Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Souleiado a.k.a. Time Traveling: A Way to Shelter Ourselves from Current Overall Situation... and Do Some Good

Good Morning from a very gray, rainy and cloudy New York City!

Hope you all had a fantastic Labor Day Weekend (not that I had a break, I ended up working, but that's nothing new).

Thinking of the upcoming job-related speeches, some of us can't help but wonder if this so-called plans are gonna be, yet again, "promises-promises" or the Congress will actually allow Obama to do something about it (or President Obama will finally do that "something" and create the jobs he keeps promising, regardless of what the House likes or doesn't like) [sigh]. Either way, the overall economical situation has enveloped too many of us in its gray clouds, just like the day outside. The heaviness of its thick fabric threatens to suffocate us. Too many of us work way too hard, while making very little money (I'm not a stranger to that). Sometimes, some of us, myself included, retreat into making art or with a good book that hopefully offers an escape and maybe a possibility.

I usually read work-related book, but lately I've resumed to read other books (to feed the soul, too). As it always happens, some reads grab my attention, others not quite. (you know how it is when you're dying to find a good read, something that grabs you from the start and makes you miss its characters and eager for more when it ends...)

I ended up rereading Souleiado, by T.J. Banks. I read and reviewed the book quite a few years ago, when I was still writing under pen name (Alex Shapiro). Over time, I got to know the author and became a fan. As now I know more about the backstory of Souleiado, I connect even more with its characters.

Have to confess: I'm not a sci-fi fan or a time-travel fan for that matter. I mean, the idea of time traveling fascinates me, but I'm not that much into it (unless it has something to do with Einstein's Theory of Relativity). I found myself, again, opening Souleiado and starting reading--paying much care and attention to each word. It was as if I'd opened a small treasure box, one containing soulful treasures. I instantly got reminded why I became a fan of T.J. Banks in the first place. The author's soft words have that magical "once upon a time..." effect. You start reading and you never want to let go.

While rereading Souleiado, I have this fantastic opportunity to reconnect with Banks' earlier work and to unwrap its treasure--its mystique--wrapped in the author's power of storytelling. Beside the fact that Souleiado is a time traveling novel, the story itself transports the reader to a time and place "far-far away" (in time and... place) and shows you an opportunity of becoming better individuals  offering help for the better good, even while faced with your worst fears.

Isn't this exactly what we should do when faced with the reality of our worst fears nowadays--fears of a double-dip depression, extended job loss and the grayness of Mother Nature that extends well beyond the grayness of today? Isn't this what we may learn from stories like Souleiado? How to become "more good" (to paraphrase a character from Angels in America, one of my favorite movies) while facing our worst fears come true?

I'd like to share with you the Souleiado review I wrote oh so many years ago, under the pen name Alex Shapiro. Hope you enjoy reading the review, and also the book.

To find out more about the fantastic author, check out T.J. Banks' blog, Sketch People, soon to be a book itself.

Thanks for stopping by,
Alina Oswald
Author of Infinite Lights, a 9/11-related photography collection


By T.J. Banks

Five Star
January 2002
268 pages

Reviewed and highly recommended by Alex Shapiro

Miriam Souleiado and Dorothy Elderkin are two women who live more then a hundred years apart, though they need each other's help to heal their grieving souls and learn to love again. T.J. Banks tells their incredible stories in the time-traveling novel, Souleiado, proving that love and the truth have no time boundaries.

Artist Miriam Souleiado enjoys life with her little daughter, Dena, and her loving husband, Jared.  When she loses her husband in a car accident, her life changes forever. Jared is gone, but his ghost is still around, watching over his family. Miriam learns that she has to heal another woman's grief first, before she can say goodbye forever to her lost husband and live life without him. To get over her own grief and learn to live and love again, Miriam has to travel in time and bring peace to Dorothy Elderkin, a woman with a similar story and who may be Miriam's past-life self. Through several inexplicable experiences and ghostly appearances of her dead husband and of people from Dorothy's time, Miriam finds herself in the nineteenth's century, living Dorothy's life. 

Past and present come to life through the two young women, their daughters, lovers and husbands, friends and enemies. The transitions between past and present are smooth, yet, the reader can tell the real Miriam from the one in Dorothy's body. The tone is soft. The two stories are similar, but not parallel. They are connected not only through the two heroines and their plots, but also, through the feelings and emotions they express.   

Both heroines have young daughters and playful cats. Both, Dorothy and Miriam, have a second chance to rediscover the power and beauty of love. All they have to do is recognize their new soul mates and accept what they have to offer, but first, both, Dorothy and Miriam have to help each other survive their loses and learn to live their new lives, changed, in each case, by an unfortunate twist of faith. 

The story is realistic. The plots--past and present alike--describe life's timeless defeats and triumphs.  No matter the century, single mothers like Dorothy and Miriam have friends and enemies. Some people understand their struggles and offer comfort. Some remain indifferent, while others try to hide the truth ... only they cannot keep it hidden forever.  In the end, the truth is set free, through love and strong beliefs, reincarnation and even through something as unbelievable as time-traveling.

Souleiado is not only a time-traveling story, but also one about timeless, universal elements such as truth, love, and life. Definitely a must-read, especially for fantasy and time-traveling fans.



  1. Thank you, Alex, for an incredible review. You talk about SOULEIADO being full of "soulful treasures." (Great phrase, btw.) Well, it's your review that is soulful. You look beyond the surface of things, and it shows in this review -- as it does in everything else you write.

  2. Thanks T.J.! I was wondering how it would feel to re-read SOULEIADO. Well, I'm reading it now with my "new 'vampire' eyes," as some say :-) (good vampire, I mean) and the read is even more extraordinary, if that was possible. I think I get in touch and discover new feelings that come through the characters and their story.
    Thanks again! (will keep you updated, I started the read because I was (guess my soul was) in desperate need of a truly good story)... guess what, SOULEIADO is, without doubt, just what the Soul Doctor ordered :-) (somehow I knew that :-))