Shadows On The Grass

In November I was pleased to asked by Misha M. Herwin to be part of her blog tour following the launch of her third novel, Shadows On The Grass. For those of you unfamiliar with Misha’s work, she’s a prolific writer who writes both young adult literature and mainstream novels. She’s better known for her YA trilogy, Dragonfire and the popular Clear Gold series. Her mainstream work has included the time-slip novel House of Shadows and the keenly observant Picking Up The Pieces and this month saw the release of her third novel, Shadows On The Grass..shadows-on-the-grass

My first observation of this new novel is that it’d be foolish to assume this is solely women’s literature, it’s most definitely not. Yes, the action is centred around several women but that’s where the similarity with other women’s fiction ends. Set in 1960’s Bristol the story segues easily from 1965 to past events in time building the characters piece by piece, while also drawing on historical events.

The narrative belongs to three generations of women struggling to come to terms with their desires, their identity and their Polish heritage. Mimi and Marianna grow up in turmoil, exiled by the Russians and desperate to retain their identities they end up in Bristol. Mimi is a character that’s difficult to warm to, she’s cold and demanding and throughout her life she shows herself to be a selfish mother. Her old friend and cousin, the Royal Marianna seems to be her saving grace but scratch the surface and there’s a darker side to the princess.

For me the star of the novel is Hannah, Mimi’s downtrodden daughter, all she’s ever wanted is acceptance from her mother and now Mimi is dying she spends her days tending to the ungrateful woman out of her sense of duty. Her husband doesn’t help things with his constant need to smother her and protect her, in his defence he’s so ineffectual that he really cannot comprehend that his cloying love is holding his wife in emotional chains.

Hannah’s daughter, Kate, is a rebellious teenager, trying unsuccessfully to throw off the , shackles of family life and her Polish heritage. Her young life is centred around her desire to become a woman. She’s flagrantly sexual in her demeanour but initially afraid to cast off the restraints of her Catholic upbringing. At times she’s as caustic as the bitter lemon she drinks and unforgiving in her attitude to her mother. Possibly this is a trait she’s inherited from Hannah as she in turn inherited it from Kate’s grandmother, Mimi.

Historically there’s passages in the text that stop you in your tracks and propel you towards Google, in a bid to research further the repression of the Polish people in Russia. Thus giving you a better understanding of Mimi’s internal rage and Mariana’s misplaced humility: she’s an enigma and although fictional I’d love to read her memoir.


My favourite thing about reading anything written by Misha Herwin is her attention to detail and the ability to create sublime sentences. You’d be forgiven for thinking that she pondered over every line crafting and redeveloping it to make it perfect, but I doubt she’s that pretentious; she naturally has the knack of writing a line that makes the reader stop and read it again before continuing with the story. Lines like, ‘Exhaustion fed on her, like some malevolent spirit; it sucked the words from her mouth, the thoughts from her brain.’ and ‘Her fingers were laden with rings, huge stones set in gold, rubies like gouts of blood, sapphires dark as despair.’ make Herwin’s work a joy to digest. And my favourite , ‘she struggled to avoid using the surname that rattled like pebbles in a tin.’ perfectly sums up the inability of an English tongue to pronounce a Polish name.

If you’re looking for a good read, maybe this summer’s beach holiday book, check out Shadows On The Grass available from Amazon now.

For more information on Misha and her work, follow her blog here

Visit Tim Diggles’ blog here for more of his photography projects.

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Watermelon juice

Just right for a hot day in Italy. Tastes delicious and so quick to make.

Cooking Without Limits

watermelon juice

Watermelons have become synonymous with summer and picnics, and for good reason. Their refreshing quality and sweet taste help to combat the heat and also provide a guilt-free, low maintenance dessert for kids and adults alike to enjoy.

Watermelon juice couldn’t be easier to extract. You don’t need a fancy juicer, just a blender. Scoop the watermelon into the blender, blend for about thirty seconds, and you have made watermelon juice.

Watermelon juice is good for you. It’s high in vitamin A, vitamin C and potassium. It’s about 92% water, so it’s plenty hydrating, too.  To make it even healthier I add lemon juice and pineapple.


  • 2 cups diced seedless watermelon
  • 2 cups water
  • juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 1 cup diced pineapple


Add everything in a blender and blend it till it is smooth. Keep it in he fridge. Before serve it, mix it very well. Enjoy!

watermelon juice

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My New Card

thought provoking

Misha Herwin

Business Card2

What a difference such a seemingly small thing makes. I had been ploughing through that mire of despond, which is familiar territory for many writers, namely I felt a total failure, thought my work was rubbish and I might as well give up and devote myself to my garden.

I had, however, resolved to have some new cards done; my old ones were way out of date and there had been one or two occasions when it would have been good to have a card to give out.

The design had taken me a very long time. Years, in fact, and in this case I’m not exaggerating. I wanted a card which represented me and what I did, but I couldn’t find the right image. A couple of weeks ago it occurred to me that if I am a writer then a picture of books would work, and if I…

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Staying Chilled

Misha Herwin

Anuk's Cat 3

Professional or amateur? How would you class yourself as a writer? If writing is your main source of income then obviously you are a professional, but for those of us who have to supplement our fees and royalties with a day, or night, job the way we go about our writing defines us.

Or so I read recently.

Professional writers apparently don’t check social media first thing in the morning. They go straight to the file and down to work. Nor do they allow themselves any surreptitious peeks during the day. No glancing through emails or scrolling down Facebook. For them writing fills the time and if they are not writing then they are busy promoting their writing, or researching their next novel, or mapping out another short story.

Amateurs however do all the above. They also spend time justifying why they are not writing, or cannot write that day.

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All blown up

how we laughed

Abruzzo dreaming

Another lovely Spring day and Mr B kindly took me shopping for whitegoods. Thought we were all sorted in one shop – after some prevarication I picked out the right fridge and washer for me and thought “Yaye” at the 50% discount the store had advertised everywhere, only to get to the till and discover that the (very) small print meant my chosen whitegoods would have ended costing way more than I’d budgeted for. Caveat emptor, of course, but as neither of us had clocked the conditions, I said no thanks…getting very flustered and embarrassed in the process, and speaking a kind of awful English with an Italian accent.

A soothing lunch was required, and I was soon revived by pasta with rape (a gorgeous green, a cross between spinach and broccoli), followed by stuffed peppers and cabbage, and then coffee that came close to stopping my heartbeat, with a…

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When the Words won’t Come

What do you do when the words won’t come?

I’m several chapters from completing my novel and due to the lack of words appearing on the screen it’s become a chore.

As a writer of non-fiction for the magazine market I’m a planner, so the chapters; all 52 of them were planned at the start, in-fact I’m so good at planning that several chapters that follow the one I need to write have already been written in advance.

At first I tried to convince myself that due to my personal situation I couldn’t get into the zone: You see it’s currently July and the temperature is in the 30’s and I’m in Italy. However my chapter takes place in early January in Stoke on Trent. But then I remind myself that I wrote about costume wearing ponies in Walsall at Christmas time during a summer in Stoke, so I can’t blame this on location or season.

I think it’s partly planning and anticipation that is to blame.

The chapter I am have to write is entitled, the Pregnant Bedlington Terrier and I have been so looking forward to writing this one, I have scribbled lots of funny lines inside my novel planner, I’ve invented the protagonist for the chapter, right down to his trainers and even have mental images of the scene I want to portray.

Maybe I’ve over-planned and now the story is stale and won’t flow. Maybe I’ve spent too long getting to this quirky piece that the fun has been drained from it. Maybe I just need to put it aside and plough on with other chapters that need to be written. Maybe I should just ditch it and come up with another chapter idea.

The problem Is I cannot decide, because not only are the words not coming, the idea of a replacement won’t come either.

So, it’s time away from the story and a trip to the beach.

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February 2015

Here are my February published features.

I’ll be taking a break for a couple of months from my Italy magazine writing as I need to concentrate on my novel and a non-fiction book that’s coming towards the end of the planning stage.

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