Wednesday, 9 January 2013

My December Reads

December is a busy, busy month for everyone, but I can always squeeze reading time into the day!
For the season, I read "Christmas At Cold Comfort Farm" by Stella Gibbons, which I found in Oxfam. It is actually a collection of short stories and only one is set at Cold Comfort Farm, a case of a publisher definitely cashing in! However, I like to read short stories over Christmas, they are easily digested ( unlike my cake, boom boom) and these were light vignettes written in the 1940s. Some were very poignant and beautifully written, others not quite so good. Only two were set at Christmas, so a little mis-sold, perhaps for only the most ardent of Stella Gibbons fans.
Another festive collection was "The Twelve Poems of Christmas" edited by Carol Ann Duffy. I really like these Candlestick Press editions, they are reasonably priced and come with lovely bookmarks. Reading these poems made me feel very festive indeed, they would make a great little present for a literary friend.
"Fire and Rain" by David Browne is a book which describes the musical scene in 1970, a momentous year when The Beatles recorded their last album; Crosby, Stills and Nash made their debut; Bridge Over Troubled Water was completed and James Taylor produced Sweet Baby James. Browne recounts each month and how the wider context of a society in various states of unrest, shaped the music. For someone who loves the music and history of this period, I really liked this book. I read it with the CDs playing in the background, very atmospheric!
SJ Watson's "Before I Go To Sleep" was another Oxfam purchase, and I thoroughly enjoyed this thriller. After a supposed accident, Christine loses her memory every time she goes to sleep. She awakes with no recollection of her marriage or her history since she sustained a head injury many years ago. Slowly, she comes to realise that her husband isn't all that he appears to be. This was very well written, very taut and I had difficulty putting it down. I am not a huge thriller fan, but I recommend this one highly.
Lastly, I finally got round to reading my SIGNED copy (!) of Anne Tyler's "The Beginner's Goodbye". When the author said she initially intended this to be her last book, there was an audible collective groan amongst the audience at the Oxford Literature Festival. However, she said she realised she loves writing too much to ever retire, phew! This is just exquisite, a tale of how Aaron comes to terms with his wife's bizarre death. It has Tyler's usual warmth and wit, together with an actual HAPPY ending. So many of her books leave me wondering what on earth happens to these fabulous characters, but in Aaron's case, we find out. This was such a treat to read, with my annual purchase of Rose and Violet Cremes, wonderful!

Wednesday, 2 January 2013


Well, Epiphany has been and gone and although I love Christmas, I also enjoy the feeling once all the decorations are packed away and the last of the pine needles are vacuumed up.
It is the time for New Year resolutions, I have made all the usual ones in the past and never really stuck to them. My cupboards are littered with diaries which never have entries past March and I know I will never ever give up chocolate. Last year I decided to make a resolution I really wanted to achieve and that was to get in touch with friends I hadn't seen in years. I don't know about you, but I always seem to write in certain Christmas cards, "we MUST meet up", then another year passes without having done anything about it. So last year I decided to REALLY meet up with two old friends. One is a wickedly funny lady I worked with 18 or 19 years ago, I wrote to her with my mobile number, asking her to text or phone when she could. She did and we had a fabulous lunch where we became helpless with laughter over the same things we did all those years ago. We will meet up again in the spring. As we parted she gave me a huge hug and said how pleased she was that we had actually made the effort to physically meet.
The other lady was one of my best friends at school but we had a falling out in our early 20s. The falling out was over such a trivial matter, but we never spoke again. A couple of years ago, I attended a school reunion and was so nervous to see her again, I was afraid of being snubbed. However, we were soon chattering away and swapping numbers. After exchanging letters and cards, I phoned her in the spring and we met up for lunch. Again, it was so nice to share memories and we could not understand how we had let such a trivial thing ultimately wreck a great friendship. Age certainly makes you wiser and I am so glad we are now reconciled. I am happy to report we have since met up a few times, and have managed not to fall out yet!
So, why not take some time to look up old friends and definitely arrange a date to meet? It was one of the best resolutions I have made. I have another two old friends I intend to contact soon so I have kept the same resolution for 2013. Much better than avoiding wine and chocolate!