Sunday, 10 February 2019

The Salt Path - Raynor Winn

A very readable tale of a married couple who somehow lost everything – the home they owned and all their money.  He was then diagnosed with a terminal illness and she just  had to keep going somehow.  So with an income of around £30 per month, they decided to walk the South West coastal path, from Minehead via Lands End round to Poole in the hope that.... well even they were not sure what they hoped for.   They couldn’t even afford camp sites, and there was a lot of wild camping going on.  
Her descriptions of daily happenings are both heart-breaking and heart-warming, but there were times when I struggled with their stupidity ( I mean, if you are wild camping that means no bathroom facilities, so why not ensure that a small garden trowel was part of your kit; and I understand that they are not youngsters and couldn't carry much, but surely a bar of soap. a couple more Tshirts and changes of underwear don't weigh that much more?).

And here's a strange thing.  Young people they met on the path were often more friendly, more kind, more accommodating than people their own age, who seemed to shy away from these grubby, smelly middle-agers.  Some lovely tales of kindness, some awful tales of thoughtlessness - all in all a wide view of human nature in all it's guises.  I particularly enjoyed the description of some walkers from the US who they met early on  who were doing part of the SW coastal path too, but on vacation, not out of necessity.  But there is a difference when you have to walk, pitch a tent,  and find something to eat on a daily basis;  and having your luggage taken by vehicle to your next overnight accommodation whilst you carry a water bottle for the day!

 I don’t think she has written anything before,  and I have no idea how much her editor helped out, but she should write some more. 

Monday, 4 February 2019

The Care and Management of Lies - Jaqueline Winspear

Set from just before and on into the early years of WW1, this is a book which moved me incredibly.  Winspear, author of the Maisie Dobbs series (of which I am a fan), wrote this stand alone book and I do think it better than any of those.

The title is telling, because all the characters here have lies to tell.  Not all those lies are the dreadful kind that might hurt, but lies to make others happy; and of course there is always lieing by omission.  Her descriptions of early 20th century farm life, and, of course, life (and death) in the trenches during that dreadful time (which certainly was never "over by Christmas") are drawn so clearly that you can see and feel it all.  When she writes to describe meals she is cooking for Tom, her husband, Kezia lies.  When Tom writes to her from the trenches, he is careful to leave out descriptions of the bloody torment that he sees daily in the trenches.  When his sister Thea, who is Kezia's best friend joins the fray as an ambulance driver, she cannot tell either of them why.  So the care and management of lies  are both well practiced here. 

There are plenty of books written around and about WW1, but if you have not read this one I recommend it.

Friday, 1 February 2019

Mrs Mac suggests...... What to read in February '19

Well - here we are on the first of February;  a month that's short of a few days, and is a sort of in-between time,  for the cold of January is certainly still around, but perhaps, just perhaps, life is bursting out again, with early things in the garden.  I had a little look around the garden yesterday, to make sure that bulbs had overwintered..... and there they were, all sorts of green shoots, so we shall have some flowers in March and April.  Hellibors have already shown their colours, I have one cream, one pale green and one red  and also three pots of white crocus to put in.  It snowed last night, and it's cold today, but they are fine and dandy in their little pots in a sheltered place.

So.  What to read in February?  It's still cold, still dark early, and it makes me want to curl up on the sofa with a good book.  Febrruary being short will mean my books should be short?  No!! not necessarily.  So for something different, perhaps you should all

go for a re-read!

I plan to re-read a couple of books this month, but the one on the top of the  pile is one first published in 1977 and this old paperback has the cover I originally read.  This is the tale of man who thinks he's a dog, or is that a dog who thinks he's a man?  I can't remember which, but I'll find out when I read         
                                Fluke by James Herbert                                    

Early One Morning - Virginia Baily

I was attracted to this novel purely by the cover (as I suppose this is meant to happen!) and it has very little about the contents on the b...