Saturday, 23 May 2015

The Visiting Angel - Paul Wilson

Why didn't I know anything about this book?  I never read a review, never saw it mentioned on here, and it was published in 2012, so it's been on the radar (but not mine) for 3 years.  I can't say it's everyone's cup of tea, and certainly the cover would not have attracted me.

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A very satisfying read for me, bringing together what you might call lost souls.  Patrick, running a charitable halfway house for people with mental problems; Sarah, a nurse who lost her child in an accident; Edward and Lillian, both with their own special problems and former residents of the halfway home.  Into this mix throw a pregnant Angolan woman and her daughter, and Saul, with no shoes, a pocket full of peanuts and who swears he is an angel with a special task to perform.  How these characters have come to where they are now has meant that  they have each had a hard path to tread, and are still finding the journey arduous.  Slowly, slowly the story of each life is revealed.  The chapters are rather long and contain more than one subject at a time, sometimes with only an extra line between paragraphs.  But stick with it, as the story of each life is revealed.  Saul has only a few days to get things right, and it is unclear until very near the end what that task is.  When revealed, I found myself holding my breath.    I gained an insight into mental health and the way "the system" deals with it these days, too, and as the author has worked in a range of social care settings, it's obvious he is describing what he has come across in his working life.  Not a light read, but a very worthwhile one, and it came together wonderfully at the end. 

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Garden news at Pine Tree Cottage

It seems so long since I posted anything about my garden!  I think the last time was when we had the summerhouse put in, and that was nearly two years ago....... OOOOps.  So, with new camera available and a sunny day outside, I thought I might just show you some colour and flowers.....

I love little shots of colour that help before flowers come in the garden.  I have had this blue pot for years, inside and outside.  This year it's going to sit here, on a little step, glowing away.  Don't worry, plenty of planting in this garden!

This is my yellow and white border..... and if you think you can see other colours here, well, aquilega doesn't have boundaries and seeds where it will!  Such a short flowering season, so why worry?  They will be gone soon, and I shall pull them out before the seed heads form - there are loads more.  And perhaps you can't see any white or yellow?  About one third down from the top of the picture, some yellow is spilling onto the edging;  The large grey lump in the bottom third of the picture is good old curry plant, and will be blooming shortly, as will the other green lumps which bloom as small cream buttons.  On the right you can see a climber... that's the clematis Bill Mackenzie, and I love it.  It never fails.  It's yellow when it blooms.

Here on the North side of the garden (but facing South, of course) is a mixed bed full of colour.  You can see a Ceanothus, nearly over now, and two similar but different Acers, both of which have put on some lovely height this year.  Sadly, the hedge behind is just bloomin' box, but at least it serves as a nesting area for blackbirds every single year and it sheilds us from the road!  And on the same side of the garden, just a little further along from the Acers, is the summerhouse, in all her glory.

I am going to take some more pics - closeups of small flowers.  It occurs to me that I do favour small flowers (not that I don't like others of course, tulips are lovely in the spring, roses all the summer please, peonies and day lilies are showy and wonderful) especially tumbling over walls and in pots.  Watch this space, it's been too long!

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

No physical contact

Watching a documentary recently about London's night buses.  One of the passengers was a very elderly gent who had recently lost his wife of 60+ years, and we found that he was on the night bus because he had been out dancing.  Recently widowed?  Out dancing?  Shocked?

You shouldn't be, and maybe this will tell you why.  An widowed elderly family member of mine, on holiday a few years ago with me and group of friends of varying ages, was dancing by herself to some music she liked whilst the rest of us were drinking and chatting.  No-one really noticed until one of our party said "Care for a dance, M'am?".  Yes, she definitely would care for a dance, because as she explained, if you are without a partner then there is very little physical contact anymore.  It's a lonely feeling not being held.  So she got a little smooch, c/o of a friend.

Whilst I was watching the documentary, on the sofa next to the other half, this memory came back to me, and I suddenly thought how much I would miss the closeness of another body if he was no longer there (of course I would miss the person, I love him dearly, but imagine trying to cosy up to a stranger just for a hug?).  And then, at my yoga class yesterday, we did back massage on another person, who then did the same for us.  Again, it was the closeness of others.  We don't all have families and really close friends who we can be physical with.  Some of us are really reserved and that's fine if you don't like the touch of another.  But I do, and so many are denied it, like the widower on the London night bus.  As it happens, a youngster got on the bus and sat next to the old boy.  They were both Irish, so that commonality helped.  But the arm went along the back of the seat and round the shoulders, and the young man, sober, had a bit of a craick with the widower, and made him laugh before he left the bus.

So a hug every now and again won't go amiss if someone looks as though they need one - or even a linked arm whilst chatting or walking - just for the warmth of human contact.

Monday, 18 May 2015

Table decs at next to no money? Of course you can!!

You should start saving clear glass containers..... in this pic are two different perfume bottles with spray and metal collars removed, also the bottle from one of those room perfume kits with the little sticks......

This one was a beautiful frosted glass which held a scented candle... can't use it for drinking out of, so........

Two different bottles which were once sold as drinking water.....

Here's an assortment ready for use.

And here, something called a "custard cup"  picked up for next to nothing on a second hand stall

.... and finally, one of a set of three which were found in a craft store at rock bottom prices.

The flowers were one bunch of gypsophilla from the florist at £25 which filled every container and some left over!    A good choice as white goes with anything and the gyp has lots of little branches up the stems, so they can be cut to size as you go.  So most of the containers cost nothing, and a few of them cost just a little.  Tissue paper is cheap but looks good if you want to wrap it round some of your containers.  Mine were arranged in a straight line down the centre of each table at differing heights on white tablecloths (which were actually bedsheets and after laundering went straight back into the airing cupboard!).  Just change your ribbon and tissue paper colour to suit.  You don't have to be arty farty, just a little patience will do.

Oh, and a tip.  Spray the flowers with a little shot of your favourite perfume - as not everyone will thank you for the strange and rather cat-like smell of the gyp.  But there you go - four big party tables for around £30, and a bit of patience collecting your containers.

Of course, if you have lots of flowers for cutting available in your garden or next door's, or lots of ivy, or some kind of evergreen, then you save the £25.   Wild flowers, whilst lovely, will not last long when cut, so be choosy.  A rose in every container would be just lovely.

Monday, 11 May 2015

Tallgrass - Sandra Dallas

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    Sandra Dallas, another American writer who has such a gift.  Every book is different, the "voice" is different, the tale is different, the era is different.  This one, comparatively modern, is set during WW2 in Colorado.  In case you didn't know, after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbour, all Japanese-Americans living on or near the West Coast of America were removed from their homes and interned in camps away from coastal areas for the duration of the war.    Although this is a fiction, it is based on a camp in Colorado and if you go to Dallas's web site, you can find out more about it.

    In the meantime, let me tell you a little of this gritty book, which for me was hard to read because of the subject matter, revealing much of human nature in general, and brings to the surface the hatred that some of us have for "different" folk.  And of course, in bringing up those feelings it made me hate those who hated the different others........

    Rennie has just turned 13 when the land is cleared and set up for the internment camp next door to her family's sugar beet farm.  The first few busloads of Japanese-Americans have hardly hit the ground when the signs start to go up in town - "NO JAPS".  Rennie has a brother and a sister;  Bud, who has joined up to fight in Europe, and Marthalice, who lives miles away in Denver. When most of the younger or single men in town have joined up or been called up, Rennie's Dad decides to employ some young men from the camp to help with the sugar beet.  At the same time, a child is raped and killed, and for those who should know better, the conclusion is that "the Japs must have done it".  This is a thriller and a historical novel.  Can't fault the research, and the voice of Rennie is just perfect.  You are a young teen, you get bullied at school, your sister is grown up now and living away, your Mother not in the best of health, and the whole town is taking sides.

    It's a book that made me very emotional, even though I knew nothing of these camps, living in a different country, and being born after WW2.  It is the old old story of fearing that which you don't know, and the problems that fear can bring.  I'd recommend this to anyone, but I particularly want to recommend it to the Young Adult readership, because it's a brilliant story of growing up and understanding adults, but also it is clear that the author does not take sides but points out a way forward without hatred.  The character of Rennie's father is based on her own father.  What a great dad he must have been.

Sunday, 10 May 2015

A Swift Pure Cry - Siobhan Dowd

Sadly the author died too young to reach her full potential - but she never wrote a bad book.  This one, aimed at Young Adults, tells Michelle's (Shell) story, following the death of her mother, leaving her to look after two younger siblings whilst her father drinks away any money he has.  Is he a thief?  Is he a n'er-do-well?  Is it grief of his loss that made him the man he has become?  It doesn't matter because Shell just has to get on with things, feed the family if there is money to do so, and go hungry if there is not.  Here in Catholic Ireland, the priest knows all and does nothing, for God will provide.

I don't know that I could have done any better than Shell under the circumstances.  The kids are always dirty - never enough money for soap power, and the washing machine, broken since her mother's death is not going to be repaired or replaced when the money can be used for Dad to drink.  The new Curate, Father Rose, is a breath of fresh air in the village - for some folk rather too fresh, for he is not the kind of priest they are used to.

This was hard to read, in the way that medicine is hard to swallow.  I really felt for Shell, reaching out for help without actually asking for it, reaching out for love and comfort without really understanding it.  This is a tale told hundreds of times before, but this one really made me feel that I understood the position that Shell was in.  A terrible dilemma, and no help available.  Harsh but with redemption on the horizon - this is a great read for 12 upwards, as an adult I found it easy to read and can totally agree with the reviewer from the Irish Independent, who said "...should be read by anyone who is or ever was a teenager." Click here if you want to find out more about the Siobhan Dowd Trust, set up by Siobhan before she died, and what they do for disadvantaged young readers.

A Swift Pure Cry (2006)

Friday, 8 May 2015

Standing in the Rainbow - Fannie Flagg

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You know that sometimes you just want a book that acts like a warm blanket and a cuppa.  This book is it.  Small town America - Elmwood Springs, Missouri.  If you like American fiction, and I do, this may have not made itself known to you so I think I had better do that!

Stretching from just after WW2, the book starts in 1946, with Neighbour Dorothy broadcasting daily from her living room, across the state of Missouri.  Community radio was quite the thing in those days, the radio shows aimed at women, the sponsors soap powder manufacturers or cooking ingredient suppliers.  The adventures of this mother of two (a teen and a wayward 10 year old) start the book.  Other characters arrive.  Some stay, some go; some have a large part to play along the way in this wonderful tale which ends just prior to the end of the 20th century.  All the chapters are quite short, some only a couple of pages, which make it easy to dip in and out of - although I just kept reading in great chunks for all of the 495 pages.  If you like to read before you sleep, this would be a lovely bedside companion.  For me it was just the loveliest read, with heart, soul and people you recognise.

My own reading doesn't stick with a genre...... sometimes detectives, sometimes family tragedies, sometimes just an adventure.  Almost always fiction, I like a bit of fact thrown in.  Sometimes I want to be excited, but I don't much care for thrillers as I always forget the story within a few weeks.  What I like is a tale that "sticks".  One I will remember next year, the year after, and one I will tell you about and recommend.  This is one of those.  Read and enjoy.


Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Bed and Breakfast Tales - 4

Anyone know what a Raspberry Pie is?  I thought I did.  It's something you eat, right?   Well, if (like me) you are not up on things in the I.T. world it is a pie made from fruit and that's the end of it!

Sometime last year we had a Mum and Son stay for just one night.  The son was around 8 years old, and I found myself talking to a genius when he rose early, and engaged me in conversation.  The talk was of how he was going to build stuff using Raspberry Pies.  Imagine how it felt at my age to ask an eight year old what a Raspberry Pie was!  I know little about computing, being a front end user only, but I did think to myself during this conversation that this little chap may well be the next Stephen Hawkins, or Bill Gates, or someone equally famous in his field.  Such a pity that apart from the words "Raspberry Pie", I understood little of the conversation.

I've saved his name, so that when I am seriously old, and he appears on TV being interviewed about how he changed the world, I can muse on the fact that once, just once, I cooked breakfast for a genius!!

Saturday, 2 May 2015

The Gracekeepers - Kirsty Logan

In the watery world of the future, Callenish gets rid of the bodies.

She is a "Gracekeeper", a sort of undertaker at sea.  She receives the bodies, she cleans them, binds them in net, and gives them a sea burial, out there somewhere near the equator in an area that should you come across it will be marked by wooden pontoons, on which birds in cages wait to die.  The birds are the Graces, and whilst they live the mourners can mourn.  When a travelling circus arrives to bury one of their own, Callenish meets North, a girl who dances with a bear.  Their stories are separate but intertwined for much of the book, together with circus members, the military, those that who live on solid ground - the "landlockers", and those who live on the ocean - the "damplings".  For the story is set at least seven generations after what must have been severe global warming as there are only islands, patches of land here and there, and the landklockers don't want damplings taking up any space on their land.

It's one of those books that I couldn't wait to finish, but kept stopping my reading so that it didn't end too soon.  So why only 4 stars? Well.... I loved the characterisation, I loved the whole idea; but somehow, within this huge, watery tale, there was something missing, and when I got to the end I felt that I'd been done out of something.

It's wonderfully written, easy to keep reading.  Each character of any importance gets their own chapter headings, but don't worry, for those of you who don't like things written in the first person (I went, I was etc), this book is not.  The characters are wonderfully drawn, they came alive on the page very quickly, their emotions there for you to feel.  The world described needs (like a night at the theatre) suspension of reality - for the reality here is a fantasy, a fairytale, with larger than life characters in the circus, and others whose characters go with the job.  For example, Callanish the Gracekeeper - quiet, tidy, but wanting not to be out there looking after the watery graveyard; and Flitch the Messenger, taking and delivering messages between the islands and the boats is a shaven headed wide boy.   The cover is wonderful with a look of velvet about it and all in all at just under 300 pages, it just begs to be read. It isn't magic realism, it is fantasy, and I should have loved it, but this time I only liked it.  Full marks for the cover though!

Thursday, 30 April 2015

What to read in MAY

What d'you think then?  Let's go for a title which includes some kind of kitchen tool i.e.

                               A Teaspoon of Earth and Sea by Dina Nayeri

Patience - John Coates

Patience (and her sister Helen) were brought up as Catholics.  Both were married to men found by their mother for them before she died.  Helen has divorced hers and found a man she really loves.... so is now happily married to the second husband.  Patience is just a quiet, truly submissive wife with three small children (all girls but she can try again, can't she?) and no ideas at all about what real love is all about.  Until, one night over drinks at her sister's she meets Philip.  Philip, who will make love to her rather than have sex with her.  Philip, who will make her hear violins whilst making love.  Philip who loves her unconditionally.

Patience now has a dilemma.  How can she be with Philip for the rest of her life when she is married to Edward and is an honerable Catholic wife?  How she works this out makes this a lovely, lovely read.  I found myself willing her on and wondering why she just did not declare her love for another man to her awful husband and get rid of him.  But, like life, it's much more complicated than that!

Maureen Lipman wrote the forward to this book.  She loved it, and I did too.  It was published in 1953, and has been resurrected by Persephone for which I must say a huge thank you.  Coates' style shows it's age but that is part of the charm of this book, particularly when describing sex without actually going into the graphic detail one might expect from the 50 Shades school of fiction.  It's not as light and frothy as it sounds either.  Some moral standards come into play here, and the last paragraph is a shocker but provides, for me, exactly the right ending. 

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Moon Over Soho - Ben Aaronovitch

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You could do as I did and read this one as a stand-alone, or you could start at the beginning with Rivers of London.  If the former, you get a good, gorey, fun read and you finish it with a smile.  If the latter, you have the treat of several more to follow.  Up to you!

Such fun, this book.  And brutal.  And gorey.  And did I say it was fun?

Peter Grant, that is DC Grant of the Metropolitan Police, is a trainee wizard.  The first trainee that the Met have taken on for over 50 years. Some of his powers are developing nicely - and some he is still useless with.  Ah, well, he has time to learn.  He's involved in the investigation into the death of a jazz man.  A saxophonist whose body has an imprint - not of a boot, or a weapon, but of an old jazz standard - "Body and Soul" - which those whose ears are tuned into magic can quite clearly hear as his body lays in splendour on the mortuary slab.  It turns out there is more than one jazz man's death to investigate:  and there are other murders too... when the first body  is found with it's genitals bitten right off - that is cause for alarm!

This is not my usual genre, this book just crossed my path - and I must say I'm glad it did.  If you don't know London it will not matter, just read and enjoy, but if you know London well it is a pleasure;  you will be led around Soho and Camden Lock, and Russell Square - and you will know exactly where you are going.  You will also find out the meaning of several favourite, which made me squeak "oh!" and laugh out loud is Hoist by his own petard which I do use myself, knowing that in simplistic terms it meant too clever for his own good sort of thing.  But the real meaning is so much better.  Find it.  Read it.  Enjoy.

Monday, 27 April 2015

Where The Wild Things Are - Maurice Sendak (a stolen review!!)

Nov 03, 2007 Nathan rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Delusional miscreants.
Shelves: fiction
"I have no doubt that this book damaged me, psychologically, as a small child. It is one of the earliest books I vividly remember reading aloud to myself, and I remember the first time my mother read it to me before she put me to bed. Here's the gist of the plot: A little boy named Max dresses up in a wolf costume, plays with a hammer, chases his dog with a fork, then threatens to cannibalize his mother. His mother, a master of irony, then puts him to bed with no dinner. Already, this story should start creeping you out. Then a forest starts to grow in Max's bedroom. And no, no chemicals have been ingested anywhere in the story. Though the bit about chasing the dog with the fork does imply a delusional state. Regardless, a fucking forest grows in the kids bedroom. So naturally he gets in a boat and sails off to the other side of the world, to where all these "wild things" are. And promptly subjugates everyone he sees. I'm a damn toddler, and my mom is reading me a book about a sociopath. So Max has a ball with this gang he's conquered and converted, and they howl at the moon and hop through trees. Then he gets hungry and goes home, where his mother, no doubt terrified of his new army of foreign creatures, has left his food for him, still warm. I thought, "This woman aims to do me harm." Yes, please, mother. Read me a story about my bedroom becoming a forest inhabited by monsters, then put me to bed. Think I slept that night? No, I hid out under my bed with a plastic baseball bat, a water gun and flashlight, hoping to God that if this was the night it all went wrong, I had the courage to look those monsters in the eye and pretend I wasn't wetting myself. I made a nest with a giant teddy bear and two pillows and didn't come out until the next morning, when I heard my mom coming down the hall. All day long I pretended nothing was different. But I asked her to read me Where The Wild Things Are again that night. And the next night. For months. I would ask her questions like "Do you think I will have my monsters get you if you don't make me supper?" And she'd smile, and say "Go to bed, Nathan." Spooky shit, I'm telling you. I learned to read through fear and intimidation. A subversive masterpiece."

Yes, I own up.  I stole this review from Goodreads, so the only way I can acknowledge it is to say Thank you Nathan, whoever you are, somewhere (hopefully still) in New York.  For UK readers, I have to say this is a very American peice but it's perfect.  I so enjoyed finding and reading it, and I hope you did too.

Monday, 20 April 2015

The Last Brother - Nathacha Appanah

Sometimes a small account of history crosses your path, and takes your breath away.  This is what happened when I read this.  In 1940, some 1,500 European Jews, fleeing the Nazis, arrived on the ship Atlantic at Port-Louis, Mauritus after being turned away from Haifa for not having correct immigration  papers.  Mauritus was at that time a British protectorate, and on arrival they were imprisoned for the rest of the war.
This short novel of around 200 pages, is told by Raj, a Mauritian of Indian extraction, who at the time of the Jewish imprisonment was nine years old.  Living with his two brothers, his mother and father in abject poverty like the rest of the sugar cane workers, his experience of life is very small indeed, and when the tragedy of a huge storm wipes out the plantation and takes with it the lives of his two brothers, his life is changed for ever.  He finds himself living in a house near what turns out to be the prison where the Jews are held and there, through the barbed wire fence, he and David espy each other.  The story of this very short friendship and how it effected Raj for the rest of his life is told here.  A very moving telling of the end of childhood. 
Nathacha Appanah is a Mauritian journalist, now working in France.  Beautifully translated by Geoffrey Strachan.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Claire Marvel - John Burnham Schwartz

A beautifully written tale of a relationship that should have been better.  Schwartz has written of lovers who know what they want but just cannot somehow get it right.  If this has ever happened to you, do read this book -  and put it right.
Julian and Claire first meet, whilst at college (Harvard), on the steps of a gallery in the pouring rain.  She is holding a yellow umbrella, under which she offers him shelter.  It is obvious from the outset that there is an instant attraction between them, although Julian believes that his love is unrequited, so he meets her when he can, and in the way that shy people sometimes do he desparately hopes that she will see and feel his love.  This strange and haunting relationship, including a trip to France whilst Claire's father is terminally ill, continues until I found myself shouting in my head "for goodness sake - just tell each other what you really mean".  But of course, they do not, and when Claire meets Julian's professor, it is not long before things change for ever.

This is not chick-lit by any stretch of the imagination.  It is a beautifully constructed story of love that should have no limits but has been limited by two people who just cannot say what the other wants desparately to hear.  It's Julian's story told here - but certainly you do get a feel for how Claire feels.... and wonder why she acts as she does towards Julian.  Is it because some people just do not believe that the right person loves them?  Surely that isn't right although I am sure some relationships perish on a sea of untruths or untold beliefs about what the truth really is.

If you like a really well written tale irrespective of the subject matter, then maybe this is worth searching for.  If you like a love story with or without a happy ending, maybe this book is for you.  If you are at a stage in your own life where you wonder should you speak out about your feelings or not - then do give this one a  go.  For you may find the answer here.  I was reminded of  One Day by David Nicholls whilst reading, because of the holding back of emotion; always a danger that you might hold back too long.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

So Brave, Young, and Handsome - Leif Enger

I bought this book immediately after reading Peace Like a River, some years ago.  Why I left it so long before I read this one I have no idea, but glad to say read it I have, and what a lovely couple of days I spent in the company of Monte Beckett and the friends and enemies he makes along the way when he takes a different turn in his life.

Monte has written a best seller and given up his job at the US post office because he has done well.  The publisher wants another book (and more, if he can manage to produce them).  Sadly, it seems he had just the one book in him, for attempts to get another written are just dismal failures.  At the point where it seems he must go cap in hand to his former boss and ask to go back to work, he makes the acquaintance of Glendon Hale, a middle aged man who likes to mess about on the river, and builds small boats.  It's 1915, so the age of cowboys and outlaws is nearly over.  But Glendon has a secret - he has been an outlaw, and during the telling of his tales, he lets Monte know that he has to head back to Mexico, where he left his wife, Blue, twenty years ago.  Would Monte come with him?  And before Monte quite knows what he's doing, he's left his wife and child for a six week adventure. which turns out to be rather more than six weeks, and a very challenging adventure indeed.  The characters he meets are not so much larger than life than true to life, and you feel that you know them.  You hold your breath when the going gets rough, and you wish  the villain of the piece nothing but ill - even though he is (sort of) on the right side of the law.  The villain is an ex-Pinkerton agent, who has been tracking Glendon for years............
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Monday, 13 April 2015

Bed and Breakfast Tales (3)

During our first year we had an Australian couple stay just one night, on a tour of the UK.  We expected them early evening between 5 and 6pm.  6 o'clock came and went.  6.30 also. 7.00 too sped by.  7.30 - silence.  8.00 - nothing.

Sometime after 8.00 pm we got a call to say that they were running very late as they had got lost but should be with us by 9.00pm.  They were arguing with each other whilst making the call, so I knew when they arrived they would be "frayed at the edges".  Well, they arrived at around 9.30pm, frayed and frazzled, and still arguing!  The gps had been set, and one of them (the driver) had decided that it was wrong and had chosen to turn off the device, and go in a direction that seemed right to them.  Mmmm.  In completely another direction - thus adding at least 3 hours to a journey that was long enough to start with!  Now I understand that Australians think nothing of a 5 hour drive to see a friend but they were exhausted, bad tempered and they were staying in our house!!  A large cup of tea, a slice of cake, and all was calm - for a few minutes.  But I have come across this before, some relationships thrive on arguments - and as it continued over breakfast too, this was one of them.  Everything.  The time to start on the next step of their journey, how long it was take to get to their next stop, even where the next step was.......   But off they went, and as they were a retired couple who had been together over 40 years, I am sure that they are still together even now, bickering away and loving each other to bits!

Friday, 3 April 2015

The World is a Wedding - Wendy Jones

We can continue to find out more about Wilfred Price, the undertaker, his new wife, the lovely Flora Myfanwy.  We also get to hear what happens to Grace, his former wife of a few days (an unconsummated happening).  Characters get developed, stories continued, and all in all this is a book to sit back and enjoy, whether or not you read the first.

I enjoyed this even more than The Thoughts and Happenings of Wilfred Price, Purveyor of Superior Funerals, the first book about Wilfred and other inhabitants of Narbeth.  I loved the feel of West Wales, the small-town-ness of it all, and some of the sentences are priceless - "them?  they only fart to frighten themselves", about the opposition tug of war team!  Some books, you can hear the voices in your head and this is one of them.  There is a real Welshness about this and it's glorious.  I will just say that this book will take you to a few dark places, but Wilfred, who got the lovely Flora Myfanwy as his wife, finds his character developing (as I did too) with a strength he didn't know he had.  Lovely read.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Rap? Hell Yeh!

My treat for you.     Just a little rap about Walter Raleigh.  Pardon?   Just a little rap about Walter Raleigh!

This is from a comedy show performed by Living Spit called Virgin on the Ridiculous.  And yes, if you have not guessed yet, it's about Queen Elizabeth I.  When Walter Raleigh comes back from America with a Bloomingdales bag full of goodies for the queen, you know you are in for a treat!

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

What to read in APRIL - Mrs Mac suggests .......

Spring is here, and Summer follows, so drag yourself away from that fireside and get out and about!  How about a book with a mention of family in the title?

For example:

                  My Sister, My Love - Joyce Carol Oates