Phillipa Vincent Connolly Stacked Logo

Combining History and Literature

Reviews

“A Great Read”

“It's a great read, Phillipa, and very moving. I'm all too aware of the problems that people with special needs face, so your novel really resonated with me. I wish you all the very best of luck with it.”

“Really Interesting”

“This isn't the usual book I would read but whizzed through it in no time at all! It was really interesting reading about a character with cerebral palsy as there is not a lot/if any literature about this disability, though at the same time, it did not dominate the whole plot. This book tackles a lot of issues, including bullying, friendships, family life, etc, that effects young adults and I think it would be a great read for readers aged 15+. It is well-written and fast paced; I will certainly be recommending it to others."

“A Lovely, Charming Story”

“This book is a teen/young adult novel that talks of the life of a young student, Orianna Stewart who was born with Cerebral Palsy. It is set in the picturesque town of Wimborne in Dorset. “As one would expect with a novel aimed at young adults, this book has an 'easy flow' about the way it is written, it is non-pretentious, and uses an easily readable language that I feel many young and older people will relate to. ‘Miracle’ tells of the life of a young lady living and striving against adversity. It would be easy to believe that this novel would focus on someone ‘afflicted’ by Cerebral Palsy and the disabilities associated with such ailments, whereas the author endeavours to make the reader aware of the abilities of Orianna over the complexities associated with her physical problems. Orianna’s ailments are always present within the story, but we are able to see that this is just one aspect of her life, it does not define her, and it does not limit her- she has simply become a lady with an incredible ability to adapt to life with much courage and determination. “The author of this book has taken the time to construct likeable and realistic characters, it is easy to associate with the characters, and to understand the viewpoints of individual ‘actors’ within the story. Without ruining the plot, it would be fair to say this is a story about many aspects of a young person’s life, including insecurities, relationships with families, friends, and peer pressure. It is a book that approaches some difficult subjects, and does so sensitively and appropriately to the age range that the book is aimed at. “I would say that this book has an appeal to people young and old, it is a lovely, charming story, a book that I will treasure long into the future.”

“Thoroughly Enjoyable”

“A thoroughly enjoyable and emotional read... Teenage girls. Boys. Homework. Hormones. Not my usual genre and nothing out of the ordinary you may think but this book very cleverly takes these ‘ordinary’ ingredients, shakes them up, and throws a very extraordinary story at you. The resulting story centres around a 17-year-old girl - Orianna - coping with all of the above and much more. All whilst coping with cerebral palsy. “The writer conveys, rather succinctly, that cerebral palsy doesn’t mean a limited lifestyle. Orianna is intelligent, popular, and independent. She has an iron will but her vulnerability shows through; she has a confident attitude but her self-esteem regularly nose-dives, her confidence wavers and this keeps her, as the main character, jumping off the page at you. In a sense, she is both the antagonist and protagonist of her own story and it is this element which keeps you turning the pages. “Orianna’s supporting characters are totally believable and deal with Orianna’s condition from different ends of the spectrum. Support comes from treating her like normal to the point of nonchalance, to being over-protective to the point of suffocating. They unwittingly cross boundaries felt acutely by Orianna. There are a few scenes that deal with these emotions wonderfully - scenes I won’t discuss for fear of ruining a good read! Her family is typical of today with an absent father figure but the twist here is Orianna frequently takes on the role of ‘mother’ as her own mother is out dating a lot, much to Orianna’s disgust! So that’s another dimension to this story and to Orianna’s personality, how she copes with being the ‘grown-up’ out of her younger sister and her mother. This aspect of the story actually works really well, blending in with the overall story and just adds that normality feel to the book; you really feel you’re reading someone’s diary that could easily live in your street. I imagine quite a few readers will know someone similar or be able relate to this book. “The myriad of emotions that thread their way through this story took me straight back to my teenage years - the Saturday shopping with the girls, fancying boys who you prayed every day would fancy you back, being with friends. Dealing with how you look, mood swings, and finding your way in the world. The author has juxtaposed the struggles and rewards of someone who doesn’t see why she should be different but alternately sees herself as someone who is. And it works, very well. It is the talent of this story-telling that makes this book a page turner. “Grammatically, the writing flows well in a modern style although occasionally, more paragraph breaks may have helped when dealing with situations. This does not, however, detract from an enjoyable read and the words thread their way through emotional highs and lows that keep you reading and caring about Orianna. You can almost feel her self-doubt, determination, and vulnerability that are at war within herself. “The climax of the story comes somewhat out of the blue, again, making a good read but it was such a good scene, I feel a tad more of a build-up would have enriched the whole situation a little more. I found it quite dramatic and surprising but this only adds to the depth of the book - it’s good to be taken by surprise when reading a book, the less you see coming, the better the experience! Also, perhaps more of the story in the aftermath of this climax would have enriched it too but perhaps I’m just trying to expand the story and make it last a bit longer. It is definitely a tale that would suffer no harm from being longer and the character of Orianna is not one easily worn out. It would even be good to see a sequel... “A much recommended read that reiterates that old adage - what you see, isn’t necessarily what you get! This book opens your eyes to the fact that everybody has a tale to tell no matter how ordinary you may think they are. It shows how people see, feel, and act on the same things in different ways and just how rewarding, testing, and satisfying life can be when you overcome obstacles in your path.”

Contact Phillipa Vincent-Connolly for more details on the historian’s work.