Something Different Today
This next review will be a slight departure from my usual genre, but I am including it here because the main character exemplifies one aspect of a female protagonist that I discussed in my last post, New Concept in Creating a Female Character. Writing about a character experiencing suffering without becoming engulfed with suffering may be one of the more difficult aspects of writing a well balanced feminine character. Sheryl Lee allows her character to descend into depths of suffering and then ends with Cassie rising above and beyond the suffering that threatened to engulf her.
She is a writer of several genres – paranormal, women’s fiction and short books about cats. In her novels she writes primarily from the female perspective, exploring the growth experienced by her female protagonists when confronted by difficult circumstances. You can read more about Sheryl at her blog: http://sherylmlee.blogspot.com/ or at her website: http://sherylleee.wix.com/sheryl-lee
Sheryl was born in Queensland, Australia and currently residing in Hurghada, Egypt. She is an independent author and has self-published her book. She has also written the first book in a series, Zora’s Dawn, Book One, The Defender Series is available on Amazon now.
About the Book
Letters to Myself is a new form of fiction: educational fiction. It presents a factual representation of what it is like to live in a co-dependent relationship inside a fictional story. This is far more powerful than a list of co-dependent signs or symptoms. She relates this in a personal and relational way, as if she were telling you this over a cup of coffee. The story is also powerful, difficult to put down, and the right amount of emotion without becoming overwhelming.
Cassie: A Strong Female Character
The main character is Cassie, and the story is told through her eyes in first person with the result of you being completely immersed in her life, struggles, and experiences. The story begins just as she is about to have a breakthrough in therapy. Initially she is quite subservient and quiet with her husband. You quickly realize why she has become this way. Both she and her therapist do an excellent job of filling you, the reader, in about the history of the relationship and explaining why she has developed the patterns that she has now.
As she experiences the breakthrough, she begins to become more miserable and experiences both physical and mental suffering. Sheryl does an excellent job of taking this character to places of suffering. This suffering experience is important to the process of describing the co-dependent relationship, but it is also an important journey for Cassie to take. She delves deep within herself, into the suffering, and is able to come out on the other side of the suffering intact, whole, and stronger for the process.
A lot of people, especially women, have a fear of fully experiencing suffering because they are afraid that they will be overwhelmed. Cassie demonstrates that it is possible to dive into suffering and to come out on the other side whole. Cassie does more than that: she comes out on the other side stronger and braver. This is in reality what happens to us as women when we delve into our suffering and come back with a renewed spirit and more alive than when we began the journey into ourselves and our suffering. Sylvia Brinton Perera describes this process and the importance of this journey in her book, Descent to the Goddess: A Way of Initiation for Women.
Though Cassie does not come out of her deep well of suffering by herself, but she does come out successfully. She needs the help of her therapist, her best friend, Saffron, and a new friend, Mike. This reflects the reality of life that people who are trying to escape from a co-dependent relationship, that they require support from other people. Cassie does much of the work herself of stepping out of the suffering and of moving forward. This is not a perfect example of how Perera describes of descending into ones suffering and then coming back up using only your strength, but it would not have been much of a story if Cassie could have done it all with only her diary and her therapist.
This submersion into suffering by Cassie is a very good example from last week’s post on what makes a good female protagonist. Cassie’s story illustrates this point so well that I wanted to share it here even though it is not in the science fiction or fantasy genre. This is one way, though not the most orthodox way, of writing a strong female character, but it is much more authentic than the one-dimensional warrior female characters mentioned in last week’s post.
Saffron and the Therapist
Two female supporting characters need at least a cursory review. One is her therapist, Sue. Cassie’s therapist and her interactions with Cassie are well written and authentic. I was impressed with the authenticity of the experience in the therapy sessions and how well Cassie put the reader in the room with Cassie and the therapist. This is a rare glimpse that most people do not get to see. Sheryl did an excellent job of describing the reality of therapy as opposed to the hollywood version. An accurate account of how therapy works that will hopefully help others to have the courage to seek help in the future.
The next character is truly a character in and of herself, Saffron. As the reader you instantly like her. She starts out as a 1- or 2-dimensional yet unique character, but that changes as subtleties are slowly added. Saffron is a truly interesting as well as vitally important character in the book. Saffron represents any and all friends that a co-dependent person has and will need when they try to leave their relationship. She sets an example for a wonderfully supportive friend.
When the book ended, this was the character I wished I had learned more about and still wanted to learn more about. I want to sit with Saffron and have a cup of coffee with her and hear about her life. Sheryl has hinted that a book about Saffron may be in the brewing in the future.
All Good Things Must Come to an End
The end comes a little too quickly for my taste, but this is a talent of a good writer, always leave your audience with wanting more. I will be waiting on her future books and look forward to reading them in the future. As for as this book goes, I hope that it will help at least one person to realize that they have the ability in themselves, with the support of others, to leave a co-dependent relationship or to ask for help or to dive fully into suffering knowing that they will come back up.
Next week I will be reviewing a book by J. K. Accinni. I look forward to your comments. Do you think that Cassie exemplifies a good female character?