I read Notes from an Exhibition a long while ago, but because we were visiting Tate St Ives and the Hepworth House and Garden this was such an apt book. Gale's description of Hepworth felt sacreligiously irreverent compared to the hushed respect of a visit to her home. But this is an exquisite tale of families and love and emotional distress. Of the damage that we can do to each other and ourselves. I love many things about this book, but the tender importance of the peace found by all the characters in their Quaker connections is very moving. At the minute I'm reading a book of Gale's short stories, Gentleman's Relish. I lifted it off the library shelf as soon as I saw that it included a story of a bored housewife. I wasn't disappointed!
Our journey from Cornwall into Surrey took forever and a half because of a flooded road. So I had lots of time, not driving I hasten to add, to look in detail at the map. And decided that the great and most surprising length of Chesil Beach merited a dip into the prolific McEwan library. If you have been reading Fifty Shades of Grey*, well, this is the book for you. It will purge you of all those images immediately! This is the third McEwan book that I have read. I very much enjoyed Enduring Love but having endured Solar to the very end couldn't say the same of it. Chesil Beach is a gem of craftsmanship.
Finally reaching Southampton for an overnight stay we skirted the edge of the New Forest. Last week one of the BBC commentators said that the Olympic Opening ceremony was his kind of history lesson. Children of the New Forest is mine! Fans of Cromwell may not agree. I think I'll try this with the boys as a bedtime read in a while. Very strong descriptions of the wholesomeness of quiet, industrious, faithful living.
We visited Chartwell on our one rainy day in Surrey. (Betty, maybe Chartwell isn't actually in Surrey?) I haven't finished yet, but Churchill has just been thrown from power in the Election that immediately followed WWII. This is a very moving book, very interesting indeed. Mary Soames is writing from her diaries, and from the letters and diaries of her father, mother and friends, and it is a fascinating insight into the life and politics of that time. I can't help imagining that the balance Mary Churchill maintained between horrified service and champagne receptions was not the experience of my maternal grandmother, racing with two babies to her bomb shelter which lay right beside Belfast Docks, prime bombing site for planes wanting to blow up the many ships under construction and repair just yards from her home. But still, it's great book!
The Kindle copy was significantly cheaper than the paper copy, which is prominently displayed in the very lovely National Trust shop at Chartwell, where they also have very nice cream teas. The Kindle copy of everything I've whispernetted so far, despite the VAT, is significantly cheaper than the paper copy. Not that I think anything does replace the tactile pleasure of pages, but for spontaneous holiday reading the Kindle really came into its own. Not least because two of the books were free. I had imagined that this was because they were "classics" but last night I was able to get a handful of titles free from Amazon's list of 100 Free Kindle Books, so all in all I'm deciding that it's a useful reading tool. As is Carrickfergus Library to which I fear the strawberries will be decamping. Don't tell Diane in Grove..
* I have not been reading Fifty Shades of Grey!