neglecting their own needs and goals/aspirations because they are in a sense afflicted by an outsized need to be “perfect.” I think women, particularly wives and mothers today, all have some Sarah in them. Most women I know today are just days or hours away from a meltdown at any given moment. Something about the time we live in spurs them to always do more, do better, to work harder and to give-give-give until they drop or crack.   

Tell the readers a little about Sarah, in the story.

Sarah fascinates me. Now an overworked middle school science teacher and mom, she grew up in a privileged southern aristocrat household with a doting physician father and a severe guilt-tripping mother. Her mother’s parenting really in a way thwarted her, atrophied parts of her, made her always deny her own needs in favor of others’ needs. It wasn’t all bad, though. Her happiest childhood moments were the times she spent with her pony Twinkie and her horse Nancy (when she got older), and of times spent talking to her father in his study. Her father is deceased when the story opens and her mother continues to be a loving but oppressive force in her life, constantly nagging her, berating her. Her mother is particularly annoyed and disappointed in her because she “married down,” chose a county fireman for a husband instead of someone from her own background. Sarah had her reasons, though. She wanted children, time was running out. There wasn’t a line of suitors and lover boys winding around the block in front of her apartment. I think the way they meet is classic Sarah and so funny.Though she and Wesley have little in common, and often drive each other crazy, she loves him unequivocally, devotedly. They have two great young kids and are great parents.

Where are her children? What are they doing?

Lonnie and Toot (actually “Mary Helene,” and named after her harridan mother) are away at summer camp, a typical summer activity-vacation for kids in the south. Camp Finley is a child’s paradise, they are having a blast. But Sarah had hoped for a respite from her mothering duties and stresses while they were away and this was not the case at all as it happened. Each develops crises, makes incredible demands on her, even though a hundred miles away and in a safe happy place, each creates enormous stresses for Sarah during her “time off” and their vacation.Their letters home in their own highly individual unique voices I almost channeled when writing. I could hear them talking, it was all so real to me and so revealing to me of who they were, what they were like, their ages and needs. Their comfort and assurance in their mama’s unswerving love and devotion comes through loud and clear. All very entertaining to me. Poor Sarah, no rest for the weary.

What does she discover when she sets her thoughts free to drift?

Actually, I think this would be a spoiler for the story should I answer the question. I will only say that when Sarah finally does indulge herself for just a few hours, she is so inexpert at doing so, so unaccustomed to it, that she kind of goes over the edge. Not completely, though, for I believe she discovers some very valuable wisdom about life in general and her own life in particular and it changes her. Even though she explodes, melts down and gives Wesley hell, what she learned enables her survival and makes her wiser.

 

Her crazy eureka moment in the bathtub, as wacko as it is, launches the process of moving toward some peace and resolution to her internal conflicts.

But nothing in this life is pure and simple. There are always unintended consequences, repercussions, some fall-out. Sarah scares herself half to death in some of the things she does, for she does some very ill-advised, silly things, but she still comes away wiser and more sure footed having learned what she learned, both about herself and life.

Tell us about some of your other books that you’ve written.

All my latest are on Amazon. I recommend my short stories and also my mysteries. The mysteries are somewhat less “literary,” I guess, than the stories, less serious, though all are at heart funny and leavening. I will issue a caveat for future readers, however, that my work pushes the envelope, pushes boundaries of the ordinary and expected; it is all somewhat outrageous, over the top, shocking and unusual because I write to discover why people are the way they are, how they really think, what really motivates their behavior. I’m interested in the truth, not pat, conventional or generic answers.

I suppose along with the humor and laughter there is also something unsettling about some of my work for some few people, people who read mainly to have their own ideas and opinions coddled and validated, and who don’t read to discover, explore new things, who don’t want to really dig into what’s behind the public persona of the individual lives in question.

 

Where can readers find out more about you and your work?

My literary blog is a good place, maybe the best! It’s http://margaretjeanlangstaff.com/ I’m also a Goodreads Author and have an author page on Amazon.

Thank you very much for your interest, Rosie.  This was a wonderful opportunity for me to talk about my work with the many followers of your blog.

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Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com.

Thank you Margaret and Good Luck with your writing.

 

Twilight’s Indian Princess by Margaret Langstaff

Twilight's Indian Princess: Book 1Twilight’s Indian Princess: Book 1 by Margaret Jean Langstaff

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sarah McCorckle is a middle grade school teacher currently on summer vacation. After a busy school year the children, Lonnie and Toot are away at camp, and husband Wesley is at work. Sarah plans to do absolutely nothing. Usually she gives herself to others and enjoying life has never occurred to her.

She drifts into reflection about her past life, how she has lived it and begins to question life and all that she has learnt. She searches for a happier time in her life and returns to a time when she had a horse called Twilight’s Indian Princess or Twinkle for short.

An odd little short story it does make you wonder how differently we are all wired.

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

View all my reviews on Goodreads.

Margaret will be our guest author here on the blog on Friday, do come back and find out more about here and her books.

Rosie’s Book Review Team #RBRT – Susan reviews Twilight’s Indian Princess by Margaret Langstaff

Today I bring you Book Review Team Susan’s review, she blogs at www.susanmariemolloy.com.

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Susan chose to read and review Twilight’s Indian Princess by Margaret Langstaff

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Here is her review

BOOK REVIEW:  “TWILIGHT’S INDIAN PRINCESS: BOOK I”   By Margaret Jean Langstaff

 

Ever have “that kind of day” where nothing goes as intended?  Ever have one of “those” days that actually spread across years—maybe across a lifetime?  Ever realize everyone around you is perpetually demanding, needing, pulling, provoking, and commanding even more from you while your see your life go unendingly neglected and suitably unfulfilled?  Ever feel like dumping all it back on their heads like a hot mess and taking your life back for yourself?

 

Margaret Jean Langstaff brings this all together in “Twilight’s Indian Princes” through her protagonist, Sarah Sloan McCorkle, and frames the scenes into delightful, and at times, hilarious vignettes.  This is a novelette short enough (40 pages) to read on the train to the office or during the lunch hour.

 

The story is framed around Sarah Sloan McCorkle and how her family treats her:  from her nagging mother; to her sweet, yet ever-wanting, children; to her husband who, despite supposedly being below her station in life, she loves and appreciates and married anyway.

 

We see Sarah look at herself one day, and feeling “mired in her dark wintery responsibilities of daily life,” she looks to begin “to focus on focusing.”  And so, one day, she focuses on the blank squares on the kitchen wall calendar.  She sees them as representing unscheduled family activities, yet she sees them—perhaps subconsciously—akin to the empty spaces in her life, where others convinced her to follow a safe, traditional path rather than the “risky, dangerous” avant-garde profession of which she dreamed and was gifted to do.  She wanted to fill those spaces, and if she couldn’t fill them post haste with her own dreams, she at least wanted to fill them with time for herself, even if it happened to be “up to her neck in fragrant froth” in the bathtub. Indeed, she “was beginning to enjoy her time off from Time.”

 

Yet, as the Scottish poet Robert Burns once wrote, “The best laid schemes of mice and men oft go awry,” and that is how Sarah’s day continued.  We watch as she deals with an incident that finally snaps her, and thereafter, we follow her to more serene and introspective moments.

 

Margaret Jean Langstaff has a writing style that keeps the reader’s attention, and the reader must reciprocate by paying close attention.  There are well-written long sentences, like streams of consciousness.  Humor pervades throughout the pages. I laughed at a scene where “a hush puppy whizzed across the table and hit [Sarah] on the nose.”  The author made the scene even more powerful when “Sarah set aside her fork, dabbed her lips, folder her napkin, lay it down next to her plate and stood up.”  We know by now something is afoot, something quite unexpected.

 

The author gives several characters perfect southern accents with questionable grammatical structures that you can fairly hear amplifying from the pages yet not think twice about.  It’s natural.  The letters that Sarah’s children write to her are convincingly children’s voices.  To Sarah, Wesley, her husband, is a “cave man” and “gorilla,” yet he is likeable with an unforgettable regional voice, peppered with out-of-date words, particularly one.

 

Margaret Jean Langstaff writes lovely descriptive scenes, most particularly:

 

“Her mind went all loose and bubbly and took off on its own, unmoored and rudderless, and sailing here, there, everywhere, like a drunken butterfly floating through the warm moist air, darting off, alighting, tasting, returning, then fluttering off to something else.”

 

Sarah saw her life the same way:  rudderless, darting off, fluttering off to something else, and she was looking for what she wanted, not what everyone else wanted.  She wanted to be free, unrestricted as a horse running in the open plains.

 

“Twilight’s Indian Princess” is quirky, yet fun, and stimulates familiarity and reflection.  Initially, I wasn’t sure of where the story was headed, but as I kept reading, I found some ways to identify with Sarah and the people around her.

 

I recommend “Twilight’s Indian Princess” for a fun, quick read.  Indeed, you may find things in common with some, or all, of the characters.

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

 

Rosie’s Book Review Team – A review from Dani

Here is a book review from team member Dani. She blogs at http://onlybooksandhorses.wordpress.com

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Dani chose to read “Twilight’s Indian Princess” by Margaret Langstaff. It’s a quick read at just 41 pages long.

Twilight's Indian Princess

Here is Dani’s review.

Okay, what just happened?

This is forty pages of pure psychological weirdness. Not plot-oriented, no real character back-story, and no real relational development (unless you count the potato scene, which I’m not sure I do.)

And yet…Ms Langstaff pulls all of these things together with an absolutely gorgeous writing style that is rich and full, and that you can really get your teeth into. Whatever crazy things happen in the narrator’s brain become completely rational to read about simply because this woman writes with such confidence and flair. And in the end, the things we would expect from an instalment of a novel like this aren’t even necessary, because – and I’ll say this again – Margaret is a great writer.

Her protagonist, Sarah, is believable, easy to relate to and subtly funny. Sarah’s children came across beautifully in their letters, and it was really special to watch this author switch easily into different voices.

This book was, overall, a really fun read; short but juicy, and effortlessly humorous. It was enjoyable, and I would definitely recommend it.

That’s a four star rating for Margaret and ‘Twilight’s Indian Princess’, mostly because of my deep respect for her being able to pull something like this off.

See the post on Dani’s blog; http://onlybooksandhorses.wordpress.com/2014/07/10/review-twilights-indian-princess-margaret-jean-langstaff/ 

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com