My bookcase

This photo has nothing to do with this post, but just wanted to share!

Woody in his frosted gown of cobwebs, December 2011

My bookcase

I haven’t done much reading lately, and that is one of the first things I hope to remedy in 2012. My bookcase is full of new volumes of words to be pondered! (And my Kindle also has a couple awaiting attention!)

Here are just a few I intend to dip into soon:

Rebecca – by Daphne Du Maurier

Conversations With Myself – by Nelson Mandela

Fifty Plants that Changed the Course of History – by Bill Laws

Die Nibelungen – by Hertha Kratzer

Afterwards – by Rosamund Lupton

The Golden Age of Flowers: Botanical Illustration in the Age of Discovery 1600-1800 – by Celia Fisher

The Sense of an Ending – by Julian Barnes

The Garden of Weeds: How Vagabond Plants Gatecrashed Civilisation and Changed the Way We Think about Nature – by Richard Mabey

Mary Swann – by Carol Shields

And my list of other books and novels (and cookbooks!) I’d like to read soon is so incredibly long.

Thank goodness for winter, with fireplaces and cosy blankets, while the garden can be neglected under its own blanket of leaves and snow!

Book Review: “Sister”

“Sister” by Rosamund Lupton

Brilliant! This was a gripping “unputdownable”  book! Absolutely compelling, with the pace cleverly increasing until the climax. A really good read for evenings by the fire. If you like suspense, read this!

Although the story is about solving the mystery of what happened to the protagonist’s sister, it doesn’t feel like a “crime” novel as such. There’s some fine writing and powerful emotions in there, and relationships are examined alongside. I really felt as if I knew Tess – the sister who had disappeared – through her sister’s thoughts.

The ending was ingenious… I like a book to have an ending, as I otherwise feel deflated, and this one didn’t disappoint.

I will definitely make a note of Rosamund Lupton and intend to read her second novel “Afterwards” that came out this year.

Book Review: The Children’s Book, by A.S. Byatt

Although this book has been out for a couple of years already, I only dug into it this summer. It had been on my shelf for several months, and as it’s fairly thick I had been putting off starting it until I knew I’d have more time.

The story centres around  the Wellwood family and their circle of friends, starting at the end of the 19th century in the context of Fabianism, the Arts and Crafts movement, and the political and social changes of the age.  Olive Wellwood is a writer of fairy tales, and correspondingly brings up her children in a protected world of fable and innocence. However, this ill-prepares them for coping with adulthood and the deceit brought with it, and ultimately with the First World War.

I was mesmerized! Admittedly the beginning, with all the many eccentric and unusual characters to remember, made for slow reading. All the more the pleasure later on, however, when I found I was limiting myself to just a couple of chapters at a time, savouring the fantastic descriptive narrative and the rich detail. Now and then I felt frustration at a chapter on historical events which seemed to intrude on the story, only to feel relief at being drawn back into the lives of the characters even more deeply than before.

It’s a fascinating read. Read it for the magnificent language and style, and for an insight into this era which the author captures so well.