An old book: Treasure Island

This copy of TREASURE ISLAND was my father’s. It is from Collins’ ‘Laurel & Gold’ series, measures 16x11cm so fits easily into a pocket, and is bound in a pale green linen. In 1933 my father was nine. It is inscribed in pencil with his name and the date which makes it a second edition; the first was printed May 1931, the second January 1932.  I especially like the poem ‘To the Hesitating Purchaser.’ Perhaps today’s books should feature a similar ode. ‘Treasure Island’ by Robert Louis Stevenson [Alma Classics] And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS
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Reading for research… Tracey Emin: My Life in a Column

I bought this book in the gift shop at the Hayward Gallery in London after Emin’s ‘Love is What You Want’ exhibition in 2011. My Life in a Column is a collection of the columns written by artist Tracey Emin for The Independent newspaper over four years. I picked it up because a) I remembered reading some of the original columns and finding them amusing, and b) at that time I was toying with the idea of making a character in my new novel a controversial artist. So who better as a role model then Tracey Emin? The book turned
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Book review: Lord John and the Private Matter

If you have read the time-travelling ‘Outlander’ series by Diana Gabaldon, you will be familiar with the character of Lord John Grey. This is a historical detective story starring Lord John in his own right, without Jamie and Claire Fraser. Many Gabaldon fans will bemoan the lack of the Frasers, but Lord John is a quite capable protagonist. Gabaldon is an experienced storyteller and she paints a picture of London in 1757 which the reader trusts as authentic. The plot pushes on as Lord John gets involved in two separate matters which in the beginning I found a little confusing,
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Great opening paragraph 23… ‘The Last Tycoon’ #amwriting #FirstPara

“Though I haven’t ever been on the screen I was brought up in pictures. Rudolph Valentino came to my fifth birthday party – or so I was told. I put this down only to indicate that even before the age of reason I was in a position to watch the wheels go round.” ‘The Last Tycoon’ by F Scott Fitzgerald  Amazon Try one of these 1st paras & discover a new author:- ‘The God of Small Things’ by Arundhati Roy ‘Rebecca’ by Daphne du Maurier ‘Goldfinger’ by Ian Fleming And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s
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Book review: Life after Life

It’s a while since I read a book I didn’t want to put down, a book that made me continue reading in bed gone midnight. Life After Life by Kate Atkinson is that book. Kate Atkinson manages the macro settings and the micro details with ease, from the petty sibling squabbles at Fox Corner to the camaraderie of the ARP wardens in the Blitz. Before I started reading ‘Life after Life’ I read the phrase ‘Groundhog Day’ a few times in reviews, which belittles the intricate weaving of Ursula Todd’s lives. In the way that Logan Mountstuart’s life runs parallel
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If books were food, ‘Sense & Sensibility’ would be…

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen… would be a French macaroon. Both smell sweet, they are pretty, girly, full of sugar and spice and all things nice. S&S is a coming of age story, Marianne is led by the heart, by sensation, by immediacy. I read it at different ages and got completely different things out of it. I admit to being irritated by Marianne when I first read the book as a teenager, I thought her rather silly and vapid. Re-read when I was older and bruised by love, I felt sad for her loss of youthful energy. Her
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I agree with… Tom Penn

Tom Penn “When someone picks up a book, they ask first, “why should I care? Why should I read it? Why should I stick with it, when there are so many other things to do and so many other things to read?” A biographer has to get into the mind of the subject, “has to find the subject so compelling you can’t push the subject away… you’re the person who has to bring this person, this subject to the reader – you’re the person who has to live with this subject for years, decades, as long as it takes to
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Great opening paragraph 22… ‘The Collector’ #amwriting #FirstPara

“When she was home from her boarding-school I used to see her almost every day sometimes, because their house was right opposite the Town Hall Annexe. She and her younger sister used to go in and out a lot, often with young men, which of course I didn’t like. When I had a free moment from the files and ledgers I stood by the window and used to look down over the road over the frosting and sometimes I’d see her. In the evening I marked it in my observations diary, at first with X, and then when I knew
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Great opening paragraph 21 ‘Freedom’ #amwriting #FirstPara

“The news about Walter Berglund wasn’t picked up locally – he and Patty had moved away to Washington two years earlier and meant nothing to St Paul now – but the urban gentry of Ramsey Hill were not so loyal to their city as not to read The New York Times. According to a long and very unflattering story in the Times, Walter had made quite a mess of his professional life out there in the nation’s capital. His old neighbours had some difficulty reconciling the quotes about him in the Times [“arrogant,” “high-handed,” “ethically compromised”] with the generous, smiling,
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I agree with Jeanette Winterson…

Jeanette Winterson “I never think: ‘I’m not at work now, so I’ll relax.’ For me, there’s no distinction. Work is the most absorbing thing in my life. Why would I want to switch off?” [excerpt ‘A Life in the Day: Sunday Times Magazine’ May 5, 2013] I’m with her there. I have always earned my living by writing, but writing is who I am not what I do. Stories have been the centre of my life since I first was able to read, the magical moment was when I realised I could make-up my own. Now the writing switch is
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