Thursday, 21 July 2011
First published in 1991 - how did this little gem slip past me?
Never read any of Jane Gardam's novels before, but will be looking out for more since I enjoyed this so much. The first 20 or so pages made me laugh out loud, the next fifty or so made me sad, and the whole of the second half of the book was like reading a complicated whodunnit (without a body, thank goodness!). Eliza is a complex woman, married to a former British diplomat, used to being the kingpin where ever in the world she and the old man pitched up. But once he is stationed permanently in London, he becomes very withdrawn, and she cannot think why. Eliza has been writing to Joan, a woman who left the house opposite in a great hurry, leaving her husband, children and dog at the mercy of themselves, and she decides to offer the hand of friendship to the family. I found this a fascinating little (227 pages) read, and like many other readers, was near the half way mark when I started to wonder whether Eliza was everything she seemed.
This is a fine example of the examination of mental illness, but not in a depressing or bad way. We can see that Eliza has problems, but not at first, when it is the husband who seems the bad'un, when he leaves her to live with another man. As she struggles to know where Joan is, and why there is no reply to the letters she writes, she struggles too with the way her neighbours treat her, and how she is going to put her own life back together. The glue that holds her together in fact, is visiting the local hospice, because there, she has a grip on life and does not feel that her problems are insurmountable judged against the dying. If this sounds too heavy for you, it is not, it just may be a little strange - but its a beautiful little mystery story, and all is revealed before the final sentence.
Friday, 15 July 2011
Tuesday, 12 July 2011
Here's a bathroom stool that has been hanging around since its purchase second hand 18 years ago. Other things have been started and finished, so I wonder why this was never looked at poor thing? When we had the bathroom painted earlier this year, I thought it was time to deal with it, and at last I had a convenient day or 3! The old cork seat was removed, and the whole thing sanded down so it looked like this:
And then it got two coats of emulsion in the grey, and two coats of eggshell for the cream top. Finally, a couple of coats of mat varnish and its ready for use and matches the bathroom!
Saturday, 9 July 2011
I was reminded of "Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistlestop Cafe" - another book I didn't want to put down. I have seen comparisons to Fanny Flagg's books also, and although that may well be right, this story is rather darker, although there are occasions when I could not help but smile - especially when Swan spoke her mind - as children often do.
Jenny Wingfield is a successful scriptwriter, but this is her first novel. She has a lovely style, flowing and desciptive, urging you to read 'just another chapter'. I do hope that she will have more than one book in her, and I look forward to more.
(copy of my Amazon review
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