A review of purple. emerald. gold. by Victoria Norton

Reviewed by Jan Mitchell

purple. emerald. gold.
Short stories by Victoria Norton
Linda Ruth Brooks Publishing Services
156 pages, vicki.norton41@gmail.com

Victoria Norton loves to write and she writes with imagination and flair. Her first published book of short stories, poems and memories is a delight to be savoured. The title, ‘purple, emerald, gold,’ comes from the initial story, The Headland: 

The intricate music of my flute solo spins out melodic sound lines, alive with tone and texture, and it becomes a physical form, a wave of sound, wrapping around me, merging, melding, mending me to this place. Bright and rich, my sound colours the atmosphere. Purple. Emerald. Gold. It is the Aurora Australis. I am the concert flutist. I am the conductor. I am the audience. The applause is mine.

Not only does this extract give us the origin of her title, it perfectly demonstrates how Victoria weaves the magic of imagery into her words. Even snippets of memories are told in a way that allows the words to sparkle and shift from the ordinary.

Her roles as daughter, sister, wife and mother coupled with her nursing career have provided Victoria with a plethora of experiences and observations around which to weave her stories. Beatrice Fed the Ducks is a poignant story of aging and memory failure, which is sure to pierce even the hardest heart. White Shoes and A Weather Eye bring memories of fellow nurses who influenced Victoria’s attitudes to work and life, while Code of Denial draws on her knowledge of drugs and their dangers.

The stories bring Victoria’s insights into human nature into our consciousness, asking us to think about the rights and wrongs of human behaviour. In some, the character gets away with her bad behaviour (The Gift Register). In others (It Should Have Been Me), comeuppance is a just reward. Blue is a wonderfully crafted story where all three characters receive justice, or at least we expect that in the end, Mary will as well.

The human need for love, comfort and trust are themes throughout this book, never more aptly expressed than in The Story of a Little Blue Bear, while the ability to enjoy the simple pleasure of life is demonstrated in The Best Kind of Christmas.

Characters are revealed seemingly with ease and the experiences they have are realistic, whether they are from life or Victoria’s wonderful imagination.

The book contains fifteen fictional short stories, two very short one act plays, several memories, an essay and a smattering of short poems.

About the reviewer: Jan Mitchell has enjoyed writing both creatively and in non-fiction since her early teens. Most of her adult writing has been in the form of magazine articles for Cruising Helmsman, a magazine for cruising yachtsmen and women. Jan is an active member of the Lake Macquarie branch of the Fellowship of Australian Writers. Currently, she is preparing her third non-fiction book for publication.