Wednesday, January 17, 2018

The Defining Pitch

Ghibli Museum, Tokyo
In my line of work, I see how bitter and distressed clients are when they get themselves entangled in legal battles and neither party wants to give in thus seeking a compromise is not an option. 

Being forgiving makes you less unhappy and the bigger person but not forgetting what has happened may make you wiser. It is never easy to forgive someone for saying hurtful things or doing something that betrays your trust or make you feel diminished. Sometimes you think you have moved on, after all the past is the past, nothing can be done to undo or rewrite it, sadly the past has become an integral part of you and will have a bearing on you in such a way that you possibly do not wish to acknowledge but you have to confront your demons to find a resolution.

In Greatest Hits written by Laura Barnett, Cass Wheeler is taking a journey back into her past. She was born Maria Cassandra Wheeler to Margaret and Francis, a vicar. She is a singer- songwriter who rose to fame in the 70s. She is traumatized by how she was abandoned by her mother as a child when the latter left her husband for another man. She has managed to express her pains in her songs. She feels that her mother never loved her and it has taken her almost a lifetime to reconcile with her past. It is definitely not an easy feat for Laura Barnett to write such a comprehensive story with quite a number of characters. More importantly, each chapter starts with a song track.


Cass first learnt to play the piano at a friend’s house.  When her mother left, she was sent to live with her aunt Lily and she was given a guitar. Lily and her husband offered her a secured environment as best as they could. She had an intense union with Ivor Tait who became her musical partner. Ivor also had a troubled childhood and he was unable to forgive his mother for not defending him when his father was abusive. Both Cass and Ivor had trouble forgiving their parents. They seem to be unable to help one another  make peace with their past in order to lead a better future. 
      Barnett writes,
   ' Ivor Tait at twenty-two. A man with long, dark hair -- almost black -- brushing his shoulders, and often, when he plays, half covering his face in a way the women who admire him -- there are already many such women - consider impossibly alluring. 

    A man who stands six foot tall in his brown suede boots. His eyes not quite green, not quite brown, and framed by thick, patrician brows. His cheekbones two sharp ridges defining the topography of his face. Beneath them, shadows gather and pool, lending him a rather gaunt, skeletal look, especially when he is tired, or high, both. ' 


'...................His mother, Susan , had written to him once a week for a year, on her blue- lined Bassildon Bond, and had come up to see him at his hall of residence, wearing her best Sunday dress. Ivor had asked a friend to tell her that he wasn't there, and had sat at his window and watched her walk away. And then, after a while , he had moved on himself, and instructed the university not to pass on his address. '


Personally, I do not find the story emotionally engaging nor charging when I read the highs and lows of Cass. Her pains and sorrows are reflected in the lyrics which are well written. Laura Barnett has teamed up with musician Kathryn William click to release the songs from the novel. It will be interesting to hear how the songs are sung.click