Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Courage to Change: a perspective by Ian Mathie

When there seems to be no way out you need Courage to Change.
A perspective on Sylvie Nickels’s book by author Ian Mathie.

Image provided by author
Courage to Change, by Sylvie Nickels
Paperback: 232 pages, also available in ebook
Publisher: Oriel Press, UK (June 6, 2013)
Reading level:  Young Adult / Full Adult
Genre: Fiction
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1782995579 (paperback)
ISBN-13: 978-1782995579 (paperback)
Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.5 inches
Content Rating: General release

As an industrial psychologist I was accustomed to dealing with many problems people brought with them to the workplace every bit as much as with problems growing out of the working environment. A problem which raised its ugly head quite frequently had many faces yet in each case it was the same problem: addiction. Reaching well beyond the workplace, addiction is far from easy to deal with and its first and most difficult challenge is recognition and acceptance by the sufferer.

Often misunderstood is a subject the very thought of which turns most people off. As a result it is too often ignored. Nevertheless, we are all potentially vulnerable to it. We can all learn useful lessons about the pitfalls and what fuels different forms of addiction if only we take the time to listen or to read about them.

This is one of the benefits that books like Courage to Change, by Sylvie Nickels have to offer. The novel offers a great story wrapped a framework of relationships, situations and problems arising out of one form of addiction, alcoholism. As the story unfolds it explores all the human dilemmas faced not only by those addicted, but by their families, friends and those who seek to help them.

Sylvie Nickels has a great wealth of life experience. She understands human abilities, frailties and weaknesses so well. This gives her the capacity to express the emotions and mindset of people in all sorts of social, domestic and working situations in ways that make her characters so real you feel they could be your own relations, or you know them personally. Because of this, what seems at first like a lightweight story draws you in and carries you along, wanting to know what people will do next and how things will turn out. Her writing is not gripping in the conventional sense, but it is truly compelling and will keep you reading to the very last page.

Through the medium of a touching story she offers a subtle exploration of the many dilemmas and problems involved in addiction; offering insights that should be valuable to any parent or person who shares their life with an addictive personality. Whilst she offers no magic solution to the problems; there isn’t one anyway, she at least offers hope whilst leaving it to the reader to make their own final judgements.

Courage to Change is a most rewarding book that can teach one a lot about life and human interactions. It also offers a good lesson to writers in how to convey the feelings and emotions of one’s characters. Here the players are very ordinary people and yet we come to know them intimately. That only comes about through very skilful writing and a thorough understanding on the part of the author of both the subject and the people she is writing about.

Sylvie Nickels’s other works include an excellent trilogy based on the effects of conflict on families, using the Bosnian war as its backdrop. She has also written a mystery thriller based in Finland and a series of travel books during her long career. Publishing most of her books by her own efforts, she is an author whose work deserves to be much better known.


Author biography:

Now in the eighties, Sylvie Nickels has been writing since the age of ten. In earlier years she wrote numerous travel books, particularly about the Balkan countries and about Finland, a country she knows intimately and whose language she speaks. Since her childhood was during World War Two, it is hardly surprising that the effects of war on succeeding generations should be the theme of several of her books. 

After her marriage she embarked with her husband, geographer and explorer George Spenceley, on a series of adventures including canoe trips down the Danube and the Mississippi rivers, the latter resulting in her acclaimed book The Big Muddy.

When advancing years curtailed her travelling, Sylvie turned to fiction, producing four intriguing books. Most recently she has tackled the subject of addiction as life has brought me into direct contact with the effects of alcoholism at many levels.  Whilst Courage to Change was originally aimed at the Young Adult market, its subject gives it much wider appeal.

Recently widowed, Sylvie Nickels lives in north Oxfordshire, England, and is still actively writing.

Amazon Author Page:  Sylvie Nickels

Ian Mathie is the author of the African Memoir Series, currently comprising four volumes: Bride Price (January2011); Man in a Mud Hut (July 2011); Supper with the President (October 2011); and Dust of the Danakil (March 2012). He has a fifth volume, Sorcerers and Orange Peel, due for release in October 2013.

His books are available in all e-book formats from  and in paperback or Kindle formats from Amazon. More detail about the author, including interviews, reviews, biographical information and book details are available on his website

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. Click below to share your Reactions and more. See you next time, Toi Thomas. #cursescanbebroken