- File Size: 1202 KB
- Print Length: 273 pages
- Publisher: Ocelot Press; 2 edition (May 13, 2011)
- Publication Date: May 13, 2011
- Sold by: Amazon.com Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B0050YCN06
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,046,238 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
The Calgary Chessman: Discovery is Only the Beginning (The Calgary Chessman Trilogy Book 1) Kindle Edition
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The truth remains. Even castaway, we are not separate. What we do ripples out to others, whether in quantum entanglement or the tug of family across generations. Across centuries, even. What you throw to tides may ripple in result a thousand years later. Or not, says the cynic. Fine, let us have a synthesis. No one an island; but all are castaways on strange isles.
"The Calgary Chessman" is the expertly-depicted voice of Cas Longmore, telling us of her marooning. Cas is a creature from south-hemisphere paradise, leaving lonely footprints in the cold grey sand of an isle of the inner Hebrides. Think cold, think rainy, think isolated. Not that Cas is abandoned; just detached. As is the island. Reachable, at times. Cassandra has both friends and family. Granted, family are on the other side of the globe. Her dead-souled husband is a voice on the phone, a voice in her head. Her temperamental adolescent son is off boarding-school, visiting for vacation. Cass is a modern island. Not deserted; just isolated.
"The Calgary Chessman" begins with a tense and mysterious episode we do not understand. Something dark and dangerous occurs. We shall find out more, by and by. In the meantime the novel gives the daily life of a person who fascinates even without dark mystery. A science nerd, a teen-mother whose kid is now a teen, the kind of person who would move to a lonely house in the Hebrides, then jog miles to chat with an old man at a fence. Worried about money, worried more about becoming fatally separated from her mercurial son. Who has his own reason for isolation.
We wonder what dark things cast a deep, intelligent woman with a need for love, onto such a lonely shore? We shall see. A lonely walk on that shore, and we find an ivory token: a grumpy-faced chess-queen in her throne. Tossed to waves centuries past. A reminder to Cas and reader: we may be islands, but we aren't alone. What we do, what we think, whether and how we love, spreads outwards to all the other castaways.
Cas is unsure if she even can still love. Though two male sails show on the horizon: the annoying-but-handsome archeologist Niall, and pathologically taciturn-but-nice Ewan. Drew, the dark shadow of her ex, says: never. You're doomed to be alone. When she listens, the little chess-queen turns her throne around in annoyance. Her view: ‘Tell Drew to stuff himself. Take a chance. Make a play. And don’t forget your friend Bernie. Hey, there a lot of islands in this archipelago.’
'Calgary Chessman' is the inner dialogue of a marooned self, regaining the courage to connect. A special person, wonderfully and masterfully created by Ms. Marjot. But all that sounds too deep. So let's write the essentials in sea-shells on the beach, so that passing planes can get the message:
Hey reader! Calgary Chessman is a well written character-study romance-adventure of a woman regaining her ability to connect. Deciding to believe she need not be alone. Also finding treasure and sex and coming to terms with being who she wants to be. Bet that beats your little island!
A wonderful read; and only the first of three.
Cas Longmore is trying to reboot her life. She has left her dysfunctional marriage to wealthy, controlling Drew and moved permanently to the Isle of Mull (a place I now want to visit) where she has made a few friends and is eking out a living as a proofreader but is still not content with the direction of her life. She sees her beloved teenage son Sam only on school holidays and looks forward to his summer visit, but dreads that it will repeat the hostility of a previous one. Finding the artifact of the title leads to a cascade of events and unexpected excitement, including a new connection with handsome archaeologist Niall, a steamy encounter with friend and neighbor Ewan, and a revelation from Sam that clears up past questions but creates new anxiety.
The first-person narrative means the reader is in Cas's head, which works well most of the time but is sometimes tiresome as she overthinks things and blames herself, or carefully lays out her entire thought process, as if she will never have to consider the topic again. This is realistic to how a lot of people actually do think, but as a reader I would have been content with less. Some of the dialogue came across as worked-out Author's Message speeches; the message was good, but didn't always read like something a person would actually say over tea. Niall's exposition about his specialty is also more worked-out than you'd typically get but seems in character for him. These small matters did not overly detract from the story of an interesting ordinary person learning to trust her own intelligence and instincts, perhaps for the first time.
Top international reviews
The setting on the Isle of Mull should have been beautifully atmospheric, as Mull certainly is, instead it read more like details from a travel guide, likewise all the historical details about Vikings and the Lewis Chessmen, etc. A writer shouldn't 'tell' us all these details, but let the characters 'show' us.
Sorry for so much negativity, but this just didn't work.
Five stars although it's not my usual genre because the book caught my interest quickly and held me to the end - even to the point of reading at the table. I'm looking forward to reading more books from this new author.
As a devotee of Time Team I'm always interested to read a novel which features archaeology, and in these books I wasn't disappointed. Although I've never visited the islands in question, Mull and Lismore I have holidayed in Skye and Lewis. In any case they all have comprehensive entries in Wikipedia so you quickly get to know the 'lie of the land'
which is relevant when following the walks and car journeys made by the various characters in the story because some of these are fictional.
The chief protagonist Cas Longmore is a charming lady (in her 30's) who has suffered an abusive marriage for the sake of her only son but who is now divorced (her son Sam is now well into his teens). Unfortunately Sam's birth left her
infertile. Her personal circumstances are difficult: as a result of the divorce settlement she has a house of sorts to live in but which is sorely in need of repair. Sam is at boarding school paid for by his wealthy father. She has a science degree from the Open University which enables her to earn some money proof reading text books (and novels) for a friendly
publisher. She is too proud to apply for benefits, but fortunately she has made some supportive friends on the Island.
Every person has an interesting story, and Cas is no exception. Her life unfolds as she allows herself to remember the bad parts, which held her captive. And her discovery of an ancient artifact allows the past to connect with her present.
Relations with her "moody, misunderstood adolescent" son Sam improve, and she feels a reawakening of emotion as her lonely world is peopled by eager archaeologists, one in particular, Niall.
"I toyed with a vague sense of arousal, waking my body and tweaking a frisson of lust..."
Down to earth writing. I relate fully to the description of battling a cold by spending a day in bed, mollycoddling and day-dreaming. Then biting into a secret stash of chocolate.
"I knew I was starting to recover when I began to be able to taste the stuff."
Cas soaks in the bath while dreaming of her favourite beach, Huna cove. "Under the brazen heat of the sun, the distant susurration of the sea was an irresistible lullaby."
Her's is a down-to-earth story, told with sensitivity and insight. I have read it in one sitting, and wholeheartedly recommend it.