Review: Kate Rigby, A Far Cry from the Turquoise Room, 97 Pages, Smashwords.
Elmore Leonard’s first rule of writing was, “Leave out the parts people skip.” In her novella, A Far Cry from the Turquoise Room, a tour de force of literary economy and lyricism, Kate Rigby captures the poignant story of a young girl’s coming of age. Leila, daughter of a proud Iranian tycoon who can have, and gets, everything he wants, lives with her family in a gated estate in a gated estate in Hayward’s Heath (Sussex),with lush, landscaped grounds, rich furnishings and many servants.
“I have two of everything,” boasts her father Hassan about his multiple makes of luxury automobiles, mansions and even his two daughters. A self-absorbed egotist in constant motion with international deal-making, he is fond of saying, “I was, I am, and I will be.” He nonetheless reveres his family and worships his elder daughter Fayruz, “my princess.” At the opening of the story, Hassan gives her a miniature birthday garden he has had created over many months on their expansive grounds for her amusement and delight.
Leila, the less beautiful, less favored younger daughter, at almost ten years old, can only observe in awe the spectacle Hassan makes over her older sister. While the younger can match him at chess, is a keen observer of the heavens and is beneficiary of their good life, she is unable to earn his love. Her mother Samira, aware of this situation, is powerless to correct it, due to her husband’s constant travel, ceaseless activity and his weakness, which perhaps she does not even suspect, for beautiful boys. Fortunately, or so it seems, they are friends with an artist and his wife, who with her two children have become a second family to fill in the life experiences and pleasures Hassan’s children, until one fateful day.
Leila whose passion is astronomy, looks to the stars for a lost loved one while her father, who believes in astrology, seeks to divine his fate from their alignment in the heavens. She takes action to escape the prison of her life, leaving her family further bereft. When Hassan’s determination to have all he desires is blocked with a circumstance he cannot control, he must face his limitations. To understand his cruel lot he must learn, as Leila already has, in Shakespeare’s phrase, that the fault “lies not in the stars, but in ourselves.”
In addition to her precise selection of the scenes to portray, and a rapidly unfolding plot, Rigby has attuned her ear to the distinctive voices of her characters: dialects from many walks of British life, the voice of Leila, a sensitive child and the “unrepairable,” broken yet unrestrained English of Hassan.
This fast-moving read is worth a few brief hours to take in its beauty
Till next times, good words to you!