Cynthia Reyes, “An Honest House” ~ A Love Story
Note from Author Cynthia Reyes
I ended my first book, A Good Home, with excerpts from two poems that I love: William Wordsworth’s ode to the fields he played in as a child, and Nobel laureate Derek Walcott’s powerful reassurance.
William Wordsworth, from “Intimations of Immortality”:
“Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower;
We will grieve not, rather find
Strength in what remains behind.”
Derek Walcott, from “Love After Love”:
“The time will come
When, with elation,
You will greet yourself arriving
At your own door, in your own mirror.
And each will smile at the other’s welcome
And say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was yourself.”
Unknown to me, thousands of readers across the world would read my book, and some would return, time and again, to this last reassuring chapter.
So would I. As I followed my life’s unpredictable journey, I, too, would return to that chapter – and those poems — time and again. They were good words to live by.
An Honest House, my new book, is the telling of that journey.
An Honest House tells the story of a family determined to find strength, joy and beauty – and indeed, faith – no matter what life throws at us. The book is a sequel to A Good Home, but was deliberately crafted to also be a stand-alone story in its own right.
It didn’t come into being without a fight.
I wanted to write a story about beauty, joy, strength and faith without ever delving into what for me is a minefield: PTSD. I’ve lived with this post-traumatic stress disorder since the car accident which changed my life, but I could never bring myself to talk, read – or write – about it.
Then I had a moment of bravery and decided to jump in headlong – only to land on my head, feeling like Humpty Dumpty.
So I did what all brave people do: I ran away.
Ran away from writing the book. Pretended I was an ostrich and hoped no-one would notice.
If you’ve ever heard my interview with Canada’s celebrated book show host, Shelagh Rogers of the CBC, you’ll note that I announced my switch to writing a gardening book instead, because “gardening is safe”. Little did I know….
At any rate, something big happened in our family’s life. I realized I had to go back to the book, and confront the scary topic of PTSD. This time, I put my family and therapist on notice. Everyone helped. The book was finally completed.
My publisher emailed me late one night to say that the book is “full of colour and beauty and emotion”. I sensed the wonder in his words. His wife later told me that it’s the only book that’s made him cry – in all his years of publishing.
How can there be such beauty and faith in a story that is also about PTSD, severe pain and a near-death experience? And how can a couple find strength and resilience when the fates seem to be conspiring against you?
These are some of the questions my book answers. It does so with a mindful appreciation for the important – even sacred — moments of life.
The moments in the garden my husband tends. Moments where we cook together the food he grows there (he cooks, and I try); the making of jams and jellies, herb oils and floral arrangements (I’m great with the former, terrible at the latter); the apple pies we make together (I peel and cut, he does everything else), and moments with family in the well-built farmhouse that shelters us from some of the storms of life.
There are sacred moments in this house, and in the tiny, 1869 Anglican chapel we attend. There are quiet moments in our local library and hilarious encounters with neighbours. But in between there are also tense conversations with my doctor and therapists.
But mostly, there are moments – cherished moments — with my beloved husband and family.
Early readers have written to say that they feel “at home” in the book. Reluctant to leave the world of An Honest House, many immediately return to reading it for a second time.
I’m enormously grateful for those responses.
There is a whole world in the single word, ‘home’. There is hardship, pain, great challenges that bring us to our knees.
But if we are lucky enough, observant, open and grateful enough, there can also be great joy and beauty around us, and strength and faith within us. To see these things – feel them, hear them, taste them and love them, is also to love ourselves.
To Purchase An Honest House CLICK HERE
Cynthia’s Blog: cynthiasreyes.com
Cynthia Reyes comes to the literary world with a background in network television and magazine writing. She has published non-fiction stories in Arabella Magazine, one of the fastest-growing magazines in the United States and Canada, as well as in the Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star and Toronto Life.
Cynthia is a former journalist and executive producer with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. More than a hundred episodes of her programs have appeared on network television. She has won national and international awards and acclaim for her work as a television producer, project leader, and public speaker, including the Children’s Broadcast Institute Award. The Trailblazer Award and the Crystal Award for Outstanding Achievement in Film and Television.
Her new book AN HONEST HOUSE (May 2016) is both a stand-alone story and a sequel to A GOOD HOME (May 2013). A GOOD HOME takes the reader into the author’s early life in rural Jamaica, her move to urban North America, and her trips back home, all told through vivid descriptions of the unique homes she has lived in — from a tiny pink house in Jamaica and a mountainside cabin near Vancouver to the historic Victorian farmhouse where she and her family moved, just two weeks after a serious car accident.
The new book – AN HONEST HOUSE – picks up the story and immerses the reader immediately into the world of the author’s life with her husband in Ambercroft — their grand Victorian farmhouse surrounded by lush, idyllic gardens. Forced to live frugally and simply, Cynthia and her husband find themselves repeating some of the practices of the family who lived here 140 years before: the family eats much of what grows on their land, finds new uses for old things, and looks for beauty, joy and faith in a simple life. All the senses come alive in this book.
But as Cynthia ventures out into the bigger world with her first book, she is accompanied by dreaded challenges, some invisible: post-traumatic stress disorder, a head injury and other injuries resulting from the accident.
Despite the challenges and changes this family faces, there is an abundance of beauty, joy and wisdom in both books. Readers find themselves re-reading Cynthia’s books, not wanting to leave the world she creates.
To Purchase An Honest House CLICK HERE
AN HONEST HOUSE roughseasinthemed.wordpress.com
A GOOD HOME: cynthiasreyes.com/reviews-of-a-good-home/
“Cynthia Reyes has done it again.” Picking up from the early days of her recovery from a car accident, as told in her first book, “A Good Home,” she shares in this new book intensely lyrical stories of life with her husband in her historic farmhouse north of Toronto.
You will hear the birds sing, smell the flowers in their lavish gardens, and taste the red currant jelly and other dishes from plants grown on their property.
You will be challenged as the author immerses you in the reality of post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and the courage it takes to live with chronic pain.
And you will say a wrenching farewell to the farmhouse as she opens a new chapter in a life still devoted to creating beauty out of the materials that life serves up to her, be they dark and haunting or light and joyful.
Praise for the author’s previous book, “A Good Home“:
..”.full of warmth, deep emotions, and a vibrant understanding of just what a home can mean.” – YVONNE BLACKWOOD, author of “Into Africa: The Return”
“Reyes’ glass is almost always half full, but ours, as we read her uplifting story, always brims over.” – COLIN McALLISTER and JUSTIN RYAN, www.colinandjustin.tv
..”.There is magic in these words.” – DEBRA USHER, President and Editor-in-Chief, “Arabella Magazine”
..”.proves – word by word, line by line, and page by page – you can go home again.” – LEE GOWAN, author of “Confession”
..”. contains some of the most moving and recognizable accounts of happiness and grief that I have ever come across.” – HILARY CUSTANCE GREEN, author of “Surviving the Death Railway: A POW’s Memoir and Letters from Home”