Archives for San Francisco

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.

Book review: Frog Music

I came to this book knowing nothing about it other than it was written by Emma Donoghue who wrote Room. So it was something of a surprise to discover Frog Music is a historical crime story set in San Francisco in 1876 and loosely based on true events. I loved it. Every page pulses with the colour of the time. In the summer of 1876, San Francisco is a vibrant and bustling city living through an intense heatwave and smallpox epidemic. Donoghue starts her story with the murder of Jenny Bonnet, frog-catcher, who is shot through an open window. Her friend Blanche Beunon, a burlesque dancer, must find the murderer and avoid being killed herself, whilst tracking down her own missing baby. The pace is fast and San Francisco is portrayed as a third character; switching from the bawdy House of Mirrors where Blanche dances, to smelly noisy Chinatown where she lives. The notion of chance is explored. What if the two women had never met. One day, Blanche is knocked down in the street by a young man on a bicycle. “Black anterlish handbars, that’s all she has time to glimpse before the gigantic spokes are swallowing her skirts.”
Read More

Categories: Book Love.

A book I love… The Language of Flowers

This book was picked up from a supermarket bookshelf in Moab, Utah, during a tour of South-Western USA in 2012. I didn’t realise when I bought it that the story is set in San Francisco and the countryside north of the Golden Gate Bridge, somewhere we would visit later in the same holiday. It’s about a damaged young girl Victoria who leaves the foster-care system with minimal social skills but a deep understanding of flowers and their meanings. Hydrangea, to Victoria, means dispassion. She struggles with intimacy until she meets a man who tells her that Jonquil means desire. Thoughtful, gently-paced but with emotional power. ‘The Language of Flowers’ by Vanessa Diffenbaugh [UK: Pan]       Left, is my American copy. I think I prefer this cover. And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: THE LANGUAGE OF FLOWERS by @VDiffenbaugh http://bit.ly/2bdZACF #bookreview via @SandraDanby
Read More

Categories: Book Love.