A Winged Thing and Holy: Mary Gray Kaye
Poems are powerful and often embrace and engulf the reader taking them into many different worlds, dimensions leaving them breathless and filled with emotion. Each person takes away their own interpretation and message from the poems they read. Poems can evoke emotions, describes torments that the writer has endured. Poems can paint a picture of places you would love to visit and poems can tell a story about a person’s life. Author Mary Gray Kaye takes readers into the worlds of Genny and Jonathan. Genny a travel agent wanting more in life than just booking trips for her clients. Jonathan, elusive, retired and spending most of his days creating dishes for his wife and writing poetry. Genny and Jonathan are both in the same poetry class. When Genny is asked to read her offering she finds herself at a loss at times for the right words, phrases or topics. Genny finds herself becoming consumed with poetry, looking up the masters, studying their style and quite taken with Jonathan. A simple email complementing her reading sets them off on journey that would change her perspective about love, deceit, poetry and life. Jon a seasoned poet and in her poetry writing group uses the right words to elicit the reaction he wants and a relationship that should never have been.
Hiding behind her sestinas, her poetry books and her romantic fantasies, Genny develops a life is devoid of any identity of herself. Hoping to emulate this man and become part of his life and eventually a great poet she discounts time with her male friend Brian, enlists the opinions of her sister and a close friend and begins on a five month journey that would change her forever. Is there more to life than sending people on vacation? What happens that sends her over the top and reading Henry James and many other poets that the author brilliantly shares with readers in her emails between the two characters and the start of each chapter to entice her to learn more, understand the meaning of loneliness, love and to send readers to their computers to read more of the same that Genny is reading within the pages of this book. Referring to him as the Mountain Man, the guest speaker at poetry seminar she winds up at, little does she know that she would find herself in a whole other world or at times dimension. Encouraged by his emails and finally their time together, Genny begins writing and the words begin to flow. Sharing the many sestinas is quite interesting, as I have never really studied this type of poem before. With Jon’s advice about her poetry, advancing their relationship what will she do when she learns that Karen is not his muse but his wife?
Poems are powerful and often people bury themselves in a novel, short story or a poem to take away the pain, find a place for themselves and seek comfort in the words of others when in reality there is no other.
The relationship between Jon and Genny is rocky. But Genny knows she can always turn to poetry for comfort. However, when it becomes clear to her that their relationship won’t work for either of them, she decides to move to New York City and cut all contact with Jon. A few months later, she has settled into her new life. She decides to attend a poetry reading and is furious to see that Jon has published her poems she had sent him while they were together under his name. Now Genny knows she must fight for what is rightfully hers. The plot was slower paced, but full of details. I think that it’s actually kind of nice that the pacing of A Winged Thing, and Holy is on the slow side because it allows for more character development, which was excellent in this book. The back of the book (you know, where there’s a little blurb) pretty much gave away the ending though, since it said Genny would bring Jon to court for plagiarism. I thought that the trial would be like the climax of the story, not the ending. I guess it just wasn’t what I expected.
Things take a drastic turn when Jonathan disappears for a while and Genny seems to revert back into herself. It’s almost as if he has become so much a part of her that she cannot divorce herself from him. Without his encouragement to write and create the powerful poems she has penned, she feels lost and alone at times needing him to fill a serious void within herself. Deciding to take a class in poetry even for no credit, she encountered stanzas, poetry, meters and much more. Meeting Shannah, reworking her sestina and wanting to be a part of the anthology she was creating spirited her on until something changes it all. Her favorite client is killed in a car crash leaving her with another void in her life. Presenting her with many cookbooks from his voyages and trips she can rekindle memories just by looking at each title. With her sister’s wedding on hand and the preparations being made Genny could focus on something other than Jon and her poems. But, a special trip and a special four days in Paris come to a crashing halt when she returns. Coming smack dab face to face with his wife would finally hit her like a bucket of ice and hopefully awaken her to the harsh realities of this deceitful man. But, there is much more. Within her emails to him you can hear her despair, her unsettling feelings and the finality that finally comes when she realizes that she can no longer deal with the pain he is causing her. “ Happiness is pretty much what is now. And yesterday and tomorrow.” But, will Genny ever understand the true meaning of the word and will she ever let his hold on her feelings be forever released?
When Genny finally realizes the truth she decides to move to New York and make a permanent change. Along with her close friend Deets she hopes to start over again but a simple citing in the book section of the paper and her whole world came down. Your words are your own and your lines belong to you except when someone steals them and claims them as their own. Find out what happens when Jonathan uses her words and claims them as his own. Will Genny stand by and let him have her poems and not fight back? Will she use her feelings for him as an excuse and do nothing? What would you do if someone stole your lines, your thoughts and invaded your heart for their own self worth? Poor self-esteem, needing to feel important, having more than one person to admire him as a man and living his life by pretending to be something he is not, just how far would Jonathan Waterhouse go to pretend to be a success? Lies, deceits, adultery, greed, theft and dishonesty are just some words that describe him. A Winged Thing and Holy: Each chapter title speaks out about one character as we being with Genny the poet, going on to the happy earth, Jonathan Masquerades and finally parched holy mouth and an epilogue that will surprise the reader with a twist you won’t expect. Take the five month journey with Genny, Deets, Denise and Jonathan and find out whose Wings still fly and whose words will always remain Holy!
Author Mary Gray Kaye created a character that has much more potential and I truly hope she brings Genny back again giving her the strength to find happiness in life, her experiences and not just in her words.
“The sestina is a challenging form in which, rather than simply rhyming, the actual line-ending words are repeated in successive stanzas in a designated rotating order. A sestina consists of six six-line stanzas, concluding with a three-line “envoi” which incorporates all the line-ending words, some hidden inside the closing lines. The prescribed pattern for using the six line-ending words is:1st stanza 1 2 3 4 5 6
2nd stanza 6 1 5 2 4 3, 3rd stanza 3 6 4 1 2 5, 4th stanza 5 3 2 6 1 4, 5th stanza 4 5 1 3 6 2,
the 6th stanza 2 4 6 5 3 1 and the envoi 2–5 4–3 6—1” http://poetry.about.com/od/poeticforms/g/sestina.htm
As you read some of these types of poems and hear the ones the author presents within this novel you understand the powerful messages of each one, stories behind the words and the difficulty in writing this type of poem. The author includes the words of Henry James, Blake, Shelley and many others to entice readers. This book gets FIVE GOLDEN SESTINAS
Fran Lewis: reviewer