Thursday, 20 December 2012

Births, Marriages and Deaths and all that.......

Well this has been an interesting week or so, at a time of the year when it seems to me that there is more bad news than good (or is that my imagination?)  and this year is no exception.  I am a moderator on a UK book swapping site, and recently one of our longest standing members died after a long, long fight against cancer.  Never complaining, only noting what happened next, and offering so much advice to other members with problems, whether healthwise or not.  I met her twice, and "talked" to her on the site.  I liked her;  and now she is gone.

Then this morning, to my sad surprise, a lovely blog called "Letters from a Hill Farm" (http://lettersfromahillfarm.blogspot.co.uk/) from a woman in New England who loves food, and books and music has closed.  She is sad herself but feels it is the right time.  She is leaving the blog up, but she has closed her "comments", so that (presumably) she will not have to cry over all the replies she was bound to get saying "Oh No!"........

But then two lovely things have happened.  First, our two Canadian friends were in the UK for the first time in several years.  We saw them last in Canada 5 years ago, so the gaps are long.  They have family here, so we managed to grab them for a couple of days at Pine Tree Cottage, and spent lots of hours talking and laughing, which was a great tonic.  Sort of agreed that we would take another trip to them in 2013.  They live in Nova Scotia - a lovely part of the world which always makes me wonder why people always think they must go to Vancouver and the Rockies if they are going to "do" Canada!  Go on, have a look at Nova Scotia!

Then last, but definitely not least, two other friends got married secretly - we got an email a week later saying "me and him, 2 witnesses, 12 noon on 12.12.12!"  accompanied by a lovely picture showing them both grinning their heads off!  As they have been together at least 20 years this will not change anything except tax and next of kin stuff some may just ask why?   But it was such lovely news.

So you see, it has been a sort of when one door closes another opens kind of time.  And when you think about it, life is really like that all the time, isn't it?

Wishing you a peaceful Christmas Season, and a very good 2013.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Miss Julia Speaks her mind - Ann B Ross

The Miss Julia books are wonderfully cheering books to brighten up a dull day.  They have no message, they just are.  Miss Julia Speaks Her Mind is the first in the series and was my first meeting with this former Southern Belle, a fiesty, interferring, self-opinionated middle-aged woman, who is just widowed.  When her late husband's constant lover Hazel Marie, and child of that relationship Little Lloyd,  turn up on the respectable doorstep of Julia Springer with nothing, what is a woman to do?  Well - get them off the doorstep and inside a bit sharpish, before the whole town knows, that's what!

The next in the series is Miss Julia Takes over and Miss Julia, having now taken Hazel Marie and Little Lloyd into her heart and her home, is distraught when Hazel Marie fails to come home after a dinner date with a church fundraiser.  Miss Julia must become detective (or at least hire one) to find out what on earth has happened to Little Lloyd's mama.

Miss Julia Throws a Wedding is entirely dedicated to just that..... Miss Julia's friend and lawyer Binkie is in love with Deputy Sheriff Coleman Bates.  They are getting married down at the courthouse on Friday, but Miss Julia decides that a courthouse quickie just isn't good enough and decides to have the wedding (a "proper" one) at her own house.  This involves moving all the furniture, filling the downstairs with flowers, hiring chairs and a piano, getting the caterers in.... and then Binkie decides she probably does not want to get married at all!

There are several more in the series, which I enjoy reading after I have finished a heavy read that either was draining, or took a lot of brainwork.  These stories are not taxing, they just take you smiling down a route you definitely want to go.  Not great literature, but then not every book has to be, they are just fun to read.  Miss Julia has a constant friend and companion at her house in Lillian, her black housekeeper of many years who although paid help, in fact has plenty to say, says it, and is much appreciated by her friend Julia.  They tend to argue and then agree on the right course of action when something needs doing.  Sam, the retired lawyer who truly loves Julia is always there, flirting a little with her and trying to get by her side for a quick hug when she least expects it..... and he will get her, have no doubt of that, eventually!

Miss Julia Hits The Road is the next in the series, in which she is involved with Sam and a Harley Davidson.............

Sunday, 2 December 2012

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake - Aimee Bender

If you like magic realism, read on:    Rose is only nine when she discovers her "gift" - that she can taste other people's emotions by the food they prepare, and she discovers that her mother is deeply unhappy on the inside. Food becomes something that cannot be enjoyed unless it is produced in a factory, in which case there are no emotions. To have to struggle with this makes Rose's life uncomfortable, added to which she has a brother that disappears from time to time. When Rose's Mum's cooking no longer tastes sad, but has an impression of youth, pleasure and smiles, she realises that there must be a lover around. When Joseph her brother disappears nearly in front of her eyes, she begins to understand why he has always been withdrawn from the family, and at last, when she eats at a French restaurant that night, she finds food that tastes of joy and pleasure. It's a restaurant she returns to again and again, and eventually begins to work there twice a week. Its not until near the end of the book that we find out that Rose's paternal grandfather had a strange gift too, and her own father fears he also has one, hence his inability to ever enter a hospital. Finally, we find out what her brother's gift was.......