I feel like I’ve been lazy, but in fact it’s the entire opposite. I’ve been doing stuff: so much stuff that I have scarcely had time to sleep. I have to factor that into my diary along with everything else. My two weeks in gorgeous Greece feel like a very, very long time ago. Back then I was able to read until words spilled out of my eyes like tears. I’ve been tickled into laughter on the beach, scared to death on a boat, annoyed, intrigued, heartbroken – occasionally bored – and above all entertained.
I have also started writing again. A chance outing to Southwold made something click in my brain. Or rather, not my brain, but the bit behind the brain where all the creating takes place. Like Frankenstein’s laboratory. It is exciting, like a reunion with an old friend whose company you have missed for years. More of that later. A lot of my time is taken up with work, and when not working I’m training for a sponsored walk. It’s ridiculous how long miles turn out to be when you have to walk more than 5 of them.
Autumn appears to have come on us overnight. You can smell it in the air: leaf mould and damp grass. The country getting ready to hibernate for winter. The brambles are bending low with blackberries. The sun is thinner, more tentative.
I’ve picked the wrong time to plant a load of herbs, obviously.
I’ve had TONS of messages asking when my next blog post is coming. (Well, three.) So as promised – and I also promise I won’t leave it another 4 months for the next one, here is my holiday reading list:
John Connolly – A Time of Torment
The latest in the Charlie Parker series. Classic Connolly – funny in places, spine-chilling, deliciously dark and all too believable. He never lets you down.
Amy Hempel – The Dog in the Marriage
I read these stories after a recommendation in The Week. Some of them were dull but some of them really hit home. This line in particular sums up a feeling I’m still hoping to have:
“Not touching for so long was a drive to the beach with the windows rolled up
so the waves feel that much cooler.”
Isn’t it gorgeous? And – right?
The Shipping News – Annie Proux
Kevin Spacey was by far a more attractive Coyle than depicted in this novel, but it’s very readable and quite amusing in parts.
Nancy Goldstone – Four Queens: The Provencal Sisters Who Ruled Europe
Girl power in the 14th century, looking at the Queen Consorts Eleanor, Beatrice, Sanchia and Marguerite in 13th century Europe. Unfortunately it wasn’t very well-written and I spotted several continuity bloopers. An interesting subject but I wouldn’t use this as a basis for any proper research.
Robert Nye – Mrs Shakespeare
A bit odd. Not convinced Shakespeare got his inspiration from what Nye claims. I would be interested to know if anyone feels similarly having read it.
Joan Didion – The Last Thing He Wanted
Story of a woman who tries to do her father’s dying wish, with catatrophic results. OK, but rather dull with none of the raw emotion of The Year of Magical Thinking.
Walter de la Mare – The Return
I had high hopes for Walter de la Mare’s prose but I much prefer his poetry. This story of a man who falls asleep on a gravestone and wakes up with the dead man’s face doesn’t really go anywhere.
Nick Griffiths – In The Footsteps of Harrison Dextrose and Searching For Mrs Dextrose
These are the books which made me laugh out loud. They’re a bit crazy and quirky but they were most amusing.
Mark Edwards – The Magpies, Because She Loves Me, What You Wish For
I gobbled up these books by the author of Follow Me Home. Mark is the male Lucie Whitehouse: intelligent, original thrillers.
Michelle Paver – Without Charity, A Place in the Hills
I loved Dark Matter by the author, which is a chilling ghost story. These were very different: both very enjoyable romances with depth. A Place in the Hills in particular was so good I started to research the poet Cassius which Paver writes about before realising she’d invented him. I don’t normally like romance stories but I did like these.
Oliver Potzsch – The Werewolf of Bamberg , The Poisoned Pilgrim
These aren’t great literature but they are enjoyable. The story of the hangman, Jacob Kuisl, his assertive daughter Magdalena and their various escapades are always good fun.
Sarah Perry – After Me Comes the Flood
Weird, enticing and utterly heart-breaking story of a man who goes to a house and is mistaken for a guest who never turns up.
Helen Oyeyemi – Mr Fox
I am not intellectual. I did not enjoy this. I didn’t really enjoy White is for Witching either, which is a shame as I feel it says more about me than it does about the author.
Sarah Hall – The Wolf Border
The narrator of this book about a woman trying to set up a nature reserve in Scotland annoyed me a lot, but that’s because one of the men she slept with was married. Other than that, it was an enjoyable read.
Joanne Harris – Different Class
What I love about Joanne Harris is that she turns her pen (if one still uses pens!) to many different styles and voices and does so well. OK so Different Class sounds slightly self-aware but it’s immensely readable and there’s a real twist in it which makes you go “ooh!”
It says a lot that I can’t remember anything about these two beyond that they weren’t very good:
Darcy Coates – The Haunting of Blackwood House
Helen Moorhouse – The Dead Summer
So don’t bother looking at them. Kindle freebies – they never tend to be worth the paper they’re written on. (Yes, that is a deliberate pun.)
This is bitty. Not great. Allow me to get back into the swing of things. My mind has been on its own summer holiday. Let me quote Amy Hempel again:
“If it’s true your life flashes past your eyes before you die,
it is also the truth that your life rushes forth when you are ready to start to truly be alive.”
Bring on the sea.