Monday, 11 November 2013

The fifth of November

Remember, Remember, the fifth of November“, the words that traditional 17th century English rhyme starts with. People of England know of no reason to forget the gunpowder treason and my parents, even if they wanted to, couldn't forget the event from November 5, 27 years ago, the birth of their first born child a.k.a. me. Rumor has it my Dad thought I was redhead first time he went to see me at a hospital, few hours after I was born. You see, I actually had no hair but I got all red from crying (as newborns tend to do) including my vertex so it must have seemed to my newly father who was only 23 at the time that, even both Mum and him are dark-haired, I turned out to be redhead. Fortunately for him, I turned out to be blonde in childhood, brunette during my preadolescence and redhead now, but only thanks to hair dying industry.


I've read somewhere that people born on November 5 tend to hide themselves behind masks created for outer world, fearing to expose too much, fearing to fail, fearing to lose... The statement is correct even though, growing as a person made me realize the irrelevancy of the masks. Fear of failure and fear of loss are now substituted by the fear of lethargy and giving up as those two things are what'd make me feel dead while still alive. But, during those sensitive, adolescent years, a mask has been created. Not only a mask but a whole alter-ego, stronger and braver then me at the time, more ready to stand up for itself and more ready to write, as writing was always my passion. But there were times when I thought it wasn't good enough to be shared with the world. Why am I sharing this with you now, you probably wonder? My alter-ego, my braver version of myself...she was also my favorite book character.

Have you ever felt like the book you are currently reading is just a waste of your precious time, like it is just a pile of letters and you'll be no wiser or fullfilled if you just leave it on the bookshelf or return it to the library? I can see you nodding your heads right now; it happened to you at least once but what does it matter? I agree. It doesn't. Not until a perfect character, you could easily rely to and you feel absolutely comfortable about is trapped inside such a book. It happened to me some 10 years ago. The crime scene is inside the covers of Kai Meyer's „The Alchemist“ (or „The Alchemist's Daughter“, depending on translator's interpretation of the original title „Die Alchemistin“) and her name is, as you can guess if you have read the book, Aura Institoris.

Kai Meyer, as well as his famous namesaker Stephenie, chose a career of YA writer, at a time when YA fiction was still just fiction, not a way of life. Obviously, the world of alchemy is not as popular as the world of vampires so Meyer (Kai) was left on the genre's margins. When asked to desribe „The Alchemist“ in only one sentence, he'd say it is a family saga, thriller and a love story combined with some fantasy elements. Don't get me wrong, I love a touch of fantasy in my reading but there are times when I'd like to say „Oh, come on!“ even to G.R.R.Martin. To cut the long story short, The Alchemist starts at the end of the 19th century, in an old, dark castle at the island in the middle of Baltic sea where 15-year old Aura lives with her father, famous alchemist Nestor Nepomuk, mother Charlotte, younger sister Sylvette and two adopted brothers, Daniel and Crhistopher. They are living a normal, family life (at least as normal as it can be when your father is an alchemist and the six of you are living all alone, miles away from civilization) untill Aura's beloved father gets killed by the hand of his arch enemy Lysander. This is vwhere the sane part ends. Afterwards, Aura has been sent to boarding school for girls which turns out to be a cover for white slave traffic with a headmisstress turning out to be a headmaster. A beautiful  hermaphrodite Gillian (who eventually turns out to be her father's assasin and, later on, the love of her life) helps her avoid the fate of other boarding girls and accompanies her on her way to find Lysander and avenge her father's  death.

Even while putting the text together in my head, this didn't seem like something I'd take home from a library now. Still, the book is standing proudly at one of my bookshelves. Why Aura? I have never been so impressed by the character's persona as I was with Aura's. So young, yet so strong, faced first with a loss of her father, the only support she has ever had, followed by the notion he wasn't really the man Aura took him for and finally, with the fight for her own survival. Despite all that, she stood up and shown she really is her father's daughter.  Looking back on it, my belief is that, at the age of 17, that was the only thing I really wanted; to find my own way trough life and to be the person my parents would be proud of.
Aura, depicted in my head, was always kind of me. So, when I decided to create this post as some sort of DIY birthday present for myself, my first idea was to organize a shooting on a cliff or somewhere near the sea (it is raining for days so the water is rather wild and stormy) but I've cut my hair few weeks ago and the only thing Aura can't have is chin length hair. It had to be long and a bit wild, as in the book and as in my imagination. So I have managed to find one picture from my „Aura period“ and would like to share it with you. It was taken on June 4, 2006., after Apocalyptica's concert in Zagreb. I was wearing a „no name“ jacket, and a Skandal corsage and skirt. The brand was pretty popular at the time but untill I sat down to write this post, it wasn't quite clear to me what happenned to it. Oh, of course, and the shoes, I bought them few weeks before the concert, in Paprika store in Italy. They were black with violet pattern and a charming ribbon on the toes. And with 2,5 cm „high“ heel. It might seem funny but to me, wearing sneakers and Dr.Martens only, it was a big deal.

Surprisingly, I've never depicted Gillian as someone I'd fall for, he was one of the things from the book I didn't like. An assasin paid to kill a girl who falls for her, saves her, seduces her, leaves her with child and surprisingly shows up few years later. Cliché. OK, with a twist as Gillian is a hermaphrodite, the product of alchemy and another mythical creature, as he is referred to in a book. When thinking of Gillian's inpersonation the only person coming to my mind was Justin Hawkins, singer of The Darkness. It may be because of his thin voice or because of his long, blond hair. Perhaps his gentle face lines are to blame but, if I was the director, Julian would most certainly play the role of a hermaphrodite.

Of course, I'd be the one portraying Aura. Her strenght and her devotion to everything she does or even tries to do have inspired me so many times and, through me being her, I managed to be me, to create myself to be the person I'm proud of, a strong, hard-willed person, accepting no obstacles in life, giving herself completely to what I do and to whom I love. Being Aura helped me realize there will be times or events in life I won't like, won't feel happy about or I'll even hate them but no matter what, it is necesary to find a fullfillment even if it is just a single, little thing. As with „The Alchemist“, I didn't like the book but I really enjoyed Aura. As with my life at the moment; it is killing me I can't get a job but, on the other hand, I started this blog and it made me feel so alive and filled me with energy I wasn't even aware still exists. So now, at the age of 27, I can say I'm pretty proud of what this Aura has become. Don't know what happens to Meyer's girl (as I found out recently, there are 2 more books, sequels to „The Alchemist“ but not yet translated to Croatian) but am quite certain, no matter how inpredictable the future is, it will bring me joy and even more passion for the things I love.
Have you read „The Alchemist“? If you did, did you like it? If not, and you love „Twilight“ and other YA successes, you should try it, you may love a main female character with a strong personalit  and some other desires in life except being immortal. And, moreover, have you ever found yourself in a situation similar to this, to love a character so much you were able to identify yourself with them?

Looking forward to your comments! 

1 comment:

  1. My dear Petra,
    thank you for introducing us to "the Alchemian"; I know very well that some books in our lives are a very intimate matter, so it is appreciated. I haven't read it so I can't comment on it or agree/disagree with your considerations, but the plot you explained made me want to order it right now from Amazon! So I will definitely check it out and maybe share some thoughts with you once I'm done reading it.
    Also I loved your implicit attack to Bella Swan's flat personality in the last sentence...I've read the Twilight saga and her insignificant character made me upset.
    Have a good day my friend!


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