Salmacis: Becoming Not Quite a Woman by Elizabeth Train-Brown

Salmacis: Becoming Not Quite a Woman by Elizabeth Train-Brown


As recounted by the Roman poet Ovid, a young nymph, Salmacis, one day spied Hermaphroditus bathing; consumed with passion, she entered the water and, begging the gods to allow them to stay together, the two became one – part man, part woman. An Eclectic Pagan, for Elizabeth Ovid’s fables are more than fiction, and form a framework for exploring identity. Drawing on the rich mythological history associated with the tale of Salmacis and Hermaphroditus, and re-examining the tale through the lens of metaphor, Salmacis: Becoming Not Quite a Woman is a stirringly relatable and powerful exploration of gender, love and identity. this is my lake salmacis, and i am the wild nymph with a hollow in her belly and nothing between her legs

My Review:

My love of poetry goes back to when I was very young, and I would in the library surrounded by poetry books. Where I got this from remains a mystery. From the classics to something more modern and just recently arrived is Salmacis: Becoming Not Quite a Woman (Renard Press). The debut poetry collection by Elizabeth Train-Brown. A dazzling new writer of poetry and this is her debut collection. The first thing that strikes you is the origami Swan on the cover, then you realise there are no capitals used on the cover. Step inside and this is exactly how it is through this small but outstanding collection.

It is pretty evident that Elizabeth Train-Brown has just let her imagination and pen run with words as she explores all things gender but your own identity. She holds nothing back in her poetry it is tantalising and unique. I just really enjoyed the way she plays with her words exploring her very being.

Ask me to choose one of the poems and I would have to say it would be ‘we all watch the same gods’ on page 45. I will let you read the poem for yourself and take in the words.

What I enjoy about poetry is that it can make you think about what you have read after you have finished reading and discuss the meanings of what the poetry is trying to tell us. Here in Salmacis, Elizabeth Train-Brown is doing just that, she wants us to think about just who we are. I am already looking forward to what comes next.

64 Pages.

My thanks to Renard Press  for the review Copy of Salmacis: Becoming Not Quite a Woman by Elizabeth Train-Brown Published on 31 August 2022 and is now available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop or through that supports your local independent bookshop. UK

#Book Review Still Lives by Reshma Ruia

#BookReview Still Lives by Reshma Ruia


‘The glow of my cigarette picks out a dark shape lying on the ground. I bend down to take a closer look. It’s a dead sparrow. I wondered if I had become that bird, disoriented and lost.’ Young, handsome and contemptuous of his father’s traditional ways, PK Malik leaves Bombay to start a new life in America. Stopping in Manchester to visit an old friend, he thinks he sees a business opportunity, and decides to stay on. Now fifty-five, PK has fallen out of love with life. His business is struggling and his wife Geeta is lonely, pining for the India she’s left behind. One day PK crosses the path of Esther, the wife of his business competitor, and they launch into an affair conducted in shabby hotel rooms, with the fear of discovery forever hanging in the air. Still Lives is a tightly woven, haunting work that pulls apart the threads of a family and plays with notions of identity. Shortlisted for the SI Leeds Literary Prize

My Review:

A real story about family that I have to say I really enjoyed, there is something about the way Still Lives (Renard Press) by Reshma Ruia just lingers with you after you have read the last page. Very much character driven and wonderfully constructed and written.

The story of a family all just a bit flawed in their own way and it is PK Malik who really will grab the headlines from Sill Lives, when he leaves behind India his home and his plans of making a new life for himself in America via Manchester. But after visiting a friend this visit becomes much more than just that.

The years roll on by and PK is in his mid-50’s and married to Geeta who really wants nothing more than to see her home back in India. She is homesick. This is when PK is struggling with a lot in life, and worried about his business. Maybe he should have headed to America after all? Now he embarks on an affair who just happens to be the wife of his competitor, affairs are conducted in secret and in hotel rooms and this is what is happening to PK. There is so much to lose when you go down this road and there it is family life all wrapped up in a haunting and a story of betrayal but also love. You will enjoy some of the characters and yet there will be some you will not like. It will linger with the reader.

Still Lives by Reshma Ruia, shortlisted for the SI Leeds Literary Prize.

320 Pages.

My thanks to Renard Press for the review Copy of Still Lives by Reshma Ruia.     Published by Renard Press on 29 June 2022 and is now available to pre-order through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop or through that supports your local independent bookshop. UK


Women and Love by Miriam Burke

Women and Love by Miriam Burke


Women and Love is a thought-provoking collection of seventeen tightly woven tales about the power of love, all its trials and complications, and the shattered lives it can leave in its wake. The stories explore a huge variety of sorts of love surrounding women in wildly differing settings, and features an unforgettable cast including GPs, burglars, inmates, emigrant cleaners, carers, young professionals, and many more.

Navigating heavy themes, with a particular focus on LGBTQ+ experiences, including gender dysphoria and searching for a sperm donor, the stories leave the reader burning with indignation, full of empathy and wonder. ‘I couldn’t sleep that night; our conversation was like a trapped bird flying around inside my head. The next morning, I texted to say I wouldn’t be coming back. I lied about having to return to my country to nurse a sick relative. I couldn’t bear to see my story mirrored in his eyes, and to see what we never had. I knew he’d understand.’

My Review:

Now I have to admit that I am a bit of a lover when it comes to short stories, and I am grateful to Renard Press for a copy of Women and Love the debut collection of short stories by Miriam Burke. Seventeen stories about love and the power of love.

The beauty of short stories is that there are so many narratives and characters, and each story is so tightly written. This is love in all its forms with LGBTQ+ being a particular focus. In the stories you get to meet Doctors, prison inmates, burglars, carers and many more. I was really taken by how Miriam Burke went about creating such a remarkable cast of characters. There is something for everyone in this collection.

These are everyday scenarios that the stories tell, and you feel that you want to know more about each of them. Sometimes love can lead to good things, sometimes bad, and sometimes you can just not read a moment very well. They are all here. It is a thought-provoking collection and there are key moments in each story that you can take away and think about.

Miriam Burke is a writer from the West of Ireland and her short story collections have appeared in anthologies and many journals. Miriam has a PhD in Psychology and before becoming a writer she worked for many years as a Clinical Psychologist in London hospitals and GP surgeries. Women and Love is her debut collection.

224 Pages.

My thanks to Renard Press for the review Copy of Women and Love by Miriam Burke Published on 23rd February 2022 and is now available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop or through that supports your local independent bookshop. UK

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