What is the matter with Mary Jane?

…it’s lovely rice pudding for dinner again!

I had forgotten how much I loved rice pudding, until a tin of Ambrosia fell into my basket by mistake. I tend to go shopping just with a basket because I think it will make me spend less. In fact I just wind up limping like Richard III because I’ve put too much stuff in it. Grabbing a trolley means accepting that I went into Waitrose for fig and walnut bread and Duchy Originals milk, and that I’ll come out with half a cow (or a horse, who knows?) and several bottles of Chat-En-Oeuf, so I go for the basket, like someone ordering Big Mac and Fries with a Diet Coke.

Anyway. I’d forgotten how bloody nice rice pudding is. Heated gently, with blackberries and raspberries heating in it like fruit jam. Not had any in a while? Grab a tin – you won’t be disappointed. But take a basket.

This week I have mostly been reading fiction. It has felt good to be back reading made-up-stuff after all the educational (dark) reading I have done. I started with The Scent of Death by Andrew Taylor, who wrote the rather marvellous An American Boy about a young Edgar Allan Poe a few years back. It was good more for how it was written, than actually what it was; it’s set in the American Civil War and within the first few pages I was entranced. As the narrator docks in New York I could hear the noise of the port, and smell the sour sea salt, and it was captivating.

The story itself is pretty humdrum really; mystery and murder in the 18th century; and I got a bit lost by the characters, but the beauty of the writing was worth it.

I then tried The Carrier by Sophie Hannah. I have enjoyed her earlier books, but here I fear is a little complacency going on. Or rather, someone who writes with a little too much self-awareness.  This book fell very low of my expectations, and I found myself feeling cross that I had to finish it in order to find out whodunnit.

One of the big problems in the book is that not one of the characters is likeable or sympathetic. The author seems to assume that you know a lot more about them than you do – and there are many confusing plotlines. There seems to be no reason why Charlie and Simon are married apart from that they are both dislikeable. The godlike Tim, the man who claims he has murdered his wife, seems to instil huge love and respect from everyone he meets apart from the aforementioned wife; so why does he stay with someone so vile? (His reason, from what I could gather, wasn’t good enough.) There are excruciating adulterous subplots and all in all I felt let down and bored – let alone the initial lies in the police investigation which I couldn’t untangle either and which also seemed irrelevant. I wasn’t rooting for anyone nor interested in them. I wanted to finish the book because, rather like clearing ones plate, I don’t believe in finishing one early (don’t tell anyone about my Confessional post OK). But oh, how I chafed at the bit.

So, enough with fiction. Back to the educashunal reading. I am now on a book about ghosts – 500 years of investigating them, to be precise – which is NOT fiction, mmkay? I live in hope of seeing a ghost. As someone in the book says “I’ve never seen a murder, yet I know they exist”, which makes perfect sense to me… I am a great one for faith and I don’t mean to be churlish, but considering all the effort I put into talking/reading/thinking/believing in ghosts you’d think one might show its face.

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