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Portraits and Landscapes Paperback – December 10, 2014
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About the Author
Felicity Harley is a published journalist, writer and a poet. Born to an English father and a Caribbean mother she was educated in Europe. Felicity has been active in political and social affairs throughout her life, and most recently served as the Executive Director of the World Affairs Council of Connecticut (WACCT) until June 2013, when she left to resume her writing career. Felicity Harley has most recently been published in an anthology called Gathered Light – On the Poetry of Joni Mitchell. In addition she was accepted by Hartbeat Ensemble as a commissioned writer of the play “Transplant”. In celebration of the 65th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and on behalf of Poets for Human Rights, Felicity was recently the winner of the 2013 Anita McAndrews Award. Felicity is currently working on a science fiction trilogy and has secured an agent who will represent her work.
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I found the first four stories in the collection quite different than the second half. The mysterious muted sense of hurt and inequity is beautifully rendered, the simplicity in the telling deceptive for each piece is deeply told. The characters seem to drift on currents they can't resist, searching and restless and helpless in the grip of love. The language I found to be sensuous and luscious, the stories' movement flowing easily and naturally. The descriptiveness combined with an interesting imprecision was fascinating, as were the scents, tastes, sounds and impressions introduced. I totally loved each and every one of them. Of them, I think I most enjoyed Love and Persia, The Art Dealer, and The Death of a Coat. Some really great knock you dead lines -
...some people kill you, it's not their fault, and it's not yours, but they kill you - and sometimes you kill them.
a slow awakening to the old Persia she had read about, and it brought satiety to her hunger...
The second half They/Them/Us introduced another mood - more conscious and underpinned by moral concerns. I liked all of them once again. Some read like cautionary tales, narrated with a sense of imparting a message - none hit you over the head with the moral, intriguing journeys into other places and other lives, creating empathy for even the unsympathetic. Pon de Wall, Ben, The Wine of Life and In the Pursuit of Happiness stood out, Your Daughter Tasted Like Fish both beautiful in its love, and devastating in its conclusion. Some like The Survivalists, Divers and Floaters and First Ladies, full of interesting insights, make statements but are so interesting and unforced that they work. "She couldn't help being a diver; it was what made her happy," struck a responsive chord in me, as "the race they began together as equals, still greatly favored him," also did.
A marvelous debut collection by this writer of ability and promise.