Black Orchid Night: H. T. Monogue
Within the mind of Fiona Mistry born to a racially mixed family their lurks questions that remain unanswered and thoughts that fill her mind, head and soul each night as she closes her eyes and begins to take many journeys into different time periods though her dreams. From the age of 18 after the death of her mother, Fiona discovered and nurtured her ability to dream lucid dreams. Many of us think about events in our pasts, even things we hope that will happen in the present and remember some or parts of the dreams when we get up. But, her life is focused and centered on orchids and her orchid business and she learns that these flowers might be sending her messages in different ways to her and to each other.
Throughout this novel the author will inspire readers to take part in Fiona’s dreams both during the day and at night when she attempts to sleep learning lessons in life that she hopes to work through some of her unresolved relationships with her estranged sister both in the present and her counterpart in another time period. Some people that she will learn to trust while others she will constantly shy away from. Relationships are at the heart of this novel as Fiona begins by telling us about her mother Olivia and her suicide, learning to use her memories to try and heal the present and cope with the past. She seeks help from Dr. Knabb who is inspirational and almost seems like the author becoming part of the story and she learns to open new avenues, new areas in her life trying to focus on hopefully for the first time moving on.
The Orchids are the center of her world and her universe as they seem to live, grow and wither along with Fiona. Fiona learned that she had the ability to be in two realities and needed to learn how to come to terms with them both. Her real and her waking life were different and her therapist Dr. Krapp explained that her dream adventures soul counterparts “excursions.” It’s like she was taking a private jet or plane to another world without having to pay for the airline tickets or even using a car as she is often transported within this novel. Her mother appears first in the past and then she comes back to the present remembering her brother Geoff and her sister Sarah. Her relationship with her siblings was tense and when you finally meet them in different parts of her dreams and her life she will learn that Sarah and she will never be really and truly family and the truth behind what happened to her brother. Sarah, Geoff and someone named Jiggy play an important role within the lives of all of these characters. Thinking back to her brother and his behavior and how Sarah covered for him in many ways to avoid severe parental punishments.
Her mother Olivia is prominent at first and when a voice tells her and explains about her suicide the reader and Olivia in a note: Death by my own hand is a birth in another life. Look for more whenever you see an orchid bloom. Those new blooms are coming from a part of me, her, in this new life. Olivia’s voice is heard even louder as she explains to Fiona that she will encounter people and places that exist in different times, and you will know them. Know that all you experience in those worlds are real. Everyone you meet and everything you do in dreams happens somewhere at some time. Flashing to her stepmother Violet who plays an important role along with Roger her father. Fiona told them about her dreams and fear took over them and they questioned her sanity and she explained about her dreams about her mother and the orchids. Meeting Dr. Schuler who explains to Roger, her father that Fiona has an unusual ability that they quite do not understand. Within the next few chapters the author shares the many breeds of orchids, how Fiona cares for them, feeds them and how the different types communicate within their own group and with insects almost making Orchids have some type of human communication qualities. Lucid dreams are at the heart of this novel as we learn that dreams don’t being or end. Only your awareness of dreams begins and ends.
The time period is the 1940’s when African Americans were fighting just to be free within their own communities and fight for the rights that others have in order to have a better life. In her dream she finds herself back in time at a bar called The Black Orchid and she meets several people that are black and begins to wonder just who she is, how these people impact her life in the past and the present as she is Jayla when entering this bar not Fiona. The bar has a mirror and the reflection staring back at her is not her face but that of someone else. Can she be two people and is the man she loves African American and how does WWII impact the people she meets back during the bar and who are their counterparts in the present. Fiona could be feeding her Orchids, talking on the phone or meeting with someone and all of a sudden find herself transported somewhere else or even reliving events that happen to other people in her life to gain some semblance or sense of certain realities that she cannot understand or control. Are our dreams real? How much do we remember?
Mimi is someone that sees Dr. Krabb and has her own fantasies about this doctor and meeting Fiona she wants to learn more about lucid dreams and how they might impact some of the things she is beginning to explore and wants to know. Lucid dreams are dreams that you realize and know about while you are still asleep. Fiona goes back and forth to this bar and she meets Myles the owner, Holly the bartender, Shorty, she is Jayla and Nyla and other descriptive characters of the time period as she comes back into the present and realizes the Nyla is her sister and Myles is her therapist. She has personal reflections each time she goes back in time and the dreams help her to be a place to practice real-life events and activities and to understand her real self. Krabb tells Fiona that daydreams are a part of the dream world and they help relieve stress, foster creativity, and invigorate the body, mind and spirit. Fiona travels to these many places and begins to wonder and learn about her past, present and future but at times I think she is trying to find her real identity and place in one of the worlds and in life.
Entering the Black Orchid and going back in time she is Jayla and meets Shorty Longsleeves. Tyrone is someone that is there and as she meets Jake who is really her brother in the present and Laquisha who is really Olivia her mother. She tells Dr. Krabb about her visit to the past and looking back to that time period she seems to think that Myles and Jayla have a connection in both time periods. Jayla was a woman Myles thought he wanted to paint until Nyla came. Chapter 10 introduces Amber who is really Sarah her sister in the past and present and Geoff her brother who she struggles and wants to find out what happened to him and where he might be now. Sarah she thinks is married to her own brother and Fiona’s face seems to appear white in her dreams. “ Dreams have a personal validity, to them. You dreams are a byproduct of your existence.” Many people have lucid dreams and when you do you experience certain dreams to understand that developments are possible because they have matured in other perspectives. Dreams create suspense and mystery for those that experience them and they are created within your own mind and realm of reality it seems. Fiona seemed to not comprehend at times who she really is and where she wanted to be as she became so fixed on learning more about the past by revisiting the Black Orchid trying to make sense of her dreams and what is really reality. Dr. Krabb is an insightful character mirroring the author it seems as he explains to Fiona that she is constantly shifting worlds or dimensions and felling what one of the psychic children or entries of your greater personhood is feeling without actually looking like yourself. In her dreams she is Jayla and Dr. Krabb is Myles. Sarah is Amber, and Shorty is Flip who is her stepmother’s son. Jake the bartender is her brother Geoff. Each person is experiencing what she is experiencing in a different way. The relationship that she views and sees and experiences is soul arrangements so certain issues are addressed.
Where do our dreams exists and what are the realities that we experience and how do they play out in time sequences? When dreaming sometimes Fiona seemed to be experiencing things, events that would become important issues back then when blacks were fighting to enter the armed forces and serve and our country. Prejudice, racism, violence, protests and characters that are mean, nasty, tough and struggling through life like Chance who hooks up with Sarah and knows what really happened to Geoff and manages to endear himself in her life for a while until she tosses him out and has to deal with the fatal end result. Social status is brought out in this novel and Mimi and Fiona both seem to be searching for their own identities and seem to have created a certain fixation about Dr. Krabb in their own minds.
Fiona chose to go back to this time period because it included her relationships with men, her fear of black people even in the present, and her close connection to orchids. She even had one that was almost the black in color as her face in the past is black and that in the present not quite as dark. In her lucid dreams she has relationship issues and she sees blacks as caring, honest members of society, and Fiona is watching them help the black movement as it takes shape before the war. She learns how black people can impact beliefs in a dream. Each of the people she meets in the past help her to understand her fears, deal with them as well as her passion, which is connected to orchids and flower awareness. The orchids he the doctor relates communicate in different ways and tend to be sexually active but most people do not understand Orchids and how they communicate with us.
Resolution if vital to Fiona as she goes back one more time to find out what happens to Holly, the men from the bar, those that lived, those that gave their lives and the harsh truth and realities about her family and her relationships. Where will this road finally take her and where will her next journeys lead? Will she return to the Black Orchid? Will she finally move one or will she understand what Dr. Knabb says at the end: Which is why many most of us only want to know about and live one life! Thought provoking, definitely informative and will help readers experience first hand lucid dreams and maybe help you the reader understand why you yourself might experience them as author H.T. Manogue and Fiona takes us all on many different lucid journeys in the past and present.
Fran Lewis: Just reviews/MJ Magazine