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‘Bohemia’ by Veronika Carnaby

THE SYNOPSIS

Don’t miss out on Veronika Carnaby’s thrilling new read for the modern beatnik, in which she provides a wild, unrestrained account of ’60s counterculture youth bursting out of their creative shells. In her debut novel, Veronika Carnaby picks up where the Beat Generation left off. Set in 1960, Bohemia chronicles a group of twenty-somethings who defy the “ideals” of a mid-twentieth century society to seek creative fulfillment. In the process, they spotlight the creative path that artists of all mediums tread, all the while depicting the challenges faced by youth in the decade that changed the world.

Picture Of Author Veronika CarnabyAmerican writer and poet Veronika Carnaby carries a vintage charm about her that transcends well into her written works.

Since receiving the 2001 Young Authors Award for Excellence in Short Story Writing, she has welcomed the opportunity to share ideas of literary merit with the circles of Sir Paul McCartney, Roger McGuinn, Nancy Sinatra, and Roger Waters.
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Recognized for her Beat-style prose and innovative voice, her pieces have gained international recognition after appearing in such publications and on such forums as, The Ed Sullivan Show, Empty Mirror Magazine, Dan’s Papers Literary Journal, SESAC Magazine, SXSW, and the SESAC New York Music Awards.
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In past projects, she has worked with the likes of Archie Shepp, Ben E. King, and prolific Nashville songwriter and co-owner of Bug Music, Roger Murrah, amongst others.
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Channelling the calibre of her greatest influences, Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, The Beatles, and Bob Dylan, Veronika infuses her writing with a poignancy and passion for literature, music, and twentieth century culture. Whether through her feats or her unprecedented knack for the written word, she has etched an indelible mark as a pioneer in her own right.

Writing simply frees me. It allows me to travel mentally, become whoever I want to be. It’s a transporting experience that I could only compare to music. Many people don’t realize the connection between music and literature and I’m here to tell them that it does exist!

WORDS FROM THE BOOK

Perhaps that the promise and therefore by default, the pain of society, has been that we have always strived to be better and achieve more than the previous generation … and that comes at a tremendous price.

I realized that I was in a race to anywhere, setting off on the road that stretched on forever and lead me to wherever.

When you let yourself free of all inhibitions, you are capable of insurmountable tasks.

MY THOUGHTS ABOUT THE BOOK

‘Who’s to say we can’t do whatever we want? We don’t have to look at the door all our lives. We can go through it.’

At around 200 pages, ‘Bohemia’ is a relatively short story, however I found it to be packed with emotion, not always a comfortable nor easy read, which left me pondering just how much of what is contained within its pages is simply fiction and how much is based on the author’s personal experiences.

I was only a child growing up in the ‘swinging’ sixties, so much of what is discussed in this book, is a little outside my sphere of personal experience and would only have been remembered by me, through the  naivety and innocence of a child’s eyes, although I feel sure that any of the emotions and feelings evoked by this story, are as relevant to the younger generation of the ‘glam rock’ seventies, ‘punk rock’ eighties, right the way through to the present day. Youth rebellion is nothing new, the overwhelming need to discover the true nature of individuality, to search for that illusive sense of belonging, to fight for artistic freedom and to push the boundaries and social constraints to their limits and often beyond.

In this particular story, we have our American host and author, plucking a group of English friends out of their known environment and comfort zone and setting them down in some of the most metropolitan and cosmopolitan areas of the US. I can only guess that the story might have played out in similar fashion had the friends been Americans arriving in  the UK. It is the concept of the rebellious, noncomformist nature of the youths, which is the focus of the story.

” … wild, carefree, spontaneous, embracers of the ‘strange’.”

In ‘Bohemia’, we meet and follow Valerie, her friends and the various disparate characters who circumnavigate the group, entering and departing at will, often leaving behind some legacy, which the others may adopt, adapt or simply discard, in their continued, desperate search for their own individual, illusive utopia. In the fear that their deepest desires may be crushed and trampled underfoot, Valerie and her peers tend towards excess in whatever radical new project they try and whatever larger than life company they decide to mix with. It takes them some time, sorrows, recriminations and sadness to overcome, before individually they begin to realise that what they thought they were seeking, may not be the long term solution to their happiness and fulfilment after all.

Rather than trying to change the world to suit themselves, once they realise that by simply carving a place for themselves within that world, they can achieve the individuality and freedom they so desperately seek. Ultimately for Valerie, advice and mentoring comes from a totally unexpected source, guiding and showing her that everyone has their own unique talent, including her. The niche she begins to carve and nurture for herself, is totally unexpected, yet the release she feels in being able to express herself wth such freedom of voice, is inspiring and at first, a little overwhelming.

Slowly but surely and probably more obviously to an outsider than those within the group, cracks begin to appear in the fabric of this fragile community, as each of them begins to crystalise their ideas, nurture and cement more intimate friendships and decide just exactly in which direction their life is going to lead them. There is no big fanfare or hurrah, just a gradual, dawning sense, that they have at last matured into the people they were always destined to be.

‘Bohemia’, is more than just  a novel, it is a compelling social commentary, almost a diarised, autobiographical account of Valerie Freed’s youth, as we, the readers, follow her through her journey of self-discovery. As with all diaries, the thoughts can sometimes be random and seemingly unconnected to anyone but their author. Although this didn’t always make for a fluid read and gave the story an almost film script quality and dimension, the style and writing was unconventional and unique, with Veronika managing to get right under the skin of her characters, lifting them off the page and forcing me to sit up and take notice of what they had to say. Never an easy method to adopt successfully, especially in a debut novel, it worked wonderfully well for ‘Bohemia’, resulting in a narrative that was rich in detail and full of visual and descriptive prose.

As this book was a review request, a PDF of ‘Bohemia’ was sent to me by its author, Veronika Carnaby, free of charge.

This in no way influenced any comments I may have expressed about the book, in any blog article I have posted. Any thoughts or comments are my own personal opinion and I am in no way being monetarily compensated for this, or any other article.

I personally do not agree with ‘rating’ a book, as the overall experience is all a matter of personal taste, which varies from reader to reader. However some review sites do demand a rating value, so when this review is posted to such a site, it will attract a 4 out of 5.

Written by
Yvonne

I can’t remember a time, even as a child, when I haven’t been passionate about books and reading.
I began blogging, when I realised just how many other people out there shared my passion for the written word and I have been continually amazed at the wealth of books that are available and the amount of great new friends I have made, from literally 'The Four Corners Of The World'.

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6 comments
  • Bohemia sounds like an interesting one. Like you mention, youth rebellion is nothing new, the eras change, but that’s about it I think. Valerie sounds like an intriguing character in this coming of age story. I like the quote about inhibitions.

    • Hi Naida,

      ‘Bohemia’ is certainly a unique premise for a book, in the style in which it is written. It almost has that sense of urgency and nonconformism which is reflected in the storyline itself.

      My personal favourite quote, is the first one, about us always striving to achieve more than the previous generation. I can see this happening on an almost daily basis. However, as Veronika so succinctly puts it, that change will always come at a tremendous price and that price increases exponentially, with each new generation. I wonder … will that price ever become too much to pay?

      Thanks for stopping by, I always value your comments highly.

    • Hi Tracy,

      I have exactly ten years on you then, so although I was around in the sixties, I suspect my parents would have been horrified if their 10-12 year old ‘little angel’, had got up to any of the stunts that Valerie and her eclectic assortment of friends did.

      This isn’t the genre of book that I would probably elect to read, however as a review request and as I am a self-confessed ‘book junkie’, it rang the changes a little and brought a new and interesting perspective to the Fiction Book blog.

      Thanks for taking the time to read the post, even though you wouldn’t ever read the book, I appreciate your thoughtfulness.

  • I was hooked by the line ‘Beat-style prose’ and then I saw the list of camparative authors and I knew there’d be ‘social commentary’ – this sounds like a great and interesting read and it’s one I hadn’t come across before. Any author who can get to the heart of her characters gets my vote anyway! Great review, thanks. 🙂

    • Hi Annie,

      This can definitely be classed as social commentary, about a time which was the turning point in our society and helped pave the way for the free speech and liberal lifestyles, we enjoy today.

      The prose was seemingly, completely spontaneous .. a series of random thoughts and experiences, which when taken as a whole, paints the picture of the struggle that Valerie and her friends had to be accepted as individuals and find their way in the modern, ever-changing world of the 1960’s.

      Thanks for your lovely comments and for taking such an interest in the post. I appreciate it.

Written by Yvonne

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