Pharmaceutical Journal review of A Taste of His Own Medicine

Protagonist exacts revenge in this fascinating pharmacy fiction title

The Pharmaceutical Journal8 FEB 2017By Andrew Haynes

A surprisingly good read featuring a pharmacist with an axe to grind against fellow students from her undergraduate days.

A taste of his own medicine, by Linda Fawke. Pp 264 Price £7.99. Charleston: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 2016. ISBN 978 1 539695097

This is a debut novel by a retired industrial pharmacist. When asked to critique it, I was not expecting much, since I have, in the past, been generally underwhelmed by pharmacist fiction. But this time I was pleasantly surprised.

The novel’s central character, Kate, is a successful community pharmacist who has built up a small chain of pharmacies. Although now in her early 50s, she still harbours grievances from her time as an undergraduate. When invited to a 30-year reunion weekend, she decides to go along and wreak vengeance on those who had slighted her when they were students together.

The action cuts smoothly back and forth between events at the reunion and the incidents that bruised Kate as a student. Her complex personality gradually unfolds — and darkens — as the narrative progresses. Her vindictive schemes do not go entirely to plan, and the book has an unexpected ending that sets the scene for a planned sequel.

The blurb on the cover describes the novel as “darkly humorous”. It certainly has its dark moments, but I did not find much humour in it. Nevertheless, it was an enjoyable read that held my attention to the end.

Unlike other pharmacist novels I have reviewed, this book has clearly gone through a proper proofreading process. Unless you are the sort of pedant who insists on “focused” rather than “focussed”, the novel is pretty much free from spelling and typographical errors, at least until the last few pages.

By the way, Fawke does not name Kate’s alma mater, but the description of the pharmacy department past and present reminded me of the University of Nottingham. An online check showed that the author is herself a Nottingham graduate, so presumably some of the plot — although I hope not the grimmer parts — is based on her own experience.

References:

A taste of his own medicine, by Linda Fawke. Pp 264 Price £7.99. Charleston: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 2016. ISBN 978 1 539695097

 

New Year’s Resolution in July!

New Year’s Resolution done with five months to spare!

When my family got together last Christmas, Jessi (my daughter-in-law) said we should decide on our NYRs for 2015. I didn’t have anything specific but knew it had to be about writing. ‘Do more writing’ was too vague, ‘Get my novel published’ too aspirational, ‘Write every day’ too challenging. So she provided me with one. She said I should start a blog. I’ve been deliberating on this ever since. I know it’s what writers do – at a Writing Day I recently attended, I was in the minority being blogless – and I do consider myself a writer.

So what should the blog be about? I decided a good place to start is to write about writing.

I love writing. It’s an addiction. I leave the normal world, go deaf to everything around me, and plink away at my laptop. I prefer to write in the evening – well, late at night to be exact.  I like to sit in my study, at my desk, with darkness coming through the open curtains. My writing paraphernalia surround me: notes, scraps of paper, pens and pencils in an old mug, copies of ‘Writing’ magazine, books and silence. I’m a poor typist but that’s fine as my fingers are not frustrated by my rate of composition. I can no longer write more than a few sentences on paper. I change so much as I go along it becomes illegible within minutes. The joy of ‘cut and paste’ and ‘delete’!

I regret not having turned to writing sooner. I didn’t spend any real time on it until I retired. Although I wrote the first line of a novel in my teens – and then the next few hundred words in my twenties – it never got beyond that. My excuse was lack of time. What rubbish was that! We all have time – it depends on how it is prioritised. I found time to look after the kids, cook, do the washing and ironing, clean the house (well, not much), go to work. Perhaps I could have sacrificed a few dirty clothes and an unironed shirt to the muse! But that’s history and I really have no excuses now.

I’ve also learned that writing is not all about English grammar, spelling and punctuation. I learned all these at school – well-taught in my day – so I assumed that meant I could write. These are the bricks and mortar, but a solid wall is not the same as a beautiful house. So although I have a (deserved) reputation for being nit-picky, I do know that creativity is a skill beyond putting a good sentence together.

And another thing – some of my family and friends may have noticed a distinct thickening of my skin. This is an essential prerequisite for any writer. Rejection is commonplace. I can live with it although would prefer to live without it.

The house is quiet. I think I heard my husband call from upstairs, ‘Do you know what time it is?’ I can see my reflection in the dark window-pane. My coffee has gone cold. But my brain is alive. I’ll pay for it when I can’t get to sleep.

And I’m still not sure if I actually agreed to that New Year’s Resolution!