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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Sweet Shack & Bach Bar: Book Review From the Bach Centre

It's kind of gloomy in my part of the world today.  It's foggy as thought there is an opaque film in the atmosphere obscuring a clear view of the world.  It's raining out which isn't really supposed to happen in February, but "it is what it is". It's the kind of day that feels a bit like some comfort food might be order. That got me thinking about Sweet Shack & Bach Bar..

When I first wrote Sweet Shack & Bach Bar I wasn't really sure where the book was headed. It really took shape as I wrote. The characters became real to me and a part of my world. I realized I wanted to create a book that would help people understand that Bach Flowers essences could fit easily into your life. By identifying with a character, or with bits and pieces of one or two characters, I wanted people to realize their emotions might be soothed by Wise Woman Wisdom. I wanted to create a light and fun read so you didn't have to "invest yourself" in the characters or worry much about how they were going to deal with things. I wanted to put some magic and fun and comfort into the world. I wanted to have a positive impact.

I didn't take a scientific approach when I wrote the book. Wise Woman has some pretty non-traditional ideas and approaches. Merlin does some hocus pocus stuff that really isn't based on science, earthly laws, or real-world rules.  In fact, there aren't a lot of rules in Sweet Shack & Bach Bar at all.

But the Bach Flower essence indications in the book are very real. I didn't take creative license there. I admire the work that has been done both by Dr. Bach in the 1930's and by the people at the Bach Centre that still carry on his scientific work in the traditional ways. As a Registered Bach Practitioner, the thoughts, ideas, information and opinions of the Bach Centre are important to me. So when Sweet Shack & Bach Bar came back from the publisher in print, real-world form, I went "out on a limb".  I took a few drops of the Bach Flower essence Larch to boost my self-confidence and I mailed a copy of the book to the Bach Centre asking if they might review it. I didn't hold my breath exactly but I did anxiously open the email when it came.

Once again I am impressed by the visionary attributes of the people at the Bach Centre. Stefan Ball himself read and reviewed my book and wrote the following:

The Sweet Shack and Bach Bar is a magical establishment, found in unexpected locations by people who think they are looking for something else. The Wise Woman behind the counter is just as resourceful. She always has just what the distressed visitor is most in need of: a chance to talk, a dish of something sweet, a present, and not least, three shots of Bach from the bar.
The Wise Woman knows her remedies, and there are some good descriptions of remedy states, delivered in an informal, human-centred way that will appeal even to people with no pre-existing interest in the remedies. She's not a bad cook, either, and readers enthused about the various delights served up will be delighted by the section towards the back where the recipes are given in full.
As well Bach, the Wise Woman uses chakras in her therapy work, and the flavours and colours said to resonate with each chakra feature in the food and presents doled out to customers. A table at the back of the book reinforces links suggested in the stories: between, for example, sleep disorders and the Solar chakra; or between the Crown chakra, chronic exhaustion, and Bach remedies White Chestnut, Wild Rose and Star of Bethlehem.
This raises an aspect of the book that I had difficulty with. A phrase such as “Oak people sometimes develop kidney problems” is unquestionably true, insofar as people in an Oak state are no more immune to kidney problems than the rest of us. The worry would be that readers might choose Oak whenever there is a kidney disorder: something that would be quite wrong in Bach terms.
Similarly, a beginner looking across the table from sleep disorders and seeing Impatiens, Scleranthus and Hornbeam listed might ignore more likely remedy choices, such as Agrimony, White Chestnut, Mimulus or Vervain. And of course, seven chakras and seven chapters, with three remedies for each, means that some remedies don't feature at all. For these reasons, I wouldn't personally suggest Sweet Shack and Bach Bar to anybody looking for help selecting remedies.
The blurb on the back, though, makes a different claim. Sweet Shack and Bach Bar is “a sweet treat for long time believers in Bach essence healing and those that are new to the idea”. Taken in those terms – as a treat, a snack, something refreshing and toothsome that might leave you wanting more – Sweet Shack and Bach Bar succeeds. I found inspiration and a good deal of charm here, and for that reason recommend the book.
Stefan Ball "got it".  It seems he really understood my intention when writing this book. His review lifted any worry I might have had as to how my book would be received by the Bach community. So today the fog doesn't feel depressing to me; it feels mystical. It's still a good day for comfort food, and a good day to try some of the recipes in the book,  but in celebration of magic, not to soothe angst. And that's the balance I hope you'll feel when you read the book.

Enjoy the magic...

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