What if you discovered a hundred-year-old diary under your floorboards – and then found references in it to yourself? Or if you lived in 1901, yet kept seeing glimpses of a girl from modern times? And what if both of you had problems that only the other could really understand? Emily and Aysha live in the same Stepney house and an inexplicable link develops between them, fuelled by Aysha’s discovery of a journal and Emily’s sightings of a ‘future ghost’. Each takes courage from the other’s predicament – after all, what’s a hundred years between friends?
The Tissue Veil
I was recently gifted a copy of the wonderful novel The Tissue Veil by Brenda Bannister to review.
The title draws upon the tissue paper that you find in old photo albums that provide a protective but translucent layer over the photographs. This clever imagery propels you straight into the theme of the novel – a very thin line between two young women living in the same Stepney house 100 years apart.
My love of history and culture combine beautifully in this story told across the two different periods of time. Emily, writing in a journal in 1901 at the time of Queen Victoria’s death, and Aysha living in the same room but in the year 2000, are both young women keen to retain their independent thought in a world that doesn’t always encourage it. The juxtaposition is interesting, with Bannister drawing clever parallels between the two girls and the struggles that they face. Overcoming their obstacles is perhaps the greatest celebration, although the book delves deeper than this, uncovering a little of what East London life was like in two very different eras.
The storyline felt as though it slowed down a little in the middle of the novel, but I confess that I was still hooked. The characterisation was very carefully written, each one being consistently believable. My main focus was wondering what would happen to each of the women. Men were not overlooked though and I warmed to some characters more as the story continued and picked up pace again.
Overall the writing was excellent, and the novel well structured and easy to read making it tempting to pick up and lose myself in it whenever I had a moment to spare. I would happily recommend this to you if you’re looking for a light read that still sparks intrigue.
About the author:
Brenda studied English at university and later qualified as a librarian, working in various educational settings from schools to higher education. Moving from London to Frome in Somerset in 2010 proved a catalyst for her own writing as she joined local fiction and script writing groups. She has had a number of short stories published, plus short plays produced in local pub theatre, but all the while was incubating a story based in the area of Tower Hamlets where she had worked for eighteen years. This germ of a story became ‘The Tissue Veil’.
Brenda is a founder member of Frome Writers’ Collective, an organisation which has grown from a handful of members to over a hundred in the past four years, and helped set up its innovative Silver Crow Book Brand. She is also the current organiser of the annual Frome Festival Short Story Competition. A lifelong reader, Brenda rarely follows genres, but enjoys modern literary fiction, historical fiction, classics and the occasional detective novel. The latest Bernard Cornwell might be a guilty pleasure, but she’ll be even more eager to get her hands on Hilary Mantel’s final instalment of Thomas Cromwell’s story.
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Thank you to Brenda for supplying me with a copy of your book to review. This copy was gifted to me in return for my review as part of a book tour (to check out other reviews, see the image below). All thoughts are my own. For more information please see my disclosure page.