Category Archives: Books

‘Mrs. Miniver’…

mrs miniver

“Words were the only net to catch a mood…..” wrote Jan Struther in the closing sentence of chapter three of ‘Mrs. Miniver’—-

Those words themselves caught my attention and gave me a lovely thought to ponder as I drifted off to sleep last night —- Words —- a gift enabling us to express our feelings —

This delightful little book, compiled of short articles written for The Times in the 1930s about ‘an ordinary sort of woman who leads an ordinary sort of life’ was a gift to me from one of my sons yesterday.

‘Blog’ was probably an undiscovered word in the days when Jan sat, pen poised at her desk yet the contents list speaks of titles such as The New Car, Guy Fawkes Day, The New Engagement Book, The First Day of Spring, At The Dentists and thirty-two other subjects so timeless that the reader can relate to them as freshly today as when they were written over eighty years ago —-

I have only reached page ten yet already I’m endeared to this lady with her kindly nature, her descriptions turning the ordinary into a light-hearted frolic of the extra-ordinary with her seasoning of good humour.

Books offer escapism from the here and now and I shall look forward to such breaks in the company of this gentle-woman as I further delve into its pages—- and maybe, for my Blog, adopting her way of observing everyday matters for what they are, realizing that nothing is ‘ordinary’——-

‘A Faraway Smell of Lemon’ by Rachel Joyce…

A faraway smell of lemon

I think it’s her refreshing style of writing, the respectful sensitivity towards her characters as well as her readers which endears me to Rachel Joyce’s stories —-

This forty-page little gem of a book found its way into my Christmas stocking—-

It was read in one sitting and then, in the spirit of the season, was gifted to a friend I happened to see the next day —

Charming—–

—and, as with all good reads, had an over-riding thought which remains with me—

““We had once what we can never have again. So why, then, do we behave as if everything we have connected with, everything we have blessed with our loving, should be ours for keeps? It is enough to have tiptoed to that space beyond the skin, beyond our nerve endings, and to have glimpsed things that beforehand we only half knew.”

I can’t spoil the tale for anyone who hasn’t yet read it by giving a resume of the story but that quoted paragraph helps to put things into perspective for anyone who has loved (still loves—) but lost —- xx

‘Perfect’ by Rachel Joyce…

perfect

I don’t like to read book reviews before reading the novel itself, otherwise it’s like walking through snow with someone else’s footprints ahead of mine— a little trail which could influence the way I’ll choose to go —-

I prefer the opening of the first page to lead me into a drift which is fresh — my mind to be clear— uncluttered by someone else’s thoughts—–

All I know about Rachel Joyce’s ‘Perfect’ is that two seconds — that easily imagined fraction of time — is the pivot of the tale……..

—so as I indulge myself in satisfying my curiosity by reading the story, it may be more than ‘two ticks’ before I’m back here but will catch up soon—–

The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy

The love song of Miss Queenie Hennessy

I just knew it….!

I knew the chance meeting in the stationery cupboard had more, much more, to it than as related in the book ‘The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry’ —-

Since I finished reading Rachel Joyce’s novel of that title a couple of days ago, I have been eagerly waiting for the release of this companion book— yesterday, one of my daughters in law delivered it to me —-

— so excuse me if I spend the rest of this weekend in Berwick-upon-Tweed catching up with a lady who has her own side of the story to tell —- the secret feelings carried in her heart for twenty years —-

— and when I get to the last page, I’ll come back to here —–

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—- so I sat with her and listened to her story —— Enthralled, I drank in every word —— She (and her companions) made me laugh so much that I cried —-and made me cry so much that ——–

—–but I can’t share her secret with you —- she will have to tell you herself——

Harold Fry and Queenie Hennessy; side by side on my bookshelf —— that’s just the way it should be ——

‘Gone Girl’….

gone girl

Last week I went to the Cinema to see the film everyone, apparently, is talking about — ‘Gone Girl’.

Having read the book in the early Spring of last year (2013) I was interested to see how the film would portray the story — my companions and I agreed that it was true to the novel.

They enjoyed it — and I found myself enthusing with them that it was well-written, its plot having clever twists and turns, and Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike and Kim Dickens’ acting skills gave credibility to the leading characters—

—but did I really enjoy it as in would I recommend my friends and family to go and see it?  To be in with the majority, I should say ‘Yes’ but, truthfully the answer is, “Um —- no ——“

I think it’s just me —- Somehow I prefer to fill my mind with gentler stuff; the sort of fiction that has a beginning and a middle and, no matter how tough the storyline, an ending which, as I snap the covers shut and place it on the bookshelf, leaves me with a happy feeling —–

One man’s meat being another man’s poison, though, has me thinking that I’m old-fashioned—– If I could write a book which would receive such acclaim as Gillian Flynn’s novel, I’d be well pleased so my bottom line has to be ‘Bravo and well done for having such an imagination that has seen this literary creation through to a Box Office hit’ — it’s just not for me—-

‘The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry’ by Rachel Joyce

The unlikely pilgrimage of harold fry 2

“People were buying milk, or filling their cars with petrol, or even posting letters. And what no one else knew was the appalling weight of the thing they were carrying inside. The superhuman effort it took sometimes to be normal, and a part of things that appeared both easy and everyday. The loneliness of that.”

One of my daughters in law recently gave me this charming gift——

—-and the paragraph I’ve quoted makes me think of all the times we greet people with “Good morning—-are you okay?” before receiving the anticipated reply, “Yes, I’m fine thanks.”  Words which can disguise any amount of inner turmoil—-

‘The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry’ is a most touching story of a man who set out from his home in Kingsbridge one April morning to post a letter to someone in Berwick-upon-Tweed —- and then reasoned that, actually, he needed to walk to that same destination —-

Right from the beginning, the Author’s introduction to Harold has us warming to him — soon into the story, we are on his side as he makes his decision to make the long trek from South Devon to Northumberland —-

The people he meets on the way have us wanting to speak up for him should he falter in getting them to understand his mission and its motive —

A most endearing tale —— stock up with tissues and plasters (for the tears will come, together with becoming so engrossed that you’ll feel the soreness of those blisters) and from closing the novel’s jackets at the end, be prepared to recognise that those positive replies to our “How are you?” greetings may not necessarily be true—–

Rachel Joyce has the traits and foibles, determination and perseverance of human nature sensitively observed——

the unlikely pilgrimage of harold fry

‘The Notebook’ by Nicholas Sparks

The Notebook -- Nicholas Sparks

“We fell in love, despite our differences, and once we did, something rare and beautiful was created. For me, love like that has happened only once, and that’s why every minute we spent together has been seared in my memory. I’ll never forget a single moment of it.” (Nicholas Sparks — The Notebook)

How can a heart not be touched by such words—–?

‘The Notebook’—— a very little book with the sweetest, purest story of the innocence of love—-

Someone has just lent me the film on DVD but, although I haven’t watched the movie yet, I would say “Always read a book first—-let your imagination picture the characters for they will surely (for you!) be more real than those cast in a film.”

Noah and Allie’s hopes were hinged on:

“And if, in some distant place in the future, we see each other in our new lives, I will smile at you with joy, and remember how we spent a summer beneath the trees, learning from each other and growing in love.” (Nicholas Sparks — The Notebook)

Much more than the purity and innocence of love which I mentioned earlier — the strength and steadfastness of that same love as it develops, is beautifully portrayed in this classic of a novel—-

The loveliest story I have read in a long time—–  xx

P.S. — Have watched the film this evening (Thank you, Mo!) — and it was true to the book — xx