Spring returns, but not my love…
but huzzah, my concentration does! I’ve managed to get through some decent reads in the last couple of weeks.
The Novel Cure by Ella Berthoud and Susan Elderkin
This was given to me as a gift, and it is an ideal present for a book-lover. You can read through it as I did, or flick to the relevant section to find the book which will cure you of your specific ailment – loneliness, divorce, hypochondria; you name it, it’s in here.
Benedict Ashforth – pretty much everything he’s written
Thesitewotdaresnotspeakitsname recommended this chap to me alongside Jonathan Aycliffe and I am pleased it did as he is another great writer of spooky stories which slip oh so easily onto ones Kindle.
Beneath the Boards by David Haynes
Thesite recommended this book as well, but it made a boo boo. This was not a scary book; it was thoroughly nasty, so much so that I stopped reading and deleted it from my Kindle.
The Churchill Factor by Boris Johnson
Johnson goes slightly overboard in his enthusiasm for Churchill, but aside from his hyperbole if you look at his evidence you can kind of see why. This is an immensely readable biography of a great man. I presently spend my days wishing I could be more like Churchill and then more like Terry Wogan (but alive).
Follow You Home by Mark Edwards
I stayed up way too late polishing off this story of a couple who go travelling. In Romania their plans fall apart when they experience something so dreadful they cannot speak of it to each other. Their troubles do not stay behind them when they leave, however. Gripping stuff. I was very impressed as this is this guy’s first book.
The English Girl by Katherine Webb
The title is as dry as the desert where this book is set, but don’t let that put you off this enjoyable story of Joan, an archeologist in the 1950s, and Maude, a pioneering explorer in the late 19th century, set in Arabia. Their unlikely friendship plunged Joan into danger.
We Were Liars by E Lockhart
I read this story of four cousins and one difficult summer in one sitting, gulping it down, and the twist, when it came, was so violent that as soon as I read the last page I opened the book at the beginning and read it all again through fresh eyes. Very, very clever. This will be going on my “books to buy people for their birthday” list.
The Lake House by Kate Morton
Kate Morton studied Gothic literature at university and the influences show in her books, which are great reads. Dollops of mystery and romance, all carefully plotted out. I finished this in the waiting room at the surgery, and was glad the doctor was late. I said a real live “ooh” aloud at one point when something unexpected happened (in the story, not in the waiting room).
Before the Fall by Juliet West
Set during WW1, this is based on the true story of a woman who fell in love with another while her husband was away, and the events which unfold could not be anticipated by the reader let alone those involved in the story. Beautiful, gentle and horrific. Not often that a book can be all three!
Behind Closed Doors (again) – a different one this time by Elizabeth Haynes
A teenaged girl disappears during a family holiday in Greece. Ten years later she turns up in England. I keep hoping Elizabeth Haynes won’t go the way of Sophie Hannah, who I don’t look out for any more, but it appears that she is. I don’t feel drawn into the books. Not interested. I am saddened by this, but the stories don’t live for me. Enjoy Into The Darkest Corner, her debut. It won’t leave you.
The Museum of You by Carys Bray
Carys Bray is like a poetic Lisa Jewell. She writes honestly and is easy to read but that doesn’t mean she skimps on beautiful prose and while her stories are appear simplistic they are anything but. This is the story of Clover who, in the summer holidays, decides to unpack the room where her father keeps the memories of her dead mother. Little by little, Clover unpicks her past trying to find out more about her parents, and also herself. Like A Song for Issy Bradley, this is a warmly written and uplifting book which doesn’t shy away from difficult subjects. Carys Bray now joins the ranks of those privileged authors I am desperate to see more from.
For anyone interested in Elizabeth/Liz Rigbey, I have searched fruitlessly for more of her books as the last one was published in 2003. Eventually I emailed her agent asking if she was still writing, and got a positive response which said that she is, but not as fast as they would like her to – so they hope knowing she has fans waiting for work will spur her on! It was really nice to hear from them and to know that Rigbey is working on another book as her previous works were so enjoyable.
And now for something completely different.
I saw a TV programme about bipolar disorder (which I don’t have) and in it a young woman described depression as a panther. She wrote how she woke up to find it lying on her chest. This is one of the best metaphors of depression I’ve read – her blog by the way is www.rapidcyclistwordpress.com. (and you should check it out, it’s better than this one). Cordelia’s panther swiped me with its paw almost lazily last week, twice in succession with a strength that took my breath away. Once when I was in the shower, of all places. I could do nothing but to put my forehead against the cool tiles, watching the water run down the drain, over and over, drop after drop, down, down, down. The desolation I felt was beyond words, beyond description, beyond sense. Like the feeling you get of having bad news, but on an uninterrupted cycle. Later that same day I was in Waitrose, staring at shelves of food, suddenly unable to move. I had come out with a purpose, but I had lost it. I didn’t know why I was there. I didn’t know what I was thinking. I didn’t even know what I did and didn’t know. There was no way of describing what I felt beyond that it was hopeless.
This wotevertitis is a shape-shifter, a changeling. You try to strike it with one weapon and it dodges, morphing into something else and mocking your attempts to beat it. Over the winter it was a grey cape, clinging to my shoulders with the strength of the Ancient Mariner’s albatross. It made me over-heat; it suffocated me and made me itch but I was incapable of discarding it. Last week it was the sea. I stood in it up to my waist, fully clothed, soaked and shivering. The waves withdrew from me, left me exposed and vulnerable, before pummelling me, covering me in salt and seaweed, knocking me off my feet and planting me face-down in the sand. Grit in my eyes and mouth, sticking to my eyelashes. My drenched clothes clinging to my overly sensitive skin. I scrabbled at them in a vain attempt to pull them off, scrub off my life, scrub myself out of existence.
Back in the shower. The water runs. I want to wash myself down the drain with the suds into sweet warm blackness.
I don’t, though. I get out, dress and prepare to face the day. I find myself laughing at something on the radio. I leave home late because I am entranced by the sight of my sleeping gerbils breathing in unison, their warm little bodies pulsing gently. I walk to church yesterday and take brief, unexpected pleasure at the lightness of the spring air, as clear as water. That’s one of the good things about this woteveritis: you forget that life can be quite beautiful, and then it surprises you.
In the traditional story (much as I love the Shrek version), Puss in Boots tricks an ogre into turning into a mouse, and promptly eats him up. I hope to do the same with my woteveritis, to trick it into diminishing itself, so one day it becomes woteveritwas.