Monthly Archives March 2020

A poem to read in the bath… ‘A Shropshire Lad II’ by AE Housman #poetry

Alfred Edward Housman published two books in his lifetime, A Shropshire Lad in 1896 and Last Poems in 1922, followed after his death by More Poems. His part-patriotic, part-nostalgic poetry appealed to a population at war, his words of nature, sorrow and the brevity of life striking a chord during the Great War. This is the second poem in A Shropshire Lad. Please search out the poem in an anthology or at your local library. ‘A Shropshire Lad II’ Loveliest of trees, the cherry now Is hung with bloom along the bough, And stands about the woodland ride Wearing white for Eastertide Listen to Alan Brownjohn read ‘A Shropshire Lad II’ at The Poetry Archive. BUY THE BOOK Read these other excerpts, and perhaps find a new poet to love:- ‘The Road Not Taken’ by Robert Frost ‘Japanese Maple’ by Clive James ‘The Cinnamon Peeler’ by Michael Ondaatje And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: A #poem to read in the bath: ‘A Shropshire Lad II’ by AE Housman https://wp.me/p5gEM4-4bG via @SandraDanby
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Categories: Poetry.

#BookReview ‘The Inheritance of Solomon Farthing’ by @mspaulsonellis #WW1

A group of Great War soldiers is waiting for orders. During the last skirmishes of the war, men are still dying. Will the men receive orders to retreat or advance? Who will live or who will die? There are two strands to The Inheritance of Solomon Farthing by Mary Paulson-Ellis and the title refers to the second. A contemporary man in Edinburgh, an heir hunter, finds a pawn ticket amongst the possessions of Thomas Methven, an old soldier who died alone. This is a detailed story with many layers and many characters introduced as the two strands are told and hesitantly connected. At times the detail became confusing with so many descriptive repetitions I found myself skipping forwards. Paulson-Ellis writes scenes so well – the soldier’s gambling scene with the chicken is totally believable, and her portrayal of the foundling school in NE England is heart breaking. As Solomon tracks the life story of the deceased soldier, we see flashes of his own story, orphaned at seven and sent to live with his grandfather. Though interesting I found this distracting, it took me away from the story of the soldiers and added even more characters and family trees to remember.
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Categories: Book Love.

First Edition ‘It’ by @StephenKing #oldbooks #bookcovers

Published in 1986, It was Stephen King’s 22nd book and the 17th written under his name. His first published novel, Carrie, appeared in 1973 though it was actually the fourth he wrote, on a a portable typewriter belonging to his wife. It tells of seven children as they are terrorized by an evil entity that exploits the fears of its victims to disguise itself while hunting its prey. I have read it once, in my twenties, and it terrified me. I was unable to sleep for days afterwards and have not seen the films, though I still own the paperback. My paperback [above] is the 1987 New English Library edition with the cover line ‘The Terrifying New Bestseller’. The first edition [above left] was first published in the USA by Viking on September 15, 1986. King first thought of the story in 1978 and began writing it in 1981. His original concept was that the title character would live in the local sewer system, inspired by the Norwegian folk tale Three Billy Goats Gruff, who lived beneath a bridge. The current UK edition [above] is published by Hodder. BUY THE BOOK The story During a heavy rainstorm, six-year-old Georgie Denbrough
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Categories: Book Love.

My Porridge & Cream read… Jessie Cahalin @BooksInHandbag #books

Today I’m delighted to welcome romance novelist Jessie Cahalin. Her ‘Porridge & Cream’ read is Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. “Wuthering Heights appeared in my life when I was eleven years old in 1983.  Following my English teacher’s recommendation, I saved pocket money to buy the novel. ‘The air made me shiver through every limb’ as I entered Heathcliff’s kitchen and lost myself in the language. This was my first taste of one of ‘the important authors’ and she was a Yorkshire lass to boot. I still remember the picture of the withering tree on the front cover and the delicious new smell of the fine pages. “The tiny writing meant I had to concentrate and there were delicious new words to savour. Even then, the rhythms of the language and the powerful setting captured me, and I read them aloud. I stood on t’top of t’world with my new book. Bronte inspired me to enjoy the power of words, and I would spend hours painting my own scenes with language. I marked pages in Wuthering Heights and would re-read them constantly. My parents took me to Howarth to visit the parsonage, and I knew Jessie had gone home. Wuthering Heights was my
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Categories: Book Love.

A poem to read in the bath… ‘Out Chasing Boys’ by Amanda Huggins #poetry

Recently published is this small poetry chapbook, The Collective Nouns for Birds by Amanda Huggins, with 24 poems. Huggins is an award-winning writer of flash fiction and short stories, so knowing her skill with the short form I looked forward to this first poetry chapbook with anticipation. And I wasn’t disappointed. I’ve chosen the first poem in the book as it struck a chord from my own childhood. I can smell the salt in the breeze, hear the lapping of the summer waves on the shore and taste the tang of vinegar as I lick my fingers after eating haddock and chips. This poem is subject to copyright restrictions. Please search for the full poem in an anthology or at your local library. A ‘poetry chapbook’ is a slim pamphlet of poems, usually no more than 40 pages. ‘Out Chasing Boys’ We spent summer on the seafront, two stranded mermaids killing time. We rolled up our jeans, carried our shoes, blew kisses at the camera in the photo booth. Always out, chasing boys, as if we had forever. BUY THE BOOK Read my reviews of Brightly Coloured Horses, and Separated from the Sea, both by Amanda Huggins. Read these other
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Categories: Book Love and Poetry.

#BookReview ‘Home’ by Marilynne Robinson #classic #literary

Home by Marilynne Robinson is the story of two adult children who return home, coincidentally at the same time, who feel the shame of not living up to the standards set by their minister father, Reverend Robert Boughton. It is a profoundly sad book; the slow winding tale towards the inevitable ending is curiously addictive. It is a three-hander, concentrating on father, son and daughter. Glory and Jack Boughton grew up in a clerical family home in Gilead, Iowa. We learn of their country childhoods, quite different as siblings go, from their conversations and the memories prompted by visits from neighbours Reverend John Ames, his wife Lila and son. The story is told from Glory’s viewpoint. Jack takes lots of ‘dark nights of the soul’, long solitary walks in the dark to which we are not privy, and his true thoughts remain a mystery to the end. Just when you think you have worked him out, he confounds you. Robinson draws a picture of rural America at a time of great change. There are demonstrations in Montgomery, but Gilead seems insulated from the outside apart from occasional telephone calls to their father by Glory and Jack’s siblings, and news reports of
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Categories: Book Love.

#BookReview ‘59 Memory Lane’ by @CeliaAnderson1 #romance #contemporary

59 Memory Lane by Celia Anderson has a cozy tone reminding me immediately of MC Beaton’s Agatha Raisin series, but without the crime. Anderson has created the sort of feelgood destination you long to live in, to get away from it all. Pengelly is an isolated seaside village in Cornwall with an infrequent bus service. When a local do-gooder starts an Adopt-a-Granny scheme pairing people together, 110-year old May Rosevere is paired with her eighty year old neighbour Julia. Except unbeknown to everyone else, these two women harbour a long held grudge against each other. The central premise of the novel is that May’s long life – and she is free of the medical complaints experienced by other older characters in the book – is thanks to her magical ability to collect other people’s memories and extract energy from them; this is described as a kind of frission, naughtiness, a buzz. May, determined to reach her 111th birthday, steps up her ‘thought harvesting’ and so is delighted to learn that Julia has discovered a large collection of family letters going back decades. This book has two major storylines spliced together – the feelgood seaside life in Pengelly and the adventures of the community,
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Categories: Book Love.

#Bookreview ‘The Moon Sister’ by Lucinda Riley @lucindariley #romance

Fifth in the Seven Sisters series by Lucinda Riley, The Moon Sister is the story of Tiggy, wildlife conservationist and warm-hearted introvert. Each of the D’Apliese sisters is different with diverse skills, interests and hugely varying birth stories. Tiggy’s story alternates between a Highland estate where she is managing the rewilding of Scottish wildcats, and the flamenco world in Spain during the 1930s. The Kinnaird Estate is a beautiful, isolated, wild place. The four wild cats move into their custom-built enclosure and Tiggy moves into a shared estate cottage with fellow worker Cal. Riley builds the Kinnaird community quickly and skilfully from new Laird Charlie to housekeeper Beryl and old retainer Chilly. It is Chilly – speaking in a muddled mixture of English, Spanish and Romani – who introduces the first hints of premonition, seeing and herbal remedies. He tells Tiggy she has healing hands. Caught up in the twists and turns of the Kinnaird family, the frictions in Charlie and Ulrika’s marriage and their tempestuous daughter Zara, Tiggy grieves for Pa Salt and is curious about her own birth family. In his farewell letter, Pa Salt tells her she comes from a gifted line of seers. She must go to Granada in Spain,
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Categories: Book Love.

Great Opening Paragraph 123… ‘The Ashes of London’ #amwriting #FirstPara

“The noise was the worst. Not the crackling of the flames, not the explosions and the clatter of falling buildings, not the shouting and the endless beating of drums and the groans and cries of the crowd: it was the howling of the fire. It roared its rage. It was the voice of the Great Beast itself.” ‘The Ashes of London’ by Andrew Taylor, #1 Fire of London BUY THE BOOK Try one of these 1st paras & discover a new author:- ‘Personal’ by Lee Child ‘Back When We Were Grown Ups’ by Anne Tyler  ‘The Sense of an Ending’ by Julian Barnes  And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: THE ASHES OF LONDON by Andrew Taylor #books https://wp.me/p5gEM4-3Jn via @SandraDanby
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Categories: Book Love.

#BookReview ‘The Museum of Broken Promises’ by @elizabethbuchan #books

The Museum of Broken Promises by Elizabeth Buchan is a disjointed story of Cold War romance and its lingering after-effects decades later. Promises are made and broken, by everyone. The title is misleading, as the sections at the museum in present day in Paris act as bookends to the crucial story in Eighties story in Czechoslovakia. It is 1985, Prague. After the death of her father, student Laure takes a job as an au pair in Paris moving to Prague with her employers. It is the Cold War and the once beautiful city is shabby and grey, an unsettling place to live where the threat of imprisonment or violence always lingers. Laure cares for two small children while their father Petr works, he is an official at a pharmaceuticals company and in a privileged position enabling him to bring a foreigner to work in the country, and their mother Eva is ill. Gradually Laure explores the streets and finds a marionette theatre. There she is enchanted by the folklore tales of the puppets; and she meets Tomas, lead singer in a rock band. Resistance against the repressive regime in Czechoslovakia is low key, expressed through the arts. In this way, the book reminded me of
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Categories: Book Love.