Little Things

Blimey, my last post before the one this week was 4 months ago. It feels like an age since everything turned into grot and ashes, but at the same time I can’t believe that it’s been so long.

My head is like an empty room with a fly buzzing around in it desperately trying to find a way out. I wrote a bee originally, but I think a fly is more accurate. Bees are fuzzy and bumbling and cute, and that in no way is an accurate description of my mind. You can imagine flies for yourself.

Anyway. I’m not able to concentrate, and I have An Accomplished Woman by Jude Morgan which is well-written and funny and interesting, but I can only do a few pages at at time. My concentration is shot. I turned to Whispers in the Dark by Jonathan Aycliffe, who is my new love – it’s shorter and easier to read, and it’s gripping me because it’s fast-paced. I’d usually be enjoying Morgan’s delicate build-up of character and plot, but right now I need easy reading and it’s a pleasure to discover easy reading does not = trash (I don’t normally do “easy”). In addition to this I’ve discovered Aycliffe and his taut, gothic ghost stories. This is the second of his I’ve read and I’ve just put the rest of the titles on my wishlist. As I did so suggestions of other authors popped up – on the site of which we dare not speak – and I felt like that bloke who discovered a new planet. There are hundreds of stories I haven’t read yet; stories which are all my ravaged brain can deal with.

When I popped into town this afternoon it was predictably dreary. Colourless, cold, and miserable. People doing battle with umbrellas. I walked past a coffee shop which had put up several shelves and filled them with second-hand books, next to a leather-look armchair, to make a customer imagine he was in an old library. Despite the fact that on the other side of the bookshelf sat House of Fraser, I wanted to curl up in that sticky chair and while away the afternoon with a hot chocolate and Jonathan Aycliffe. Reading is such a simple sweet pleasure, yet it feels like such decadence. I’m glad I’m remembering how to do it.

Enjoy Mr Aycliffe, and whoever else pops up.

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New year, old Wouldbegood

It’s been months since I posted, I am aware (now). There are various reasons for that, none of them particularly nice nor interesting ones. But I’ve been touched by the messages I’ve had – one or two, I mean, not streams of them! – asking me to post so I thought I’d give it a go. I won’t go into the ins and outs, suffice to say that I haven’t always been able to concentrate on reading let alone writing about it. I did start writing a book, but things all went a bit south and so did the book.

Anyway. I have had some messages asking me for book recommendations so here is what I have been reading:

Quiet Dell by Jayne Anne Philips. Very good and sad (and true!) story about a woman who takes her family to start a new life with a mysterious stranger.

The Drowning Lesson by Jane Shelmit. Just as much of a let down as Daughter, her first book.

A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson. If you’ve read Life After Life you are permitted to read this; otherwise, read LAL first. It will make a lot more sense and the story will appear a lot more beautiful and the ending a lot more!

Exposure by Helen Dunmore. One of my favourite authors triumphs again about a man accused of spying.

Professor of Poetry by Grace McLeen – overly verbose and dull.

Pretty Honest by Sali Hughes. A friendly look at make up, skincare, and basically feeling better about yourself.

House With A Swimming Pool by Hans Koch. I dropped it for a couple of chapters as I didn’t like it but I decided to push on and I’m so glad that I did as it was astonishingly well written.

Nelly Dean by Alison Case about the servant in Wuthering Heights. Will suit Longbourn fans.

Terms & Conditions by Robert Glancy which was witty and sad and an all-round good read.

The Somnambulist. More like the Insomnambulist. I gave up.

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson which was good in parts but wound up being so full of itself and happy-endingy I went off it entirely.

All Day Long: A Portrait of Britain at Work by Joanna Biggs which is really interesting and readable.

Dynasty by Tom Holland, but I didn’t care about the Caesars enough to continue with it. Sorry Tom. I had the concentration of a bouncing ball.

Storms of War by Kate Williams – ditto.

The Book of the People: How To Read The Bible by A N Wilson which was very interesting

Liz Ostrum’s Century of Perfume. I love perfume and now I love Liz.

Ashes of London by Andrew Taylor – a great historical crime novel set during the Great Fire of London.

Shtum by Jem Lester – an absolutely heart-breaking, funny, fantastic read about the father of a severely autistic boy.

The Woman who Ran by Sam Baker – a modern rewriting of the Tenant of Wildfell Hall.

Easily Distracted by Steve Coogan. I like him and it was great.

The Marriage of Opposites by Alice Hoffman, another of my favourite authors who I think is getting better with every book she writes.

Around Christmastime I started Go Set a Watchman but I didn’t finish it. See also Purity, Bel Canto and A Little Life. I reread the entire Jeeves & Wooster instead and I think that did me more good.

2016 got to a better start with Friends of the Dusk by my beloved Phil Rickman.

Bazaar of Bad Dreams by Stephen King. Reading his short story collections are like sitting down to a delicious dinner. YUM.

Sane Mind by Ruby Wax. Very timely.

A Gap In Time by Jeanette Winterson which is a modern rewrite of The Winter’s Tale.

Little Red Chairs by Edna O’Brien about a Balkan massacre-ist-person hiding in Ireland. It started off being interesting but then just got silly and dull.

Spectacles by Sue Perkins. Oh dear, I really wanted to enjoy this, but Sue was SO INTENT on BEING FUNNY that it left me cold.

Playing With Fire by Tess Gerritsen in one sitting (or one bathing to be accurate). I’m not normally a fan but it was an enjoyable read about a woman whose daughter appears possessed by music written in a Nazi death camp. I had no idea Italian Jews had been drawn into the conflict.

They Came Like Swallow by William Maxwell. Very good but not what I expected.

Jonathan Dark or The Evidence of Ghosts by A. K. Bennett which was patchy but surprisingly enjoyable about a detective who starts seeing ghosts.

The Girl in the Red Coat by Kate Hamer. This was a story about a little girl who disappears when she’s out with her mother. Beautifully written.

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, about a family coming to terms with the loss of one of their members. Not what I expected at all. But good, nonetheless.

The Vanishment by Jonathan Aycliffe. It was like The Woman in Black and very spooky.

Try Not To Breathe by Holly Seddon. A thriller – not perfect, but quite readable.

Behind Closed Doors by B A Paris- ditto.

Dark Corners by Ruth Rendell. Her last, sadly.

I’m now reading Burt Reynolds’ autobiography. You can see I’m not really pushing myself at the moment.

This is possibly the crappest post I have done but I need to start somewhere. I hope I will be getting better at blogging – and in general – again soon. In the meantime perhaps some of the books I’ve highlighted might be of interest to you.  Happy reading.