You may be late (like the White Rabbit), bu apparently there is still time to plant bulbs… And while you’re at it, check to see if your soil looks like gingerbread…I’ve been looking at gardening books over on my main blog http://goo.gl/f3A6uf
I never knew German prisoners were locked in the Towet of London during WW2, but according to Vere Hodgson’s wartime diaries, Few Eggs and No Oranges, this is what happed in 1941 when the Home Guard caught a German parachutist. More of Vere Hodgson at my other blog. in http://goo.gl/dSKQYH
The Shooting Party, by Isabel Colegate, is set in October 1913, less than a year before the First World War, as a group of aristocrats gather at Sir Randolph Nettleby’s estate for a shooting party (hence the photo of a pheasant, courtesy of Wikipedia). We know from the outset that someone will lose their life, but who, and how are not revealed until later. And there isn’t really a why.
The senseless death, and the slaughter of all the game birds foreshadows the tragedy of the forthcoming war when a generation of young men were killed.
But I found it difficult to engage with the characters - it was a bit like viewing a scene on a stage.
Full review at my other blog on http://goo.gl/YCZQoC
It’s a while since I’ve posted anything her, but it’s Sunday, so it’s short story time again, and this week I’ve abandoned Persephone for Virago and I’m dipping into Sylvia Townsend Warner’s Selected Short Stories, which are every bit as wonderful as I hoped they would be. These tales, written between 1932 and 1977, are as sharply subversive as her other work led me to expect, her prose is faultless, and the humour is as dark as ever.
In the first story, A Love Match, we meet brother and sister Justin and Celia Tizard, both damaged by the horrors of the First World War, who find comfort and healing in an incestuous relationship. They fall into it almost by accident. Left alone when her fiancé is killed, Celia welcomes her brother home on leave, but she cannot bear to listen to his night terrors as revisits the hellish scenes of the conflict. So she goes to him, to quiet him, and comfort him, and things go on from there.
After the war they live abroad for a time, but return to England, and are accepted by the residents of Hallowby as a ‘disabled major’ and his ‘devoted maiden sister’ who seem middle-aged long before they are. They know their relationship is wrong, but they love each other, and I think they quite enjoy having a secret life, and the thrill of constantly watching what they do and say to ensure they are not discovered. My full review is at my main blog.
“From the table at which they had been lunching two American ladies of ripe but well-cared-for middle age moved across the lofty terrace of the Roman restaurant and, leaning on its parapet, looked first on each other, and then down on the outspread glories of the Palatine and the forum, with the same expression of vague but benevolent approval.”
Short Story Sunday has reached 1934 and arrived in Rome, where friends Grace Ansley and Alida Slade are on holiday. On the face of it all is well, but as they chat about their daughters and reminisce about their own youth and a long-ago vacation in the city, it slowly dawns on you that all is not quite as it seems.
Edith Wharton’s Roman Fever is one of the many gems in The Persephone Book of Short Stories. It’s short, slight and perfectly formed, as everything builds oh-so-quietly to the disclosure of secrets as well-kept as the women who have guarded them for so many years. Full review of this tale (from The Persehone Book of Short Stories) at my main blog http://goo.gl/XT7zg4
I’ve neglected my garden shamefully, and it’s terribly overgrown and out of hand, so I’ve been out there this week trying to hack back the jungle. And on Wednesday my efforts were reward by the most beautiful and amazing sight – butterflies! Hundreds and hundreds of them on the buddleias. A kaleidoscope of butterflies. It was absolutely magical. Every bloom seemed to have two or three butterflies, and the air was full of them, flapping and fluttering and flying like a flock of birds, and they seemed huge. More photos at my main blog, nicehttp://goo.gl/XT7zg4
Last night was one of those when I woke up and couldn’t get back to sleep, so I went downstairs, made a cup of tea, and carried on reading Few Eggs And No Oranges, the wartime diaries of Vere Hodgson, and thought how odd that I should be sitting there, sleepless for no particular reason, while reading her account of nights broken by air raid warnings, the sound of planes overhead, and the noise of bombs exploding around her.
I’ve only read the entries for the first few months, but I’m loving it so far. As with all good diaries, the juxtaposition of major national and international events with the mundane and commonplace makes for fascinating – and compelling – reading. And Hodgson makes no effort to marshal her thoughts in a coherent fashion. Details of a raid are followed by accounts of a day at the office, and then by more about the bombs, while gossip about friends and family is interspersed with serious news items about Government ministers, shortages, or updates from battle fronts. See full post at http://goo.gl/0Wz72u
Am taking part in a Paris in July challenge with a celebration of all things French. So today’s Saturday Snapshot is of French photos! More pictures at y main blog http://goo.gl/LUiDP
If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.
So said Ernest Hemingway in a letter to a friend - and in his book, ‘A Moveable Feast’ he looks back on the early 1920s when he was a struggling young writer, living in Paris with his first wife.
More about the book, which brings Paris to life, at my main blog, at http://goo.gl/CZ56M