Monthly Archives October 2020

A poem to read in the bath… ‘Sounds of the Day’ by Norman MacCaig #poetry #Scotland

The poems of Scottish poet and teacher Norman MacCaig are noted for their simplicity and directness. Irish poet Seamus Heaney described MacCaig’s verse, ‘His poems are discovered in flight, migratory, wheeling and calling. Everything is in a state of restless becoming: once his attention lights on a subject, it immediately grows lambent.’  Describing his native Scotland, MacCaig shows us the familiar world with a freshness and a keen eye for humble subjects. This poem is subject to copyright restrictions. Please search for the full poem in an anthology or at your local library. ‘Sounds of the Day’ When a clatter came, It was horses crossing the ford. When the air creaked, it was A lapwing seeing us off the premises Of its private marsh. A snuffling puff Ten yards from the boat was the tide blocking and Unblocking a hole in a rock. When the black drums rolled, it was water Falling sixty feet into itself. BUY THE BOOK Read these other excerpts and find a new poet to love:- ‘Along The Field As We Came By’ by AE Housman ‘The Boy Tiresias’ by Kate Tempest ‘The Roses’ by Katherine Towers And if you’d like to tweet a link to
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Categories: Poetry.

Great Opening Paragraph 129 ‘The Paying Guests’ #amwriting #FirstPara

“The Barbers had said they would arrive by three. It was like waiting to begin a journey, Frances thought. She and her mother had spent the morning watching the clock, unable to relax. At half past two she had gone wistfully over the rooms for what she’d supposed was the final time; after that there had been a nerving-up, giving way to a steady deflation, and now, at almost five, here she was again, listening to the echo of her own footsteps, feeling so sort of fondness for the sparsely furnished spaces, impatient simply for the couple to arrive, move in, get it over with.” ‘The Paying Guests’ by Sarah Waters BUY THE BOOK Try one of these 1st paras & discover a new author:- ‘Jane Eyre’ by Charlotte Bronte ’Personal’ by Lee Child ‘Perfume’ by Patrick Suskind And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: #FirstPara THE PAYING GUESTS  by Sarah Waters #amwriting https://wp.me/p5gEM4-4eA via @SandraDanby
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Categories: Book Love and On Writing.

#BookReview ‘The Pull of the Stars’ by @EDonoghueWriter #historical

In Dublin, 1918, it is a time of immense global and social change. Emma Donoghue’s latest novel The Pull of the Stars takes place almost exclusively in a cramped three-bed fever ward in an understaffed hospital. All patients are pregnant and quarantined while the world is racked by war and influenza. Both of these are unpredictable, killing at random, lasting longer than predicted and classless. This is an at times breath-taking, touching and emotional novel that sucks you into a feverish dream so you want to read on and on. Taking place over three days, Nurse Power arrives for work to find herself temporarily in charge. Donoghue excels at the ordinary detail of Julia’s life, her journey to work, the arbitrary rules of the matron, the needs at home of her war-damaged soldier brother Tim who is now mute. On the day the story stars, Julia’s only help comes from an untrained young volunteer, Bridie McSweeney, who acts as a runner to find doctor or orderly as required. The figure of three recurs – three beds, three days, three key characters. The third, Doctor Kathleen Lynn, is a real person, her history documented. She was arrested during the 1916 Easter
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Categories: Book Love.

My Porridge & Cream read… Linda Jones @LJonesauthor #books #LordoftheRings

Today I’m delighted to welcome children’s writer Linda Jones. Her ‘Porridge & Cream’ read is The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien. “In 1979 I lived in Bristol, in a house full of university graduates. For my birthday, they clubbed together and bought me a paperback copy of the full, unabridged edition of The Lord of The Rings by JRR Tolkien. Ecstatic didn’t get close! “I’ve always loved fantasy in all its forms; from science fiction to fairy tales. I remember ‘devouring’ that huge tome in a matter of days, carrying it with me everywhere. Finally published in full in 1954, Tolkien’s rich descriptions of the world he created are peerless. Helped of course by his love of the British countryside and his longing for the peace of pre-war days.  So much of what he writes about is recognisable. All you have to do is transplant Hobbiton or Bywater to a quiet English village and you’re there… minus the hobbit holes of course. “My original copy from 1979 has sadly bitten the dust. It was read frequently. During long, autumnal evenings, crisp spring mornings or just because I could. I clung on to the thumb-worn, taped-together pages for thirty-three
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Categories: Book Love, On Writing and Porridge & Cream.

#Bookreview ‘A Traveller at the Gates of Wisdom’ by @john_boyne

Where to start? A Traveller at the Gates of Wisdom by John Boyne is like no other book I’ve read. It’s a historical, classical, contemporary mash-up which takes a group of characters on a journey through the centuries, starting with Palestine in AD1 and ending in AD2080 living in a colony in space. The same group of characters feature in each chapter, advancing in time and moving location, each time with different names though always starting with the same letter. In Palestine we first hear the voice of our, in the beginning, unnamed sole protagonist. This is his story told in soundbite chapters. He starts with his own origins, the meeting of his father Marinus and mother Floriana and progresses across two thousand years to the near future. At times there is violence, much against women but also brutal murder, torture and random killing. There is betrayal, cruelty, prejudice, foolhardiness and bravery, love and loyalty. Essentially it is the story of one family – mother, father, two brothers and a sister. One brother has the strength and brutality of his father, the other has the creativity of his mother. As the decades pass and the story progresses, the brothers progress
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Categories: Book Love.

#Bookreview ‘The Pillars of the Earth’ by Ken Follett @KMFollett #historical

Why have I never discovered this book before? When I mentioned to friends I was reading it I was told ‘oh yes, it’s fantastic’. And fantastic it is. The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett holds up a mirror to modern times. It is a historical thriller about the building of a twelfth century cathedral. The politics, governmental and religious, civil war, families torn asunder, romance, loss, courage and hope. It left me with a yearning to walk around a cathedral and study its architecture, better to understand the feat accomplished at Kingsbridge. The Pillars of the Earth tells the story of stonemason Tom Builder and his family, who in 1135 are on the verge of starvation. When they meet Philip, prior of Kingsbridge, so begins a relationship which lasts all their lives. Philip is a pragmatic monk. He knows his poor town must find a way to survive and decides to build a cathedral. Tom becomes his master builder. But there are enemies who want to thwart this ambition, greedy, ruthless men who change political sides with will, who pillage and rape, who store riches while their peasants starve. The differences are not just political and royal, they are
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Categories: Book Love.

#BookReview ‘The Orphan Twins’ by @LesleyEames #saga #historical

Lily and Artie are ten-year old twins in Bermondsey. It is 1910. After the death of their parents, brother and sister are brought up by their laundress grandmother. Out of the blue, a benefactor gives Artie the chance of a proper education. Then Gran gets ill. The Orphan Twins by Lesley Eames is a story of how chances were different from girls and boys in the 1900s. Lily is at the core of this story both in terms of narrative and emotional heart. When Gran dies, the twins are tugged further apart. Lily encourages Artie to take his chance, seeing him educated in a way she can only dream of, watching as his accent and dress change and he looks more middle-class. Eames gives us a positive story about the changing role of women at the turn of the twentieth century. Deemed not worth educating, pragmatic Lily instead decides to work hard and gain as much experience as she can so at some point in the future she can fulfil her dream. Not yet sure what that dream is, she gains comfort from seeing Artie do well. It’s impossible not to love Lily, through all her wobbles and setbacks, she
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Categories: Book Love.

#Bookreview ’Summerwater’ by Sarah Moss #literary #contemporary

Twenty-four hours in the Scottish countryside, twelve people are staying in holiday cabins beside an isolated loch. Summerwater by Sarah Moss starts off with strangers concerned with the minutiae of their own lives and ends with a tragedy. This is beautifully written with sly humour coupled with sensory description of the place which puts you right there. The pace is slow and contemplative, taking time to plait together the observations by characters and the actual names, so carefully building together a picture of a temporary community. At first, they make assumptions and generalisations about each other. A retired couple sit and look out at the rain, reminiscing about the previous years they spent in this cabin. A young mother runs in all weathers and at all times of day, leaving her husband to look after the children. A teenager escapes the boredom of his bedroom by kayaking around the loch. The Romanian family, who party all night and don’t know how to behave, are the only ones seeming to have fun on holiday. They are also the only ones whose viewpoint we don’t hear, setting them apart from the rest. While at night a shadow stands in the woods, watching.
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Categories: Book Love.

How Deborah Moggach writes #amwriting #writetip

Deborah Moggach“One of my great tips for writing is not to start too quickly. If you get excited about a book, don’t plunge in and write it too quickly, because until you know the characters pretty well, anything could happen to them. They could do anything, and that’s chaotic. The novel could go in 800,000 different directions and you’re lost!” [in an interview with ‘The Bookseller’ magazine on May 3, 2019] Great advice. Deborah Moggach’s novels are well-loved and sell by the bucket load. Two have been turned into films – The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, and Tulip Fever – and she writes screenplays, adapting Nancy Mitford’s Love in a Cold Climate for the BBC, and being BAFTA nominated for her screenplay of Pride and Prejudice starring Keira Knightley. And I know what she means. I think all debut authors have made exactly the mistake that she warns against here. It’s a natural thing to do. You have a brilliant idea and just want to get the words down. But time spent preparing, exploring and just thinking, do pay off. My first novel was written over a long period of time, I had my key character Rose nailed but had neglected to give
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Categories: On Writing.