As you’ll probably have gathered by now, books are up there as one of my favourite things in the world.
Although I love to be out and about exploring new places and doing new things, there’s nothing that relaxes me more than curling up with a good book. And my very favourite books? Ones with kick ass women, swoonworthy men and equal doses of magic and romance. I know, I know, I’m a total cliché, but bear with me.
Hands down, for me, the very best of those books are the series’ that come from the American writer Nora Roberts. Nora has a way of writing that not only whisks you away in a magical story, but also somehow taps into your soul and reconnects you with parts of yourself you’d otherwise forgotten about. Not bad for a romance novel eh?
She writes stacks of novels – over 220 at last count I believe – but for me the best are always her trilogies and quadrilogies, which always contain a very generous helping of magic and healing within the romance.
For a long time my favourite was the Key series – a trilogy about three women who are called upon to retrieve the keys needed to save a trio of young goddesses from an eternity of imprisonment. Those books are still awesome, and I’d definitely recommend you check them out.
But recently I’ve come to remember just how much I love another of her series, particularly when I realised just how much the series in question had to teach me…
The books I’m talking about are the Three Sisters Island trilogy. They tell the story of three women (yes, there is a theme but believe me, it’s worth sticking with!) who are the descendants of witches escaped from Salem.
There’s evil lurking around the island on which they live and these three women – Nell, Ripley and Mia – are the only ones who can keep it at bay.
Of course along the way each one of them falls in love with their perfect man (for what it’s worth Nora writes some of the most crushworthy characters I’ve ever read), the three women form an unbreakable bond of sisterhood (one of the other things Nora writes so incredibly well) and discover the depths of their own powers too.
It’s that power element that’s so important to me in these books; yes the witchcraft element – I am a sucker for all things witchy as you know – but also the powers they find within them for courage, justice, compassion and love. Because aren’t those things some of the greatest powers any of us have?
Recently I re-read the Three Sisters books, having forgotten quite how deeply they’d resonated with me the first time around. What amazed me on this second read though was how different that resonance turned out to be.
You see, on the first reading I remember wholeheartedly resonating with Nell, the heroine of book one. Without spoiling too much of the story, Nell is a brave woman who’s been through hell and has consequently arrived on the island as something of an outsider ready to start afresh entirely. She knows she feels a connection to the island but she’s initially terrified to get too comfortable after having suffered so much in the past. And when someone initially mentions the idea of magic and witches too her she’s a little baffled – after all that stuff isn’t real is it? After all, she could never be so powerful…
Back then I totally empathised with that idea that I couldn’t be powerful; that feeling that no matter how much I did and what I created for myself I would never be able to fully move forward and recover from my past experiences. And although I was fascinated by anything to do with witchcraft, and even made a point of marking each full moon by lighting some candles and focusing my attentions on the things I did and didn’t want from the month ahead. But honestly? Like Nell it felt a lot like I was playing; because after all, I could never be so powerful.
Meanwhile the other characters in there both seemed completely out of my reach; particularly the accomplished, classy, beautiful and powerful Mia of the third book.
Fast forward a few years – through an awful lot of self development, a serious healing journey and some big life changes – and I read the books again. This time I found myself reading Nell’s story as though I was reading about a younger sister – albeit one I love dearly.
Instead this time around it was Mia I resonated with.
While keeping this post spoiler free let me just explain that Mia is the confident witch in the gang; the self assured woman who is as confidence in her own power and choices as she is in the forces around her.
That’s not to say Mia is perfect; she struggles too and has blockages and fears to overcome… something I hadn’t actually recognised the first time around, when the character had seemed so amazing and unattainable. But this time around what I saw was a woman who was incredibly like me.
It’s a funny one, because although I’m used to Nora opening my mind, highlighting my fears and giving me signs about things I should look at next to, she’s never before shown me just how far I’ve come.
Re-reading these books made me recognise I’m someone I used to look up and aspire to, and while there’s still a LONG way to go on this journey I don’t think I’ll ever finish (can you ever?!), I’ve made a lot of progress from where I once was… and will continue to do just that.
Of course my progress check just came in the form of a mental whisk away to a New England island and a hefty swoony romance…neither of which are quite as important as that check in itself.
But I wonder, when was the last time you checked in with yourself and how far you’ve come over recent years. If the answer is never then maybe follow my lead – connect with one of the stories that once resonated with you and see how it feels right now.