Review of ‘Covenant, A Story of Friendship’ by Mary Clark

5.0 out of 5 stars

A Story in the Moment of Fundamental Change by DM Denton

51qEtH4PMAL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX324_SY324_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA346_SH20_OU01_Covenant. An agreement between parties that is binding like a contract. It’s one of the metaphors used in the Christian and Jewish traditions regarding God’s relationship with and expectation of humankind. In a secular sense it can suggest a collective upholding of certain principals and beliefs—a ritual, even religious pledge and expectation of allegiance to a common, even exalted purpose.

In the bible, Covenant and Testament are used interchangeably. Mary Clark’s Covenant is a testament to how relationships form, flourish, are tested, fall apart, and, if they run deep enough, endure.

As the lives of three youths growing up in the 1950’s and 60’s on Florida’s Gulf Coast intersect, promises are made sub-consciously, at times devoutly. Commonality occurs because of being a certain age in a particular time and place, of sharing amusements, music, uncertainty and wonder, loss and discovery. Loyalty is the maturing of friendship seeded in companionship, threatened by struggle and change, and nurtured by empathy and necessity. Mary Clark’s nostalgic and sensitive offering of their story starts small, out of the inconspicuous, but grows larger and larger in its awareness of the world around them, paralleling very personal events with those that affect their country and the world. These were times I lived through—the civil rights movement, the cold war, JFK’s assassination—and, so, reminded me of how as a child my actual and imaginative life was affected by the decisions and actions of adults. Not always negatively, as one particular scene highlights. When Orchie sees a white man hit a black man who has walked onto a segregated beach and the white man is arrested, she experiences “…the thrill of being in the moment of fundamental change.” I can remember that feeling so well.

The story of Orchie, Red and Bobby is soothing and stark, amusing and disquieting, individualistic and altruistic as it reflects through hours, days, months and years. Mary Clark’s writing is eloquent, even as she ‘speaks’ of poverty and violence, devastation and betrayal. It is word-rich with beautiful sensory descriptions that set the scenes—the woods, the swamps, the beaches, the small town— where the young people spend their time; a blend of raw reality and dreaminess that moves the narrative beyond the simple alliance of children to an agreement that requires them to look into their consciences and hearts.

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Covenant is available in Kindle edition.

Visit Mary Clark’s Amazon Page.

Visit Mary Clark’s Blog

Read my review of Tally: An Intuitive Life by Mary Clark, published by All Things That Matter Press. Highly Recommended!

 

New and Recent Reviews for Others

Now that I’ve finished my current work on the sequel to A House Near LuccoliTo A Strange Somewhere Fled, I’m catching up on other things that have been neglected (hey, I even cooked Sunday dinner today to relieve my mom after months of her ensuring I ate well!), including writing some long overdue reviews. I have just updated my Book Review for Others pages for Novels and Poetry Anthologies.

 

Francina Hartstra is a wonderful poet and ‘water gypsy’.  Here is my review of her elegant little poetry anthology:

5-Stars. Beyond the Threshold by Francina Hartstra
Poetry Anthology
July 13, 2014
A Journey away from a most beloved place.

Beyond the ThresholdThere is sublime silence in the poetry of Francina Hartstra. At the same time, there is much to hear in her concise clear flow of words, which reflect her fondness for Japanese and Chinese poetry with its subtle rhythms, delicate expression and appreciation for what is left ‘unsaid’. As in one of her Haiku’s, her poetry is like the snail’s shell left behind, almost magical evidence that she was there and moved on. Beyond the Threshold is a journey away from a most beloved place, guided by the moon and stars, moved by time and timelessness, nostalgic and yet not encumbered by looking back—secrets shared without revealing them in whispered memories of very personal joys and tears. This poetry is very Zen, offering wisdom that knows enough to question all it answers. There is a tenderness in it and, yet, intensity, too; like a stream moving gently but vigorously on towards a river that will not be its final destination.

I have embarked on Francina’s quietly engaging travels again and again, and whole-heartedly recommend others do the same. This is a lovely poetry anthology that should be widely experienced and treasured.
Available in print edition

 

I invite you to catch up the following reviews I have done on three excellent novels:

5-Stars. Tally: An Intuitive Life by Mary Clark

Memoir – All Things That Matter Press
May 31, 2014
Mary Clark’s memoir underscores the miracle of unexpected relationships in transforming lives.

Tally imageTally: An Intuitive Life celebrates questioning and follows the thread of discourse to illustrate how self-discovery is made by way of life’s journey passing through many destinations.

Wandering along a narrative rich with compelling philosophical conversations and very personal events, this remembrance of Bohemian artist, Paul Johnson (PJ), transports the reader to avant-garde Greenwich Village in the 1970′s and 80′s and further back through his earlier history. Much of the book allows the reader to have a `fly-on-the-wall’ look into the solitary, collaborative and transformational experiences of the creative, eccentric, needy yet detached `intuitively conscious’ PJ; and the absorbing, if often ambiguous, connection he makes with the sensitive, curious, compassionate and intelligent young poet and community organizer, Erin.

I was especially drawn in by the novel’s main storyline of youth intersecting with old age on a basis of shared pursuits and exploration of ideas. In today’s society, there is often separation of the young and the elderly, as if one is offensive or even a threat to the other. It’s usually assumed they have nothing in common or to cultivate with each other. The young can put a lot of time and energy into longing and looking for external experiences to shape their lives; even those who are creative tend to expect inspiration, knowledge and fulfillment to come from somewhere outside of their own abilities, feelings and instincts. In its best scenario, aging makes us weary of life’s pursuits, necessitating reflection over action; so we become less frantic and more self-realized and consciously alive at eighty than we were at twenty.

PJ can `speak’ for himself on this: “Let it cease. I have created many new identities. I have found new reasons to live. I have lived through phases of bliss, of romantic love, phases of death of consciousness, of depression and aspirations beyond achieving, and the fullness of the joy of being alive.”

As a writer and artist, I fully related and engaged with this continuous cycle of conclusions making new beginnings.

In itself an evolutionary work, Tally: An Intuitive Life focuses on the development of the artist into something much more than a man or woman undertaking some kind of creative venture. Like anyone else, he/she is layered by life; the difference is that his/her experiences aren’t a means to an end but a compulsion of becoming, even after death.

Unexpectedly, I found myself very moved by the book’s ending, feeling the question: how can we be sure we have influenced someone as significantly as they have influenced us? I was deeply affected by the sense that for all left unsaid and undone, so much was understood. Erin–Mary–will never forget PJ, the artist and man, and now neither will those who, through the brilliant delicacy and honesty of her writing, can have the fascinating experience of knowing something of him, too. Available in Paperback and Kindle Editions

 

4-Stars. Swift Currents of Change by Janet Ashworth
Historical Fiction
February 7, 2014
Historical Fiction That Lets the Past Live and Breathe

Swift Currents of Change imageSwift Currents of Change is an excellent historical fiction that lets the past live and breathe through the lives of ordinary folk in extraordinary times. This is storytelling that matters, because it fills out the often dry facts we learned at school. The novel unfolds through the folksy vernacular of the grandmother in a kind of Tom Sawyer narrative about the restlessness of innocence, which has yet to learn the old adage: be careful what you wish for. I love this line of dialogue from near the end of chapter one: “While I was looking to change myself back in 1859, my world was about to be changed forever.”

The novel progresses very well from the simplicity of a childhood that, while far from being idyllic, is fairly happy and predictable, to the complications of an adult world full of uncertainty, conflict, inhumanity and heartbreak along with hopes, ideals and heroism. It is about growing and learning, and understanding if not always with acceptance. All the characters are very dimensional and engaging; they are like pieces to a puzzle: some fit into the scheme of things easier than others. I felt the emotions, including anticipation, love, fear disappointment and frustration—all that the characters were going through, which proves the effectiveness of the writing. The descriptions of the environment were beautifully blended around the action, at times seeming to participate in it.

I was impressed that Ms. Ashworth didn’t make the story melodramatic, that she recognized how somehow life goes on for those who survive terrible yet transforming events, that the everyday things still matter and will continue to for generations to come. If you love history, especially concerning everyday people experiencing it in the making, I highly recommend Swift Currents of Change.
Available in Paperback and Kindle Editions

 

5-Stars. White Horse Regressions by Steve Lindahl

Paranormal Fiction – All Things That Matter Press
March 3, 2014
A Karmic Dance of Twists and Turns

Whitehorse Regressions imageWhat begins as a murder mystery evolves into a hypnotic investigation that uncovers the centuries-old connections between a cast of characters fated to repeat the circumstances, intrigues and tragedies of their past lives. Through a series of sessions in which the participants regress to Victorian London and ancient China, stories within the story unfold, relationships are defined and rituals revealed, more questions raised than answered until a disturbing and seemingly unbreakable pattern emerges.

Mr. Lindhal’s suspenseful novel moves backwards and forwards in a karmic dance that also twists and turns; a profound and poignant narrative about reincarnation as it relates to love and friendship, vulnerability and power, the myth of inevitability and the possibilities for better times to come.
Available in Paperback and Kindle Editions

 

Hope you find some summer reading in the list!

 

“I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book! — When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.” ~ Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

Illustration for Kindle Short Story: The Library Next Door

Illustration for my Kindle Short Story: The Library Next Door

Books were Rose’s secrets. Reading was an easy distraction, friend to her curiosity and the only thing she was sure she wanted to do. When she entered the library next door, what was real and imaginary became indistinguishable, and she grew ready to reveal the future of her relationship with the written word.

 
donatellasmallest©Artwork and writing, unless otherwise indicated, are the property of Diane M Denton. Please request permission to reproduce or post elsewhere with a link back tobardessdmdenton. Thank you.

My Writing Process – Blog Hop Tour

Monica M Brinkman, http://monicabrinkmanbooks.webs.com/, author of The Turn of the Karmic Wheel invited me to participate in this blog hop tour. She is a member of The Writers Center and The Missouri Writers Guild. Her short stories and articles have been published throughout the internet in such places as A Word For You Press, Fifty Authors From Fifty States, and Five Monkeys, to name a few. You will also find true-life experiences of the paranormal, along with other tales and articles, at her column, A Touch of Karma, at Authorsinfo .com. Ms Brinkman hosts a weekly radio broadcast, It Matters Radio each Thursday @ 9PM ET. Check out the web site @ www.itmattersradio.com.

The tour requires that I answer four questions about my writing process:

donatellawquillunshadedWhat am I working on?
I’m on the final stretch of completing the sequel to my historical novel,
A House Near Luccoli, published by All Things That Matter Press, which imagines a friendship between the real-life 17th century charismatic Italian composer, Alessandro Stradella, and the story’s fictional protagonist, Donatella. Its current title, which I recently changed, is To A Strange Somewhere Fled, and it takes Donatella to England in May of 1682 and the small but stately Oxfordshire village of Wroxton.  There she encounters the residents of Wroxton Abbey, both active in the Court of Charles II: Lord Francis North, Keeper of the Great Seal, and his younger brother, Roger, who is on the King’s Council.  Of course, she is haunted by past possibilities (and impossibilities), the lure of music and its masters not done with her yet. The divine Henry Purcell and a few other composers and musicians of the time make appearances, including one (or two) Donatella first encountered in the house near Luccoli. You can read more about A House Near Luccoli and its sequel here.


Over the past months I’ve also had two illustrated Kindle Short Stories published by All Things That Matter Press: The Snow White Gift and The Library Next Door. You can read more about them here. Last year I self-published an illustrated poetry journal, A Friendship with Flowers. I’m mulling around some ideas for shorter works and for my next novel; possibilities include Christina Rossetti, an English poet of the late 19th century and the sister of the poet and painter, Dante Gabriel Rossetti; or Mary Webb, an English poet and novelist of the early 20th century. Of course, who knows what will take my fancy when the time comes to embark on another novel’s journey!

How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I would say that it differs from the work of those who fit comfortably into “the box” of a specific genre, who need to belong to “the club” of that genre and can easily promote themselves as an author in that genre. I didn’t consciously set out to write historical fiction, certainly not exclusively. Perhaps I gravitate towards it because I’m “an old-fashioned girl” in many ways that include my love for classic literature, early music, and folk traditions. But it’s the stories and characters that have suggested or, in the case of my novel, A House Near Luccoli, dictated the period and geography. I think the past can be “brought forward” without compromising its truth – that contemporary writing can be a conduit for understanding and appreciating history better. I knew a musician who sang and produced music of the Renaissance with respect for and knowledge of its origins, but who interpreted and performed it with a progressive freshness and appeal that took it out its scholarly shell and brought it into the lives of many who would otherwise never have been introduced to it – a worthwhile legacy, I think.

Rather than get too comfortable and staid with any one genre, I prefer to be a writer who, hopefully, appeals to more adventurous readers: those who enjoy my spirit of exploration because it feeds and satisfies their own.

Why do I write what I do?
I find my voice in poetry and prose, in silence and retreat, in truth and imagination. I find my subjects and characters in observation and study, music, art, nature and the contradictions of the creative spirit. I love to wander in and out of the past to discover stories of interest and meaning for the present. I write from my love of language and the belief that what is left unsaid is the most affecting of all. 

How does your writing process work?
I’m really not that conscious of a process, never quite sure how my emotions are going to affect me at any given time! Well, I’m a Cancer, after all!

But once I admitted (especially to myself) how vital writing was to my life, I realized I must dedicate specific time to it. This means I have to allow whole days when there is nothing to take me out of the house, like my day job or shopping or even going out to dinner or other social distractions. I absorb the energy of environments and others too easily and find that either the anticipation or (especially) after-effect of being “out in the world” disturbs my need to be alone in an imaginative state of possibilities – so essential for my writing to progress as I wish it to. I write best in the late afternoon and evening: with prose, mostly on the computer, while my poetry is usually born of scribbles on scraps of paper. The fiction I’ve written so far has required much research; I do some as I’m writing, but initially it takes months of investigating and then reading and ruminating before it flows into a fictional narrative – in my experience like climbing a mountain to see for miles and miles, only to come down and live in one small piece of that view. I do try to exercise my writing ‘muscles’ every day in some way; certainly, having a blog and other social media interactions, especially with other writers and artists, has helped me to do so. Writer’s block happens to me less than it used to, but there are times when I put a writing project such as a novel aside for a little while in a kind of fasting to make me hungry for it again.

And now …

… it is my pleasure to introduce you to three wonderful authors who have agree to take part in this blog tour.  I invite you to visit their sites and see what their imaginations and talents have been up to!


Mary Clark is a writer specializing in memoir, historical fiction, literary fiction, and poetry. Her books include: Tally: An Intuitive Life, All Things That Matter Press, August 2013; Children of Light, a poetry novel, Ten Penny Players on Scribd.com; and Covenant, historical fiction novelette, Kindle ebook. Her poetry and fiction has appeared in Jimson Weed, Waterways: Poetry in the Mainstream, Lips, East River Review, and other literary publications. Currently, she is working on a memoir of the years she worked at St. Clement’s Church on West 46th Street in Manhattan, in the neighborhood colloquially known as Hell’s Kitchen.
Please visit Mary’s blog at: http://literaryeyes.wordpress.com/


Wendy Joseph vies with her characters for a life of romance and adventure. A deckhand on merchant ships, she has outrun pirates off of Somalia, steered ships large and small through typhoons and calms from the Bering Sea to Shanghai, and helped rescue seals on the Pacific coast. Believing history must be lived, she has crewed the 18th century square-rigger Lady Washington, the steamer Virginia V, the WWII freighter SS Lane Victory, and the moored battleship USS Iowa. She has shared her food with Third World workers and starving cats. She sings sea shanties, her own songs, and with classical and medieval choirs. Her passion is for works of the imagination, for telling a really good story, and for connecting with the minds and souls of readers and taking them to a magnificent and finer place. Researching The Witch’s Hand in France, she traced the paths of her characters over the terrain they covered to get the description right, and dug up old documents for historical accuracy. She holds two Master’s in English and can splice a twelve strand line. Her poetry and prose have appeared in the literary journals Bricolage, Ha!, Westwind, and Nomos. Her plays Gargoyles, The Hamlet Interview, Oil in the Sound and Booking Hold were produced to acclaim in Seattle, and she appeared in the movie Singles. Ashore she holds court with her cats Jean Lafitte and Bijou in the wilds of Washington State.
Please visit Wendy’s blog at: http://wjoseph924.blogspot.com/

Kim Rendfeld, a former journalist and current copy editor for a university public relations office, has a lifelong fascination with fairy tales and legends, which set her on her quest to write The Cross and the Dragon and The Ashes of Heaven’s Pillar (soon to be released – read advanced praise), both set eighth century Francia. She lives in Indiana with her husband, Randy, and their spoiled cats. They have a daughter and three granddaughters.
Please visit Kim’s blog at: http://kimrendfeld.wordpress.com/

As Valentines Day is fast approaching, here is a little poem I wrote a few years ago:

Romancing the Word

Copyright 2013 by DM Denton

Copyright 2013 by DM Denton

You constantly long for the right word,
though how could you ever
be content with just one-
courting the idea of a sentence,
a paragraph,
a page,
from the first chapter through many more
to the end?

This is the romance
you live for now
and perhaps always have,
for your heart

has been stolen
more often
by your imagination
than your reality.

Don’t give up
because your love
is unrequited
and it seems no one will ever know
how it breathed
as though nothing else mattered.

Be true
to your calling
and don’t regret
a word of it,
for each one
that comes to you
takes your hand
in hopes
of fitting your vision
and pleasing your voice
like diamonds forever.

©Artwork and writing, unless otherwise indicated, are the property of Diane M Denton. Please request permission to reproduce or post elsewhere with a link back to bardessdmdenton. Thank you.