Sunday 26 April 2020

BLOG TOUR: The Princess of Felling - Elaine Cusack

The Princess of Felling describes Elaine’s childhood and adolescence growing up on Tyneside in the 1970s and 1980s. The book pays homage to her home town of Felling on Tyne and is an extended, loving letter to her late parents.

This illustrated poetic memoir features a Foreword by Michael Chaplin, photographs of Felling taken in summer 2018 by Rossena Petcova and unique maps by poet and artist Steve Lancaster.

The book contains reminiscences by Felling folk plus guest appearances by Nick Heyward, David Almond, Tracey Thorn, Sir Kingsley Amis, The Reverend Richard Coles, Lady Elsie Robson, U.A. Fanthorpe, Gyles Brandreth and more.

What did I think?

I've lived in Wardley, neighbouring 'The Felling', since I was 3 years old, so I was very intrigued by The Princess of Felling by Elaine Cusack.  Of course, you don't have to live in, or even know where Felling is, to enjoy the book as it's part personal memoir of a child of the 70's, part homage to Felling, part musical influences and part portrait of family life in the North East with a sprinkling of poetry in between.

I was hooked from just reading the introduction as Elaine talks about being the Princess of Felling in her very own castle when she was a child.  I had seen Elaine's 'castle' ruin on many occasions and always wondered what it was, well now I know!  There were so many things that resonated with me in Elaine's story; I suppose being a child of the 70's too, I have some things in common with Elaine.  A lot of Elaine's stories brought a smile to my face, especially when she was reminiscing about her Nan; my Nanna always had a bottle of Puroh milk too and I remember her using it to make rice pudding.  Such happy memories!

Following in Elaine's footsteps, I also left my primary schoolfriends in Gateshead and took the short trip across the Tyne to go to senior school in Newcastle.  I went to Central High whereas Elaine went to Church High but we had similar experiences with our accents making us stand out from the posh lasses.  I'm sure like Elaine, I wasn't even that Geordie to begin with but I sounded like I'd just come out of the pit in comparison to the Ponteland crowd.  It does make me smile remembering that and it's funny that it wasn't something on which any of my friends ever remarked, it was just something that made me feel different but I wasn't changing my accent for anybody and Mam will always be Mam!

Elaine has also shared a few poems in her book and I think Skin Stains is the best poem I have ever read.  Now I'm not a poetry lover as they don't normally make sense to me but I got every single word of Elaine's writing.  Poetry for the people!  

What a fabulous collection of poetry and reminiscences!  I learnt a few things about the area that I didn't know and remembered things that I was surprised were still stored in my memory.  Just Elaine reminding me about the call of 'Allyooken' brings back such happy memories of a time gone by when we played out in the street until dark, running off far and wide in a game of hide and seek.  'Allyooken' was a call to return to the street for those who were still hiding and hadn't been found.  I can't even say 'Allyooken' without singing it: Aaaaaaaalyooken!

The Princess of Felling is a chart-topping literary mix tape; there's something for everyone in this fabulous memoir.  It's not only about Elaine's life and the history of The Felling (the 'The' is obligatory if you live there), there's the fabulous poetry and reminiscences of the music scene in the 80's (from Elaine's appearances in the audience of The Tube that was filmed in Tyne Tees studios).

Elaine's writing is so full of love for her family, her home and her music that some of it inevitably rubbed off on me and brought some of my long forgotten memories to the fore.  I would like to take this opportunity to thank Elaine for dusting off and digging out some of my old memories.  The Princess of Felling is an outstanding memoir and an absolute must read if you're a child of the 70's (but still a mighty fine read if you're not).

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Buy your copy in person from selected outlets including Hexham’s Cogito Books, Felling Volunteer Library, Newcastle Central Library, Happy Planet Studio and Gallery in Whitley Bay and online from Elaine’s publisher

About the author:

Find out more about Elaine’s writing and forthcoming gigs by visiting, and by liking her Elaine Cusack writer page on Facebook.

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1 comment:

  1. Huge thanks for this fabulous blog tour support xx