Every year we decamp to the Tuscan town of Figline Valdarno, birthplace of my late and much missed father-in-law.
We eat, we visit relatives, we argue, we drink, we swim, we cycle in the intense heat, we read and we go to Florence.
I love my in-laws and I love that my daughter can feel a sense of heritage and belonging when she returns.
The light is different in Tuscany, I'm rather short sighted in the UK, I need glasses for driving, but when I step off the plane in Pisa, the colours are sharper..nothing is blurred at all.
Wednesday, 8 August 2012
My favourite book I read this month was "The Land of Decoration" by Grace McCleen. This is an amazing debut by a writer of real talent. It is the tale of Judith, who is brought up as a strict evangelical Christian by her father. Terribly bullied at school, she makes a model in her bedroom of an ideal world, her "land of decoration" and believes that she has the power to create miracles. This book is so beautifully written I really cared about what happened to Judith and her father. Interestingly, the author was brought up in a similar situation, she "escaped" through education, gaining a place at Oxford. Judith too, has a teacher who is on her side and offers her support and hope. I could not put this book down and was desperate that Judith would be alright in the end. Sometimes, it was almost unbearable to read, especially near the end. I won't spoil what happens but I can highly recommend this novel.
"I, Partridge" by Alan Partridge is one of the funniest books I have read in a while. He is such a great comic creation and this made me laugh out loud an awful lot. The audio book version is a hoot, but do not listen to it in the car, as laughing too much may cause accidents.
Nora Ephron sadly passed away recently, and I must confess I have never read any of her works. "I Feel Sad About My Neck" is a collection of essays and articles she has written and they are excellent. Witty, very wise and had me saying "YES" at almost every page. I have ordered a couple more of her books and can now understand the praise that has been lavished upon her.
I liked Jane Fallon's "Getting Rid Of Matthew" so I was looking forward to "The Ugly Sister". It was quite a good read, a bit light maybe, but the heroine's sister was an absolute monster and you get the feeling in "real life" no sister would put up with her outrageous behaviour. It didn't ring very true.
Another book that didn't ring very true was Rosie Thomas' "Lovers And Newcomers". On one hand it was refreshing to read about a bunch of more mature friends , but it seems a little far-fetched that a group from university would choose to all live together in late middle-age, especially considering the simmering romantic tension between some of them. I certainly would not consent to go and live with one of my husband's old girlfriends, yet this is what happens in this book! Rosie Thomas is a good writer but this isn't one of her best.