No matter what’s happening in your life, or the world, you can always turn to a good book for comfort or inspiration.
Here’s everything I’ve read over the last month…
Winter by Ali Smith
This is the second in Smith’s quartet of seasonal novels. It’s the story of one family holed up in a big house in Cornwall at Christmas. This might sound conventional, but it’s anything but. Every page is surreal, lyrical and completely beguiling. The narrative hops backwards and forwards across the years and is told from multiple viewpoints – all equally compelling. Bits of it left me feeling rather baffled, and I caught myself wondering if I was clever enough to fully understand this book. But that doesn’t really matter because I enjoyed it enormously.
Love In A Warm Climate by Helena Frith Powell
Sophie, Nick and their three kids swap London for a vineyard in the south of France. Alas, the idyll doesn’t last long. Nick skedaddles with his super glam French mistress and Sophie is left as a single parent in charge of three kids and a vineyard. What follows is a lovely combination of chaos, romance and comedy that fizzes along like a nice glass of Crémant de Loire. Am I likely to remember it in a year’s time? Probably not, but it was a nice read.
The Diary of a Nobody by George Grossmith and Weedon Grossmith.
No matter how old I am, the fictional diary of Charles Pooter always makes me laugh. He’s a bit silly and conceited, but eminently likeable. It’s as fresh and funny now as when it was written in the 1890s – in fact, at times it feels startling modern. Last time I read it (about five years ago) I worried that I was a little pooterish myself, but after reading it this month I’m pleasantly surprised to find this is no longer the case!
Finding Hope at Hilltop Farm by Rachael Lucas
I love Rachael Lucas’s books. She always pulls off that clever trick of writing books that are gentle and undemanding, which are also satisfying and not too predictable. This is her latest novel and it’s the story of Ella and Harry who are both battling their own demons from the past. The rural welsh setting is charming, as is Ella’s business using horses as therapy. It’s as comforting as a cup of tea and a slice of banana loaf.
Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney
I loved this! It’s set in Dublin and tells the story of Frances, a 21-year-old student and aspiring writer, and Bobbi, her best friend and former girlfriend. When the pair meet an older couple, Melissa and Nick, the four of them quickly become close. The story follows this unlikely group as their lives become increasingly entwined with messy consequences. Frances is a fascinating creation and I like her a lot. She’s sharp and emotionally closed off, but when her insecurities and sadness do break out, they’re like vicious shards of broken glass. Frances hurts herself and everyone around her – and us too, as observers – and yet she keeps us all invested in her story until the very last page. Not an easy feat to pull off, so bravo Sally Rooney.
The Life and Times of Mr Pussy, by the Gentle Author
I never thought I’d be the kind of person to read a book about cats, and yet, here we are. I’ve seen the light and I’m fully embracing my new life as a cat slave. This beautiful little book is the story of Mr Pussy, the beloved cat of the Gentle Author (of Spitalfields Life). It’s a beautiful and eloquent portrait that’s wonderfully touching without ever feeling like sentimental nonsense. Anyone who admires cats will smile as they read about Mr Pussy’s little habits and routines. It’s beautiful and I’m not ashamed to admit that I shed a tear at the end.