Siobhain (whatyoutolkienabout)‘s review
As always I want to start by saying that I was given a copy for part of the Book Network book Tour. My review is honest and left voluntarily and avoids spoilers. #CovidChronicles #BookTour #Gifted #BookNetwork #BookReview #Poetry.
It seems almost bizarre to consider that only a few years ago the world was a different place. Although things are back to a new sort of normal it is remiss to forget what happened in 2020 up until 2022. In Covid Chronicles in Rhyme Rosemary Laird covers this now historically significant time from March 23rd 2020 to January 2022. Each week is captured in the form of detailed poems laid out in rhyming couplets making it ease to read and absorb. While the book may sound like a novelty the quality of the writing and detailed content within could and should easily see this becoming a valuable document in the future to look back at the time. I particularly think this would suit well in a GCSE curriculum of English and/or History given the details within.
In Covid Chronicles in Rhyme Laird ambitiously set out to record weekly accurate and detailed records of the progress of the pandemic in the UK with reference to the spread in the rest the of the world. Rosemary Laird informs the reader that at the start of the pandemic she wanted to start a record of sorts but a diary just did not seem right and thus the idea of chronicling the pandemic through the use of rhyming couplets to create a weekly poem. The poems in the Covid Chronicles in Rhyme are packed full of a facts, figures and statistics some of which highlight the bleak and depressing rise of the virus. Laird does juxtapose these bleak facts with a little comment, humour or optimism in the true ‘British’ Style.
Being a professional photographer the seasonal effects of the pandemic are viewed through beautiful pictures of Laird’s garden. Along side these lovely nature photos we have posters and signs that were common place within the pandemic. Placing these images along with the weekly rhymes Laird does manage to create the chronicle they warranted.
Another thing I love about this book is the inclusion of a timeline, list of abbreviations used in the text and what they mean and also a list of important people mentioned within such as politicians, scientists and others mentioned for those who may not know or be from a different country than the UK. As I said above I really feel this will be enjoyed and an interesting piece of history for all ages and one that when reading you can be transported back to them sometimes bleak 95 weeks between 2020 and 2022. But it also allows those in future generations to get a more personalised and familiar view than may be found in records or recordings of press conferences and official statements. This is why I feel this would be a brilliant book to introduce into the curriculum.
I honestly enjoyed reading this chronicle although it was sometimes bleak it had a charm and hopefulness to it. It also serves as a reminder of what we collectively faced and have almost come through but also to have as a reminder for those who we lost through that period. All in all I think this is a book everyone should eventually get a copy of for posterity. A definite five star.
Covid Chronicles in Rhyme – Book Review
by Ash Jacob, The Book Network. September 5th 2022.
The further away we move from the events of 2020, the more surreal it seems that the population of the United Kingdom and the world by large collaboratively stayed indoors, severely limited contact with friends and family, and conducted business in a reduced capacity at the behest of a virus which would go on to claim the lives of hundred thousands in Britain alone. The impact of Covid-19 varied from person to person, and family to family, but everybody had to make a concession of some form, and now that society in the UK functions more like it did in 2019 than it did in 2020, one can be forgiven for viewing the entire pandemic as a bit of a blurry period in recent history.
Rosemary Laird is a professional photographer with an impressive resume of work that includes photo trips to Antarctica, the Arctic and other countries. She is also a keen gardener. In March 2020, when coronavirus arrived in the UK and a national lockdown was declared sometime after, she began recording information relating to the pandemic as told by various news outlets, and did so in the form of weekly poetry. After nearly two years of documentation, this body of work has come together in her collection, Covid Chronicles in Rhyme.
Covid Chronicles in Rhyme begins in the week of March 23, 2020 and concludes at the beginning of January, 2022, journeying across 95 weeks (some weeks are excluded while the pandemic waned towards the end of 2021) of life in the UK during lockdown and the Covid-19 outbreak. The events of each week pertaining to the virus, the government response, and the effects felt by the public, are annotated in easy-to-follow rhyming couplets, which gradually increase in depth as did the complexity to everyday life that Coronavirus caused.
Whilst it’s simple enough to remember 2020 as a year under lockdown, the reality when picked apart, was a great deal more complicated. There were periods of experimental reopening, desperate anticipation for efficient testing and treatment, severe issues with PPE and other equipment, an ever-changing mandate of what the public were obliged to do and how to interact with one another. Society went through numerous cycles of turmoil, strife and hopefulness, the nature of which changed with each passing week. It’s easy to forget these smaller details. Particularly when the general population longed for the end result of re-obtaining that pre-pandemic lifestyle, the information provided during the intermittent periods were useful only during the small pockets of time when they were relevant.
Covid Chronicles in Rhyme is therefore an extremely efficient and palatable reference book for those seeking to recap the more intrinsic points of what occurred across the UK in 2020 and early 2021. The fact that the information, statistics, and crucial events are recorded in a poetic rhyming fashion actually allows these smaller details to be more easily digestible. Through her couplets, Rosemary Laird does indeed display a talent for documenting a great deal of data, both bleak and optimistic. The rolling toll of people infected, and what date it happened is only the tip of the iceberg. Also noted are the measures taken by our leaders, the solutions proposed and carried out, and the numerous businesses and schemes charged with creating vaccines and test and trace programs, and how other countries were coping in comparison to the UK. In Rosemary’s poems, a considerable wealth of knowledge and assiduousness can be found.
Likewise, reading through each passing week and month in fluid succession allows readers to truly gather a sense of how the UK Government failed to respond to Covid-19 in a wise and consistent fashion. Not only does Rosemary remind us that an inability to take the pandemic seriously from day-one contributed to much of its spread, but also describes how premature reopening in a disproportionate manner across the country was soon to ricochet, and bring Britain the long way round back to where it started at the beginning of the Coronavirus threat. The suffering caused to lives and livelihoods is clear and the resulting anger to those responsible is felt and truly justified. However, in this book, one will also find the finer details of the frontline workers in the health and care sector, and how their sacrifices don’t, won’t and shouldn’t go unnoted in the history books. The science, politics and humanity that emerged in the wake of Covid-19 are all covered in good balance, and described in all their triumph, failure and endurance.
Given the depth of coverage and the commitment put into Covid Chronicles in Rhyme, this is certainly a book of poignant reflection and a handy reference for all who lived through Covid, but don’t remember it quite as well as they think. Everybody had an individual experience of life under lockdown, and could in theory write a ‘Covid Chronicles in Rhyme’ of their own. But Rosemary’s skill is in creating one that is universally viable to all, and so a space on the shelf for this collection is recommended for those keen to look back on those turbulent and world-changing events.
Some wonderful garden photography heading the many recorded months also contribute to the neat presentability of this collection; life thriving and enduring, even in the darkest of times.
You find out more about Covid Chronicles in Rhyme and its author at covid-chronicles-in-rhyme.com
You can order your own copy of the book at: