I was lucky enough to be given a review copy of Misha Herwin’s new book ‘Shadows on the Grass’, this is my review and below that a link to You Tube of an interview/discussion I had with Misha last week, the day before publication when I made a portrait of her which will be my next blogpost.
Shadows on the Grass
Misha M Herwin
If you like family sagas then Misha Herwin’s book is for you, but it is much more than the usual run of the mill story. This is an elegantly and eloquently written novel which explores the relationship between mothers and daughters over more than three generations.
Mimi is Polish and her life spans the period from when Poland is a region of Russia through its independence to the Communist era. Her family is poor but her cousins’ rich and she is taken up by Marianna (The Princess) who through quite dramatic events feels behoved to her, and so the drama of their lives begins amongst the end of an Empire in Russia to the end of Empire days in Britain in the culturally changing early 1960’s Bristol. Mimi and her family have been on a vast journey removed from their homeland by the Soviets which her daughter Hannah has shared and experienced with her, losing everything but their relationship. Mimi is awkward, cannot forgive Hannah for not being her other daughter and causes problems in Hannah’s marriage.
So the scene is set for Hannah’s daughter Kate to want to break away from her Polish roots, she is British and the new ‘freedoms’ of the 1960’s are what she wants. When Mimi becomes ill Hannah feels duty bound to be the dedicated daughter and the sickroom with its exasperating patient takes over their house and lives. The Princess is a fascinating character full of the freedom which a privileged background can bring. One of my favourite scenes was where The Princess holds one of her usual afternoon gatherings for the aging Polish community, many have lost everything and are trying to retain their roots with food, chatter and old differences’, many have lost everything and long for an impossible future when they will be reunited with their old lives. They are in a place they don’t want to be but there is nowhere else to go, like Mimi this is the end of their long road.
I enjoyed the book and wish it had been longer, I think there is definitely room for a prequel and sequel and would urge you to read it whether in the Kindle format which is available now or when it comes out in print format later.