I first came across Fiona Robyn a couple of years ago when I read about the ‘A River of Stones’ project that she’d started. I’ve taken part in the January river twice now, and all my ‘stones’, which are very short observational pieces of writing, have been posted here. Fiona also hosts the Writing Our Way Home writers’ website http://www.writingourwayhome.com/ along with her husband.
I read Fiona’s book in a week. This is express reading for me as I usually read last thing at night, in bed, before sleep overwhelms. The’ Most Beautiful Thing’ had me reading way past normal lights-out time and yes, I did fall asleep with Kindle in hand a couple of times. But that’s no reflection on how enthralled I was by this book.
I enjoyed it very much. Fiona Robyn’s writing is incredible. It’s (deceptively) simple storytelling that pulls you right into the main character’s world. Indeed you feel you’re inside Joe’s head.
In the first part of the story, we meet Joe when he’s fourteen. He’s a somewhat troubled teenager – I found myself reminded of Christopher, the autistic teenager and narrator, in Mark Haddon’s ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time’ – who is sent to spend the summer with his Aunt Nel in Amsterdam. He misses his mother very much and worries about why he’s been sent away. He knows all is not well with her, but his father is evasive about what exactly is wrong. However, his mind is taken off his anxieties as he’s drawn into his aunt’s eccentric, artistic life and he forms a strong and loving bond with her and he grows up – a little.
The second part of the book takes place fifteen years later when Joe returns to stay with Nel. He is older but not much wiser. He still finds life baffling and difficult.
While Joe is back in Amsterdam a tragic event brings him to a crisis point and then a breakdown. But afterwards he finds a sort of redemption. Whilst Joe discovers a most beautiful thing about himself, the reader is left with another most beautiful thing – and that is hope.
I’m in awe of the Fiona’s descriptive powers – the description of Joe’s sixteen day withdrawal from life, the world and reality – and then his return – is particularly vivid and highly sensual.
The book itself is a most beautiful thing – original, beguiling and moving – and is an HD, 3-D experience.
The book is available on Amazon at £3.99 for the Kindle version and £7.99 for the paperback edition – see links below: