FLING!: A NOVEL, INCLUDING RECENT REVIEWS, DISCUSSION QUESTIONS, AND YOUTUBE VIDEOS OF READINGS

Fling_Frontcover_Low_4-13-15 copy

Click this link to order Fling! http://www.Pen-L.com/Fling.html or from Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Fling-Lily-Iona-MacKenzie/dp/1942428294

A digital version of Fling! is available on Amazon’s Kindle www.amazon.com/Fling-Lily-Iona-Mackenzie-ebook/dp/B0145ZXZG6

and Barnes & Noble Nook: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/fling-lily-iona-mackenzie/1121961570?ean=2940150890992

qrcode.29126325 copy

Pen-L Publishing produced my novel Fling! in July 2015. A wildly comic romp on mothers, daughters, art, travel and death, the book should appeal to a broad range of readers. While the main characters are middle-aged and older, their zest for life would draw readers of all ages, male or female, attracting the youthful adventurer in most people. Though women may identify more readily with Feather and Bubbles’ daughter and mother struggles, the heart of the book is how they approach their aging selves and are open to new experiences. Since art and imagination are key to this narrative, artists of all ages would find something to enjoy. And because the book crosses many borders (Scotland, Canada, the U.S., and Mexico), it also can’t be limited to a specific age group, social class, gender, or region.

Youtube video of my reading at Book Passage, Corte Madera, 9/3/15:lily book passage

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=77xZZ09ThPA

Youtube videos of Christina Lake, B.C., book launch on 8/8/15:

https://youtu.be/zKc6x5IIb1g

http://youtu.be/UP1LCCDgzJg

My first fan letter for Fling! came from an 80 year-old woman who lives in the tiny village of Christina Lake, B.C. My son, who also lives there, had given her my manuscript to read. She said, “I just wanted to express to you how very much I enjoyed your writing.  I started it and didn’t stop till I had read it all.  I very much like your style and your subtle humor. Thank you for a most enjoyable read. I can’t understand why it hasn’t been scooped up by some publisher. But I know that it will be. In my estimation I know that it is excellent literary work. I am a voracious reader and have been since grade 4. I remember my first book was Tom Sawyer and I have never stopped since then. I go through 4 to 5 books a week.  We are so fortunate here at the Lake now.  The Library staff in Grand Forks come out here every Wednesday. I have become very fond of the young lady who comes out. She provides me with all the award winning books and orders others for me. Again I want to express to you how very much I enjoyed your manuscript.  Have patience my dear….it will be published to wide acclaim I am so sure.” —Joan Fornelli.

Here is the synopsis of Fling!:

Feather, an aging hippie, returns to her Calgary home to help her mother, Bubbles, celebrate her 90th birthday. Bubbles has received mail from the dead letter office in Mexico City, asking her to pick up her mother’s ashes, left there seventy years earlier and only now surfacing. Bubbles’ mother, Scottish by birth, had died in Mexico in the late 1920s after taking off with a married man and abandoning her husband and kids.

A woman with a mission, and still vigorous, Bubbles convinces a reluctant Feather to take her to Mexico so she can recover the ashes and give her mother a proper burial. Both women have recently shed husbands and have a secondary agenda: they’d like a little action. And they get it.

Alternating narratives weave together Feather and Bubbles’ odyssey with their colorful Scottish ancestors, creating a family tapestry. The “now” thread presents the two women as they travel south from Canada to San Francisco and then Mexico, covering a span of about six months. “Now” and “then” merge in Mexico when Bubbles’ long-dead mother, grandmother, and grandfather turn up, enlivening the narrative with their antics.

In Mexico, the land where reality and magic co-exist, Feather gets a new sense of her mother. The Indian villagers mistake Bubbles for a well-known rain goddess, praying for her to bring rain so their land will thrive again. Feather, who’s been seeking “The Goddess” for years, eventually realizes what she’s overlooked.

Meanwhile, Bubbles’ quest for her mother’s ashes (and a new man) has increased her zest for life. A shrewd business woman (she’s raised chickens, sold her crafts, taken in bizarre boarders, and has a sure-fire system for winning at bingo and lotteries), she’s certain she’s found the fountain of youth at a mineral springs outside San Miguel de Allende; she’s determined to bottle the water and sell it.

But gambling is her first love, and unlike most women her age, fun-loving Bubbles takes risks, believing she’s immortal. Unlike her daughter, Bubbles doesn’t hold back in any way, eating heartily, lusting after strangers, her youthful spirit and innocence convincing readers that they’ve found the fountain of youth themselves in this character. At ninety, she comes into her own, coming to age, proving it’s never too late to fulfill one’s dreams.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS FOR FLING!

Try to answer these questions by using examples from Fling!

  1. How is magic (or supernatural elements) introduced in the novel?
  2. What is its role in the narrative?
  3. What kind of reading agreement has to be established between the author and the reader in order for the magical elements to work?
  4. Do the magical realist devices disrupt the logic of the story or enhance it?
  5. What specific things give this novel a magical quality?
  6. Which character or characters do you identify with the most?
  7. How does each character (Bubbles and Feather) reveal herself over the course of the novel. At what point do your sympathies begin to change (if they do)?
  8. What role does death have in this book?
  9. Does Fling! remind you of any other works you’ve read?
  10. How did this novel cause you to think differently about mother/daughter relationships or family dynamics?
  11. How does the use of time in Fling! contribute to its magical qualities?
  12. What do you think are the novel’s main themes?
  13. What role does “the goddess” play in Fling!?
  14. In what ways does Bubbles seem mythic or ageless? (not mythic in the sense of implausible)
  15. How do the characters in Fling! subvert the stereotypes of older adults?
  16. What role does the setting have in Fling!?
  17. How would you describe the difference between Heather, Annie, Bubbles, and Feather?
  18. What role do the men play in this novel?
  19. How does Feather get educated about her mother (Bubbles)?
  20. Would you classify Fling! as a coming-of-age novel? Why or why not?
  21. Did anything surprise you in Fling!? Did you learn something new about being human?

READERS’ REVIEWS OF FLING!

Here is the first review I’ve had of the audio version of Fling! narrated by Anna Crowe:

5.0 out of 5 stars Magical & fantastical

By Shanna Tidwell on September 11, 2016

I was constantly telling people about this book while I was listening to it. I adored it! I haven’t read Water for Chocolate since the early 90’s but this book reminded me of it in many ways. It’s magical & fantastical!

Heather, Bubbles & Feather are 3 distinct characters who can also blend as one. The story telling of these characters was some of the best parts. The past & present blended well. You could visualize the time periods. I simply loved this book!

This audiobook was provided by the author, narrator, or publisher at no cost in exchange for an unbiased review courtesy of Audiobook Boom.

 http://www.tcjww.org/#!Fling-by-Lily-Iona-Mackenzie/czls/560d914b0cf2f0ed7a2b9fa5

Fling! by Lily Iona Mackenzie

October 21, 2015

by

Karen Lively

When I first agreed to review Fling! I was somewhat skeptical. All I knew about Lily Iona Mackenzie’s novel came from the title and a brief summary and, based on that, I expected a vaguely smutty beach read. I have never been a particular fan of the romance genre and the idea of a ninety year old woman even being interested in sex, let along looking for a fling in Mexico as the premise of Fling! goes, struck my cynical twenty-three year old self as improbable.

When I received my copy, however, I began to consider the various manifestations and definitions of the word “fling” and to suspect that the novel was about much more than some fleeting May-December romance. In her preface, Mackenzie offers the following definitions for her title:

1. a brief period of indulging one’s impulses

2. a usually brief attempt or effort

3. a brief sexual or romantic relationship

4. a Scottish Highland dance

5. a novel by Lily Iona Mackenzie

I was sold before I even turned the first page. No more than twenty pages in, I struggled to put it down, drawn in by the brief interlacing point of view chapters that leap chronologically and geographically between Scotland, Canada, and Mexico. To say that I was pleasantly surprised by Mackenzie’s charmingly offbeat novel would be an inexcusable understatement. Captivated by the surreal plot, eccentric yet relatable characters, and simple but vivid language, I quickly confirmed my suspicion that Fling! was about far than just a fling (which, in the age of Tinder, has taken on something of an unsavory connotation). With all the lighthearted fun of a fling, this novel also explores the importance of restoring fractured familial relationships, coming to terms with mortality and transience, and maintaining a certain joie de vivre no matter what your age or circumstances.

All of this takes place in the exuberant heart of Mexico, where reality and magic, the dead and the living commingle to fantastic effect. The stars of the story are ninety year old Bubbles, who amazes everyone with her vivacity and apparently limitless zest for life, and her middle aged hippie daughter Feather, who feels a little overshadowed by Bubbles and struggles with lingering resentment toward her mother from adolescence. When Bubbles receives news that her mother’s ashes have been found in Mexico City after being lost for seventy years, she convinces Feather—who was planning to take a solo art sabbatical in Mexico—to bring her along and make a stop in Mexico City to retrieve the ashes. Once in Mexico City, the two women deviate considerably from both their itinerary and normal way of being. The story takes a turn for the magical as Heather, Bubble’s mother, comes to life—like instant milk—after Bubbles adds water to her ashes. Heather’s long deceased parents—Anne and Malcolm, Bubble’s grandparents and Feather’s great-grandparents—appear shortly after, and the Scottish brood, reunited in Mexico, stays for the trip of their life/afterlife.

The narrative reaches the first of several phantasmagoric climaxes when a local tribe mistakes Bubbles for fertility god Eineeuq and kidnaps her a few days of festivity and worship. Bubbles, thrilled, soaks in the adoration and celebration she has always lived and yearned for with signature gusto. It’s a definite high point in the narrative but the story is far from over. Heather, cautious and somewhat repressed and resentful, experiences a personal renaissance through a fling with a sexy, soulful shaman. Through serendipitous human connection, the rejuvenating power of sex, and just a touch of magic, Heather sheds old neuroses and embraces a more joyful view of herself, the world, and her lovable but flawed mother. I’ll save some of the surprises Mackenzie still has in store for you but rest assured that the rest of the narrative, just as life-affirming and magical—without being saccharine—as the preceding pages, is a fitting denouement to the wild ride she has taken us on thus far.

The only lingering critique I have of Fling! is perhaps its title and the transience it so strongly implies. While the novel is full of rollicking flings and short bursts of mini-climaxes, the healing effects of Bubbles’ and Feather’s experiences are clearly long-lasting. Indeed, the novel seems to resolve (or come close to resolving) some of the most age-old tensions between eternity and transience, life and death. While the experience of reading Fling! for the first time was a fleeting one (as all our experiences are), its lessons and magic have stayed with me and will continue to do so as with all of our more meaningful flings.


From the start, MacKenzie creates worlds within worlds as her characters float back and forth in time, experiencing moments both lived and imagined. Filled with dreams, hopes, drama, the mundane and the mystical, each character travels through space (geographically from Scotland to Canada to Mexico) and time (past, present and future). In the same breath, then in skipped breaths, MacKenzie flings us in and out of the overflowing lives of three generations of women.
After celebrating her 90th birthday, “Bubbles” is determined to collect her deceased mother’s ashes in Mexico. She believes that having the ashes will allow her to feel closer to the mother who had abandoned her. Determined to see if such a journey will allow her to release “the memories buried under resentments she’s amassed over the years,” Bubble’s daughter, Feather, agrees to accompany her mother. Understanding now that “one person’s mess can be rooted in another generation,” Feather begins the journey wanting to forgive her mother and to find respect for all the women in her family who followed their dreams even as they left poverty and children behind.
Weaving stories of love and lust between other tales of broken marriages, loneliness, and longings, MacKenzie succeeds in filling our appetite for finding meaning and placing closure on the pains of the past, while living uninhibited adventures in the present.
In the final act of Thornton Wilder’s “OUR TOWN,” when the dead who inhabit the town’s cemetery take front and center stage, the main character, Emily, ultimately returns to the cemetery saying of the living: “They don’t understand.” So, too, in Fling!, we find not only the ashes of a grandmother long since dead, but a woman who magically comes to life. The fine line between memories, life, death, and an eternal search for feeling connected to family, to what’s real, and to what’s larger than life, is skillfully navigated by MacKenzie, who respects and helps us to understand each of her quirky—sometimes introspective, sometimes wise—but always marvelously fascinating and entertaining characters.
~ Linda Appleman Shapiro at Amazon.com


Summer may be over, but there’s still time for a fling, by which I mean the novel Fling! by Lily Iona MacKenzie. It’s not too late for some good beach reading, and even if you won’t have a chance to travel, this book will take you from Scotland to Canada to Mexico in the company of a delightful trio of women—Feather, a middle-aged ex-hippie, her irrepressible 90-year-old mother, Bubbles, and her grandmother, Heather, long dead but magically alive again in Mexico, along with her own parents, Annie and Malcolm.
Both Feather and Bubbles have long since changed their names from Heather, who came to Canada with Bubbles to join her husband, then took off for Mexico with a lover. This desertion sets a pattern: Bubbles will leave Feather as her mother left her, continuing a generational rift. But then a letter arrives from the dead letter office in Mexico City, announcing that Heather’s ashes must be picked up. Of course, Bubbles and Feather knew of Heather’s death from cancer in her 50s, but the existence of her ashes is new information, and Bubbles insists they must go to Mexico to retrieve her mother.
Thus begins the journey to end all journeys, filled with amazing adventures and hilarious characters, as these two women from cold climates travel south to the land of sun, where the dead come to life to settle past grievances. Both Feather and Bubbles come to understand each other and the pattern of desertion that has affected their lives, and find love and rejuvenation in Mexico. Maybe they’ll stay down there; maybe they’ll bring their new insights back to the cold plains of Midwestern Canada. But whatever happens, they won’t be the same women who set out to reclaim their mother’s—and grandmother’s—ashes.
~ Susan St. Aubin at Amazon.com


Fling takes the reader on a grand adventure starting in lovely Scotland, pushing us into a new hoped for opportunity in Canada, and finally taking us on the trip of a lifetime in Mexico.
3 different places, with different attitudes that force mother and daughter to look within themselves to adjust. The relationship between mother and daughter reminds me of a lot of relationships, there is a delicate, definite, and deep love; however they are two different women and do not see eye to eye. The way they relate to each other is absolutely hilarious and heartwarming. Mom, Bubbles, is flighty, fantastical, and a bit irresponsible; which is a distinct contrast to practical, employed, and responsible daughter Feather. At times while reading I forgot that we are talking about a 60-year-old and a 90-year-old; however they learn through their travels to change a lifetime of interactions with each other and learn to relate in a new healthier way.
If there is one criticism of this story, it would be regarding the flashbacks. While I normally enjoy flashbacks, the jumps in the book gave me whiplash. I got an idea of where she wanted to go in the story, but it often took me a page or two to really start following the storyline again. This made it a more difficult read. Had she spent more than a chapter in each “time”, I feel that it would have been easier to follow along with and would really have allowed me to go deeper and really lose myself in this otherwise wonderful story!
Overall, I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who wants to read a more “realistic” fantastical book with a lovely message.
~ Rebecca Fricke at Amazon.com


This is a very readable, very enjoyable novel about a mother and daughter’s journey to understand each other. The book spans a lot of geography and history, although the history is alive at the time of the action. One of the delights of the book is the vision of how our family history shapes who we are and the ways in which our struggles are intertwined with those of our ancestors. In addition, the book links up the Isle of Skye in Scotland in the early 1900s, with Calgary in Canada in the middle part of the 20th century along with modern day Mexico. The archetypes common to all three cultures are well observed. But first and foremost, this novel is very humorous, and a real page-turner. Anybody with a hippie soul will enjoy the ways in which the two main characters get lost in Mexico before finding themselves and each other.
~ Douglas G MacKenzie at Amazon.co.uk


Totally quirky journey to experiencing relatives, even after they have been dead for generations, and coming to terms with life.
~ Meg Dendler at Goodreads.com


A cross between a Carlos Castaneda novel and ‘The little old lady who broke all the rules’. It takes a few chapters to get into the writing style but it’s worth the effort. The characters are well developed and the issues ring true. I think this would make a great movie, the author describes scenes so vividly you feel like you can see things as they happen. Some great humour and a different perspective on living life as a senior. Book received free from Goodreads.
~ Margaret Mcnamee at Goodreads.com


I think most people will enjoy Fling! by Lily Iona Mackenzie because of the character of Bubbles, a 90-year-old who refuses to act her age. Bubbles wants life in all its richness—sex, food, travel. She is still hungry and doesn’t see why she should consider her plate full.
The relationship between Bubbles and her hippie daughter Feather is also appealing. In many ways, these women have a typical mom-daughter relationship, but their quirkiness is all their own.
When the two visit Mexico City to pick up the ashes of Bubbles’ long-dead mother, the story gets even zanier when Bubble’s dead mom and grandparents all make real-life appearances. A fun summer read.
~ Carol Moreira at Amazon.com


I recently read a novel that completely pulled me into the universe—and what a universe it is! Fling!, the new novel from writer and educator Lily Iona Mackenzie, is set in many countries. It’s at once a glimpse into new, interesting characters—and new, interesting worlds. It’s a saga that spans time, all at once. It’s color, and cold; light, and dark; memory, and forgetfulness; mothers, daughters, granddaughters; culture, and chaos. I love it.
Let me tell you why: I felt completely involved in the characters, family, and storyline. I rooted for some characters, felt puzzled at others, and felt champagne-like joy at the appearance of Annie (whom I just love). Fling! also covers the trickiness of mother/daughter relationships, and getting older. And, most importantly, Fling! offers the magic of possibility. That is pretty heady writing (and reading), and is what makes MacKenzie’s book a treasure to delve into deeply—and emerge happy, with a magical world in your memory. Highly recommended.
~ Jessica Voigts at Amazon.com


Starting in the Isle of Skye in Scotland, Lily Iona MacKenzie’s Fling! takes the reader on physical and metaphysical journeys through the Canadian prairies to San Francisco to several locales in Mexico. As seen through the eyes of her main characters, sixty-year-old Feather and her ninety-year-old mother, Bubbles, Fling! is a blend of Alice Munro-like plot twists and Latin American magical realism. It’s an unpredictable ride as the two main characters find their way toward being more generous with each other and themselves.
~ Mike Shaler at Amazon.com


The intertwining of Canadian, Scottish and Mexican mythology and culture is remarkable and illustrates our common humanity — It is uplifting — The portrait of “Mum” is loving, honest and expresses the ambivalence in family relationships — A really full, red blooded romp through North America !!
~ Barbara Campbell at Amazon.com


The relationship between mothers and daughters has always been a complicated one, ripe with misunderstandings, love, betrayal, virtue, honesty and jealousy. In Fling!, we delve into three generations of women, all looking for answers.
Bubbles receives a letter from Mexico saying they are holding her mother’s ashes and please come pick them up. She calls her daughter, Feather, and convinces her to go to Mexico. Feather, not knowing how long her mother has left, agrees.
What started out as a favor to her mother turns Feather’s world upside down. There’s something magical about Mexico (old Mexico, I mean) and all three generations of women discover the spirit within.
A beautifully told story, we catch a glimpse behind the scenes through flashbacks. Normally, flashbacks are a pet-peeve of mine but I wasn’t bothered because I felt I was part of the story. I was enthralled by the narration as I got deep into each of the characters. Art, myth and the lure of Mexico blend perfectly in Fling!.
Favorite Character: Bubbles was my favorite character because she reminded me of my great-grandmother. She’s a free spirit and has lived three lifetimes in one. She may appear to be enigma to her daughter, Feather, but to me, she is a woman after my own heart. Fun, feisty and flirty, Bubbles will steal your heart.
Favorite Quote: Like a snarl in Annie’s knitting, she’s waiting to be untangled and rewoven into the fabric, freed from the negative family stuff but not separated from kin. ~Feather
My Rating: 4 stars
~ N.N. Light at Amazon.com


What a pleasure to recommend Lily Iona MacKezie’s first novel! Fling! is a delightfully comic romp, from Calgary, to Portree on the Isle of Skye, to Mexico City and beyond. And like all genuine comedy it wears its seriousness lightly. Feather, a middle aging hippie from San Francisco, has decided to accompany her mother, 90-year-old Bubbles from Calgary to Mexico City, where (Bubbles thinks) her mother’s ashes are waiting to be picked up. One of MacKenzie’s gifts is her ability to make what seems to be unbelievable fantasy completely believable—a ninety-year-old retrieving HER mother’s ashes? And that isn’t the only family connection that gets magically resurrected in the land where the dead are never dead.
Perhaps the most delightful single feature of Fling! is MacKenzie’s quite astonishing gift for making Bubbles’ undying vitality—something close to an immortal zest for life—live on in you after you finish the book. With her remarkable ear for the dips and turns and weavings of American (and Canadian) colloquial speech, Lily Iona MacKenzie has written a book that heralds that start of a brilliant career.
~ Anonymous at BarnesAndNoble.com

When I first read the description of Fling! by Lily Iona MacKenzie, I was eager to start reading. I’m a sucker for complicated mother-daughter relationships and, at its heart, this is the story of sixty-year-old Feather and her ninety-year-old mother, Bubbles. Struggling under the weight of past disappointments and betrayals, their relationship is loving, but strained. When Bubbles pressures her daughter into a quest to recover her mother’s missing ashes in Mexico City, the duo sets out on an adventure that seems ill-fated. Then a few dead ancestors join the party, highlighting the rampant misunderstandings, missed opportunities, lost loves, betrayals and petty jealousies of the past. In this story, the sins of the parents continue to echo through the generations in fascinating patterns.
This book is a giddy, breathless, dizzy journey through space and time—pinballing from Isle of Skye in Scotland in the early twentieth century, Canada in the 1950’s and Mexico in 1996. The point of view bounces around quite a bit, and at times I was rather seasick from the view inside Bubbles’ head. That said, Bubbles’ swings in thought, focus, mood and personality were authentic, reminding me of listening to my own grandmother during the middle stages of dementia. It is obvious that the author is familiar with the idiosyncrasies of a free-spirited woman entering her nineties; unwilling to go gently into anyone’s version of “that dark night.”
This is a poetic, unconventional, farcical journey through the enigmatic terrain of family relationships, shifting perceptions and lost loves.
~ Trisha Slay at TrishaSlay.com

Fling! takes the reader on a magical journey from Scotland to Canada to Mexico. One part fictional memoir encompassing nearly a decade of living, one part portrait of a strained yet matured mother-daughter relationship and one part fantasy, Fling! is anything but your mundane read!
With rich characters and vibrant settings, Fling! focuses on the lives of Feather and her mother, Bubbles as they travel to Mexico to reclaim the ashes of Bubbles’ long deceased mother. As the story progresses, we learn of the trials and tribulations of Bubbles’ last ninety years, how she once left her daughter, Feather, behind just as Bubbles’ own mother once left her and how these three generations of woman are actually all named Heather, despite the nicknames they eventually chose to reflect their individual personalities.
Magical realism dominates much of the last third of the book. At times, it feels as if Feather and Bubbles have followed “Alice” down the rabbit hole into Wonderland. Except, in this story, Wonderland is rural and impoverished Mexico and it exists on a parallel plane where death is merely another state of living.
If you aren’t able to take an adventurous vacation this year, Fling! is the next best alternative. You won’t soon forget Bubbles whose effervescent name matches her buoyant ability to never act nor succumb to her advanced age.
~ Audry Fryer at AllThingsAudry.blogspot.com

DalaiMommaReadingDrama

Fling!…what I can say about this book??….what the heck did I just read??!!..and I don’t mean that in a bad way at all. First word that comes to mind “Quirky”….that’s the word that I have been using to describe this book to anyone who asks me what the book is about. Before I continue let me first give a big thanks to the powers-that-be over at LibraryThing to whom I won this book from and to the talented Lily Iona Mackenzie who wrote this “Quirky” book.

The story is about a weed smoking middle aged hippish woman by the name of Feather and her totally eccentric free spirited 90 year old mother Bubbles who still has a ton of life left in her. Yes, Feather and Bubbles. Like their names, they are quite the characters. I was captivated with them from start and that feeling never went away as I reached it’s end. I am done with the book and they are with me still. They are hilarious in their quarreling banter, their relationship is so relating to the relationships that many mothers and adult daughters have with one another in the real world and it is spun in that realistically comical way…but this is not just comedic..there is depth to this story and to their lives throughout the book. Feather deals with her childhood abandonment by Bubbles, the same abandonment issues that Bubbles struggled to deal with when it came to her own mother..always trying to escape a doomed, mundane, financially struggling life even if it meant leaving behind their children. It’s sad really…quite sad….but right before you are about to shed a tear, you end up with a chuckle. I loved that. So we meet Feather and Bubbles…and now we get to their story. All the way in Canada, Bubbles receives a letter from Mexico, her mother’s last known residence. Her ashes have suddenly been recovered (she was dead years and years ago) and she must claim them. Feather was on her way to that area for a bit of a vacation and inspiration to her life’s work and passion, Art (sculpting). Feather struggles with the idea of traveling from Canada to Mexico with her mother but yadda yadda yadda…we all get there and thankfully so. This is where the story gets even quirkier. The backdrop of a mystical poverty stricken but rich in culture and unity, Mexico is a paradise unlike any other..and during a time where entire villages celebrate the very infamous and very beautiful Dia De Los Muertos. These women were thrust right into the customs of this scary and strange new world. Strange and yet in many ways they fit right in….they belonged. I especially liked that the Author took us back and forth from Bubbles childhood years…growing up in Scotland, to Feather’s life and her struggles throughout her years and right back to Mexico and the characters we encounter there. There are dead relatives ‘revived’ (so to speak) to life, a love affair with an animal turning Shaman, and Indians that worship the rain Goddess Eineeuq all while preparing for the Dia De Los Muertos celebrations!!!….Through death we learn about life…with that wee get mysticism, fantasy, and magic but wrapped into a very real world way….and that’s about all you are gonna get from me.

I think I am going to share this book with my own eccentric mother…only because I know how to make sure I get my book back from the lady. But for everyone else in my life my greed is too strong so I am going to recommend they go out and buy the book. It’s worth it!!!

on September 20, 2015
The deep richness of Lily McKenzie’s Fling derives in large part from the many levels on which it operates. On the most obvious level, McKenzie offers us a wonderful story of a mother and daughter’s many vacation adventures in Mexico, fleshed out with all the colors, sounds, and smells of the vacation landscape. But the author delves into a deeper psychological level, which drives the plot, exploring the legacy of abandonment—its effects on three generations of women and how each adapts to its painful aftermath. And, unlike chronological time, psychological time, which moves freely among the poles of past and present propels the vivid flashbacks judiciously interspersed throughout the novel to further illuminate the characters’ back stories. Last, but surely not least, the novel resonates on a mythical level—a quest toward redemption, which mother and daughter seek through the course of their adventures. Here, the plot elements turn in increasingly unexpected ways, employing elements of Magical Realism with delightful flourish. I found Fling to be not only a real page-turner, but also a thought-provoking piece of literary fiction.
on August 12, 2015
Starting in the Isle of Skye in Scotland, Lily Iona MacKenzie’s Fling! takes the reader on physical and metaphysical journeys through the Canadian prairies to San Francisco to several locales in Mexico. As seen through the eyes of her main characters, sixty-year-old Feather and her ninety-year-old mother, Bubbles, Fling! is a blend of Alice Munro-like plot twists and Latin American magical realism. It’s an unpredictable ride as the two main characters find their way toward being more generous with each other and themselves.
  
on October 1, 2015
This is a story of abandonment and reconciliation, of several generations of mothers and daughters whose emigration to Canada from Scotland produces deep cultural reverberations and connections, not, after all, with Canada, but with a country far to the south where forgiveness and understanding can finally occur. The writer clearly has fun with characters and plot and a central mother figure whose life choices and escapades both charm and frustrate her daughter. If only real life could resolve the tangle of family relationships so joyfully!

5.0 out of 5 stars

A thoroughly enjoyable read!

By Roberta Seifert on October 3, 2015

What a romp of a book! How can you resist a novel with prose like this? “It’s too confusing. How in hell did she get into this mess—abandoned somewhere in Mexico, stripped of her identity, shadowed by a singing raven, attacked by mice, hiding out from the cops, smitten with a man she doesn’t know who has become an animal. What next?”

Mackenzie combines great story-telling, magical realism, and romance into remarkable blend that spans continents, centuries, and sensibilities with irony and irreverence for all.

5.0 out of 5 stars

Fling! Sticks with you

By Solace Wales on October 2, 2015

Though it’s been several months since I read Lily Mackenzie’s Fling!, it’s easy to talk about because it’s a book that sticks with you. The humor and absolute zaniness of it keep you chuckling over time. And the underlying seriousness of the theme of accepting and coming to appreciate members of other generations of one’s family –this stays with you too.

In Fling! the forbearers are mainly women on the maternal side of of 57 year old Feather, an artist. In the mid 1990s, Feather, who continues to maintain her 1960s hippie demeanor and sloppy dress despite going gray and being decades out of style, has a lot to accept in her outlandish mother, Bubbles, age 90. At first glance Bubbles appears to be another little old lady who knits, only she sporadically acts in ways her daughter finds unseemly for her age or downright crazy. And Bubbles too is often disenchanted with her daughter’s inexplicable artsy ways and apparent lack of interest in appearance.

But these two come to understand and appreciate one another with the help of the revived dead (Bubbles’ mother and her grandparents) and a delightful mix of magic. — Ordinary things, like chickens and lipstick and beer, are essential to the understanding too. In Fling! even the dead protagonists gain insight about the following generations — so it works going forward as well as backward that each woman is celebrated for her relatedness to the family, yes, but above all for her uniqueness.

The fantasy aspect of the book is built on a well flushed out picture of the reality of the difficult lives the previous generations have confronted on the Isle of Skye in Scotland and later in Calgary, Canada. The Isle of Skye scenes at the beginning of the book foreshadow the mythical nature in the line of ladies which emerges later, but this nature finds no outlet when the family must live in Canada. The initial dreariness the women experience in the new world (except for Feather’s escape to hippy San Francisco) contrasts well with their wild liberation when they go south to Mexico. There colors, odors, sexuality, Mexican mysticism and goddess worship burst open barriers and the collision prompts an inter-generational dance not to be missed. These ladies, hilarious and serious, will stay with you.

Suddenly colors, odors, sexuality and spirituality converge and the surprising intergenerational dance this collision prompts is not to be missed.

Add into this mix, Mexican mysticism, transcendence and goddess worship and the book explodes with fiesta life, full participation in the dance of life and full recognition –which inevitably creates laughter in both the book’s and the reader.

In the changing settings from the ancestral homestead on the Isle of Skye in Scotland to Calgary in Canada to the San Francisco Bay Area and finally to transformative Mexico, the reader comes to understand what shaped the protagonists’ character. But this shaping is superceded by the unique spirit each person in the book possesses, and it is this which finally gets recognized in the other generations. The book doesn’t just deal with the previous and the succeeding generation as represented by Bubbles and her daughter, but Bubbles’ parents join in the fray with their own world views and their own unique qualities played out in another era.

Fling! is a delightful piece of magical realism that will be thoroughly enjoyed by anyone who loves this often overlooked subgenre. The main characters are funny, quirky and developed in an engaging way as the novel progresses. I was never bored at any moment while reading this amazing piece by MacKenzie.
I obtained an ARC of this book trough the Member Giveaway at LibraryThing. I would like to thank Lily Iona MacKenzie for providing the copy and for sharing this amusing magical realism story.
on March 4, 2016

Its been a month since I finished reading this book. I knowingly did not post my review back then because it inspired me to do something crazy, which was, planning a surprise party for my mother.

The story is about a mother-daughter duo on a crazy adventure. Reading their story was like living precious moments spent with my mother all over again. The plot brings out the complexities and all possible shades which exist between a mum and her girl.

Lily has a way with words. She has ensured her narrative descriptions emote as much as her characters. Her scenes have a life of their own; it was like reading the story and viewing its movie on a big screen simultaneously. Her sentences are simple even when she expresses a complex idea.

The two protagonists are perfect constrasts, like yin and yang!!! The mother and daughter are absolute opposites, yet together they form a wonderful team. Through them, Lily has also subtly expressed that age is just a figment of one’s mind. One aged 60 and the other aged 90 have actually succeeded in teaching the readers that there is no age bar on living life, exploring, doing things one’s own way, and above all, listening to one’s heart even when the mind fails to reason.

To sum up, this book gave me a reason, or rather an opportunity, to celebrate my relationship with my mum. It will be a keepsake for the rest of my life. In fact, when my daughters grow up, this will be a book I will gift them. It is a must must must read for all mothers and daughters as well all men who love their mothers and daughters.

P.S – Lily, you have helped me bring a smile on my mum’s face through your book. Simply loved it.

Barnes & Noble: 
I think most people will enjoy Fling! by Lily Iona Mackenzie because of the character of Bubbles, a 90-year-old who refuses to act her age. Bubbles wants life in all its richness-sex, food, travel. She is still hungry and doesn’t see why she should consider her plate full.

The relationship between Bubbles and her hippie daughter Feather is also appealing. In many ways, these women have a typical mom-daughter relationship, but their quirkiness is all their own.

When the two visit Mexico City to pick up the ashes of Bubbles’ long-dead mother, the story gets even zanier when Bubble’s dead mom and grandparents all make real-life appearances. A fun and unique summer read.

Magic Realism Blog Spot, Zoe Brooks
This fun read is by fellow member of the Magic Realism Facebook group, Lily Iona MacKenzie. The book is a road journey featuring one old woman and her hippy daughter. The dynamic of their relationship is at the heart of the book. The ninety-year old Bubbles is in many ways a child herself and Feather acts as her mother.
As the chapters flick backwards and forwards in time following Bubbles back to her childhood in Skye and Feather to her adolescence, we come to see the roots not only of the two women’s behaviour but also that in some ways the women are not so dissimilar and are following a family pattern. When in the latter part of the novel Bubbles’s mother and grandmother turn up, this family dynamic is expanded and further explored.
Many readers will identify with Feather’s feelings of frustration, resentment and love towards her mother. And many will enjoy the comedy and zaniness of Bubbles and her adventures. There are times when the reader might feel that she too has been smoking some of Feather’s weed. But the novel is more than just a light-hearted read. Of course there is the daughter/mother relationship to consider. But it is also interesting to note the parallels drawn between the Gaelic beliefs of the family’s Scottish roots and those they encounter in Mexico. And what is more there are some delightful references to the magic realist tradition for those if us who care about such things.
One quibble I have with the book is that at times I found the constant moving between the characters and in time, including point of view within scenes, meant that I lost focus. In a way this disorientation reflects the hallucinatory nature of the story, but it did intrude somewhat into my enjoyment.
I received this book free from the author in return for a fair review.

 Understory Magazine published this review in Nov. 2015:Fling! by Lily Iona MacKenzie (Pen-L Publishing, 2015)

flingFling!, Lily Iona MacKenzie’s debut novel, spans two continents, three generations of Heathers, and multiple layers of reality. In 1906, Heather McGregor is born in the Isle of Skye—or is not born, exactly, but dances off a painting and into a potato patch. Heather grows (more robust than the potatoes), marries a MacDonald, and moves to Calgary. There she gives birth to another Heather, later known as Bubbles, who in turn gives birth to her own Heather, known as Feather. But Heather Number One doesn’t stick around “cold Protestant” Canada for long. She flees with an employer to a wild and mysterious life in Mexico. Many years later, Bubbles, a sprightly ninety when the novel opens, decides she and Feather must follow in Heather’s footsteps—not vanish into Mexico but simply retrieve Heather’s long lost ashes and perhaps discover what tempted her mother to leave family behind forever. Of course, Feather and Bubbles discover much more: sex, drugs, shamans, a very vital statue, and living, dancing long-dead relatives—including Heather, still wild and spry and generous with motherly advice. With a light but practiced hand, MacKenzie weaves the rich traditions of Skye with the myths and magic of Mexico (and a rather modest portrayal of her hometown Calgary) to explore motherhood, the ties that bind generations of women—and perhaps the secret to happiness itself.

Good Reads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25818399-fling?from_search=true&search_version=service

http://trishaslay.com/2015/08/14/book-review-fling-by-lily-iona-mackenzie/#comment-4447

http://allthingsaudry.blogspot.com/2015/08/book-review-fling-by-lily-iona-mackenzie.html?m=1

[Following is the official OnlineBookClub.org review of “Fling!” by Lily Iona MacKenzie.]

Book Cover


3 out of 4 stars


Review by Inky_Capricious


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Fling! by Lily Iona Mackenzie.

Review by Inky_Capricious.

Rated 3 out of 4 stars.

Quirky and interesting, Fling! takes the reader on a grand adventure starting in turn of the century Scotland, pushing us into a new hoped for opportunity in Canada, and finally taking us on the trip of a lifetime in Mexico. When ninety-year-old Bubbles receives a letter from Mexico City asking her to pick up her mother’s ashes, lost there seventy years earlier and only now surfacing, she hatches a plan. Bubbles convinces her hippie daughter Feather to accompany her on the quest. Both women have recently shed husbands and have a secondary agenda: they’d like a little action. A fling, if you will.

Three different places, with different attitudes that force mother and daughter to look within themselves to adjust. Their relationship is a loving one, however they are two different women and do not see eye to eye. The way they relate to each other is absolutely hilarious and heartwarming.

Ms. Mackenzie does a wonderful creating the irrepressible Bubbles! The ninety-year-old matriarch not only says what she thinks, but also acts on it, whether it is eating with gusto, dancing, or seducing men young enough to be her grandson! Her colorful remembrances and internal dialogues should delight readers. Feather, her daughter, is a harder character to embrace. She considers herself a self-styled hippie, but often her behavior tends to be more rigid and conservative with her concerns about money, her mother’s mental stability, and control. The author highlights the contrast between who Feather thinks she is and who she really is.

The reader tags along as the duo make their way south enjoying the sun, liquid-eyed hunks, and life. “Fling!” is a self-discovery road trip, and an enjoyable read reminding the reader to chase rainbows while on the right side of the soil.

If there is one criticism of this story, it would be regarding the flashbacks. I normally dislike flashbacks, and the jumps in the book gave me whiplash. I got an idea of where she wanted to go in the story, but it often took me a page or two to really start following the storyline again. This made it a more difficult read since I kept getting lost.

Overall, I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who wants to read a more “realistic” fantastical book with a lovely message and eccentric characters.

******

Dear Lily: 

I read your delightfully funny and wonderfully imagined novel two weeks ago yesterday.   The characters are so vividly alive, especially Annie, the three Heathers and dear Malcolm that I couldn’t stop thinking about them.  I have been really ill with a hacking cough, dizziness and ringing in my ears for the last two weeks, and I wondered whether that affected  my judgment, so I reread the book on Monday to make sure that my initial impressions were sound.   They were spot on!   You have written a really fine book which will give pleasure to it’s readers for decades to come.  

I knew nothing about Calgary and I have never been to Skye.  But Fling took me there and I thoroughly enjoyed the ride.  I never met a character like Bubbles but I hope to. Talk about the fountain of youth: Ponce de Leon could learn a thing or two from her!  I missed most of the hippie thing but Feather brought it all back.  I was in Mexico 56 years ago and fell under its mystique, but Don Miquel and his village blew me away.   Even your minor characters – Manny, Jim, Floyd, Victor are beautifully realized.   To my great surprise I willingly suspended my disbelief in the absolute difference between life and death and joined in the fun.   Congratulations again on your tour de force. 

Wish I could attend one of your readings in the Bay area and listen to you give voice to these memorable characters.   

Neil

 

5.0 out of 5 stars

ByAmazon Customer on March 9, 2016

Fling! Is one very entertaining book full of adventure of the human spirit. It stretches the bonds of imagination beyond the walls of life and death. She opened doors through time and space that I never knew existed in this world and the next. This is truly a remarkable work by Lily Iona Mackenzie. Making the best out of a situation really is the best of all the gifts of living and being in this world.

5.0 out of 5 starsA toast to all mothers and daughters…

ByRajalakshmi Prithviraj on March 4, 2016

Its been a month since I finished reading this book. I knowingly did not post my review back then because it inspired me to do something crazy, which was, planning a surprise party for my mother.

The story is about a mother-daughter duo on a crazy adventure. Reading their story was like living precious moments spent with my mother all over again. The plot brings out the complexities and all possible shades which exist between a mum and her girl.

Lily has a way with words. She has ensured her narrative descriptions emote as much as her characters. Her scenes have a life of their own; it was like reading the story and viewing its movie on a big screen simultaneously. Her sentences are simple even when she expresses a complex idea.

The two protagonists are perfect constrasts, like yin and yang!!! The mother and daughter are absolute opposites, yet together they form a wonderful team. Through them, Lily has also subtly expressed that age is just a figment of one’s mind. One aged 60 and the other aged 90 have actually succeeded in teaching the readers that there is no age bar on living life, exploring, doing things one’s own way, and above all, listening to one’s heart even when the mind fails to reason.

To sum up, this book gave me a reason, or rather an opportunity, to celebrate my relationship with my mum. It will be a keepsake for the rest of my life. In fact, when my daughters grow up, this will be a book I will gift them. It is a must must must read for all mothers and daughters as well all men who love their mothers and daughters.

P.S – Lily, you have helped me bring a smile on my mum’s face through your book. Simply loved it.

5.0 out of 5 stars Take a trip….

ByMyrtis Mixon on January 26, 2016

Fling: That’s what it is… a fast-paced flight to some of my favorite places. As a traveler (80 countries so far), I enjoy the detail MacKenzie includes, especially in Mexico. She takes us on a whimsical inter-generational trip to Mexico, Scotland, San Francisco and Canada with artist/teacher Feather and her wildly-quixotic 90-year-old mother, Bubbles. Then enter the mystical world of the indigenous Mexican people when they adore Bubbles as their long-absent goddess. That is when the real magic starts and Feather gets to know more long-lost relatives.

I won’t tell you more…

4.0 out of 5 starsMackenzie Shares Magic of Mexico…

ByGlenda on January 25, 2016

A Goddess may take many forms based upon various cultures. But nobody expected Bubbles, a 90-year-old Canadian woman traveling with her daughter, to be mistaken for one…Especially when the small town people crowded around her, seeking her blessing for rain!

Perhaps because I’ve traveled quite a bit in my life and am quite happy to stay at home these days, I couldn’t image thinking about traveling to Mexico at the age of 90! Of course, I also couldn’t imagine that my own mother’s ashes had been lost for many years–in the dead-letter bin–and the government of Mexico was demanding to know when I would be picking her up… Well, let’s just say that I’d quickly figure out I was in a fantasy, LOL! Actually, the umbrella of Women’s fiction was insufficient for me. I had a hard time getting into the story, not knowing where it might go. The front cover includes the statement “A madcap journey of an aging mother and her adult daughter from cold Protestant Canada into the hallucinogenic heart of Mexico’s magic…” Well, magic and hallucinogenic gave me some clues but even while I was reading, I wasn’t sure whether there had been a huge festival, where everybody was drugged and the story evolved from that event… In fact, I went all the way to the ending before the book’s story pieces fell into place… In fact, there is almost too much being said that readers may miss by getting caught by the frivolity of the various scenes. Can we hide serious issues behind humor? Can we learn to forgive what once was totally unforgivable?

Bubbles was born to a mother who had left her when she was young, running off with a man… Bubbles then did the same to Feather. Feather had wound up in a hippie camp where she, among other things, learned to smoke pot and to begin developing her artistic skills as a sculpture. Feather had maintained contact with Bubbles by phone, but rarely saw her. In fact, she was already scheduled to travel to several places in Mexico to study more in support of her future creations.

When Bubbles called her about having to pick up her mother’s ashes in Mexico City, Feather had adapted her trip to accommodate her mother’s traveling with her. What she hadn’t planned on was her mother pouring a cup of water into her grandmother’s urn of ash…and having a woman, about her own age, soon appear as a passenger on the back seat… which is my only clue of what is coming! Bubbles, on the other hand, is thinking about the “possibilities” in Mexico…

There is much to ponder regarding family relationships in this book–about family that has already died and those for whom death may be near. When we are disappointed or hurt by a parent, is there a way to rekindle the love that once existed–before the hurt occurred. Bubbles is 90 and thinks nothing about her possible near death, while her daughter, recognizing her age, is more aware of it, while at the same time, considering what time she has lost in finding her own way…

I identified more with Feather, a serious woman, living her life as she is able, but still cognizant of others in her life–yet knowing that the loss of her mother at a difficult time led her to grow up faster than normal and to resent what she had lost…On the other hand, it is Feather who finds her “Shaman.” I loved this character! He had gone to college to learn about Agriculture to help his own community and then started to learn to become a Shaman to actually care for them. The fact that he had never learned everything he should have been taught allowed for a really funny set of things that constantly happened around him–bits of magic that just happened because he’d not learned how to control his powers. That alone, created a levity for Feather that seemed to change her, becoming more youthful as she fell deeper and deeper in love.

It is the way death was looked at, in the end, that won over my full support for the book. What occurred in the book is pure fantasy–or was it? Who knows, when we reach 90 and head for Mexico, we might also be caught up in the festival where Bubbles’ presence resulted in rain sufficient to save the crops… And, of course, then prepare for the Dia de los Muertos festival…

Do check this one out!

GABixlerReviews


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