Book Review HOLLY LEAVES – Family Drama

Holly Leaves



When five friends go to a psychic for a reading; the predictions make no sense at all because they just cannot envision the tragic circumstances in which everything the psychic says will come to pass.

A group of relatives and pals agree to go for a group reading with a mysterious psychic: their emotions range from eager anticipation to nervous excitement and in the case of Sasha a poo-poing and putting it all down to hocus pocus entertainment.

Yesod catches their attention with pin point accuracy about their pasts and inner conflicts; however her predictions about the future appear to some baffling and out of sync with the reality they all know. Even sceptic Sasha is thrown off kilter by Yesod’s apparent inability – or was it rather a disguised refusal – to read her.

The session strikes a chord of confusion and self doubt into Lee and Gemma; but was the reading so elliptical for Lianne. Did she read something into it the others have missed? Why does Lianne go asking pertinent questions about her past while alienating herself from the others?
Michelle is overcome with guilt: she believes she knows that her own dirty secret lies behind Lianne’s strange behaviour. Confiding in Lee, she reveals all.
But is Michelle’s hunch correct or is the truth so deeply buried in the psyche of one of the other friends that even Yesod could not perceive it.

Seemingly unbreakable friendships are wrecked in a web of deception, lies and infidelity and someone will pay the ultimate price. Nothing is as it seemed and nothing will ever be the same again.

Some skeletons are best left in the closet.


British author Lisa Gordon, born in Johannesburg where she studied Law at Witwatersrand University before moving to England to complete her studies in Industrial Economics at the University of Warwick. Interestingly she also studied with the Faculty of Astrological Studies in London and it is in this capacity that she appears on BBC. She also campaigns against injustice and unfair trials abroad. The subject of this Play HOLLY LEAVES is astrology and she explains her passion for her subject in her statement, `Growing up in Johannesburg was truly an amazing experience which I will always treasure. It is a city of bright colors, vibrant people, stark contrasts and extremes: extreme wealth, extreme poverty, extreme emotions, extreme thunderstorms, often extreme violence and yet every minute I lived there I felt alive. As I sit here in safe and picturesque England I long to leave this sterility and head for the chaos of Africa where somehow every minute means so much more. Perhaps my image of my homeland is very much my metaphor for life: that at the extremes of existence one is truly living and experiencing this thing we call life to the full. I am incurably inquisitive and if there is something going on on this planet, I want to know about it. I ended up with a degree in Economics, however the economics and financial world never beckoned and so at 23 I took a pretty sharp left turn and decided to study astrology. I have always loved helping people and I am fascinated by the meaning of life, destiny and karma and so I often think it was fate that prompted me to take this direction which in many ways has been a difficult route, but very revealing in terms of self-discovery. I was the resident astrologer on many local UK radio stations for many years. Although my foray into astrology may have left my spiritual life richer, my bank balance was a basket case, so it was back to the drawing board career wise and I began studying to be a Chartered Accountant. Bored to tears with studying audit, I decided to start writing a book one night.’ This play HOLLY LEAVES has won awards both as a play and as a novel: the reasons are apparent after reading this work.

The flavor of this story is beautifully described in the `stage business’ section that opens the play: `Four women and a young man are standing at the front of the stage with the curtain down. Sacha, an attractive, tall and flamboyantly dressed woman is pacing impatiently. Michelle, a neat woman in a suit sits anxiously. Lianne, who is short and plump, wearing black trousers and a blouse sits patiently legs crossed. Gemma in a tracksuit is chewing gum casually. Lee, a good looking young man stands somewhat awkwardly at the side of the stage.’ From this vivid character delineation Gordon unwinds a visit to a psychic, Yesod (`She believes there is no such thing as bad luck: what we perceive as bad times are just opportunities to change. She gives you ideas on how to approach change; she’s never negative….Yesod does believe in freewill and in a person’s ability to shape their own future but she also believes that we have chosen a specific life path, almost like a mission for this incarnation and thus certain hurdles are inevitable.’) Four women and a man, friends, enter the realm of Yesod and the manner in which each responds to Yesod’s predictions and perceptions of their pasts `sets the stage’ for an entertaining and deeply informing study of the how we as people interact – a barrage of secrets, lies, insights, misconceptions and deceptions, infidelity – an the manner in which each of the characters interacts with the others unveils mysteries only a psychic would devise! Or as Sacha perceives, `That’s what spiritualism seems to be about; everything has some deep, esoteric meaning that you just can’t bloody figure out.’

Lisa Gordon has created a little masterpiece of a play that steps in the literary circle with ease. She has written other books and hopefully will continue with new ones, as her ability to iron out the wrinkles in our strange world we have cluttered with ill deeds is quite remarkable. Grady Harp, September 14

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