Monthly Archives January 2021

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

Jack by Marilynne Robinson is fourth in her Gilead series, following Gilead, Home and Lila and is a love story. Jack Boughton is the troubled son of Presbyterian minister, and Della, the attractive, black, high school teacher, daughter of a Methodist minister. This is a novel about the quality of love, its consequences, and whether sometimes loving someone means saying goodbye. The story starts with such a brave scene for any author to write – a two-hander between Jack and Della as they meet accidentally at night. They are locked in a graveyard in St Louis and spend the night walking in conversation about life, their families, themselves, the world. A disreputable white man and a successful attractive black woman, in 1950s America. The conversation ebbs and flows, jumping from subject to subject as a real discussion does. They do not talk about love, but throughout the course of a number of chaste meetings, they fall in love. It is sublime prose to sink into and absorb. Such small, familiar detail brings Jack and Della instantly to life. They are real and you care for them. The graveyard scene is long, so long I wondered if it took up the
Read More

Categories: Book Love.

Great Opening Paragraph 131 ‘The Go-Between’ #amwriting #FirstPara

“The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.” ‘The Go-Between’ by LP Hartley BUY THE BOOK Try one of these 1st paras & discover a new author:- ‘Peter Pan’ by JM Barrie ‘A Month in the Country’ by JL Carr ‘To Have and Have Not’ by Ernest Hemingway And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: #FirstPara THE GO-BETWEEN  by LP Hartley #amwriting https://wp.me/p5gEM4-4eG via @SandraDanby
Read More

Categories: Book Love and On Writing.

#BookReview ‘Islands of Mercy’ by Rose Tremain #historical

In Bath, England in 1865, such are Jane Adeane’s nursing skills that she is known as the Angel of the Baths. Islands of Mercy by Rose Tremain is about Jane’s destiny to make something of herself, a journey which involves choosing between a tempestuous love affair with another woman and marriage to a respectable doctor. Being the Angel of the Baths is not enough for her and this impacts on the lives of everyone around her. Islands of Mercy is in fact three stories in one, lightly linked together by the merest connection and fleeting physical meeting. The story starts with Clorinda Morrissey who arrives in Bath from Ireland. ‘She was not beautiful, but she had a smile of great sweetness and a soft voice that could soothe and calm the soul’. By selling a ruby necklace, a family heirloom, Clorinda sets up what becomes a highly popular tea room. It is in this tea room that she first sees Jane Adeane who is taking tea with a man. Jane leaves abruptly and Clorinda is curious why. The man concerned is Doctor Valentine Ross, medical partner of Jane’s father Sir William Adeane and brother of naturalist Edmund Ross, currently pursing
Read More

Categories: Book Love.

My Porridge & Cream read… @CarmenRadtke1 #books #cozymysteries

Today I’m delighted to welcome Carmen Radtke, writer of cozy historical mysteries. Her ‘Porridge & Cream’ read is Carpe Jugulum by Terry Pratchett. “Picking my “Porridge & Cream” book made me realise how many writers give me endless comfort and entertainment. In the end, Terry Pratchett prevailed (sorry, Georgette Heyer, Agatha Christie, Joan Hess and Bill Bryson). At least half a dozen of his witches and night watch novels have seen me through richer and poorer, sickness and health. But the one I reread most often is Carpe Jugulum, although The Fifth Elephant, Feet of Clay and Jingo come a close second. “I discovered it aged twenty on my new boyfriend’s bookshelf. Two hours later he complained that I was still reading. Yeah, right … What makes this (and its companions) so irresistible is the sheer fun and inventiveness of the Discworld, its hilarious characters and madcap situations. But underneath the comedy lurks a darker side which itself contains a world of wisdom, a sense of justice and how life could be. In Carpe Jugulum, the witches of Lancre find themselves up against a new breed of vampires who’ve been invited by Lancre’s idealistic king. But once you have vampires
Read More

Categories: Book Love, On Writing and Porridge & Cream.

#FlashPIC 50 Tube Platform #writingprompt #amwriting

One setting, one character on different days. Today’s writing exercise puts you into the mind of a person who is in the same place, same surroundings, on different days. Explore the variations possible as the day and time changes. The scene is a platform, deep underground, on the London Underground. This is a writing prompt from the Writers’ BLOCKbusters series. First create the setting. Use the five senses to consider this place in 3D. Sight. Sound. Smell. Touch. Taste. This is an everyday scene, predictable, familiar. Create an outline of a character who visits this place regularly. Why are they there, how do they feel about it? Build up a picture of your character’s interaction with this place on an ordinary day. Now put your character into this place and make one sense dominant above all others. Use it to dramatic effect – perhaps the smell of a commuter’s perfume, the sound of an alarm bell, the sight of something which is a surprise. Concentrate on this one sense until you can write no more. You might write a description piece, an action scene, an inner monologue – whichever seems best to you. Repeat this exercise using a second sense. And
Read More

Categories: On Writing and Writers' BLOCKbusters.

#BookReview ‘The Winter of the Witch’ by @arden_katherine #fantasy

What a barnstorming end to a trilogy this is. The Winter of the Witch is the final part of the Winternight trilogy by Katherine Arden, a bewitching at times bewildering combination of Russian history, folklore, magic and fantasy. It’s the sort of book with depths that reward re-reading, weaving connections with the first two books into a finale that is both satisfying and heart-wrenching. These are books about fitting in, and not fitting in, of being different, and finding your own way in a complicated sometimes mystifying world. Arden sets her tale in medieval Russia, adds layers of magic and Russian myth, woven together with the true story of the Battle of Kulikovo in 1380. She handles such a complex mixture with an assured, inspired hand. In my 2017 review of the first book, The Bear and the Nightingale, I described it as ‘not an easy read, but rewarding’ and I repeat that again for The Winter of the Witch. You have to pay attention, make connections, take fictional leaps of imagination, but you are rewarded. As Vasya’s magical powers grow, so do the dangers to the traditional ways of life in old ‘Rus. No longer a girl but a
Read More

Categories: Book Love.

A poem to read in the bath… ‘What I Learned From My Mother’ by Julia Kasdorf #poetry

Written in 1992 by American poet Julia Kasdorf, What I Learned From My Mother is a poem that crosses time, languages, cultures and continents. Its message is familiar to all women. The rituals of death and grieving, of condolence, of a kind word, flowers and chocolate cake and the blessing of your presence. This poem is subject to copyright restrictions. Please search for the full poem in an anthology or at your local library. ‘What I Learned From My Mother’ I learned from my mother how to love the living, to have plenty of vases on hand in case you have to rush to the hospital with peonies cut from the lawn, black ants still stuck to the buds. I learned to save jars large enough to hold fruit salad for a whole grieving household, to cube home-canned pears and peaches, to slice through maroon grape skins and click out the sexual seeds with a knife point. BUY THE BOOK Read these other excerpts and find a new poet to love:- ‘Invictus’ by WE Henley  ‘Runaways’ by Daniela Nunnari ‘Valediction’ by Seamus Heaney  And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: A #poem
Read More

Categories: Poetry.

#BookReview ‘The Skylark’s Secret’ by @FionaValpy #WW2

Aultbea, a small fishing village on the shores of Loch Ewe on the west coast of Scotland, was transformed during World War Two into a Royal Navy base for the Arctic convoys. Into this true history Fiona Valpy weaves the fictional story of Flora Gordon in The Skylark’s Secret. In 1977, Lexie Gordon returns to Loch Ewe from London after the death of her mother Flora. Lexie arrives home a single mother to baby Daisy, her West End singing career broken because of her damaged vocal chords. She feels a failure, gossiped about by the locals, seen as an outsider. Living in her mother’s cottage, she becomes curious about the father she never met and who her mother never spoke freely about. In this dual timeline story, the narrative alternates clearly between Lexie in the Eighties and Flora in 1940-1944. Flora lives with her widowed father, Iain, gamekeeper for local estate Ardtuath House, in a quiet village where the toughest enemy is the weather. Then one day a fleet of warships arrive, the first of many. Loch Ewe is to become the temporary base for the Home Fleet. As thousands of navy ratings and officers arrive, Iain and Flora hope
Read More

Categories: Book Love.