Life, photos but not the universe

Books, cooks and er, no, nothing else that rhymes.

Top on the Amazon top hundred books list last month – Watch over me by Danielle Sacerdoti.  This was our choice for book group tonight and it told us something about the kind of people that click on the stars or whatever Amazon count to make their lists.  It was just as well that until last night I’d forgotten to read it so, as it’s a very quick and easy read, I was just about able to finish it in time and remember what it was about.

What I did admire about it was the number of clichés and stereo-types the author managed to contain quite seamlessly in such a short book.  Every single character was a perfect caricature, every scene was a picture postcard.  And there was a young woman without a baby and a young man with an abandoned daughter.  All very neatly tied together with pink and blue coincidental ribbons.

There was also a bafflingly irrelevant prologue and a sweet, kind, no-nonsense, Scottish,  granny ghost just to add a floss of sugar to the syrup.  Oh and what really annoyed me was that the title really didn’t fit.  I mean there was watching over but no ‘Me.’  It’s a dreadful book.

Oddly enough I have recently read another short book whose chief protagonist was a young woman returning to her to her Scottish roots and which had a sort of ghost.  This one was a bit better and certainly wasn’t predictable.    And come to think of it there was a third one I read a month or so ago which was also about a young woman returning to ….. in fact memory is flooding back!  There are dozens of books about these young women, indeed Scotland must be overrun with them if any of these authors are writing from experience   (Remind me, if I ever admit to thinking about writing a novel, that the return of young women to their Scottish roots is a cliché.)

Well I thankfully returned to The Healing Art by A N Wilson and finished that as well.  Oddly enough one of the things we were discussing tonight was how exasperating it is that stories about young women who have fertility problems or lose their children almost always end with the birth of a baby and then blow me if The Healing Art didn’t end with one too.  But no Scottish roots or completed circles or anything like that so it was sort of acceptable.

Then I read Eight months on Gazzah Street by Hilary Mantel.  I really, really rate Hilary Mantel as an author and this one (somewhere between psychological thriller and journalistic truth, set in Jeddah in the eighties – some time after the Helen Smith tragedy) was as gripping and disturbing and harrowing as I could have wished so now I’m happy.   Only I can’t think what to read next that won’t be an awful letdown.  Which is fine because I really ought to be doing something more useful than reading.  Um.  Well something anyway.

So I had a quick TED fix which was quite enchanting.  Whether this idea will come to the wider world I don’t know.  I rather hope so.

And now Barney is cooking dinner.  I’ve given a number of instructions, carefully disguised as casual comments and it’s all going to be fine.  When he’s in total cooking mode, he’s quite unbeatable but when he cheerfully says “shall I cook tonight” this can mean that he won’t be giving dinner his full attention and will do things like mashing cold potatoes or cooking the pork crackling in its fat instead of on a rack.  He just forgets that he knows things.

We’ve been watching master chef in the last week or two (while we eat – very entertaining) and I’m never quite sure if he’s going to invent something exotic or stick to something that he knows will work.  And how either choice will turn out.

Anyway, we’ve both indulged in several glasses of wine – he because he’s cooking and me because, er, he’s cooking, and we’ve had one of those in vino moments when all is right with the world and each other.  The veritas will be in the tasting and I’m sure it’ll be lovely.

Flavours of beech, oak and larch with a dash of bracken, in a story as old as – I was going to say Time but probably only as old as trees.  (Sorry, it only takes a couple of brown leaves and I go all poetical)

Edit: That is to say a couple of brown leaves and a couple of glasses of wine.

November 17, 2012 - Posted by | Uncategorized


  1. I’ve read so many books on recommendations by paid reviewers that were really disappointing that I don’t take any review as meaning anything now.

    I read a book once about a young woman returning to her Scottish roots and taking over the family distillery. The writer had researched the subject and didn’t want to waste her research. It hung indigestibly, bang in the centre of a light novel. Hilary Mantel being one of the few exceptions, I return more and more to the classics, because so many modern novels are rubbish. And I’m both kind and tolerant to those who have spent hours and possibly years pouring themselves into their writing. However, if the result is rubbish, who on earth agrees to publish them?

    Barney is good cook. Give him my love. And to you, of course.

    Comment by Z | November 17, 2012 | Reply

  2. Wonderful…this is giving me all sorts of ideas for a ratbag story. Thank you.
    There must be so many, many scottish ladies returning to Scotland. I was always scared of that widow in the black cape selling life insurance.

    Comment by rosie | November 18, 2012 | Reply

  3. *laughing* I think it’s good I’ve abandoned reading at this moment to work on piecing together a patchwork quilt that I’ve tinkered with for four years. I really, really, really hate the quilt. I doubt it will end up intriguing me and providing me with any satisfaction OTHER THAN it’s kept me out of books that I don’t enjoy AND it’s given me another thing to shove in the linen closet that I’ll never use.

    Oh wait–perhaps I’ll hand it over to the 3 year old. She’d find it special! And I’d wince every time she toted it into an open area. NOTsomuch a good plan…

    Ah well…..I’ll peruse places, leave comments, indulge in breathtaking and gorgeous photos of your fall…..and have another go with the quilting thread and 2 inch square blocks! All this while he-who-cooks is concocting something that smells absolutely awesome! (I’ll hope it’s breakfast!!) 🙂

    Comment by Mel | November 18, 2012 | Reply

  4. And Barbara Kingsolver Z? I’m reading a lot from the 50s and 60s at the moment for the same reason and also because when I could have been reading them I was into science ficton and fantasy. A genre, I might add, where a good novel is a wonderful surprise (and there were a few). I’m cynical about publishers. I believe they have to balance light popular junk against prizewinners and good solid work. Obviously you need lots of light pop to even the scales.

    I’m looking forward to something with black widows and mashed potato rosie.

    Mel, I don’t understand – surely you can read a book at the same time as sewing a quilt? Hope your breakfast was good.

    Comment by Mig | November 18, 2012 | Reply

  5. I seem to have “gone off” general fiction. Probably lost the appetite when I was reading so much research stuff. But I did recently read JK Rowling’s new book, The Casual Vacancy. It’s a good thing I keep humourous works close to hand!

    Comment by dinahmow | November 18, 2012 | Reply

  6. I never got into the Pottery Dinahmow though I did obediently read one or two because the children thought I should. But if it’s a good laugh I might try it : )

    Comment by Mig | November 19, 2012 | Reply

    • No,no,no! Sorry, I steered you crooked, Mig.
      Casual Vacancy is very grim. Absolutely no laughs. Not even a funny character. That’s why I need to keep stuff like Three men in a Boat and raunchy limericks handy!
      Casual Vacancy is about small town squabbles and politics when an election is held following death of a councillor. Humour is the only element NOT in it!

      Comment by dinahmow | November 19, 2012 | Reply

      • Oh, I wasn’t quite on the ball there.

        Comment by Mig | November 19, 2012

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: