Title: The Wooden Chair
Author: Rayne E. Golay
Genre: Family saga/literary fiction
Publisher: Untreed Reads Publication
Date of Publication: May 15, 2013
Winner of the Royal Palm Award, Florida Writers Association
Set against the background of the Finno-Russian winter war, this story starts I Helsinki in 1943 and spans over fifty years of Leini Bauman’s life.
As a child, Leini stands ready to do anything to win her mother Mira’s love. This effort costs her the sight in one eye and as a result, causes her to endure bullying from kids her own age. As a teenager, with her Grandpa’s help, she undergoes one more surgery to straighten her eye, but the psychological scar of the events of her childhood remain.
Leini struggles to break free of Mira’s tyranny by leaving her native Helsinki to study psychology at Geneva University. A few years later, married, herself to a wonderful man, about to become a mother, she is determined with her own children not to repeat Mira’s behavior. With the help of a psychiatrist, she labors through the pains of past hurts to become a nurturing and loving mother and wife, as well as a successful professional, as she grows from victim to victor over adversity. Can her efforts lead her to the one thing she needs to discover the most - the ability to forgive her mother?
PRAISE FOR THE WOODEN CHAIR:
The Wooden Chair is a beautifully written period piece. When I began reading, I didn’t stop until I turned the last page. Ms. Golay’s descriptions are so powerful, the characters so true to life, they’re unforgettable. Leini’s journey from an emotionally abused child to a self-confident woman should be read by all who’ve suffered any form of abuse and persevered. Quite the most powerful novel I’ve read in years." --Suzanne Barr, Author of Fatal Kiss
The Wooden Chair took hold of me in the first paragraphs and never let go. I kept expecting—and wanting—someone to rescue Leini from her wildly unpredictable mother who told Leini she wasn’t wanted. Leini’s disappointments and longings as she faced serious issues for such a young girl kept me engrossed. I wept at Rayne Golay’s vivid descriptions of Leini coping in an unfair world, and I rejoiced at her remarkable quest to change, at her acceptance as she grew into adulthood. Rayne’s high quality writing in The Wooden Chair makes it an emotionally charged read, a compelling story of one woman’s valiant struggle to grow away from past hurts. A triumphant story! --Elizabeth (Bettie) Wailes, Author and Editor
Helsinki, May 1942
The policewoman stood on the corner of the crowded marketplace, staring at a little girl with long legs and curly toffee blond hair. The child sang a popular German refrain with high-pitched fervor. “Wie einst, Lili Marlene, wie einst, Lili Marlene.” (My Lili of the lamplight, my own Lili Marlene).Suppressing a smile, the policewoman observed the little girl standing with feet slightly apart, hand outstretched to receive what coins the shoppers could afford. An orange cardigan accentuated her long neck and the high cheekbones of her pale face. She kept adjusting black-rimmed glasses that slipped down her nose.
This was a mere child, at the most five years old. Is there no adult accompanying her? The policewoman studied the crowd.
The officer approached the little singer. “Are you here alone?”
A shy smile came and went on the child’s face. Her eyes, dark like bitter chocolate, were wary behind thick glasses that detracted from her prettiness. She nodded, causing her glasses to slide again.
“Where’s your mother?”
She waved in the general direction of the street. “My Mamma’s there.”
The policewoman creased her brow. “Why aren’t you with your mother?”
“Mamma doesn’t want me to be with her.”
That’s odd. “How old are you?”
“I’m … this old” She held up four fingers.
“You’re four years old?”
“Uh-huh. Almost five.”
“Why are you singing in the street? Does your Mamma know you’re begging?”
The girl shook her head vigorously, shoulder length curls dancing. “I don’t beg.” She stamped her foot. “My Mamma says it’s bad to beg. I’m not bad. I sing so I get money to take the yellow tram home.”
She speaks Finnish with a slight accent, the vowels not so open. Her mother tongue is probably Swedish. She looked into the girl’s palm. It contained two one-penny copper coins. Poor kid, she’s not going far on so little money.
“Where do you live, little girl?”
“There.” Again she waived a tiny hand toward the city center. “At the end of the yellow tram line.”
“Can you show me where you live if I take you?”
The child raised her shoulders and made a movement with her head, which might have been “yes” or “no.”
“What’s your name?”
“Mamma says not to tell strangers.”
“Your Mamma is right.” She tugged at the lapel of her uniform jacket. “I’m a policewoman, so you can tell me.”
“Leini? That’s a pretty name.” The policewoman looked around at the small group of people drawn close by the interaction. “What’s your family name…? Your second name?” she added, in case Leini didn’t understand “family name.”
The girl looked at her from under her brow, mistrust in those dark eyes. She shook her head while she played with a strand of hair, twirling it between forefinger and middle finger.
The policewoman smiled. “My name is Tuula Heinonen.” Perhaps this will help. “Now you know mine.” She cocked her head to the side. “Please tell me yours.”
A fleeting smile crossed the child’s lips, and she held out her hand to shake. “I’m Leini Ruth Bauman.”
Tuula took the slim hand and held it in her own. She looked into the crowd, hoping to spot the mother.
“I have an idea,” Tuula said, pointing at a phone booth across the market square. “Let’s have a look in the phone book to see if I can find your address, so I can take you home.”
Leini gazed at her with eyes too serious for a small child. Making up her mind, she stuck her hand in Tuula’s. “Let’s.”
Adjusting her pace to Leini’s, Tuula pushed through the throng of people. Her ears caught snippets of conversations from the cacophony of Swedish, Finnish and the occasional word in Russian, mingled in with an organ grinder’s tune. She glanced at the crowd, mainly women and children, here and there an elderly man or a very young boy among them. Every able-bodied man was now defending Finland against the Russian army.
Holding the door for Leini, Tuula followed her inside the booth. “Here’s the book.” She glanced at the girl’s upturned face. “Now, let’s see. Bal, Bar, Bas. Ah, here.” She kept talking to reassure Leini. “Hmm. There are several Baumans.” Tuula caressed Leini’s head, the hair silky under her hand. “What’s your father’s name?”
Tuula laughed low in her throat. Have to try something else. “Well, there’s no ‘Papi’ listed. Does he have another name?”
“No, just Papi.”
“What’s your mother’s name?”
“Good girl.” She ran her finger down the column of Baumans …. Herman, Markus, Oskar, Pertti. “There! I found it—Robert and Mira.” She gazed at Leini. “Does it sound right?”
“Uh-huh, Papi Robert and Mamma Mira.”
As the doorbell rang, Mira’s brow her furrowed in several horizontal creases in irritation at being disturbed. She glanced at the meat-and-vegetable soup simmering on the stove. After she turned off the gas and wiped her hands on a towel, she took a deep puff of the cigarette smoldering in an ashtray and crossed the small sitting room to the entry hall.
Mira sucked air into her lungs at the sight of the child and fought the urge to slam the door. She glared at the woman who clutched the child’s hand. Leaning over Leini, Mira grabbed her arm.
Leini winced and tried to pull away.
“You hopeless number,” Mira hissed. “Where have you been?”
Leini twisted her arm back and forth. “Mamma, you’re hurting me.”
Letting go of Leini, she turned to the policewoman and made a supreme effort to paste a pleasant look on her face.
“I’m Mira Bauman. Thank you for finding my daughter. She wanders away. Does it often.”
Tuula introduced herself. “Yes, she was alone, singing at the market place. I took it upon myself to bring her home. Your daughter is lovely.”
“You don’t know the half of it. She’s a little monster. In the company of people she’s all right. At home with me she’s quite a handful.”
The look in Tuula’s eyes told Mira that she’d said too much. Using a more pleasant tone, Mira apologized for Leini’s behavior.
“No trouble. We enjoyed her singing, but she’s much too young to be in the streets on her own.” Smiling at Leini, Tuula bent to touch the child’s cheek with the back of her hand. “There could be a bombardment any minute. Then what would she do? She doesn’t seem to know where she lives. I looked in the phone book for your address.”
“She’d manage. She always does,” Mira said, a slight quaver in her voice. She clasped her hands to keep them from shaking at the thought that, yet again, here was Leini, looking dumb as usual with her mouth half open, those horrid glasses magnifying her eyes. Her beseeching gaze and stooping shoulders only infuriated Mira more.
About the Author:
Whenever I pause and think about my past, I realized I’ve lived three lives in one. Some people are lucky to spend their whole life in the village or town or country where they were born. They’re surrounded by relatives and friends they’ve known since childhood, have deep roots. I believe they are very rich. My life has been made of a different cloth with hues of the rainbow. It’s been about change and adaptation.
I was born in Helsinki, Finland. For various reasons I changed schools three times before Highschool. When I was very small, my mother used to read to me. She helped me put letters together to form words. As she was done reading “A Thousand and One Nights” my passion was born. From then on, I read everything with the printed word: matchboxes, newspapers, pamphlet and books, of course. I was no more than six years old when my father obtained a library card for me. Believe me, that was one of the happiest days of my childhood. To this day, I read at least three books a week. In school, I always had high grades in composition and wanted to be a journalist, but my parents had other plans. I got a Masters degree in psychology, was certified as addictions counselor in England after studies in the United States.
Skilled in languages, from the age of fifteen I translated dialogues in Hollywood movies from English into Finnish and Swedish. This, my first paying job, came through my father, who was the Nordic managing director of a prominent American film company.
After graduation, I married, had two children in rapid succession. My then husband was transferred to Geneva, Switzerland, so that’s where we moved with our two wonderful children.
In Geneva, I worked in a multinational company as an addictions counselor with responsibilities for all of the company’s European subsidiaries. During this time, I wrote two non-fiction books: one about alcoholism, another about dysfunction in the workplace. I also wrote the script to “Something of The Danger That Exists,” a 50 minute film, used within the company as part of an educational program, which I facilitated. In my function, I was a frequent speaker on dependence at conferences and business groups. As I oversaw company sites throughout Europe and the then East Block countries, I’m fortunate to have traveled extensively.
As an avid reader, I’ve read most American, French and Russian classics, modern literature and poetry. It may seem that my books are autobiographical, particularly THE WOODEN CHAIR, but that’s not so. I believe in writing about what I know, so my life has parallels in Leini’s story, but I guess you have to read the book to find out more.
My whole life I’ve longed for the sun and warmth. When opportunity presented itself, I took up residence in Florida. I live here with my partner, my best friend and husband.
The award winning novel THE WOODEN CHAIR is my second book. At present, I’m editing my third story.
Every book is a journey so enjoy the trip.
1. What inspired you to write this book?
When I worked as a psychotherapist/drug and alcohol counselor, I encountered those with a history of child abuse. In particular, two of them stayed on in my mind long after our therapist/patient relationship was over. While my first novel LIFE IS A FOREIGN LANGAUGE made the rounds among agents and publishers, I worked on character development of who is now Leini, the female protagonist in THE WOODEN CHAIR. In her, I’ve incorporated the histories and experiences of these two clients.
2. What characters do you connect with most?
Leini, the main character. She was such an important part of my life during the time it took to write and edit THE WOODEN CHAIR. Leini told me her story, guided me how and what to write. Her voice rang very clear in my ears. Writers, when they hear voices in their heads, rush to the computer to write. When people who aren’t writers hear voices run to the shrink.
3. What's your favorite book-turned movie?
There are many good books turned into lousy movies. One that, IMHO, stands out is Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca. The book was excellent, is today considered a classic, The movie was really good. The thing that fascinates me about this story is that the narrator, who’s also the female protagonist is never named.
4. If you could be best friends with one of your characters, who would it be?
No doubt it would be Grandma Britta in THE WOODEN CHAIR. She’s a wholesome, elegant lady in the true sense of the word. She’s intelligent, patient, very kind. I’d like to sit down over a cup of coffee and listen to her world wisdom.
5. Can you tell us about any other books you're writing?
I’ve worked as psychotherapist, drug and alcohol counselor for a great part of my adult live. Creative writing was just a dream, left on the backburner, which goes to say I started writing only some ten years ago. LIFE IS A FOREIGN LANGUAGE is my first published book, THE WOODEN CHAIR the second. I’m working on my third novel THE SURVIVING SISTERS. It’s a story about a woman who lost her twin sister when she was a child. She grows up with a hunger for a child of her own. The story arch is really about her struggle with the Monster, anxiety and panic attacks.
6. What do you do in your spare time?
What spare time? When I’m not writing, editing or marketing my books, you mean? I love to travel, I take every opportunity to do so. The world is a beautiful place, and I’ve been very fortunate to have traveled throughout Europe, some Asian countries, the Middle East, North Africa. There are places in the United States I haven’t seen, yet. I love cruises. It’s a great way of getting a snapshot of places to which I can go back and visit at my leisure and I’ve done that. Curacao comes to mind.
7. Who's your inspiration?
I write about things and places and people I know. My past counseling experiences are a great source of inspiration. So are places I’ve liked; Helsinki where I was born and Geneva where I lived until recently.
8. If you were stranded on a desert island which character do you want by your side?
No doubt about it: Husband!
9. Team Edward or Jacob?
Sorry, don’t know.
10. Team Peeta or Gale?
Same here, not familiar with this.
11. What are you reading now?
When You Were Older by Catherine Ryan Hyde.