Tuesday, 29 October 2013


Last year we had a Hungry Caterpillar calendar. How I loved it. Though I realise now that my attempt at drawing an eight for Jo's birthday was not entirely clear. Way back in the deep mid-last-winter I thought I could have a monthly blog on Books in Progress. Here we are ten months later...
September Book Club read was Les Miserables. Well done, Leigh and Niqi for getting to the end! I persevere, and revel in, and often laugh out loud. I console myself on my lack of progress by recalling the ambitious commitment to read it in version originale. When in fact it has more to do with my utter lack of commitment to anything requiring such discipline. The last very long book I read was The Children's Book and I loved every last word that I made myself read every day. I shall have to employ the same daily routine for this. The day it arrived it clearly inspired joy. Or maybe the mug was there for scale- to highlight the irony of this being the pocket edition...
The book that I am in fact reading most is my latest Barbara Pym. When I started reading her books in order I fell in love with the gentle satire, and the glimpse into post-war England, and the humour. But as I've read on the books have become more, dare I say, hopeless? Women in situations that they may, or may not, be making the most of; women stifled, unsatisfied. I'm not at all near the end of No Fond Return, but none of the female characters this time are triumphing over the twists and turns of their paths. (Don't tell me the end!) And what I am finding is that I may prefer these darker, sadder portraits. Although maybe I would like some warning if this trend is unremitting?
Ang, thank you for lending me your Edith Schaeffer: finally I am reading, and no longer covering in jam, Hidden Art! I will definitely have it back in your safekeeping by Christmas! The title is misleading, is it not? I put off reading it for so long because I was trying to read Les Mis convinced that I was unworthy to read a book about creating domestic bliss, and feared it would be another Jane Brockett invitation to more accomplished domesticity than I shall ever achieve! I was wrong. This is all about creative spirituality, about nurturing your gifts in however small a way, about reflecting the Creator God in whatever acts of creation you can, whether they be just slicing apples from your little tree in the garden into braised pork or apple pie, or reading stories aloud to two boys, or colouring in your to-do lists in your notebook. I'm finding it very encouraging.
We went to my favourite autumn place today. Can't say where. It has the best conker tree in Ireland and it's all mine! Anyway, because we had hid and sought the suns all through what is also the best hide and seek venue in Ireland, and then filled every pocket we had with conkers, and then gone on a long tree identifying walk (as a total townie the actual tree identifying amounted only to three...), and then played hide and seek again, finally we were able to go to the little second-hand bookshop in the courtyard. I bought this. It seems to be an unashamed re-writing of the story of Heinrich Schliemann which takes me right back to sixth form. Those were days when I devoured the legends of Troy, the archaeological ones included. Admittedly these were the days of Michael Woods' TV series "In Search of the Trojan War". I still have the book. I was going to marry Michael Woods. We were going to climb Mount Olympus together and explore Troy by sunset. I obviously knew that he wouldn't stay with Jenni Murray, though I was genuinely sorry when I heard that they had separated. I was beginning to love BBC 4's Woman's Hour at much the same time. Sigh. I'm sure I'll get back to you on Les Mis for November's BIP, but for the rest of this holiday week I'll be firmly you know where.


M.K. said...

WE went through a Michael Woods period too, and LOVED his treks afar. I loved when he walked in the footsteps of Alexander the Great. So thrilling!!

I'm glad you're liking Schaeffer's book and finding it encouraging too. I also liked that she was able to make it so simple -- how to find joy in making small pieces of beauty for your dear ones, with little money and less time :)

Angela said...

I have gone off Barbara Pym too. I cannot get into Peter Ackroyd, however hard I try.I keep dropping Heavy Hints to family about the DVD of Les Mis being a good Christmas gift.
Haven't attempted to read a novel in French since the early 1970s trying to impress a boyfriend. Got 2 chapters into Stendhal "Rouge et Noir" then gave up [I did manage an Agatha Christie en francais though]

Edith Schaeffer is less stressful

I only found 3 conkers on my Gruffalo Hunt last week. Too busy with childcare. My dream of an artistic bowl of autumnal joy in the middle of the dining table has been forgotten!

Jane and Chris said...

Michael Woods got so terribly excited about the most mundane. I thought he would be a fun dinner date.
Jane x

Left-Handed Housewife said...

I do not know conkers or Michael Woods. My world is very, very small. Perhaps a picture of conkers would help me?