Could an unpleasant childhood experience have an impact on the rest of your life?
At the age of six, Jenny Drake witnesses a man commit suicide by jumping off a cliff above a beach in Devon. The manner in which he positioned himself on the edge of the cliff was unusual, hands outstretched, as if he is attempting to fly. Despite following a successful career as a librarian, and nursing both her parents until their deaths, this picture remains in Jenny’s mind for five decades, affecting her mental health. When the reader first meets her, she is a recovering agoraphobic, just about able to leave her house in London for her appointments with Mike Lewis, her psychotherapist.
Jenny travels back to the beach in Devon, in an attempt to confront her fears, but she ends up having a panic attack in a beachside cafe. Here, she meets, Jim, the son of the cafe-owner at the time of the suicide, who remembers the incident well. Together, Jenny and Jim begin an investigation. One of the first things they discover is that another man committed suicide in a similar way at about the same time; also they realise that they are putting themselves in danger. However, this is not true crime fiction, hardly crime fiction at all, even though the other parts of the plotline hang on the detective-story thread.
The author, herself a psychotherapist, managed, very effectively, to get into the mind of a recovering agoraphobic patient. We read about how Jenny struggles to walk from her house to the local Tube station, managing to keep herself walking only by playing peek-a-boo with a toddler in a buggy who happened to be passing. We learn about how she confuses her own anxieties with the prudery of a byegone age. Should she, for instance, allow on ‘a man’ into her house? Whatever would her mother think? And can she trust Jim, seeing as he’s ‘a man’?
The style is gentle and easy going. A Christian novel, published by a Christian publisher, the religious content is painted with a very light hand. Jenny prays, but her prayers are never shared with the reader. As is often the case, Christian fiction is characterised by how characters behave – and how they don’t behave. Christians reading this (and non-Christians, for that matter) look up Matthew 7:16.
‘Trying to Fly’ can be ordered from Instant Apostle. I have joined a Facebook group committed to reviewing Instant Apostle works and putting my reviews on to Amazon, so I will be writing quite a few posts like this one. The Girl at the End of the Road and The Key to All Unknown, both by K A Hitchins, which I have reviewed recently, are also Instant Apostles. Do I recommend Trying to Fly by Annie Try? Yes, of course.
Now, I’m going to try and publish this post, without my ten month old computer protesting too much. We had a fit of the vapours at the weekend, in which we refused even to load Windows, and my plea to Dell brought forth four pages of close-typed detailed instructions, which got us going again, but we’re still slow and clunky. More instructions from Dell have ensued today, but I haven’t yet had the courage, or the time, to follow them through.
As the title-theme of this book is very serious, I leave you with an image of an ancient aeroplane, which is sort of on-topic, but not quite.