“The things We Learn When We’re Dead” by Charlie Laidlaw is available in paperback and also on eBook. Published by Accent Press.
On the way home from a dinner party she didn’t want to attend, Lorna Love steps into the path of an oncoming car. When she wakes up she is in what appears to be a hospital – but a hospital in which her nurse looks like a young Sean Connery, she is served wine for supper, and everyone avoids her questions. It soon transpires that she is in Heaven, or on HVN. Because HVN is a lost, dysfunctional spaceship, and God the aging hippy captain. She seems to be there by accident. Or does God have a higher purpose after all? At first Lorna can remember nothing. As her memories return – some good, some bad – she realises that she has decisions to make and that she needs to find a way home…
Lorna Love is almost a lawyer, working for a prestigious and old firm, her Dad is agnostic, her mum a Catholic, Suzie is her best friend and wants to be an actress. Now throw in the odd boyfriend, going to heaven, meeting God and meeting his second in command, who is a chain smoker. Did I forget to mention that heaven is actually a spaceship, and God is a hippy wearing a track suit, or that the spaceship is over-run with hamsters who keep chewing the wiring?
So the main protagonist is Lorna, she has just died. After waking from the accident to find herself in a spaceship, it is not an everyday occurrence, obviously! Her memories are hit and miss, and as they return we learn of her life up to the point of her accident. She has what I would call a fairly normal life, education, growing up, university, social life and such, but I found it really interesting to read, captivating and at times sad. When Lorna meets God she finds he is nothing like she expected, at times he is quite an odd character, but during the course of the story he explains his role and he seems to fit in a quirky sort of way. Lorna has been taken to heaven for a reason, she will not be told that reason until her memories have sorted themselves, up to this point she wanders round the ship and meets some of the crew.
This is an interesting book to read, I found myself captivated by the characters and the main plot of the story, it is a gentle paced book that takes you through the journey of Lorna’s life, she has had her ups and downs but seems to be moving forward. It is told in two timelines as such, the main emphasis is on her own life story, as well as her experiences on the ship, a little bit abstract but for me it worked.
When the author approached me to see if I was interested in reading a copy of this book, I was intrigued by the phrase of it being a “retelling of the Wizard of Oz”. I admit to being baffled by this as I was reading the book, but it didn’t matter as I was enjoying it. Then suddenly I hit that “I Got It” point of the story, then the phrase made perfect sense and is very clever.
I would definitely recommend this book to readers of contemporary and general fiction, yes I am aware there is a sci-fi element to it, but it is not overly sci-fi at all. It is a poignant, funny, sad, philosophical and it will make you think.
I would like to thank Charlie for sending me a copy of his book. My thoughts expressed here are my own and are unbiased.
About the Author:
I was born in Paisley, central Scotland, which wasn’t my fault. That week, Eddie Calvert with Norrie Paramor and his Orchestra were Top of the Pops, with Oh, Mein Papa, as sung by a young German woman remembering her once-famous clown father. That gives a clue to my age, not my musical taste.
I was brought up in the west of Scotland (quite near Paisley, but thankfully not too close) and graduated from the University of Edinburgh. I still have the scroll, but it’s in Latin, so it could say anything.
I then worked briefly as a street actor, baby photographer, puppeteer and restaurant dogsbody before becoming a journalist. I started in Glasgow and ended up in London, covering news, features and politics. I interviewed motorbike ace Barry Sheene, Noel Edmonds threatened me with legal action and, because of a bureaucratic muddle, I was ordered out of Greece.
I then took a year to travel round the world, visiting 19 countries. Highlights included being threatened by a man with a gun in Dubai, being given an armed bodyguard by the PLO in Beirut (not the same person with a gun), and visiting Robert Louis Stevenson’s grave in Samoa. What I did for the rest of the year I can’t quite remember.
Surprisingly, I was approached by a government agency to work in intelligence, which just shows how shoddy government recruitment was back then. However, it turned out to be very boring and I don’t like vodka martini.
Craving excitement and adventure, I ended up as a PR consultant, which is the fate of all journalists who haven’t won a Pulitzer Prize, and I’ve still to listen to Oh, Mein Papa.
I am married with two grown-up children and live in East Lothian. And that’s about it.
- Paperback: 397 pages
- Publisher: Accent Press; UK ed. edition (21 Sept. 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1786150352
- ISBN-13: 978-1786150356
- Amazon UK Amazon US
Charlie has very generously agreed to provide a signed copy of his book to one lucky winner. This is open to UK only, the winner will be contacted and their details passed onto the author who will then send out the book.
Many thanks for reading my post. If you liked it, give it a share. Better still buy the book.