Travel – White Rat in India

Travel – White Rat in India

I travel to tumble down the rabbit hole. I don’t want a predictable world. I don’t want to say that this city reminds me of that one. I want to be unbalanced. Feel lost.


It is a feeling completely other to the disorientation suffered by so many who have stumbled into a dark, confounding tunnel during this pandemic. And Alice is still plunging.


Amidst the fear, there is also hope.


The fall will end. Life will continue to be layered and lived. Challenges ahead may seem less overwhelming. In the words of Alice, “after such a fall as this, I shall think nothing of tumbling down the stairs!”


That is no small thing.


But for now, as we fall down, down, down, I think of other adventures and Wonderlands that waited for me at the end of dark tunnels.


I recall a long night on a dark train in India. My sweat soaked clothes stuck to me. Bodies littered the space around me. Small children’s wails lacerated dreams. The stench was a weight in the air. The space enclosed me like a coffin. I tried to sleep. Then I settled for just trying to breathe.


We fell down, down, down.


Then, in the pre-dawn darkness, I alighted from the train with a soft thump, and the fall was over.

I brushed myself off and looked around. The western desert station in Bikaner emanated horror-movie menace. There may have been a flickering light bulb. I don’t recall. 


After three months in India, I was accustomed to stepping gingerly over strewn bodies on platform floors. And I was resigned to the riot of traders and swindlers that stalked my every step. However, loitering at the railway exit I felt the wariness that hovers over night-time travelers in dimly lit stations the world over. The transitory flurry caused by the train’s arrival had settled, and I had waved off the swarm who had bid to bundle me into the back of a rickshaw. When it was clear that I wasn’t bargaining, the rabblel backed off to watch what I’d do next. I waited. It wasn’t terribly exciting, but I was the only show in town.


The night lightened and still my ride didn’t show. A family with three youngsters stirred on the pavement in front of the station where they had spent the night. The mother shifted the infant in her arms and breast-fed the child. The older boys sat up grimly, neither looking to be fed or petted. Their eyes fixed straight ahead, haggard and hopeless.


I had travelled to Bikaner in Rajasthan to visit the city’s renowned rat temple. The creatures horrify me, but I was drawn to the idea like the sight of a car crash. I thought it might help me understand how a rat in India can rise to the status of a god, while a child in the same country can sleep in the sewers.

By the time a car screeched up and my apologetic host fussed profusely, even the traders had lost interest in me.


Some convoluted explanation was provided, which distilled down to the simple fact that I had been forgotten. It didn’t matter. The sun, even at this early hour, was parching my skin. I was heading to shade, a shower, and a bed.


I wasn’t ready for my encounter with crazy, so I stalled my departure to the temple and rested up out of the glare in my host’s home on the edge of a town that has built its tourism trade around the 16th century Junagarh Fort, camel safaris, and a fetish with rats.


The rat temple is dedicated to Karni Mata, a 14th century mystic who was believed to be the reincarnation of the Hindu goddess Durga, the supreme mother and creative life-force. Unsurprisingly, several legends surround the reason for worshiping the 20,000 or so sacred rats, known as kabas. It is said that Karni Mata attempted to bring back to life the son of a grieving storyteller, who was one of her clansmen.

However, Yama, the god of death, refused to restore the child, claiming that it was too late as his soul had already been reincarnated. The mystic and the god then came to an agreement that all of Karni Mata’s tribe would be reincarnated as rats, under her protection, until they could be reborn into her clan.


During my time in India, I had become quite the temple aficionado. I rang the bell on entering to wake the gods. I watched the priests dress figurines in the morning and dab their plastic bodies in rose-scented water. I had saffron and rice daubed on my forehead.


And now, done with flirtations, I was intent on getting down and dirty in the fabled Karni Mata Temple, where, if my planets aligned, I might spot a rare white rodent, considered most auspicious, amidst the grisly brown swarm that ran rampant.


I took a bus to the small town of Deshnoke, about 30 km from Bikaner. Hawkers selling rat treats had set up stalls outside the temple. Passing under the ornate eaves and through the solid silver doors, an excited crowd surged forward. I held back, in no hurry for whatever might present itself.

Pausing before the breach, the building was well worth a moment. It was built by Maharaja Ganga Singh in the early 1900s. The rats’ royalty status was reflected in the gilded gates and marble façade. But for all the embellishment, there was no escaping the fact that what we had here was a horror load of rats. The sour smell of well-fed vermin rose like a smoke signal, while netting covered the open courtyard to protect them from birds of prey.


I didn’t need to be told twice to watch where I was walking, but aside from the desire to avoid stomping on a critter I was warned that a false foot leading to a dead rat would mean that I would have to replace it with a gold rat effigy. I inched forward.


It was like entering a 19th century pleasure den. Plumb fellows lolled stupidly in shaded corners, sated with sweets, milk and ground nuts. Twirling their whiskers, others languished on fret-work railings, which acted as sofas over which they draped their huge balls. At any moment, I expected to see paunches patted, whisky poured, and cigars produced.


In the meantime, temple guardians topped up bowels of milk, which they placed at scattered intervals across the floor. Barely deigning to glance at the subjects, who prostrated themselves on the filthy floor, rats gathered around the rim and lapped up the nectar.


Many of the devotees who had travelled with their families had come great distances. Their excitement was colourful, noisy and infectious. Youngsters were encouraged by their parents to poke the rats, which appeared to be far too replete to mind. Bare feet were shamelessly flouted in the hope that a rat would run over them, as this was considered extremely lucky. Skittish children, who had the good sense to skip out of the way if a livelier fellow looked set to cross their path, were given admonishing looks and encouraged to overcome their aversion by offering the offended soul some sweets.

Believers sat on the floor between the railings which led to the inner sanctum that held the image of the deity, and where the priests conducted their rituals and handed out Karni Mata’s ‘Prasad’. This is the leftover nibbles that the rats first sample before the believers are lucky enough to finish the job. It is, quite literally, the food of the gods, and considered sanctified. I declined, in the belief that avoiding plague would be blessing enough.


Arms crossed, feet covered, smile strained, I felt like the only sober person at the party. Then the excitement racked up another notch. A temple guardian hurried over and led me to where a group was gathered around a hole in the temple wall. A white rat had been spotted. Elation mingled with tension. The subject of all the attention refused to bolt from its hole. Treats were waved in whiffing distance of its trembling snout. Bodies pressed closer. I found myself as anxious as anyone to catch a glimpse of its snowy face. 


It was slow, it was nerve wrenching but, eventually, the quivering ancestor made a brief appearance to perform a snatch and grab. The supplicants went wild. I admit, I was carried by the euphoria. “A white rat!” I heard myself gasp. Someone must have spiked my drink.


In India, anything is possible. Therein lies its lure. It cannot be defined by experience or expectations; nor will it limit itself to boundaries. In India, a child will scavenge in filth; while at another table, a rat will dine like a lord. There is no end to the horror one can encounter; equally, there is no border to this Wonderland.


© Róisín Sorahan

Toots Book Reviews

For reviews, discussion and more on Time and the Tree, click here.

Travel – Chi Chi’s Hotel

Travel – Chi Chi’s Hotel

At Chi Chi’s Hotel in Honduras, everything is for sale. Love, sex, family, lodgings. I had never planned to go there. It’s one of those places you end up.


The unlikelihood of Chi Chi’s epitomizes the wanderer’s destination. It’s the reason I travel. It’s what I miss right now. The shock of being surprised. Of being intentionally lost. 


It is utterly different from the disorientation suffered by so many who have fallen into labyrinths in this pandemic. It is a route with a passage in and a way out. It is light in darkness, and hope in despair.


Amidst the challenges posed by Covid, I remind myself that we are also our memories. We are the roads we have traveled in the world, and in our minds. Even in lock downs, separated by masks and political divergence, we are still the sum of our every moment. Each decision made and path taken counts and builds towards all we are. And that is something.

My moment continues to be shaped by my wanderings. And Chi Chi’s Hotel informs everything that has brought me to this point. To this word.


I remember the light, and the smell of the place.


I reached the end of the road in a clattering bus with shaven tires and a weary driver. The dirt track we’d been following for miles had simply given up. I hesitated behind an old couple with an enormous sack stuffed full of provisions who limped gingerly down the steps to where the villagers had gathered to enjoy the brief diversion the bus offered. As I stood in the doorway, blinking into the sunshine, the friendly banter stuttered to a stunned silence.


The night before, as I had talked in trills about trekking off the beaten track, I was all wide-eyed idiocy. Having arrived, I had no idea what I was doing there and what I should do next. Before I could high-tail it back to the Gringo trail, the bus turned on its arse, belched some sludge and cut out of dodge. I was stranded.


I had brazened my way into many an aul’ fellas bar down the wrong end a pot-holed lane; and had been the subject of many a bemused stare in my time. But I knew the poet Paddy Kavanagh’s “half-talk code of mysteries” and was an adept at the unspoken language of the nod. In this beat-up little community, with its tin roof shacks and cluster of curious faces, I didn’t know the rules and was completely at a loss. 

So, it was with easy compliance that I was herded across the bridge by a cluster of kids and led to the door of Chi Chi’s Hotel.


It had seemed like such a good idea. A local guy had let me in on a secret two days earlier. He told me that the Bay Islands, off the coast of Honduras, were stunning, but haunted by tourists who swarm for the diving. There were other gems, he confided, if you knew where to find them. All I had to do was reach this coastal village, then hunt down a fisherman who would take me to a hidden paradise. The name he whispered wasn’t mentioned in any guidebook I had read. It was hard to reach. There was no electricity. My Spanish was poor. But he said it was magical, and I was bewitched.


Standing under a sign that promised a ‘tropical disco’ at the dark entrance to Chi Chi’s Hotel, the spell had worn off.

I stepped under the straw plaited eaves and entered a sizable barn, with a dirt floor and a woven roof. There were a couple of tattered posters, a TV in the corner, and an abandoned bar with the promise of beer. One of the children bee-lined out the back door and returned with my host.


Chi Chi was an imposing woman and a figure of standing in this Garifuna community. Tall, muscular, poised and bare foot, she wore a pink tee-shirt and rosary beads around her neck.


She led me out the back door and showed me to my shack. It was one of six that semi-circled the ragged space. As she opened the door she thrust a fistful of condoms into my hand.


There were a few more scattered on the make-shift bed, and handwritten signs encouraging safe-sex plastered the walls. It was Saturday night, and I was steps from the promise of a heady disco in a hut that bore all the hallmarks of a knocking shop.


But Chi Chi knew a guy who had a boat. Chi Chi, I soon gathered, could get you anything you needed. A nod and a moment later a child kicked up his heels to find his older brother.

He arrived on his bike. Negotiations were swift. He named his price, and I nodded my head. Bargaining was never my strong point. The trouble was that the waves were high, and his boat was small. So, we couldn’t go today, but maybe tomorrow.


I took stock of my lodgings. Cardboard strips covered holes, the roof was patchwork tin, a tangled mosquito net shrouded the bed, and a stout bar of wood held the door tight. Stretching my arms, I could reach from one side of my room to the other.


On my doorstep the children tripped over hens and the dinner menu was scrawled in foot high script on the back wall of the barn. Pollo or pescado – chicken or fish.


As Chi Chi set about cooking up a feast on an outdoor stone oven, I took stock and ventured into the outdoor shower. A dead rat and a live crab sent me scuttling. A bucket of rainwater rinsed off the dust in time for a mouth-watering fresh fish dish.

After dinner, Chi Chi offered the services of her son to guide me through the community. “Do you have a boyfriend?” she asked. “My son is very handsome. He could be your boyfriend.”


A boy in a crisp white shirt who had started college and was honing his English arrived. The tour took about 15 minutes, end to end. It was a lively night, reminiscent of scenes from spaghetti Westerns. Hungry looking mules were tied to posts as men lolled on sills drinking beer and women stretched long tired limbs in doorways.


Back at Chi Chi’s all was as quiet as the night sky. The Tropical Disco was open for business, but the only souls to pass under its eaves were children sent on messages and women consulting Chi Chi on domestic matters.


I woke early the next morning and the wind was still strong. The brother arrived and shook his head. Not another boat was stirring. Chi Chi warned me of the uncertainty of the weather at that time of year. If I waited another day, I might make it. But who could tell? My barrage of questions elicited no more than a shrug. It was in the hands of the waves, and speculation was pointless.


I gave up planning and shook off my shoes for an impromptu Punta dance lesson in the dirt floor disco. Chi Chi led the booty shakin’, foot slidin’ session. A crowd of youngsters gathered at the door and gradually slipped inside to have a better gander at the gringo, who looked like she’d been the subject of an unsuccessful hip replacement. The rhythm pulsed and the fact that I’d been up since 5am in anticipation of a boat that was never leaving its dock didn’t matter.


By 9am my pack was loaded, and I was ready to go. I figured that Godot arriving was as good a bet as the boat departing and decided to take my chances back on the road. A clatter of children led me out of town – probably the same ones who had guided me to Chi Chi’s the day before.


There was neither sight nor sign of a bus. But a couple of miles down the track, I hitched a ride on a pick-up truck. I didn’t know where it was going, but somewhere seemed as good a destination as any I might have planned.


I don’t recall where I ended up. It doesn’t matter. Another path taken and road followed to a place that ends and begins right here. Amidst the world’s challenges and uncertainties, I have no idea where the ribbon will unfurl. I don’t need to know. I just need to allow myself the joy of being surprised and remain ever open to mysteries whispered in my ear.


© Róisín Sorahan


3 Feb. 2022,


For reviews, discussion and more on Time and the Tree, click here.


In Conversation – Joystory Interview

Time and the Tree Book by Róisín Sorahan

22 Feb. 2022


RÓISÍN: It means a lot to me that you enjoyed Time and the Tree. Thank you for taking the time to read it, Joy. I also appreciate such thoughtful and insightful questions. 


I believe the reader completes the creative process. They bring their memories, experiences, failures and aspirations, and sculpt their own meaning from it. It is with this in mind that I approach your questions. I don’t want to influence, or shape, the response to Time and the Tree. It’s important that the reader creates it in their own image, according to their need and belief, every single time.


But, to answer your first question, my name, Róisín, is Irish. Phonetically it is pronounced: Row-sheen.


JOY: 1. Influences.  

I hope that this first set of questions related to Influences is enough different from the question ‘Where do you get your ideas?’ that you won’t, as most authors do for that version, turn from them in disgust and horror.:

RÓISÍN: Authors are often the worst people to describe their work. Articulate on the page, we stutter over words to encapsulate it. Some have been known to bark. I recall Samuel Beckett’s response when prodded: “No symbols where none intended.” 


But, I shall try…


JOY: A. Landscapes

What and where were the landscapes you encountered from earliest memory to the last sentence written that influenced your development of your story’s landscape?


RÓISÍN: I grew up in Dublin, in Ireland. It’s a fantastic city. One of my favourite aspects of it, however, is how easy it is to get out of it and find oneself in the hills, smothered by gorse, or on the coast, doused by the smell of the sea.


Some of my earliest, and happiest, memories, are of sojourns along the west coast of Ireland. There’s magic there, it its unruly wildness.


My parents were attuned to the rhythm of the seasons. My mum grew things. My dad took enormous pleasure in the rise and fall of a wild creature’s chest. I learned to observe, and respect, the natural world, from them.


In my childhood, and in all that followed, mountains existed to be climbed; and admired. And trees, well, they offer enormous comfort, don’t they? Perhaps it’s their heartbeats that resonate with us, on a visceral level. 


Our small garden, growing up, was also a place of wonder. I recall hunkering down, head bent over the first flowers of spring. They never failed to draw me closer, and astonish me, every single time. I could have spent hours looking at them. I possibly did. 


As an adult, I took to the road, lured by the siren’s call. I’ve traveled across so many borders, now, that boundaries mean little to me. The world is astonishing in its beauty, and in its capacity to surprise. So, too, are the people one meets. 


I drew on my travels when recounting the Wanderer’s experiences. The road itself became an important landscape in my tale, with all its promise, and uncertainty.


JOY: In this vein I can’t help but wonder if you ever wandered alone in a forest as a child as Boy does?


RÓISÍN: I wandered, certainly. But with the knowledge that my parents were close by, so I never felt lost. Perhaps this sense of security is reflected in the Boy’s ease in this environment.


But, you are right to identify the important role the forest plays in the story. 


It links into the tradition of the fairy tale, where the forest is an enclosed world that can represent both danger and refuge. It thrums with possibility and life. And, for all that it keeps its secrets in the open, it hints at another space, that cannot be seen, that hovers on the edge of awareness. 


The forest is both a portal, and a boundary. 



JOY: B. Reading/Philosophies/Media

From earliest memories to the last sentence written, what were the cultural experiences from your life that influenced the development of Time and the Tree?


RÓISÍN: I live my life deliberately. I take risks and make choices. And I take responsibility for these choices. Even the bad ones.


It’s a decision to live in this manner. It opens one to possibility; and it comforts with the knowledge that nothing is immutable, and change is always within reach. I remind myself that all that is past has significance, in bringing me to where I am. And all that follows flows from this moment. 


It makes me aware of time. It also helps me to understand that my relationship with time is within my control, and a decision that I make.


This is one of the central tenets of Time and the Tree. It challenges the reader to reflect on choices they have made, from a fresh perspective. It also offers hope. 


As our capacity for tyranny and self-destruction is enormous, so too is our light, and our ability to change. 


I am also a proponent of the Philosophy of Happiness. This, for some, is a tricky one. Culturally, we are encouraged to think of others, and do the right thing. This is critical for operating within social structures. However, this message has been packaged in guilt, and wrapped in self-sacrifice. Dousing the light, to let others shine. 


This, of course, is antithetical. 


Women, I believe, suffer particularly from societal pressure to deny personal need, desire and ambition, for the good of the tribe. They are defined by their roles. And celebrated, or shamed, accordingly. Little wonder that ‘the invisible woman’ haunts galleries, history books and tales of daring do. 


This diminishes all of us. In supressing the will to love and learn and be, it scrubs words and drags darkness into the space where the light should be. Without happiness we cannot help ourselves, let alone another.


The pursuit of happiness is explored in Time and the Tree. It examines the importance of self-actualization. It also illustrates the cost of erasing the self; underscoring the fundamental tenet that underlies pretty much every spiritual philosophy: love yourself; love others. 


JOY: Here I can’t help but wonder if you discovered and loved allegory type stories as a child and, if so, which ones?


RÓISÍN: I devoured fairy tales, and all stories magical: The Brothers Grimm; Enid Blyton; Hans Christian Andersen. Then I moved on to fantasy. I read The Lord of the Rings numerous times. 


I just finished Kelly Barnhill’s The Girl Who Drank the Moon, which utterly bewitched me.


Children’s literature continues to fascinate me. It’s subversive. Magic is another word for possibility. And the format of the fable is extremely powerful.  


I used it in Time and the Tree because it employs a childlike simplicity that takes you by the hand and brings you to places you might never have otherwise ventured. Before you know it, you’re in the basement in the dead of night, while the wind howls and the electricity fails. 


Typically, fables also lead you home again; though the meaning of ‘home’ may have dramatically changed from when you set out on the journey.


JOY: C. Life Events

From earliest memories to the last sentence written, what aspects of your personal history influenced Time and the Tree?


RÓISÍN: I quit a good job to travel the world in pursuit of happiness. When I set out, I figured I’d find places that lured me into staying. However, I discovered that I was never happier than when my nose was pressed against the window of a filthy bus. The road became my destination, and I had time to think.


The opportunity to allow the mind to meander is a novelty in modern times. When my brain quit making lists, it had space for ideas.


I slept in countless beds, packed and re-packed my belongings, shedding stuff, where I could. My sense of need, my understanding of my blessings and opportunities, and my concept of home, evolved. 


During this time, I met numerous people who influenced my thinking and guided me towards my path. The opportunity to learn and practice Vipassana mediation in retreats in Dehradun in Indian, and in Shelbourne, Massachusetts, in the US, played an important role in the evolution of Time and the Tree.


JOY: Here I’m especially interested in how your personal encounters with loss and grief played a role in developing the core philosophy of Tree revealed near the end.  But if there are any others that come to mind I welcome them as well.


RÓISÍN: Death and life are intertwined. Endings and beginnings. Complicated stuff. 

We reach a point in our lives, where we all experience it, at some stage. There is no avoiding it.


Grief and death are not to be confused, however. Grief is painful and ragged. The cost of loving deeply. 


Death is what gives meaning to life. Without winter, there would never be spring.


JOY: Why did you choose to keep the Boy nameless and untethered to any hint of a life outside the forest?  No parents, siblings, culture of his own?  No past before the Tree?


RÓISÍN: The Boy is an archetype. He features powerfully in the story, but his role is to question, to seek, to be the site over which a battle is raged. And it is his function to transition from innocence to knowledge. 

He is a critical catalyst in the tale. But, most importantly, in retaining him featureless, he is a vessel into which the reader can pour themselves.


JOY: As I read your description of Weaver’s Web in the far North I got chilling associations in my mind with our World Wide Web.  Was this intentional?  Part of your vision?  Or just a matter of your Story acting like a Rorschach’s inkblot for individual readers as so many do?


RÓISÍN: Tyranny exists in many forms. We have witnessed this throughout history, and our current time is no different. The mechanisms of power change, but the intentions do not.


When I wrote the North, I had ample references. All of our time. They coalesced to shape this dystopian realm. The political unrest we’ve seen these past few years, and the misinformation that foments fear and creates the Other, all played into the evolution of the Weaver’s web. 


JOY: At one point I saw such a strong correlation between the relationship of Time and his Shadow to our Patriarchal culture’s marriage dynamic that I half expected you to reveal them as the Boy’s parents.  Rorschach or real?  Have you encountered in reading or travels any other culture types that use time tyranny the way Patriarchy does? Or any Patriarchy that did not? Or any at all that eschew time tyranny and yet exhibit sustainable success?


RÓISÍN: That’s a wonderful way to read the story, Joy. And I think the relationship between Time and the Shadow can be understood in many different ways.


More generally, time has always held great sway, in one way, or another. The pressure to get the hay in before the rain falls; the need to get the animals into the barn, before the night comes. The roll of the seasons, and the pendulum of day and night, have always been batons that beat out the measure of days and lives.


Then, the industrial revolution monetized time. And, in placing a value on time, it handed it to those with earning potential. Traditionally, men. The breadwinners sloughed to the factories and counted their days in hours spent earning a crust. It wasn’t great. But it was better than time being counted for nothing, which was the case of the domestic, female, sphere. Linking time to money created yet another power imbalance in the Patriarchal structure.


However, there are other ways to engage with time. And this is what Time and the Tree explores. Time is a construct of our making. The role it plays in our lives is ours to choose. It can be the yoke to which we tether our lives, as we strain and yearn towards a better future; or it can add weight to the present moment, with the knowledge that it too will pass, regardless of its wonder, or its pain.


This is central to Buddhist thinking, and it is an ethos that is slowly seeping into Western culture. 


JOY: Why does Tree welcome Time and Weaver and exhibit a faith and hope that they can be redeemed?  Are there some aspects of these two characters that are essential to life if their attributes and actions had not been corrupted?  As distasteful as I found them I also registered empathy for them and this resonates with the personal philosophy I developed after I broke with the fundie cult I was raised in: That there is no such thing as an irredeemable sentient being.  Can you riff on this concept?


RÓISÍN: I don’t believe in the lost cause. Any more than I believe in our power to change another. We can help. We can support. And we can guide. But the impetus for change lies within the individual.


Our personal capacity for destruction and self-loathing is matched by our ability to evolve. It is within our power to create new thought patterns and relationship habits. We can change how we engage with the world, even when we cannot control society’s mechanisms. Who we spend time with; how we listen; the words we choose to speak; the silences and counsels that we keep. We can put out a hand to help another. Equally, we can decide that we ourselves are worth saving.


If this pandemic has reminded us of anything, it is that humans are adept at evolving and surviving. Regardless of how much we fight it, and how much it frightens us, change is always within our grasp.


The Tree does not bar the path to any who seeks its counsel. It does not stand on judgement. Nor does it crush its limbs, by flinging itself against the world. It helps the reader understand that “Time gives meaning to endings and beginnings and encourages us to dive into the chasm that lies between.”


It also throws the gauntlet to the reader to reflect on their path and the choices they’ve made, and the role they have cast Time in their lives.


The Weaver is more difficult to empathise with. Yet, the Tree consistently approaches her with compassion, even as it displays its steels. The Tree will not compromise, for all the Weaver’s wheedling. It will not be less than what it is. 


© Róisín Sorahan


Read JoyStory’s review and more on Time and the Tree 




In Conversation – Teddy Rose Interview

Time and the Tree Book by Róisín Sorahan

1 Feb. 2022


TEDDY: Please tell us something about Time and the Tree that is not in the summary.  (About the book, “character” you particularly enjoyed writing etc.)


RÓISÍN: Some books seem destined for their time.


Time and the Tree is hope, and pause, when the world feels dark, and the bedrock that has shaped us is trembling.


It’s the companion on the long road, who asks the hard questions and makes you raise the head and weigh your choices. It’s the same companion who listens carefully. Who probes the silences, as well as the words.


The one who doesn’t judge. But makes you think. And, possibly even wonder.


Time and the Tree reminds us of who we are, and what we have the potential to be.


Each reader will shape this book with their own reflections, memories, hopes, dreams and failures. The answers they find, and the choices they make, are theirs alone. This is an aspect of creation that I love: the completion of the work in the mind of the reader, so that it is personal to each who approaches it.


TEDDY: How long did it take you to write this book from concept to fruition? 


RÓISÍN: I’m not really sure. It started as a nudge in the back of my mind. A conversation between a child and a tree, on the nature of time.


Then, a long time later, during a 10-day silent meditation retreat in India, it emerged fully formed. The shape, the characters, the structure, the stories all came together, almost unbidden.


After that, I wrote as I traveled, as I pleased. The first draft was mainly handwritten in notebooks. It was a joy. I looked out of the windows of busses on long, dusty rides, and I thought.


Then, it was revised, rewritten, reflected on, honed, and it was wholly other to publishing trends, that determine a book’s value in the marketplace. 


However, I felt its worth was in the mind of the reader, and I eventually found a home for it. It was a long road, but it came into the world at this time. And that, I think, is important.


TEDDY: In ‘Time and the Tree’, life and relationships are pondered. Do you have a specific message you would like readers to come away with?


RÓISÍN: We are responsible for the paths we travel and the choices we make. Our capacity for fear and self-destruction is enormous. So too is our ability to change, to fail, to fail better, to love, to immerse ourselves in the moment. Our capacity for happiness is also boundless.


TEDDY: How did your life as an English teacher in China influence your writing of Time and the Tree?


RÓISÍN: When I first moved to China I lived in Henan province, which is in the centre of the country. It’s rural, remote, and about twenty years behind the wealth and opportunity enjoyed in cities such as Beijing and Dalian. Other than the handful of English teachers in our college, there were no foreigners, and no English was spoken outside of the campus.


It was the first time in my life that I was wholly locked out of a language. I spoke no Chinese when I arrived, and was completely illiterate, as all street signs, advertisements, and the like, were written in traditional Chinese characters, rather than the Romanised version of Chinese, called pinyin, which is often used in more modern urban centres.


As a result, I had to rely on non-verbal communication to get by. It challenged my sense of language, but ultimately reinforced my belief that words are the key to comprehension and insight into our lived and inner spaces.


I was also wholly dependent on the kindness of strangers to accomplish even the simplest of tasks. I made so many crass, and unwitting, errors. And I was forgiven, time and again. It was humbling and rewarding and an exercise in patience and compassion, two important themes in my book.


It was also deeply frustrating at times, and I had to work hard to maintain the equilibrium I had attained on the road. From the perspective of my writing, this was an important awareness and informed my exploration of happiness.


On a more prosaic level, it was a hiatus from traveling. After being in motion for so long, I now had a desk and a computer, and I had the time and physical workspace to put shape on the notebooks I had filled while waiting for buses to depart and trains to reach their destinations, as I wandered and wrote.


TEDDY: What inspired you to write?


RÓISÍN: I love words. They put manners on my thoughts when they’re unruly. 


Words help me to understand the world, and my place in it. They give form to feeling, and they allow instinct to guide. For me, it’s as elemental as naming a thing into being.


TEDDY: How much time and effort went into writing Time and the Tree?  Did you do any research for the book?


RÓISÍN: I live my life deliberately. I’m willing to take chances and embrace the fear of failure. I take responsibility for my decisions. Even the bad ones. And I both reflect inwardly, and on the world around me. This, I suppose, is a form of research for writing a book about time, and the importance of change, including death, as part of the cycle of renewal.


I also write about the philosophy of happiness, prioritising the self and making good choices that lead to inner peace and happiness.


And yes, it takes time and effort. Possibly a lifetime.


TEDDY: Where did you get the inspiration for your cover?


RÓISÍN: My publisher produced the artwork for the cover. I like it very much. It captures change simply and evocatively, and it speaks directly to the themes in my book. The colour palette also subtly conveys hope, and compassion, which are central tenets in Time and the Tree.


TEDDY: What is next for Róisín Sorahan?  Do you have another book in mind or other project?


RÓISÍN: There’s always another project. I’m currently interested in the ‘invisible woman’ and, in that context, I’m researching the life, and imagining the inner world, of Suzanne Dechevaux-Dumesnil, Samuel Beckett’s partner and life-long supporter.


© Róisín Sorahan

Read Teddy Rose’s review and more on Time and the Tree

Time and the Tree by Róisín Sorahan: Interview, Giveaway



In Conversation – Bee Lindy Interview

Picture of RÓISÍN SORAHAN sitting
Time and the Tree Book by Róisín Sorahan

8 March 2022 welcomes as our guest Róisín Sorahan whose recent book, Time and the

Tree has been published on September 6th, 2021.

Róisín Sorahan is an Irish author currently living in Vermont. She has published numerous stories about her adventures on the road, as well as life as an English teacher in China. Prior to becoming a nomad writer, she pursued a decade-long career in public relations. She holds a

Master of Letters from Trinity College Dublin, specializing in Samuel Beckett. Time and the Tree is her debut novel.

BEE: I know you have traveled quite a bit. How did your travel influence your writing for Time and the Tree’?

RÓISÍN: I quit a good job to travel the world in pursuit of happiness. It seemed like a huge leap, at the time. Looking back, it would have been so much harder not to go.

We grow up, influenced by the world around us. It creates thought patterns and establishes routines, without us ever really considering them. It might feel like they just happen, without active choice. But we are complicit in the lives we lead.

On the road, I encountered people living in manifold ways. It became apparent that there is no absolute way to be, in the moment. Each must follow their instincts, with care and kindness, knowing that the choice is theirs to make.

Travel renewed my relationship with humanity. In countries where I didn’t speak the language, I had to rely on the kindness of strangers to accomplish even the simplest of tasks. I made so many crass, and unwitting, errors. And I was forgiven, time and again. It was humbling and rewarding and an exercise in patience and compassion, two important themes in my book.

It was also deeply frustrating at times, and I had to work hard to maintain my equilibrium. From the perspective of my writing, this was an important awareness and informed my exploration of happiness.

My experiences have helped me to live my life deliberately. I’m willing to take chances and embrace the fear of failure. I take responsibility for my decisions. Even the bad ones. And I reflect both inwardly, and on the world around me.

The first draft of Time and the Tree was written on the road. When my mind stopped making lists, I found I had time to think. The meandering mind is almost an anomaly in modern times. It has led me in many interesting directions.

BEE: You chose not to name “the boy” in the book although he is a main character, how did you decide to do so?

RÓISÍN: The Boy is an archetype. He is a central character, but he is ultimately a catalyst in the story. His role is to question, to seek, to be the site over which a battle is raged. And, finally, to transition from innocence to knowledge.

But, most importantly, in retaining him featureless, he is a vessel into which the reader can pour themselves.

In this way, the book is approached with the reader’s memories, aspirations, failures, and choices, so that it is created in their own image, according to their need and belief, every single time.

BEE: Which character do you love to hate? Which character is your favorite?

RÓISÍN: I don’t hate any of the characters. They are all complicated, and nuanced, and all have the capacity to be redeemed.

Time was the most fun to write. He made me laugh. I admire the Wanderer. She lives life with integrity and generosity. She’s deeply human in her questioning and in her flaws. Regardless of setbacks and false turnings, she gets back up and keeps going. She is a Warrior.

BEE: Tell us about your cover. Did you design it yourself?

RÓISÍN: My publisher produced the artwork for the cover. I really like it. It captures change simply and evocatively, and it speaks directly to the themes in my book. The colour palette also subtly conveys hope, and compassion, which are central tenets in Time and the Tree.

BEE: Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the boy from ‘Time and the Tree’?

RÓISÍN: I don’t have a face in mind. Somebody amorphous. I’d love to think that a casting director may tackle that quandary someday…

BEE: Please explain the message you tried to instill in readers with ‘Time and the Tree’.

RÓISÍN: Time and the Tree reminds us that we are responsible for the paths we travel and the choices we make. And it offers hope. It explores our capacity for fear and self-destruction. It also celebrates our ability to change, to fail, to fail better, to love, to immerse ourselves in the moment. Our capacity for happiness is also boundless. Time and the Tree confronts readers with the roles they play in their own lives. At a time when the world seems beyond our control, it is a pertinent and challenging novel.

BEE: What writers have you drawn inspiration from?

RÓISÍN: John McGahern captures the space between words. His dialogue is rich in all that’s not spoken. That They May Face The Rising Sun, one of my favorite books, exemplifies this. Kevin Barry’s linguistic mastery delights me. He spins words, as a magician spins plates. I look to Elizabeth Strout, Elena Ferrante and Rachel Cusk as guides to the interior landscape. Samuel Beckett is a life-long obsession. Never a word wasted. He pares language to the bones and articulates the silence after a scream. I also love children’s literature. The best in this genre is utterly subversive. Magic is another word for possibility. I just finished reading Kelly Barnhill’s magnificent book, The Girl Who Drank the Moon. I am dazzled.


BEE: Describe the room you are sitting in as though it was a scene in one of your books.

RÓISÍN: Even when I’m miles from the ocean, I see my small room in terms of light and horizons. That has little to do with the space, and more to do with the mind, and memories and the subtle shift of clouds across the old square-paned, sash window. An angled shaft, as it cuts across my desk, can draw the day in relief, making everything clearer, sharper. More hopeful. Then the clouds darken, and the room wishes me gone. There’s a storm coming.


BEE: If you could be somebody else for a day who would you choose and why?

RÓISÍN: I wondered about this one. Am I just wearing their skin, with my thoughts, reasoning, insecurities, and aspirations, intact; or do I become that person, with their memories, ego and foibles? If the former, then yes, please: undo an atrocity; paint a beautiful line; have a crowd chant back to me from the vantage of a wild Wembley stage; ski impossibly fast down an impossible slope;

see the stars up close… I can’t just pick one. But, if I must, perhaps that vantage over the earth to gain some perspective.

If the latter, then I’ll pass. I’m not sure I could bear that burden.

BEE: Do you currently have a new book in the works?

RÓISÍN: There’s always a project brewing. I’m currently researching the life, and imagining the inner world, of Suzanne Dechevaux-Dumesnil, Samuel Beckett’s greatest supporter and his life-long partner.


BEE: Thanks again and good luck with Time and the Tree!

RÓISÍN: Thanks for hosting me, Bee. The pleasure was mine.

© Róisín Sorahan

Read Bee Lindy’s review and more on Time and the Tree

Happiness in the Time of Covid

Happiness in the Time of Covid

“Happiness is a knife wrapped in silk, gliding across the belly. It always hurts. It tricks you for a time that life is kinder and more beautiful than it really is and then, just when you believe it, it’s thrust into your gut and given a good old twist before it’s snatched away again.” – Time

– Time and the Tree

It has been a bitterly cold winter. Perhaps it has always been this frigid, but I don’t recall. I shuffle from car to house, shoulders hunched against the freeze. I resent the frozen landscape.


Today, there was a thaw. The earth re-emerged from the snow, with its colours of autumn and promise of spring. I felt the sun on my face. The tangled breeze might have come off the ocean.


The shoulders dropped, and I paused on the path by the brook. It was swollen and intent on breaking its bonds. It had the look of one heading elsewhere. I envied its movement. It’s hard to be anchored. At least, it is for me.


The road was quiet, and the flag person, who was managing traffic, struck up a chat. We talked of the respite. The season’s turn. The state of the river. And the snow expected tomorrow.


We passed each other again on my return journey. “You just missed summer,” I was hailed, between a ragged cough and a chuckle. We both laughed. And, as I continued onward, she called after me, “Love ya, honey.”


My step lightened. My smile widened. The earth felt forgiving beneath my feet. It took so little, really. But, in that moment, I was happy.


Love is the coin of happiness. Where there is happiness, there is kindness, generosity and empathy.


In its absence, darkness rushes in to fill the space. The inner void breeds anger and despair, and lives of great emptiness follow.

Unhappiness, I’ve noticed, always looks for someone else to blame. But accosting the world for the absence of light, is like berating the mountain for being so tall. It is always within reach, with work and commitment, and the belief that it’s worth the effort. The higher the climb, the better the view. And then, there’s the journey.


These past couple of years, it almost seemed redundant to talk of happiness. We moved into survival mode. Focus shifted to getting groceries, keeping jobs, wearing masks, sourcing vaccines.


Covid put a stranglehold on connections, on smiles. Routine was broken. Days were discordant. Certainties were questioned. And, as in war, everyone’s experience was different.


Some got through it relatively unscathed; others felt like they were the only ones in the trenches.


Many will recall it as a period of death, loneliness, confusion. And the grief of endings was compounded by a pandemic that denied a last word, last touch, the comfort of a hand held.


Many will mourn the unnecessary return of mindless commutes to soulless offices. The opportunity to work from home, put kids to bed at night, and retreat into a familial space, was a blessing, for some.


For others that space became a prison. A gradual and persistent erasure of the self. The outside world a threat. The inner, a torment.


And, there was the conflict of both experiences, brushing up against each other. Reconciling these emotions could be a life-long endeavour.


The pandemic challenged us in ways we never anticipated. As a society, and as individuals, we demonstrated, on a massive scale, our capacity for change. And our propensity for goodness. People denied themselves the comfort of being with loved ones, in order to keep them safe. We witnessed feats of heroism on a daily basis, ranging from health workers’ herculean efforts, to parents who home-schooled their children, while holding down a job from the other side of the table.


The pandemic also stoked fear, and the era of the Other raised its wily head, once again. The void opened, and anger rushed in. Words were turned upon the bewildered in attempts to confound even further.


But now, the numbers are falling and the defences are coming down. We who have battled, are returning home. But it’s a different place, and we are not who we were before the pandemic. Nothing is quite as we remembered it. Borders have shifted, as have priorities.


Life will never be the same again.


Life should never be the same again.


The crank has turned. The chance to begin anew is upon us.


It is time to heal the anger and allay the fear. To renew our connection with ourselves and our world. It is time to free words from the knot of deceit.


It is time, to be happy.


It’s sounds a little trite, doesn’t it? After everything. Yet, it is no small thing.


Philosophers have been contemplating happiness for centuries. Its meaning, its morality, its psychological, social, even economic impact, has been mulled and debated. It’s a tricky, elusive concept, that either bends and weaves to the thinking of the time, or creates new modes of living and new thought patterns.


The pursuit of happiness is noble, and desperately needed at this time. Yet, we must be clear about what we are chasing. The zeitgeist, it seems to me, has falsely aligned happiness with perfection: the perfect partner; home; body; family; career. Take your pick, and post to Instagram. This is the epitome of the empty promise.


Our culture has also enmeshed happiness with guilt. It is self-serving, selfish, and indulgent; pitting self against the tribe. At a period when our survival feels threatened, this is a dangerous line of thinking. Socially, it is imperative that we think of others, show kindness, give support. This does not mean that we sacrifice ourselves.


Dousing one’s spark to let others shine is antithetical. It diminishes all of us. In suppressing the will to love and learn and be, it scrubs words and drags darkness into the space where the light should be.


Without happiness, we cannot help ourselves, let alone another. It comes back to the fundamental tenet that underlies pretty much every spiritual philosophy: love yourself; love others.


Happiness is not a luxury, or an afterthought. It’s not something to be experienced on a Friday night, when the week’s work is done. It is a constant battle to renew the self and live well in the moment. It is not contingent on luck or acquisition. Happiness is a choice that we make. It’s the decision to plough the scarred earth, rather than let the wounds fester.


It is time for growth. Our comfort levels in how we engage with the world, at this stage, are different. Some will step out, turn the lock on what’s past, and not look back. People will travel, wrap arms around loved ones, date, read books, dance. Others will stand at the window, and let the sun warm their faces.


There is no absolute way to be in the moment. Each must follow their instincts, with care and kindness, knowing that the choices are theirs to make. The season is turning. Change is upon us.


We are responsible for the paths we travel. Our capacity for fear and self-destruction is enormous. But, if the pandemic has taught us anything, so too is our ability to change, to fail, to fail better, to love, to immerse ourselves in the moment. Our capacity for happiness is also boundless.


The temperatures in my world will plummet again tomorrow. The earth will hold its secrets a little longer. It’s easy to embrace the light, when arms are outstretched on a sun-drenched, sandy island. But, today, I am reminded that happiness is also in a snatched conversation by the side of the road.


© Róisín Sorahan


3 March 2022


Read My Tangled Skeins Book Reviews discussion and more on Time and the Tree 

The Changing Faces of Hong Kong

The Changing Faces of Hong Kong

I was 20 the first time I boarded a plane. A flight from Dublin to Boston, with a J1 visa in my pocket and a head full of adventure. The world expanded on that flight. I had found my element. My feet hardly hit terra firma since. Then, covid.


For now, I content myself with poking over past escapades and unraveling the changes in our world. I am hopeful, and eager to sally forth once again. I want to see new places. I also want to revisit some that continue to confound me. I miss being bewildered.


Hong Kong has been on my mind a lot these times, for all the wrong reasons. In 2020, Beijing imposed a national security law, with the aim of smashing the dissent that had taken to the streets. A statue marking the Tiananmen Square massacre was removed from the University of Hong Kong in the dead of night in late December.

This is not the Hong Kong I recall. The first time I visited, it was transitioning from British colonial rule to Beijing leadership, and it was still in the honeymoon phase. It was best described to me as a wealthy businessman’s playground. Under the terms of the 1997 handover agreement, a 50 year grace period was granted to the newly defined autonomous region to enjoy the freedoms and capitalist culture not found in other parts of China. It existed according to the mantra: “One country, two systems.” Officially part of China, the reality was very different.


I quickly discovered that Hong Kong was a short hop but a far cry from the mainland. For starters, it was filthy rich, it used the Honk Kong dollar, and was heaving with ex-pats. It spent its money on style, food, frivolity, booze, and was practiced in the art of having a good time.


While none of this has changed, the political backdrop is significantly different, and the city is destined to evolve. Places, like people, do what they must to survive. It’s unclear what the losses will be. What is apparent is that Hong Kong will have to adopt a new persona. And few cities are as skilled both at putting on a great face and altering its image as needed. When I last visited, I met the city equivalent of a geisha, skilled in pleasure and adept at satisfying every whim.

Honk Kong goes to great lengths to gratify the wealthy, as well as those traveling on a shoestring. It has a surprising array of tourist attractions that come for free, or thereabouts. Sophisticated, alluring, it’s a city bent on indulgence. But, as it was shaped by the British in the 19th century according to Victorian contradictions, the painted face is concealed beneath a veneer of civilized gentility.


Intent on exploring both facets of the city in my early wanderings, I wangled an invitation to a ladies’ tennis club which was housed in a lovely old colonial building. A woman with perfectly painted nails gave me the tour of the gorgeous facilities. We pattered pleasantries until she asked about my game. Horrified she’d pour me onto a court rather than into an armchair, I mumbled apologies about a busy job and a tennis elbow. She pulled up short, then pulled herself together, “You work? How quaint.”


After 156 years of colonial rule, the British influence is still stamped everywhere. Cars drive on the left side of the road, club-house life interweaves the ex-pat social scene, and antiquated 1920s London trams travel the length of the city.


The region encompasses Hong Kong Island, which is surrounded on three sides by the South China Sea and separated from mainland China by the Shenzhen River; Kowloon Peninsula; the New Territories; and over 200 pocket-sized islands. Victoria Harbor serves as Hong Kong’s centerpiece, above which the skyline is stacked in tiers, as layer upon layer is built into the hills that shape the city. Ferries, pleasure cruisers, and Chinese tourist junks jaunt across the harbor connecting the city’s major landmasses.

The natural, deep harbor is also the city’s umbilical cord to the wealth that has nurtured its development into one of the world’s biggest and most lucrative trading centers.


Notwithstanding the fact that Hong Kong is one of the most densely populated cities in the world, it scores high on quality-of-life indexes. The public transportation network is the finest I have witnessed and getting around couldn’t be easier.


The demand for space has also resulted in the construction of whimsical skyscrapers that cut the sky into handkerchief squares. This is a city operating on many levels and the street is just the start of it. Cloud-high bars are piled upon designer wear stores; Michelin-starred restaurants; fortune-touting soothsayers; herbal tea sellers; scented massage parlors; financial trading floors; tropical fish tanks; ornamental birdcages; and Ming Dynasty vases.


Shopping in Hong Kong is a glutton’s all you can eat buffet. Gucci and Gabanna aside, it trades in the stuff of legend and, with the right sized wallet, trunks can be filled with authentic Chinese ceramics, crafts, and carvings from the Ming and Qing Dynasties. Though there are also great finds in the more modestly priced curio shops that specialize in wooing customers with exotica such as fans, calligraphy brushes, and feng shui compasses.

The weekend markets are spectacles in themselves. They are thronged with leisurely strollers drawn by the scent of plum blossom bonsai, the glow of neon tetra shoals, and the fun of watching fussy old men at the bird market feed crickets to their fussy odd birds.


The city’s a wonderful mix of the bizarre, the brash, and the bewildering. Between the ultra-modern high-rise buildings, traditional Taoist temples are filled to the brim with designer-labeled worshippers cajoling deities with offerings to raise their fortunes. Man Mo temple, located amongst the antique stores on Hollywood Street, is the oldest and best known. Built in 1847, it is dedicated to Man Tai, the god of literature; and to Mo Tai, the god of war. In the past, disputes were settled here that could not be resolved under British law. Today, tour buses line the street as the faithful crowd inside burns incense spirals which are suspended from the ceiling to draw the gods’ attention to the supplicants’ wishes.

Other worshipers bow down to Hong Kong’s sumptuous food offerings. My heavenly moment was in Tim Ho Wan – the world’s cheapest Michelin-starred restaurant, specializing in dim sum. It was a hole-in-the-wall back then, run by Chef Mak Pui Gor, who has subsequently built it into a franchise. I joined the snaking queue on a Monday morning as it wound down the street in an unassuming neighborhood in Kowloon. It was a long, chilly wait, but I still remember the taste of those sugar sprinkled, lightly deep-fried, savory pork buns. The steam rising off them would have tempted the gods themselves.


A city built on hills, everything rises upward in Hong Kong. Viewing Chinese street signs and towering sky-scrapers from the upper deck of a century-old tram is a cheap and fun way to get to grips with the disorienting contradictions of this city. The lines run East to West, sweeping Hong Kong Island’s commercial centre. However, for the best views in town, Honk Kong’s Peak Tram is the most popular tourist attraction on offer. It soars above the cityscape, dropping visitors at the summit of Victoria Peak, offering a great perspective of the street grids and harbor beneath.


At sea level, the seven-minute public ferry ride, which connects Hong Kong Island with the Kowloon Peninsula, is as much a mode of transport as a pleasure trip. It provides a brief view from the water of Hong Kong’s signature sight. The densely packed skyline is the city’s pièce-de-résistance and is best seen at night. As the light fades the buildings explode into neon life, culminating in the tacky, yet entertaining, Symphony of Light, which plays over the buildings in a cacophony of colour, while red sailed junks glide alongside Kowloon Peninsula’s promenade and the Avenue of Stars.


Hong Kong is the perfect city consort. It has an array of faces to suit the visitor’s mood and needs. Coy by day with joggers, business suits, and café lattes; by night the charade fades as the lights come on and ambiguity dissolves. It has spent the past 180 years adapting and transforming and putting on a show. It turns uncertainty into an art form. And, when necessary, it removes the mask and bares its teeth. It cannot be categorized and underestimated, and it is highly skilled in dissembling.


To this wanderer, it’s the masquerade and layered contradictions that make Hong Kong so alluring. I’m drawn back in the hope that I’ll get a glimpse of what’s hidden beneath the veils. The city spins, even as the music stutters. And the world changes, as it always does.


© Róisín Sorahan


28 Feb. 2022,


For reviews, discussion and more on Time and the Tree, click here.

GoodReads: Linda’s Review

GoodReads: Linda’s Review



Róisín Sorahan’s excellent modern day folk tale has more twists and turns than anything the Grimm brothers could have dreamed up. ‘Time and the Tree,’ has that perfect blend of whimsy and pure darkness that is present in so many of the classic fairy tales that we all know and love.

Reminiscent of ‘Alice and Wonderland,’ and ‘The Giving Tree,’ this story takes place in a dense forest, and portrays the friendship between a boy and a very wise, very old tree. The life of a tree may be something that we all secretly envy. Standing in one place, stoically holding our own against the bitterest winter winds, our roots warmed by the earth, but this story is about a tree whose peace is regularly shaken.


Not by the Boy, of course, but by the many wanderers who happen to come through the forest and present problems that the Boy and the Tree have to put their heads (metaphorical head for the tree, of course) together to solve.


Mostly, the peace is disturbed by the blustering of Time. Time is, of course, the concept of time as represented by a man who wears a brass cap and a waistcoat. Time is generally shadowed by Shadow, a creature that he calls his slave who worships and serves him.


Of course, things aren’t all that simple between the pair, but telling too much about that would spoil the book, and this is one that you should definitely read in your own time (see what I did there?)


Every aspect of this story positively drips with magic and wonder. Sorahan’s writing is beautiful and almost otherworldly in the way it transports the reader. Every sentence seems to sing across the page. This book is something special that has to be experienced to be believed.

Gracie’s Reviews

Gracie’s Reviews

“She caught the child’s horrified gaze, cradled the fear and stroked the loathing. Then counseled herself towards stealth and guile. All the while dripping words that were carried on the wind and lodged, unwanted, in the minds of innocent listeners. Her wintery smile stretched wide.” – ‘Time and the Tree,’ by Róisín Sorahan.

The story of a boy, a tree and the magical adventures that they go on together. Or, should I say, the magical adventures that happen to wander toward them. This is a book that brings the reader along on a journey that has elements of fairy tales, with that little bit of darkness that all good tales have to include.

The boy, as he’s called in the book, is great friends with a tree and they live in the forest together, weathering the cold and the heat and enjoying the Spring and the beautiful Autumns. Every so often, however, a traveler wanders by to throw their world into chaos and change things around for better or worse.

This is a story told in four sections, each labeled with a different season. Each section contains a different problem that the boy and the tree must overcome together, and each section has a different new person to meet. One of the common reoccurring characters is Time, who is the physical embodiment of the passage of time. A crabby man, who is constantly being followed around by a slave that he calls, ‘The Shadow,’ Time is portrayed just as those of us who have been annoyed by him all of our lives would expect.

This book is captivating in the best way. Just as the Tree says midway through, “A good story, well told, will keep the listener fixed on the dancing shadows, oblivious to the real drama unfolding behind their back.” I highly recommend it!