Saturday, 21 December 2013

Nearly there

Christmas preparations gradually coming together - a cake has been made, mince pies made and put in the freezer, a few eaten by a visitor this week, cards written and posted, ,presents bought but yet to be wrapped, tree up and decorated (yesterday), washing machine engineer visited and machine to be replaced on Monday.. why do things like the washing machine having problems, ear infections, colds and other such tedious events happen just around the Christmas period, when one could do without the extra hassle?
Last week I paid a visit to my local library and picked up two Barbara Pym novels, Jane and Prudence and Some Tame Gazelle, along with Katie Fforde's A French Affair. Just the right sort of read for this time of year, I feel. I haven't read any of Barbara Pym's novels until this year, so catching up on an author whose popularity has waxed again in recent years is very satisfying and enjoyable.

Monday, 9 December 2013

Blog neglect

Having somewhat neglected the blog for a while, I'd better do a bit of a catch-up of some of my reading, most of it very enjoyable. Meanwhile, we have closed our house in France for the winter, and I have been busy with a few Christmas events, the latest being a Christmas Tree Festival at my local church last weekend.
Margaret Leroy's story The Collaborator was a very readable tale of life in Guernsey under the German occupation during the Second World War. I have had it on my bookshelves for a while, so picked it up after a few reads on my Kindle, feeling I wanted to hold a real book for a change, even if only a paperback. The story of Vivienne and her daughters Blanche and Millie and her mother-in-law Evelyn during the German occupation of Guernsey in the Second World War is quite sympathetically told, The choices Vivienne has to make to keep her family and home going at this dangerous time are difficult ones; who can she trust and also who trusts her? Life becomes more complicated when a group of German officers take over the next door property, and her younger daughter Millie begins to behave rather oddly. A well-written tale, with the complexities of living a life full of compromise, difficulty and loss beautifully drawn. The losses all the characters suffer make this a sad book in some ways, but there is also optimism. As this is the first title I have read by Margaret Leroy, I'll be looking out for others by her soon.

  • I thought Kate Atkinson's Life after Life a clever book, the idea probably best achieved in the novel format. Ursula Todd is born in a snowstorm in 1910  and dies- or does she? Ursula lives through the first half of the twentieth century, a time of incessant change, war and depression. She appears to live different lives at various periods.Is she actually re-incarnated? or is the novelist playing tricks on us readers. The premise of this book reminded me of Penelope Lively's Making It Up, in which the author takes various episodes from her own life and considers what her life would have been if she had made different choices, although in Life after Life Ursula's choices are made for her by the author. However this is a very accomplished book, and the surprises of Ursula's life make for an engrossing and entertaining read.

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