In a minute, I’ll be making a large batch of bacon and onion mini quiches, because we just discovered Henry will eat them. And you DON’T MESS WITH THAT.
First, though: books!
Since H started his love affair with picture books, we’ve settled into a little routine of walking to the library every Tuesday afternoon. I change his books; he goes for a poke around in the little gypsy caravan and tries to flee the scene when he thinks I’m not looking. Mostly I have enough time to choose five books for him and then we get the heck out of Dodge before he escapes onto the main road. The other day, though, he was feeling unusually compliant. So we visited the fiction section. It was totally just to look, until it wasn’t.
Here’s what I got from the library, and why:
OK, one of these things is not like the other. I have borrowed Waterland, by Graham Swift, from a friend, but I’m reading it now so thought I’d include it. It is a lyrical, bleak, atmospheric story about family sagas on the Fens, the way stories are woven and tragedies are revisited upon later generations. I don’t recommend it for a pick-me-up; find some Bryson for that. But I am so enjoying it. His sense of place is astonishing and the writing is effortless.
Then David Mitchell’s Black Swan Green. I tried Cloud Atlas when I’d just had Henry, and all I could think about was feeding routines and how much sleep I wasn’t getting. It needs a little more brain power than that, so I gave up and gave it away. I’m ready to have another crack at it – and I want to do it before the intriguing-looking film comes out, later this year – but they had this one at the library instead, so I’ll start there. On the subject of that film: I think I have come to the conclusion that anything at all with Ben Whishaw emoting beautifully – especially in period costume – is worth a look and a cry. (Have you seen him do Keats? Glorious.) I’m very much looking forward to it.
Then – woop woop – a Mantel I haven’t read, An Experiment in Love. Do I need to explain further, except to tell you, as an addendum, that I am listening to the Wolf Hall audiobook for the fourth time? By the way, Hilary Mantel did a Q&A about Bring Up the Bodies on Mumsnet, recently – you can find the thread here, and her answers start coming in around a third of the way down, in yellow. This one is about 1970s London, but I’m pretty sure it could be about woodlice and it would be fabulous. We’ll see.
Finally, Julian Barnes’ The Sense of an Ending, which won the 2011 Booker. It’s about a retired man whose past catches up with him and forces him to reflect on old friendships. Anyone who wrote the gracious and lovely Arthur & George doesn’t have to try very hard with me, so I have high hopes for this one.
Tim is away again next week and the week after, so I have quiet evenings to fill, and intend to fill them well.
PS – speaking of the library, I picked up a flyer for a theatre production of Oliver Jeffers’ The Incredible Book-Eating Boy, by Bootworks Theatre Company. It’s not ordinary theatre though, oh no: they bring a little black booth with three windows cut into it, and one adult and one child go into it at a time for a five-minute puppet performance. It got stonking reviews. I want to go so badly it’s killing me – isn’t it just a lovely idea? – but it’s aimed at 4-7 year olds. If you have a 4-7 year old, in any of the places they’re appearing, will you go and tell them I thought it looked marvellous? Tour dates are on their website.
What are you reading this month?