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None of us can escape who we are or where we came from.  What we can do is grow and temper ourselves to live in our environments as best we can to meet our own expectations of ourselves.   Our upbringings and life-events shape us.  If we are lucky, we take those good and bad experiences and use them to forge ahead, transforming them into our reserves of strength, using them to bring us laughter to lighten dark tunnels and relying on our fortitude to find our way out again.

Our lives evolve through stages with ups and downs.  Those of us  fortunate not to be lulled into complacency in one of life's troughs, can contemplate how to begin the long scramble upward and sideward into new dimensions, through striving, ungracefully scrabbling and growing.

The novels of Jayne Menard aim to describe these growth cycles through her characters.  She draws on the memories they lug along with them from their childhoods, the careers that devour long years of time and the intervals when they stick their heads up for air and find the green cover of a forest watered by a fresh spring that welcomes them into a new world – the next phase of their lives.  Along the way, each key character encounters forces that push them down and threaten to obstruct their paths with insurmountable deadfalls.  Each one finds an image in their mind of what they want and that, live or die, is what stays with them. These are novels of personal growth, of hope, of perseverance and of love.

While the print may be black and white, the colors the words paint are scripted from our world, using that lush palette for inspiration, comfort, and reflection.  A soft breeze carrying a flower's delicate perfume lures a man into a daydream.  An overgrown garden provides a place for reflection and, once tackled, a feeling of satisfaction.  High mountains, dense foliage, towering rock formations or clusters of grapes each find ways to give a character what they need to reach their goals.


Life is a journey and it is always best to have a good book in hand when a fresh pathway begins.