Review Blog

Nov 16 2017

The poesy ring: a love story by Bob Graham

cover image

Walker Books, 2017. ISBN 9781406378276
(Age: 5+) Highly recommended. Themes: Love. Marriage. Artifacts. Historical evidence. The journey of a poesy ring given to a beloved in times long ago is full of significance as it is lost and then found nearly two centuries later, meaning the same thing for the couple today as it once did for the couple that lost it. A whole story can be evoked from the opening pages watching a young Irish woman gallop away from the sea, a tall ship disappearing into the distance. It is 1830 and she has thrown the ring away. It falls to the ground, spending time with the small animals and grasses that grow around it. An acorn that falls nearby grows into a huge tree before a deer finds the ring lodged in its hoof. The ring falls into a meadow, and when the farmer tills his soil, a bird picks it up. From there is falls into the sea only to be retrieved from a fishing net and sold. By now it is 1967, and a couple busking in the New York underground, take their earnings to a gold shop where they buy the ring and walk home together in the snow.
The ring has come full circle, finding a finger on which it can sit symbolising the love between two people.
This touching story of love, dedicated to Graham's partner of fifty years, Carolyn, will endear itself to all readers, showcasing the endurance and tenacity of love and its symbols. The inscription inside the ring, Love never dies, resonates through the story as the ring, buffeted by the passing seasons is eventually found in a shop in New York, bringing a small tear to the eye of all who read it.
Graham's soft watercolour illustrations show time passing from tall ships, then wartime destroyers and later a fishing trawler, while a man turns the soil with his plough, reaping the crop with a scythe, the images moving on to the escalator in the underground and the shops in the streets of New York. This book lovingly shows the passing of time and the enduring power of the little ring, lost and now found, a circle of love for a new generation. Younger readers will have a great time seeking the smaller pictures on each page, reflecting the passing of time, while older readers will ponder the timelessness of the gold ring and all that it implies. Graham successfully inhabits his books with the small things of life, the wonderful image of the ploughing man and his horses, the boots of the fisherman, the tattoo on Sonny's hand, the children giving money to the buskers. His books give a feeling of solidity, of family, of community and continuity, and no more so than here, with the ring coming full circle, to the hand of a woman in New York.
A wonderful interview of Bob Graham by Jason Steger of the Sydney Morning Herald can be found here.
Fran Knight

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