The Posey Ring by Bob Graham
Posey rings were gold rings with an inscription that were popular during the 15th through to the 17th centuries in England and France exchanged by lovers. Bob Graham’s latest book, The Posey Ring, is a story of one such ring. Inscribed with the words ‘love never dies’, the ring travels from 1830 all the way through to 1967.
The ring starts its journey in Country Kerry, Ireland, in 1830 when a young woman tosses it from her horse after shedding bitter tears (so maybe love does die after all?). The ring finds itself tossed from place to place through the seasons until it finds its way into a pawn shop and is bought by a couple, Sonny and Jules in 1967, New York. Presumably, the timeline ends then with the idea being that the ring is still on that woman’s finger today.
Bob Graham’s work has a nice touch of whimsy about it, but this story reminds me strongly of Graham’s 2015 children’s book, How the Sun Got to Coco’s House, where the sun travels the world the globe to find Coco in bed. The Posey Ring follows the same premise, something travelling across time to find something, in that case the sun, in this case true love.
I like the idea, but whereas How the Sun Got to Coco’s House was interestingly multicultural, The Posey Ring is firmly European. Also, the sun travelling has a nice poeticism about it, whereas The Posey Ring is a little less tangible. The ring doesn’t travel from happy couple to happy couple, rather it’s tossed away by an unhappy woman and lives with animals and nature until it’s found by fishermen and taken to a pawn shop.
I do like the idea of rings being old and reused and love living on, but this book doesn’t quite deliver. Perhaps it’s the choice to end in 1967, which feels distant as the idea that the couple may still be happy and the ring still happily on Sonny’s finger is not explained in the text.
Grahams’ characteristically soft, pen and ink illustrations are lovely, and the book has a nice feel to it, but the story falls short.
REVIEWER: Heidi Bailey-North
TITLE: The Posey Ring
AUTHOR: Bob Graham
PUBLISHER: Walker Books