It has not been a good week for me. Many things, huge and little, have upset me. More than a few news events, but also those tiny personal upsets that needle away at you and make you miserable, but affect no-one else.

Basically, it’s been one of those weeks where I wish I had a different life. So I went out and found one.

Not literally, obviously. I went to books. I hid in books. I found other lives in books. I found my solace and comfort in other people’s problems and solutions. I took strength from their strength. I cried when they cried, and I felt better for a good cry. They made me laugh and feel and love and I did not once have to look up from the page and despair at my own problems.

But more than that, they give us hope. They can warn us, as so many sci-fi novels too, but they can also give us the tools to survive our own personal dark nights of the soul. We can imagine ourselves to be the characters who are stronger than we are, who survive what we think breaks us, who walk out of the darkness into the light. They can give us words to live by.

My own personal mantra, the words I say when I need to remember that I can keep going, come from Jane Eyre

‘I am no bird, and no net ensnares me. I am a free human being with an independent will’

Charlotte Bronte never knew me, never knew my troubles, or my problems, but she gave me the words to cope with them.

That’s what we do, you and me, when we write. We give ourselves and our readers another world to escape to, and then gives us the strength to come back again.

The House at Baker Street by Michelle Birkby

The Women Of Baker Street


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