Categories
After Paris Historical Fiction Torn Asunder

Ripples On The Water

One of my favourite books is Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway. In a nutshell, set in London after World War 1, the main character, Clarissa Dalloway sees her job as creating connections between people and to that end the story focuses on a party she is throwing. During her preparations for the party, Mrs. Dalloway’s mind continually travels back and forth across time and in this way the reader is in both the past and the present, raising the concept of endless possibilities that could/might happen through these human connections.

When I wrote my second Historical Fiction, After Paris, I was inspired by an old photo album of my grandmother’s. She (Mary Thomson) was a Dutch nurse who went to Paris to work in WW1.

Text Box: Figure 1 Mary Thomson_Max Meijer

Although the Netherlands was neutral during WW1, Dutch benevolent societies funded medical teams to support the Allies. Mirroring my grandmother’s experience, my main character goes to work in a hospital fully funded and staffed by the Dutch ‘Ambulance’ situated in a fine dining restaurant (still there today) called Le Pré Catelan in the Bois de Boulogne (Paris), which, for the duration of the war was transformed into a hospital.

The story continues after the war as my character struggles to fit back in to society, and with the loss of her career and confidence she makes a series of poor choices on her journey to reinvention and self-awareness.

The reason I am so bold as to mention both Mrs. Dalloway and After Paris in the same piece is because a reader of my book reached out to me to tell me that her grandmother had also been a Dutch nurse in Le Pré Catelan. Through a series of email notes and a scour through my photo album, I discovered a photo of her (Laurie’s) grandmother. There, in my grandmother’s writing was the name of her friend, Catherina Theadora Warnsinck (nicknamed ‘To’).

How magical is it that more than one hundred years after the end of WW1 a woman in California (Laurie) forges a connection with a woman living in rural Ontario Canada (me!) because two Dutch nurses were friends..and because of a book?

Being an author is a constant delight to me. It’s a thrill to tell stories that people read and enjoy. It’s an honour to follow in the footsteps of Virginia Woolf and all the other great writers as I try to reach out and make connections in a world that is increasingly alienated.

The influence that each of us writers (authors, bloggers, reviewers, marketers, poets and journalists) have is often little understood. My new book Torn Asunder looks at this question of influence. Here’s a short summary of what the book is about:

He is an inspiring journalist, but Emmet Ryan has no idea that his words have the power to destroy those he loves the most. Opening in 1916, this is a story about a conflicted man set during one of Ireland’s most turbulent eras.

Torn Asunder is now available in all the usual places – amazon, smashwords, and kobo.

Like the expanding waves that ripple out from a stone falling into still water, our words reach out and touch people in surprising ways.

I’d love to hear from you!  You can reach me at renny@rennydegroot.com

Categories
Events

Forest Therapy

‘Forest Bathing’ has been a recognized form of relaxation for decades now in Japan. Luckily in Canada we are very rarely far from an opportunity to partake in this simple form of therapy which reduces blood pressure and increases a sense of overall well-being. Northumberland County (north of Port Hope and Cobourg) offers numerous trails to go walking, and unlike in some countries, you’ll often find your little party alone to easily enjoy the sights of the spectacular colours, the sounds of the birds and the wind in the trees, and the smells of autumn. A perfect way to spend some time on a Saturday afternoon. Take a look at the Wikipedia article on Forest Bathing if you don’t believe me!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forest_bathing

While you are in the area, drop by to see me on Saturday October 14th at the Roseneath Women’s Institute Annual Bazaar at the Alnwick Civic Centre 9059 County Rd 45 Roseneath, Ontario. Start your Christmas shopping early – I’ll be there to sign books from 10 am to 2 pm.

 

Categories
Family Business Historical Fiction

Never Give Up

Cutting Wood

This week we celebrate the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Netherlands. It’s a double celebration for me as a first generation Dutch-Canadian. First of all I celebrate my roots which has given me the tenacious and determined attitude which exemplify the Dutch people. I celebrate, what some people may call stubbornness, because I know that with a ‘never give up’ attitude, I will achieve my dreams. Secondly I celebrate the Canadian generousness of spirit. Remembering the courageous men and women who left their homes to liberate the Netherlands makes me stand a little taller; makes me choke with emotion; makes me glad to know that my parents were inspired to come and make Canada their new home. Yes. I celebrate.

If a photo ever described that Dutch situation and attitude from 70 years ago, it is this one of my mother taken in April 1945. Where this big chunk of wood came from is a mystery, but cutting it down to size would mean the difference between cooking or not so Mom was determined to ‘never give up.’

In my book Family Business, the Meyer family go through some of these challenges. If you haven’t read the book yet, it is available for purchase through amazon.com (http://www.amazon.com/Family-Business-Renny-deGroot/dp/1494233231/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1406821822&sr=8-1 )

If you have read it, I’d appreciate your support with a review. I’ve submitted the book for the Kobo Emerging Writer Award and part of the judging criteria is ‘reader engagement’. You’ll need to sign up for a kobo account (no cost – just take a second to create a username and password). Here’s the link: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-CA/ebook/family-business-10

Thank you!