Hey friends! Today is my stop on the blog tour for Sandra Cassandra by Shawna Lewis and I am bringing you a guest post. Enjoy!
Sandra Cassandra by Shawna Lewis
Published by: Clink Street Publishing
Release date: 17/06/2021
Where to find: Amazon
Summary: Seventeen and never had a boyfriend, Sandra is resigned to a life without romance.
Everything changes when Fergus Hardisty, her father’s fifty-something boss, proposes marriage. Mum and Dad seem keen on the idea, so she accepts. She might never get another chance.
Yet why do Malcolm Pogson’s eyes avoid his daughter’s? What does he know about Hardisty that others don’t, and why does he cringe with shame when no-one is looking?
The wedding is lovely, but those watching from a distance know it takes more than a fancy dress and a silver horse-shoe to compensate for marriage to a bloke like Hardisty. They will be watching.
Home alone, obliged to keep the house as it always has been, Sandra spends her days examining her own failings. When things go wrong and sad things happen, she blames herself, fearing the power of her own thoughts. Is she evil? She must learn to empty her mind so no-one else can be harmed.
Compassion and healing come from unexpected sources until, slowly, the kindness of strangers leads Sandra from darkness into light and prospects of future fulfilment.
This is a coming-of-age novel about power: the power of dominance over submission; of vanity over values; good over bad and kindness over cruelty.
It also shows the positive power of the human will in supporting the young, the weak and the helpless. The power of ordinary people doing ordinary things transforms Sandra’s life and points her way ahead.
5 Things I like about Sandra – guest post
Standing in goal during a school hockey match, Sandra concentrates less on the game than on her own thoughts. Her musings drift between the customers in the bread-shop (where she works on Saturdays) and her own physical appearance, from the welcoming warmth of her grandmother’s kitchen to the chemically-clean and scrubbed one at home.
The ball hits the backboard. The other team has scored at last and Sandra’s mental response here makes me like her. She’s pleased about this goal, even though it had been her job to prevent it. For Sandra, it’s more important for the other team to feel good about themselves than for her own team to triumph. This shows her to be kind and sympathetic at heart and I like her for that. (1) .
I’m intrigued by Sandra’s naivety when she listens to discussions in the shop about Mr. Hardisty’s appetites, which apparently led to his wife’s demise. Can Sandra, at seventeen, really be so innocent? Is parental control the only reason she doesn’t mix with the other girls? I wonder whether Sandra stays away from Mandy’s party because she disapproves of fun, or if she fears her own weakness? Might she be tempted to behave badly? Will the other party-goers make fun of her? I believe Sandra knows instinctively that parties will never be her ‘thing’? If this is the case, I like her for being true to herself. (2)
I like the fact that she finds company and comfort in her Saturday job. She’s happy amid the ‘lumpen loaves’ and enjoys listening to all the chat, without joining in. There, she has a purpose. I like to see her doing a useful job of work, enjoying it and feeling part of something. (3)
Sandra is naturally of a prim disposition. She carries an air of innocence which almost seems false, yet she knows enough about sex to think, “It must blooming uncomfortable.” By this point, I believe that she has made an independent decision to opt out of anything that might lead in that direction. When she wonders what it would be like to have ‘a boyfriend like Mr. Hardisty’, it’s a daydream she believes could never happen and therefore, is safe.
Most young women of seventeen have pushed the boundaries just a little, shared broken-hearted secrets with a best friend or even given parents the silent treatment, but Sandra has never behaved that way. Instead, she determinedly clings on to her childhood innocence.
I suspect Sandra is content to do as she’s told. She knows she’s not ready to grow up, not ready for independence, and has the strength to stick to her guns. Maybe she already realises that she’s a bit lazy and takes things for granted. At this point in the story, I like Sandra for silently recognising her own weaknesses and letting things take their course. (4)
As the story moves on we see much to dislike about her, particularly her passivity. Perhaps that results from her parents having done all the decision-making before her marriage. This passivity is tested when she fights back, but the transformation is brief. Sandra reverts to passivity when she stays with the Fownhopes, taking their kindness for granted. Once again, she has to be shaken out of her self-obsession at a time of crisis. Sandra is flawed , like us all, and at times it’s easy to see why she doesn’t have many friends.
Sandra is much more likeable after the appearance of Albertina. The woman has guts, compassion, practicality and her own grief, which she sets aside in order to help Sandra. Albertina teaches her to grow up and take control until at last, Sandra assumes responsibility for her own situation and aspirations. My favourite scene in her recovery takes place at Josie’s untidy house full of kittens and people, with the tiny twins Baz and ‘Ric running toy cars through Sandra’s hair. There is still a lot of the child in Sandra, and this happy episode allows it to shine through with joy and elation. We feel she has come through the worst and will recover.
At last I like Sandra again. She accepted Albertina’s help and advice; she recognised the cleaning lady’s own worries and sorrows; she came up with generous solutions to weighty problems, putting others first, and let herself enjoy a playful frolic with the twins. At last she has become an adult. She has come through adversity triumphant, and I’m proud of her for that. (5)
I was born above the family grocery shops in a northern seaside town, started school aged three and at five was sailing to Australia with my parents and sibling, to be taken in by distant relatives who were already building a house for us. My memories of that time are of nothing but kindness, of making do and mending, and the maxim, “Do as you would be done by.”
Back in England, teaching was to be my main career. Later, I had a few magazine articles published and for several years worked as a freelance journalist for two local newspapers. Often with a small boy on the back of my bike, I would pedal around to any event worthy of a few lines. This gave me an insight into the workings of small communities, where most people have grown up alongside one another and know instinctively who can be trusted and who must be avoided. Insights gained during those times helped frame some of the characters in Sandra Cassandra.