The Witches of Cambridge: A Novel <— This new release (going live tomorrow!!) and has been described to me as a “…delightful tale of magical realism, this is the perfect cozy winter read.”
Yep! It sure does sound like sweet (yet heartache-y) romance potential involving modern witches (a group of friends – professors – that gather together at a witch convention). There’s one that can feel the emotions of those around her, one with a strong case of unrequited love (ohhh I love the sound of that!!) and her sister that conjures up a cupcake of love (yep… casts a spell on it) and gives it to her sister’s crush… and oooops. LOVE TRIANGLE ALERT! *gasp*!!
As romance and longing swirl through every picturesque side street, the witches of Cambridge find their lives unexpectedly upended and changed in ways sometimes extraordinary, sometimes heartbreaking, but always enchanting.
Sounds fun and angsty, and the author has sent over a little personal insight into her writing of “magical realism”.
I’ve always loved fairy tales. I’ve always loved stories, but those with a sprinkling of magic have always been my favourite. I suppose because, for me, life gives us quite enough reality, enough pain and disappointment, enough unfulfilled dreams, to be getting on with, thank you very much. So, since I get enough of this in real life I’m a little reluctant to fill my fantasy life with more of the same. Which is not to say that I only want light and fluffy stories, for all good stories contain some darkness, but I want redemption at the end, I want transformation and uplift, I want hope and happiness. And, with all that, I want faith; faith that there might be a magical edge to the seeming mundane, faith that there is a benevolent force working for the good, faith that miracles do happen. And magical stories give me that.
This is also why I’ll only ever write happy endings. There is more than enough sadness in the world for us to need it in literature too. I don’t mind a bit of sorrow in the beginning, a bit in the middle too, but if you give me too much sorrow in the ending then I’m afraid I’m liable to throw your book across the room upon closing its pages. And I’m only slightly exaggerating. Last week I read a book that gave me sorrow beginning, middle and end and I felt cheated. This I get from watching the news. This is real life. What’s the point of the same in fiction? If I’ve been on a journey, if I’ve fallen in love with these characters I want, no I need, to know that there is some happiness that comes to them in the end, that they are rewarded and relieved after all their struggles and misfortunes. Otherwise, instead of reading the novel (albeit one that might be beautifully written) I may as well just have opened a newspaper. I read stories in order to experience a new perspective, to open a new window, a new way of seeing things. I want to not only be enthralled but enchanted too. That is why I read and that is why I write. Not for escapism but, hopefully, in its best and most beautiful moments, for enlightenment.
Menna van Praag was born in Cambridge, England, and studied modern history at Oxford University. Her first novella,Men, Money, and Chocolate—an autobiographical tale about a waitress who aspires to be a writer—has been translated into twenty-six languages. Her first work of fiction, The House at the End of Hope Street, was inspired by an idea van Praag had to set up a house for female artists to give them a year to fulfill their artistic ambitions. You can learn more about Menna on her website at www.mennavanpraag.com.