Archives for Paris

#BookReview ‘A Week in Paris’ #mystery #historical

I really enjoyed this book but can’t help feeling the title did it no favours. A Week in Paris by Rachel Hore is a story of hidden secrets, wartime Paris, resistance, collaboration, bravery and music. Because of the title I was expecting something more cosy and romantic; although there is a romantic strand to the story, this book is worth reading for so much more. The week in Paris in question happens in 1956 when teenager Fay goes on a school trip to Paris. Two significant things happen to her there. She meets a fanciable boy, Adam, and has a strange fainting episode triggered by the ringing of the bells at Notre Dame. Back home, she questions her mother Kitty who denies that Fay has ever been to Paris. But Fay cannot shake off the feelings of familiarity. In 1961 Fay, now a professional violinist, has the chance to go to Paris for a series of performances. However her mother, always emotionally vulnerable, has taken an accidental overdose and is in St Edda’s Hospital. Before she leaves for Paris, Fay visits her mother who tells her to look at the bottom of a locked trunk at home. In it, Fay
Read More

Categories: Book Love.

#Bookreview ‘Love is Blind’ by William Boyd #historical #romance

When a new novel by William Boyd features a male protagonist, my first thought ‘is it another Logan Mountstuart’ with a feeling of anticipation. But Love is Blind is not another version of Any Human Heart. It tells the story of Brodie Moncur, a young Scottish piano tuner who travels Europe as he seeks warmer climes and the love of his life. Boyd is on good form and I raced through Love is Blind, enveloped in Brodie’s end of 19thcentury/early 20thcentury story. Told almost exclusively from Brodie’s viewpoint, plus some of the letters he writes and receives, we see the world and the people he meets through his eyes so, as he falls in with thieves the sense of impending doom increases. He is a likeable, believeable character, son of a fire-and-brimstone alcoholic preacher, living in a time of great change as motor cars appear on the road and the signs of war increase but when consumption kills. The details of Brodie’s piano tuning are fascinating, these skills are the passport to his travels, getting him into and out of trouble, enabling him to earn money wherever he finds himself. When the story starts in 1894 Brodie is a piano tuner
Read More

Categories: Book Love.

Book review: After Leaving Mr Mackenzie

A slim novel, After Leaving Mr Mackenzie is the second novel by Jean Rhys, published in 1931. Semi-autobiographical, it tells the story of a young woman [if a woman in her mid-thirties can be called young] who faces up to the realities of life after a love affair ends. The title is not strictly true because Julia did not leave Mr Mackenzie, he left her. She moves to a cheap hotel room where the furnishings are faded and the only decoration is a poor painting which she assumes must have been left in lieu of debt by a previous tenant. Where Rhys excels is her description of the small details, drawing a picture of Julia’s surroundings and her moods. ‘She found pleasure in memories, as an old woman might have done. Her mind was a confusion of memory and imagination. It was always places that she thought of, not people. She would like thinking of the dark shadows of houses in a street white with sunshine; or of trees with slender black branches and young green leaves, like the trees of a London square in spring; or of a dark-purple sea, the sea of a chromo or of some tropical
Read More

Categories: Book Love.

Book review: These Dividing Walls

A young man arrives in Paris seeking respite from his grief, surrounding himself in the solitude of an attic flat loaned from a friend. Alongside him, his neighbours are happy and unhappy, they are getting by, they are lying to loved ones, lying to themselves. These Dividing Walls by Fran Cooper is a multi-layered story of microcosm and macrocosm, of an apartment block in Paris and its inhabitants, of city-wide anti-immigrant protests. A wave of racist violence enters the centre of Paris and the unfolding events are told through the lives of the residents at Number 37. Their lives converge and depart from each other, some are socially-minded, others watch from behind curtains. The young mother stretched so thin in the care of her three young children that she fears she will break. The banker who lost his job but is too ashamed to tell his wife. The homeless man who sleeps in a doorway on the street nearby. The silver-haired seller of art books who mourns her dead son. A young couple, new residents at Number 37, lock their door and turn off the television. The lives of all these people are affected by the xenophobic hatred which enters
Read More

Categories: Book Love.

Flash Fiction: Paris

In the thing where I keep the small metal circles I give the man in the shop where I buy bread, I find two papers I do not know. Why don’t I know them? This is my thing, it is mine because inside is a yellow paper with my name. Mary. Inside is my purse, this is where I keep the small metal circles and sometimes large paper things with people’s faces on. The lady at the bank, Annette, gives me the paper things every Friday. She says “Hello Mary, have you come for your money?” and she gives me the paper things. She always smiles and is ever so kind. I look at the two papers, they do not have my name on them, on one side there are words and on the other is a picture of two grey men. Who are these men? What are they doing in my thing? Someone must have put them there when I was asleep? I mustn’t go to sleep. People want to steal things. My Bill bought it for me, he said I needed a thing to keep my money in. Perhaps the papers are not mine. They do not have my
Read More

Categories: My Flash Fiction.

Past, Present and Future

What did author Sandra Danby do before she wrote Ignoring Gravity? Book blogger A Woman’s Wisdom asks Sandra for her favourite memory from her early days as a journalist. “My editor called me in to tell me I was going on an overnighter to Paris for a press reception. I had never been to Paris. It was 1983. There was no Eurostar, no Channel Tunnel.” Read the interview in full by clicking here.   ‘Ignoring Gravity’ by Sandra Danby [UK: Beulah Press] Buy now And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: What’s my favourite memory? #authorinterview by @bodiciasapple http://wp.me/p5gEM4-1w8 via @SandraDanby
Read More

Categories: Book Love, Book publicity and My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity'.

My favourite paperweights

Like most writers I know, my desk is covered in piles of paper. I have seven paperweights on my desk; all in use, all hold some particular memory for me. Newest is the SFMOMA ball-storm [below]: a rubber balled filled with liquid and coloured bits of plastic which swirl like a snowstorm when shaken. Bought at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art two years ago, it reminds me of a wonderful museum in a wonderful city. Click here for the SFMOMA website. I love stones and two large ones sit on my desk as constant reminders of my second novel, Connectedness. Both stones [above] were selected off the beach at Flamborough Head in East Yorkshire, a few miles from where I grew up, on a beach where I imagine my protagonist Justine Tree walking. For artist Justine, who as a child lived in an isolated house on top of these cliffs, the sea and the wildness of the Yorkshire coast are a constant presence in her art. Minty is an old name from the UK furniture trade and this wooden foot [below] was given to me many years ago by the company as a gift when I was editor
Read More

Categories: On Writing.