Archives for love

Book review: The Only Story

I seem to be developing a Marmite relationship with Julian Barnes. I loved his early work and The Sense of an Ending, but had difficulty with his last novel The Noise of Time. So I approached The Only Story with trepidation. My stomach sank as I read the first page. The first paragraph poses a question: ‘Would you rather love the more, and suffer the more; or love the less, and suffer the less? That is, I think, finally, the only real question.” A pertinent question to which each of us has our own private answer. My difficulty with the first few pages is the lack of characterization; because it is told in the first person, we do not know who is speaking, there is no context. That of course comes later, and a few pages in its starts to warm up with the description of a tennis match. But ultimately I could not shake the perception that it was Julian Barnes the man speaking, not a fictional character, in the way American authors such as Wolfe and Roth seem to become characters in their own novels. But this is a lesson in patience. I read on and the story started
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Categories: Book Love.

Book review: Separated from the Sea

About love, loss, partings and freedom. About yearning for a connection with another person but sometimes recognising it is better to walk away. Separated from the Sea by Amanda Huggins is a collection of poignant stories that cannot fail to touch you. Some of the stories spoke to me personally because of the Yorkshire settings, but locations range from Japan to America and Europe. Huggins has mastered the form; just enough detail, just enough emotion to pull you in and a well-disguised twist at the end. I have chosen three stories to focus on. In ‘Whatever Speed She Dared’ a woman drives on an empty motorway across the Pennines in the dark of night. She is tempted by what lies ahead, a new future. But an encounter with a skittish rabbit gives her pause for thought. In ‘Sea Glass’ two children walk on the beach. Alife tells Cathy that pieces of blue sea glass are the souls of fishermen lost at sea. Another two pieces, he says, are the eyes of ships’ cats swept overboard. ‘If you match a pair of eyes, and sleep with them under your pillow, then the cat’ll find his way back to land.’ A melancholic longing
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Categories: Book Love.

A poem to read in the bath… ‘Name’

Today’s poem to read in your bath is another by the wonderful Carol Ann Duffy. I flick through her slim anthologies, looking for poems to select for this feature, and stop again and again: ‘this one, and this one… and this one.’ ‘Name’ is about the delights on new love, not necessarily young love, just the feeling when you realize liking is loving. Because of copyright restrictions I am unable to reproduce the poem in full, but please search it out in an anthology or at your local library or click the link below to hear Duffy read the poem aloud. ‘Name’ When did your name change from a proper noun to a charm? Its three vowels like jewels on the thread of my breath. Duffy encapsulates that feeling of new love so well it is impossible to read without being drawn back through years of memories. To read another Carol Ann Duffy poem, ‘Elegy’ in my blog series ‘A poem to read in the bath…’, click here. To listen to Carol Ann Duffy read ‘Name’ click here for The Poetry Archive website. In 1989, Carol Ann Duffy spoke to the BBC Programme ‘English File’ about what inspires her to
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Categories: Book Love and Poetry.

Book review: Love and Eskimo Snow

This is a novel about the nature of love and its different forms. It begins with death. Bea Bridges is killed in a car crash. Sarah Holt tells the story of Bea’s childhood retrospectively, interwoven with the love lives of three other women – Missy, Claire and Elizabeth – from childhood crush to first kiss, friendship, first love and lust. I waited for the women’s’ lives to connect, were they all connected with the car crash? When the strands did combine, it wasn’t what I expected. It is an interesting study of the different types of love. Bea: the unqualified, un-questioning love of a child for her parents. Missy: a nurturing love for her boyfriend Lee who is a trifle chauvinistic about her needs and his needs. Elizabeth: who meets fellow student Joey and loves him as a brother and best friend. Claire: sexual attraction, masquerading as love. It is a cleverly structured debut novel, Holt [below] is a former journalist, with an intriguing title. The Sami Eskimos have around 200 different words for snow: wet snow, slippery snow, icy snow. Holt doesn’t find 200 meanings of love, but she does examine how love varies from relationship to relationship, person
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Categories: Book Love.

A poem to read in the bath… ‘Elegy’

Today’s poem to read in your bath is about timeless love that persists beyond death. ‘Elegy’ by Carol Ann Duffy is from her anthology Rapture, published in 2005, before she was appointed Poet Laureate in 2009. Her poetry is at once instantly accessible, and bears deep consideration. Because of copyright restrictions I am unable to reproduce the poem in full, but please search it out in an anthology or at your local library. ‘Elegy’ Who’ll know then, when they walk by the grave where your bones will be brittle things – this bone here that swoops away from your throat, and this, which perfectly fits the scoop of my palm, and these which I count with my lips, and your skull, which blooms on the pillow now, and your fingers, beautiful in their little rings – that love, which wanders history, singled you out in your time? The love, the longing, the wistfulness, brings tears to my eyes. Click here to visit Carol Ann Duffy’s website. Listen here to Carol Ann Duffy interviewed by The Guardian after her appointment as Poet Laureate.   ‘Rapture’ by Carol Ann Duffy [UK: Picador]  Read these other excerpts and find a new poet to
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Categories: Book Love and Poetry.