Little Bee…..but on the other hand……

If serendipity were a science, it would become subject to analysis and provide evidence for the forecasting of future happy events. However, the concept of ‘serendipity’ is so difficult to define that it was voted as one of the ten most awkward English words to translate into other languages. At its simplest level, it refers to a ‘happy accident’ or ‘pleasant surprise’. Here is an example of something that happened to me recently. I copy the email that I sent to two unconnected friends who live 4000 miles apart:

Hi Libby and Peter!
you two don’t know each other. In fact, you live about 4000 miles apart (Libby lives in Michigan, USA and Peter in Northampton, UK). But something remarkable has recently linked you both. Let me explain………….
After a delightful weekend with Libby and Ed in Michigan, we were given a book entitled Little Bee,  to be read and passed on to someone else (in the excellent World Book Night tradition). However, a week before Jenny and I had set off on our tour across the American continent, Peter had sent us a book entitled The other hand, and I told Peter I would keep it for when we returned to the UK.
On the long journey back from the US, I read most of Libby’s book, and found it deeply moving and very disturbing. When we got back home, I sat down in my study only to be confronted by Peter’s book awaiting my return. I noticed that the author of both was Chris Cleave, but was puzzled that he had written both books in the same year, one published by an American, and the other by a British publisher. Very strange. And neither edition made any reference to the prior publication of the other (most books give a list of previously published works by the same author).
Then I read the opening lines of both books and discovered they were one and the same book, but with different titles!

I love reading books recommended by friends, but to be given two identical books (albeit with different titles) by two unconnected friends so many miles apart, within the space of three weeks………………………………… a mere coincidence? I’ll let you decide.

And this is a book I can heartily recommend to anyone. It deals with the tricky problems experienced by an asylum seeker in the UK, and the ending is a little unexpected. I say no more.

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About Frank Burns

Looking for the extraordinary in the commonplace………taking the road less travelled……..striving for the ‘faculty of making happy chance discoveries’ in unremarkable circumstances. Click on the Personal Link below to visit my webpages.

Posted on November 7, 2011, in Book reviews and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Olivia A Wylie

    I am awed by this coincidence. Perhaps there really aren’t any coincidences – Fate just intervenes

  2. Jonathan Belbin

    Yes, I’ve read it too (in ‘The Other Hand’ guise) – a real page-turner, I read it in one sitting!

    • ….and when I got to the last page, I found myself reading the closing lines again and again, absorbing the full impact of ……”now we are all speaking the same language”.

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