Time for something different...

Marika Henriques

Time for something different. For tales told over coffee and cakes. For friendships firm and fast. For the threads that bind, yet lead in different directions. For stitching it up and tying it all together. For the stories that endure and for the books that tell them. This is the inspiration for this post: a book about identity, about a personal journey; about pain and about healing; about a woman called Marika Henriques, born in Budapest in 1935, troubled times in Europe, with war looming and the Holocaust on the horizon. Separated from her family, aged just nine in 1944, Marika became a hidden child, denying her Jewish heritage in order to survive, a traumatic time that left deep scars that endure today. That Marika escaped, not just the Holocaust but the subsequent Hungarian uprising, is a tale that is documented in her book, The Hidden Girl: The Journey of a Soul. That the Hidden Girl is on the shortlist for the People’s Book Prize is something that warms our hearts a great deal at LittlePod HQ. It’s something we’re proud to showcase and endorse in the hope that you too might seek out a copy, perhaps cast a vote and become part of a tale told in tapestry. But first a little background.

This is something different and if you’re wondering what has inspired this post it’s this: that Janet and Marika met over coffee and cakes more than three decades ago and theirs is a friendship firm and fast. One that endures. One for the ages. That initial meeting? It took place in the original Patisserie Valerie, the one in Old Compton Street in London that, sadly, was forced to close its doors for the final time last week. The same café that Janet last visited just before Christmas, this time with Annabel, whose recipe for Real Vanilla Ice Cream we’ve just been dusting off. The same café where a 17-year-old called Leonel Gouveia was learning his trade. Later becoming executive chef for Patisserie Valerie (at that time, under his astute guidance, on the right track), Leonel called upon Janet and LittlePod to provide real vanilla for a business beginning to burgeon. Plans and dreams and stories and threads, soon all became intertwined and life beyond unfurled.

The hidden girl cover

Here, in Old Compton Street and over coffee and cake, Janet met Marika, Leonel learned about patisserie and anything and everything was possible. Like a book that would tell such a tale. Like a friendship that would persist. Like a business empire that would flourish and bloom. Like the seed of an idea that would lead Janet to Buckingham Palace and a royal audience. Like the shared interests and aspirations that would persuade Marika and Janet to take courses and other paths together. Like the persistent pull of those troubled times and horrors in Europe that, back in 2010, would inspire Janet to tell another tale, this time about a young Czech woman, called Helen, who also survived the Holocaust. That tale was brought to Devon, dramatised by the wonderful Sam McCready, another dear, dear friend, who sadly died this month. But not before touching countless hearts. Like Marika. Like her tale of the Holocaust, of harm, of hope and of healing. Especially of healing.

Like her tapestries, created from her dream time, discovered through Jungian analysis; cave-like pictures that represent unconscious images of her hidden child; soon to become a permanent exhibit in Zurich and attracting interest from film-makers; the medium through which her tale is told; The Hidden Girl: The Journey of a Soul; the exquisite stitching aiding the healing process, granting a voice and saying so much. 
To conclude, and please do forgive our ramblings, there should always be time for tales. For friendships firm and fast. For book clubs. For coffee. For cakes. For communicating and connecting. For working through troubles and traumas and for finding peace. For stitching, both lives and great artworks. For understanding that the threads might bind, but their directions are different and the possibilities endless. 

Have a dream. Chase it. Let the past inspire and never forget. 

Thank-you for reading and please support Marika, a firm and fast friend and a true inspiration. 

Like to read The Hidden Girl: The Journey of a Soul? Marika Henriques’ book is available from major retailers (including Amazon) or direct from Shepheard-Walwyn Publishers here: https://bit.ly/2BLwcB0

Like to join Janet in casting a vote in The People's Book Prize? Vote for The Hidden Girl online here: https://bit.ly/2T3Seca