Tuesday 19 May 2020

#BlogTour Watermarks: Life, Death and Swimming by Lenka Janiurek

Today it's my turn on the BlogTour Watermarks: Life, Death and Swimming by Lenka Janiurek.
About the Author
Lenka Janiurek was born in York. At the age of 17 she won the prestigious Young Writer’s Competition at the Royal Court Theatre and subsequently had three plays on at the Royal Court Theatre, a platform play at the National Theatre, and one at the Other Place with the RSC in Stratford-on-Avon. She has facilitated workshops in writing, drama, art, and well-being, in schools, colleges, at camps, and in a women's prison. And worked as a baker, fundraiser, caretaker, green builder and researcher. She has four children. She lives close to the sea in Wales.

About the book
Lenka Janiurek’s story really begins with the death of her mother when she was nine. She is the daughter of a Polish immigrant father, and one of eight children. Across the years she is plagued by the rage, addiction and despair of the controlling men she is closest to. This memoir grapples with identity, of trying to find a place in a world and within a family, that don’t feel like your own.

This remarkable story from the 1960s to the present day, describes the loss of her mother to her relationships with 2 stepmothers, early success as a playwright, extensive travel, and encounters with both extreme wealth and poverty. Throughout Lenka explores and celebrates the beauty and tragedy of living life to the full.

Watermarks is a stunning evocation of alienation, searching, and the restorative power of nature.

This is an autobiographical story, a story from womb, to childhood, teenage and adult years. Filled with experiences that change her life and outlook on it.Tribulations and trials, but most importantly it's about the connection she makes with nature -with water to be more specific.

There are studies on the epigenetics of trauma, whether trauma can be passed down like a legacy from generation to generation. This story made me wonder about the silent impact it had on Lenka, and then in turn whether her own personal trauma - the loss of her mother - is also a factor that may impact her descendants.

Although the story is written in first person, which in itself always gives the reader a closer emotional connection and experience with an autobiographical account, the narrator remains at a distance. The overall style and voice often seems cold, displaced and without any emotional connection.

Then again what is the easiest way to cope with the most traumatic things in our lives. The moments that drive us to our lowest points, and yet somehow we have to move beyond those moments.

The most beautiful and intriguing aspect of this read was the emotional and almost spiritual link Lenka makes to the water throughout. From the childhood memories of family holidays on the beach filled with joy, to swimming in storms, the source of the light from the pond, relaxation and strength by swimming during pregnancy and at the end becoming the giver instead of the taker. Becoming the person who strives to protect the one constant in her life that has always given her peace without asking anything in return.

It's an introspective and reflective read.

Buy Watermarks: Life, Death and Swimming at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Published by Allison & Busby on 21st May 2020 in hardcover and digital formats (paperback to follow in October 2020). Buy at Amazon com. Buy at Hive co.uk. At Foyles.co.uk. At Waterstones. Buy at Allison and Busby.

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