The Princess of Felling by Elaine Cusack #BookReview #BlogTour

The Princess of Felling describes Elaine’s childhood and adolescence growing up on Tyneside in the 1970s and 1980s. The book pays homage to her home town of Felling on Tyne and is an extended, loving letter to her late parents. 
This illustrated poetic memoir features a Foreword by Michael Chaplin, photographs of Felling taken in summer 2018 by Rossena Petcova and unique maps by poet and artist Steve Lancaster. 
The book contains reminiscences by Felling folk plus guest appearances by Nick Heyward, David Almond, Tracey Thorn, Sir Kingsley Amis, The Reverend Richard Coles, Lady Elsie Robson, U.A. Fanthorpe, Gyles Brandreth and more.

The Princess of Felling by Elaine Cusack resonates with readers of all ages. As actress and Felling lass Jill Halfpenny says in the book, “Reading Elaine’s stories and poetry takes me back to my childhood in Felling and all of the smells, sounds and tastes of that time. Her words allow me to remember things that I didn’t know I’d forgotten.”

It's my pleasure to be hosting the blog tour for The Princess of Felling today. Many thanks to Elaine Cusack, Limelight Classics and Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me and for sending me a copy of the book.

Felling isn't an area I am familiar with but I am a similar age to Elaine Cusack and I believe social histories are so important to really understand our collective past so I couldn't resist reading The Princess of Felling.
This wonderfully warm book is described as a love letter to her parents and I can see why, although I would go further than that because what shines through here is how important  all family is to the author. I loved her recollections of her childhood, especially the time she spent with her Nan. The photos included throughout add to the impression that what we have been kindly granted access to is an emotional scrapbook of memories. This isn't a dry, linear memoir; it feels more like a chat with somebody who is delighted to have been asked to reminisce about what made her the woman she is today - both the good - of which there is plenty - and the more difficult times in her past.
The descriptions of Felling and how it has changed over the years will obviously be most pertinent to those who know the area but I still found it interesting to read about and I was pleased to see a rather charming map is included too. I couldn't help but reflect that regardless of where we're from, many of us share similar experiences and although our world starts small, gradually increasing as we grow, those streets of our childhoods are still an anchor to our past. The vibrant descriptions here bring the area to life and are an interesting observation on how towns and villages have developed in our lifetime.
Music and poetry have also clearly been an important part of Elaine Cusack's life; I enjoyed her descriptions of her encounters with various writers and pop stars, particularly as her experiences with them are so positive. I remember the thrill of receiving a reply to a fan letter and was so pleased to read of the kindness shown to the teenage Elaine by the likes of Tracey Thorn and Sir Kingsley Amis. Elaine has included her own poems in the book too, they are also a moving paean to her past with Skin Stains and Cheerio especially resonating with me.
The Princess of Felling is only a short book but what is lacks in page numbers, it more than makes up for in heart. It's certainly not easy to pigeon-hole - it's a memoir but more besides and while it will be particularly popular in the north-east, I'm sure there will be many people like me who don't know Tyneside well but will also thoroughly enjoy reading it.

The Princess of Felling is published by Limelight Classics and can be ordered directly from their website or buy your copy in person from selected outlets including Hexham’s Cogito Books, Felling Volunteer Library, Newcastle Central Library, Happy Planet Studio and Gallery in Whitley Bay.

Don't miss the rest of the blog tour, details are below.

About the Author

Elaine Cusack has been writing, performing and broadcasting poetry, songs, non-fiction and journalism for over 30 years. Her work has won numerous awards and appeared in various collections as well as on TV and radio.
She lives in Whitley Bay with her fingers in several creative pies, including Happy Planet Creative Arts CIC and The North Tyneside Writers' Circle.
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