Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Post-Christmas, Pre-New Year

This was me and Meg having a quiet few moments yesterday afternoon/early evening. It's been such a busy, sociable few days and I feel I've neglected my little ginger friend. So it was such a treat to sit quietly on the couch with her yesterday having a cuddle, while I read one of my new books, Death Comes to Pemberley.

Pride and Prejudice is probably my favourite book of all time. There are others I absolutely adore and champion, but Pride and Prejudice is the only one I re-read at least once a year. As a model of how to write a good narrative it is fairly faultless. Plot and character development drive on at a fair speed and there is very little fat to the story at all. And then Jane Austen's wonderful sentence construction - again, she writes so succinctly with no superfluous words. I often re-read particular paragraphs a few times as they are so well-written and so moving. 

So, when I discovered that PD James was writing a murder-mystery sequel I just had to have it. I'm almost halfway through Death Comes to Pemberley. It's an easy read, and, much as I want to love it, it isn't quite what I thought it would be. The part I've just read spent a long time repeating judicial information. And she hasn't quite pitched the characters of Elizabeth, Darcy, Jane and Bingley right. Of course it's a monumental task to take another writer's characters who are so well-drawn and develop them further.

But, I will continue with an open mind, and yesterday it occurred to me that if I was reading it as a standalone book then I would enjoy it for its own sake. So that's the spirit I'll continue reading it in.

When people asked what to get me for Christmas this year I directed them to my Amazon wish list. Part of my grumble about Christmas is that people spend a lot of money on each other buying gifts that no one wants. And when I am choosing what to get people I don't like to feel I'm wasting my money on gifts they won't get full use out of. It ripples out further to waste in the world in general BUT this isn't a post about that.

So I was very pleased to receive the above books from people who had shopped from my Amazon wish list. The Andrew Motion book wasn't on my wish list but the others were (I'm happy to receive books that people think I might like too).

I put the Julian Barnes on my wish list after reading a comment an old friend made on her Twitter page about it. She is also a writer and there is promise of a clever ending. I'm totally in awe of all things Sarah Waters so I'll look forward to reading Affinity, and The Bag Making Bible is for my creative side.
I love all things stationery, and already have Postcards from Penguin. So I was excited to see the Postcards from Ladybird series too. Although I like the concept of Postcards from Penguin, quite a lot of the 100 postcards weren't to my taste, so there are cards in the box I would never display or send anyone.

However, Postcards from Ladybird is terrific! I like every one of the 100 postcards. The above selection are the Ladybird books I had as a child. I'm sure I had more, but these are the covers I had on my books. A couple of years ago I discovered two or three of the original books in an Oxfam shop and bought them. Of course, my mother had given away all of my books! 
I love the range of subjects they cover. Educational and entertaining. And I remember the books I had were so beautifully illustrated.
A bit of gender-stereotyping going on in the 'People at Work' series but it was the 70s.
I could easily have photographed them all as examples of greatness. I particularly love the 'Fireworks' book cover. Not quite sure what is going on with the boy in wellingtons, shorts, tweed jacket and hat with that indeterminate creature in front of him! I would like to have all of these books now.
And as a final note: this piece of fabric arrived in the post for me today from my friend Angelique who lives in Denver Colorado. She has recently bought into a fabric/wool shop there and when we met up in Edinburgh a couple of months ago we discovered we are both fans of Lara Cameron's designs. 

It totally cheered me up and now sits behind my laptop so I can admire it as I work.  

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