Us – David Nicholls

photo(1)The Blurb:

Douglas Petersen understands his wife’s need to ‘rediscover herself’ now that their son is leaving home. He just thought they’d be doing their rediscovering together. So when Connie announces that she will be leaving, too, he resolves to make their last family holiday into the trip of a lifetime: one that will draw the three of them closer, and win the respect of his son. One that will make Connie fall in love with him all over again. The hotels are booked, the tickets bought, the itinerary planned and printed. What could possibly go wrong?

Its difficult to write about Us without mentioning One Day. I challenged myself to write this blog post without bringing it up, but here we are. Not even the first sentence over and it happened. So instead of trying to dance around it I’ll get it over with:

I loved One Day. I loved everything about it – the story, the characters (even when they were are their shittiest) the settings, the tone, Nicholls’ effortless writing. All those gut punches. I mostly loved that it was a complete surprise. I hadn’t read any Nicholls before, I don’t really know why, he seems to write about stuff that interests me, but I always overlooked him. In fact, before I picked Us up, One Day remained the only Nicholls I’d partaken in (I’m not counting watching Starter For Ten), I was still healing from Emma and Dexter and didn’t want other stories to crowd them out.

But when a proof of Us (resplendently designed I must say) made its way into our house I made time for it as soon as I could. It was nudgingly implied Us could almost be a reacquaintance with Emma and Dexter, in different skin with different fates, but it was so much more than that and you should leave those initial star-crossed friends in Edinburgh where you found them and enjoy Us as something else.

For me, the Petersen’s were a whole new kettle of fish. A couple with over 20 years behind them, Connie and Douglas seem to have made it a long way with considerable odds stacked against them. When they meet at a dinner hosted by Douglas’ sister Connie is an arty, popular party girl on the cusp of, perhaps, giving both things up. Douglas is a rather stuffy, ordered Scientist, currently obsessed with his fruit fly study and who may as well have come from another planet. They seem to find something in the other that promised a balance and over time set up home together.

But when Connie’s paint brushes seem to have been put aside for good and when tragedy comes to shroud them both, it is Douglas’ simple, structured way of living that seems to takeover. Possibly jaded by years of Douglas “sucking the joy out of everything” and a renewed energy for creativity that she sees blossoming in her son, Connie decides it is time to part ways.

We find them planning a European holiday, a trip Connie views as a final, happy farewell to the family unit and a way to introduce her son to the world’s greatest artists. Douglas hopes the trip will help bond and build bridges, one last roll of the dice. Of course, only one can get the outcome they want, and with their son along for the ride, the possibility for collateral damage is threatened from the minute they leave London.

Their relationship unfolds through flashbacks that intersperse the trip, and it is here, in the minutiae of love, friendship, heartache and missed communication that Nicholls’ excels. He draws you in so keenly, over dining tables and across beds that you wish wholeheartedly that you were able to somehow pick up your phone and fire off urgent texts:

He didn’t mean it that way!

Why would you say that to her?! Any idiot can see that was entirely WRONG!

I challenge you not to feel helpless as these two, ultimately decent, people flail and fail in front of you.

But perhaps the most painful relationship is that between Douglas and his 17 year old son Albie. Albie is Connie’s son through and through – a Starbucks hipster taking moody shots of the backs of people’s heads, your archetypal teen, trying to find himself in the forms of others. Douglas, whose own teenage experiences were narrow and apparently, happily so, (“The most illicit act of my teenage years was to sometimes watch ITV“) struggles to understand his son and as a result bumbles spectacularly through their relationship. Some of their interactions are so skin-tighteningly awkward you can feel yourself turning inside out.

You will feel for both men in this situation, constantly knocking into one another, missing the implications of their actions and words. But it is Albie who I felt for the most. Yeah he’s a bit of a pretentious wind-bag, but then he’s allowed to be, he’s the child. He has time to be a brat, to still be embarrassed and let down by his parents. His father’s constant, if well-meant, putdowns are causing more damage than either of them seem to realise and as a reader you watch and wait, wincing against the give that is unrelentingly impending.

I loved this book, perhaps a notch less than One Day, but I’d probably still be in a coma if it had possibly been better. This novel takes you through so many emotions and you become almost instantly invested in the future of these three people. It is superbly touching and often very funny and as an art lover I couldn’t get enough of the descriptions of some of the grand masters that had me desperate to partake on a similar (but less emotionally harrowing) trip.

Just get it, its great.

Book info:us

  • ISBN: 9780340896990
  • Published by Hodder & Stoughton, out now
  • Borrowed proof copy

Wild Ink – Richard Smyth

WILD INK Amended 12.05The Blurb:

Albert Chaliapin is dead – or at least, he feels like he ought to be. He lives in a world occupied only by the ghosts of his former life (and his nurse, who can’t even get his name right). Then, one day, his past – in the form of a drunk cartoonist, a suicidal hack and a corrupt City banker – pays a visit, and Chaliapin is resurrected, whether he likes it or not. He doesn’t, much. Someone’s sending him some very strange cartoons. Someone’s setting off bombs all over London. Someone’s been up to no good with some very important people. This is no job for a man wearing pyjamas. Will Chaliapin make it out alive? And is being alive, when it comes down to it, really all it’s cracked up to be?

POW! How good a blurb is that? Its almost irresistible! London, mystery, black comedy, a hint of the literary – I was pals with this book the minute it fell through my letter box. Estelle Morris’ cover design is also awesome. So, well done to the folks at Dead Ink Books for all that!

But mostly well done to Smyth, who has managed to write a readable but pretty literary book. In fact, Dead Ink describe themselves as “publishers of [anti] literature”, and if I have understood that statement, then this book sums it up pretty neatly.

Its wordy, it needs your attention – there’s no “one eye on Bake Off” with this, but don’t let that put you off – its a romp of a read and once you are in cahoots with Smyth’s style you are easily swept along.

Wild Ink is drenched in cigar smoke, creaking leather chairs and whiskey glasses crashing in dark corners of waxy smelling pubs. It’s all the things I dream about when I dream about being a post-war bohemian creative sort.

Smyth’s brilliantly wrought cast of characters will bring to mind figures from the annals of literary history and Smyth clearly knows his written word. Even with an English Lit degree behind me I have to say I struggled to keep up with some of the references (to the point where I almost didn’t know what was and wasn’t conjured up by Smyth) but that didn’t stop my enjoyment (though, perhaps has me needing to brush up on my theory a bit).

This is a delicious, bounding book and perfect for the long nights that are now starting to edge in on us. You will be baffled and bemused from the start and will feel physically pulled around literary London with Smyth’s bunch of, possibly past it, boozy academics. Hilarious in places and a definite head scratcher from page one. I liked it and you probably will too.

Book info:

  • ISBN: 9780957698512
  • Published by Dead Ink Books, out now
  • Sent a copy by author, thank you very much!

In Plain Sight: The Life and Lies of Jimmy Savile – Dan Davies

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When the news began to break about the black side to Jimmy Savile’s life, like most people, I was utterly disgusted. But I grew up regarding him as a fairly creepy, perverse character, and so I can’t wholeheartedly say I was shocked by the revelations. Sick to my stomach, but not shocked.

I just kept looking at those gurning images of him leering out from the corner’s of news reports thinking: “well LOOK at him, he’s HORRIBLE!” Its almost ludicrous how bogeyman-like his face was. How was he not being investigated on a daily basis for just LOOKING like a dirty bastard?! But when you think about how many people were able to turn a blind eye to actually witnessing those ring encrusted fingers creeping up skirts, its overly hopeful to wish that someone would have locked him up based on his gargolic appearance alone.

My recoil response is the only reaction I have to Savile; I can remember Jim’ll Fix It being on sometimes as I ate my dinner, but don’t recall being particularly engaged or entertained. Maybe I was lucky, my TV viewing began at the tail end of his presenting career, so I was spared the onslaught of his appearances during the 70s. But I have always struggled to see anything appealing about him, and certainly couldn’t understand how he could possibly be seen as “desirable”. Even looking back at clips of him in his heyday: that weird snap on hair, the teeth, the clear and very apparent unfriendly air, the obvious strangeness of him – I have always been baffled by his fame and wasn’t at all rocked to find out he was a completely base human being.

Like me, Davies grew up creeped out by the guy, but to almost obsessive levels. Davies spent many years, preceding the meetings with Savile that make up this book, telling anyone who would listen about his misgivings regarding the TV star. Having happened upon a copy of Savile’s autobiography in his teens (a text that “put flesh on the skeleton of a dormant bogeyman“) and been a bemused and unimpressed audience member during a filming of Fix It as a child, Davies had Savile “fixed in my mind” and he was determined to one day “bring him down“.

In Plain Sight goes as far as possible to doing this as can been done when the quarry is already dead and rotting in the ground. Savile comes off as a thoroughly bleak and bizarre human being, almost more so than I could have imagined. He is like every bad guy, every twisted character your mind could conjure, with a layer of added horror.

This is an incredibly researched book and the relationship that develops between Davies and Savile over many years is fascinating. It fluctuates from hate to flickering warmth and back again, and you can almost feel Davies straining against his emotions towards the man, both positive and negative. A small insight perhaps into how Savile was able to manipulate just about anyone into liking him, even those who have made it their life’s work to unearth the dark side of his character.

If you are reluctant to pick this book up fearing graphic descriptions of his crimes, don’t be put off; Davies tackles the awful incidents with utter respect and humanity. There is nothing gratuitous here and victims are able to discuss what happened to them on their own terms. This book gives a voice to those who have been silenced for so long and ultimately goes someway to satisfy Davies’ desire to bring Savile down.

Unfortunately, for everyone involved, the demolishing of Savile’s kingdom came far too late. Davies’ book will stand as a record of his crimes and a supporting platform for his victims, but ultimately Savile evaded the net to the end. The image of that smiling, smirking  face, dead and tucked up in bed, fingers crossed in a final gesture of “getting away with it”, must haunt all his victims, and is certainly an image I cannot shake.

And there are many, many incidents in this book that will leave you dumbfounded and incredibly angry. Personally, I will never be able to forget the story of how Savile asked for “six dolly birds and a tent” in return for an appearance at a Gala. That he got what he requested, after council meetings and press articles had discussed the matter and agreed to it, is unbelievable and deeply sickening. That a town was able to prostitute its young female population, in return for a celebrity endorsement, has to be one of the most shameful examples of his ego and bizarre, almost bewitching, power over people.

This book is upsetting and affecting, but it is astoundingly well written and if you have any inkling to read it I highly recommend it. This behavior must never  be tolerated again and we must begin to try and understand how it could possibly have happened in the first place. This book goes some way to closing off one era in hope of another, its just a crying shame Savile isn’t here to read it and have that smirk wiped of his face once and for all.

Book info:

  • ISBN: 9781782067436
  • Published by Quercus Books (out now)
  • Sent review copy via Netgalley

Blog Snooze

Art by Moga

Art by Moga*

Hello followers and casual browsers.

I have had a couple of rather full weeks and as such my blog has been having a snooze. Some distractions have been lovely, others have come from shock and sadness. But I miss this place and as its Monday, that weekly chance to start again, I am dusting off the reviews and general book chatter.

Hopefully today I will get reviews done for What Milo Saw and Eat My Heart Out that I will post later this week.

* This lovely animation is by Moga, please visit her tumblr for more!

Mother Island – Bethan Roberts

mother island The Blurb:

“Maggie Wichelo, a lonely young woman, arrives at the comfortable Oxford house in which she works as a nanny. Everything appears normal. Her glamorous employer, Nula, also happens to be her cousin. Samuel, the two year old boy she looks after, is pleased to see Maggie. Dedicated, efficient, and fiercely protective of Samuel, Maggie considers herself an excellent nanny, and Nula and her over-confident husband Greg have had few complaints about her work. But this is the morning on which Maggie will abduct Samuel, loading him into a hired car, and driving him to a remote boathouse on the island where she spent her teenage years: Anglesey, known to the locals as Môn, Mam Cymru, or the Mother of Wales.
For Maggie, everything goes back to the island…”

Roberts uses the present and flashbacks to quietly unravel the relationship between Maggie and Nula. I was gripped from the first page, puzzled by their dynamic and intrigued by their shared history.

There were so many times in this book that I thought I had grasped the reasons behind the characters’ behaviour, only for Roberts to pull the rug out from under me.

The pacing and characterisations are brilliantly observed and I completely devoured this book! This is a tense and accomplished novel about motherhood, lost innocence, feelings of abandonment and loneliness. You will find yourself feeling a spectrum of emotions, and I challenge anyone to point out the bad guy.

Roberts writing is so tight you can almost feel yourself walking across it, definitely a title to get your teeth into and to have your emotions rocked by.

Book info:

  • ISBN: 9780701185855
  • Published by Chatto & Windus, July 2014
  • Sent proof copy through Netgalley, thank you very much!

 

 

Judge a Cover Thursday! – Penguin’s new Charlie and The Chocolate Factory design

As Twitter melted a bit yesterday over a cover reveal, I have decided to bring Judge a Cover forward a day!
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On Wednesday, Penguin Books released an image for a new book in thier Modern Classics range. Grey strips censored the title and author and Penguin invited  followers to guess what the book could be.

The image showed a shockingly made-up pre-adolescent girl, a mane of gold hair backcombed into a rage. Almost offensively candy shades of orange and pink popped out at you. This hyperbolic image of girliness seemed to be chomping at the bit, teeth gritted against a too glossy mouth.  A featureless, but similarly bedecked, mother figure seemed to turn her face away from the girl with detached uninterest.

Penguin sat back and watched as, what I can only assume, were the answers they expected rolled in (well, from those like me that totally missed the “golden ticket” bit); Valley of The Dolls and Lolita being people’s best bets.

charlie full image

When it was revealed that the cover was for Roald Dahl’s classic, Charlie and The Chocolate Factory, I applauded their chutzpah! Here we have a primped and clearly spoilt child, body straining at her Betty Draper-esque mother’s hip, eyes almost shooting out her head towards whatever new acquisition she has her sights on. Her eyes, though tranced, seem to betray the practiced focus of a child used to getting her own way, here are the flickers of self-centredness that will be her undoing.

I thought the cover was brilliant, perfectly pitched for the adult readership of Penguin Modern Classics. It sets the dark, unsettling tone of Dahl’s work that Penguin clearly hope will appeal to adults, a kind of “time to read this another way” incentive.

I told Twitter I thought it was “magnificent”.

It was only then that Lizzi from These Little Words informed me that I was the only one on her timeline who liked it!

I was surprised, my feed had been all for it, if a little taken aback to begin with. So I looked through some more comments and saw that, yes indeed, some people hated it! Some decried it for not depicting the hero of the piece (“Where’s Charlie? Where’s the chocolate?!“), while others seemed to find the Lolita-like qualities a bit inappropriate and a whole lot creepy (I’m not sure if this means they would like the design had it been created for Nabokov’s classic instead).

I can see where these people are coming from, it gives me the cold creeps too to see young girls made up to the nines, but vacousness and its gifting to children by adults, clearly gave Dahl the creeps too. You are meant to find it creepy.

I’ll admit it has been a LONG time since this was read to me at school, but I am assuming we are meant to see this girl as a representation of Veruca Salt, the fur coat wearing monster product of her parents’ grotesque wealth and believed entitlement. This image shows her writ large, as gargoylic and horrible as she is meant to be.

I can see how the image has put people’s teeth on edge, but I find it a fascinating decision, and as someone on Twitter suggested, it would be great to see a serious of adult Dahl covers, all with similar images of parents partly banished to the sidelines, leaving just the horrible (or divine) cartoon rendering of their offspring. This, for me, would be a fantastic start to such a series – a bone chilling picture of what could happen to children of adult readers should they give in too many times…

Moranthology – Caitlin Moran

photoThe last time I finished a Moran book I hardly slept.

I was so shaken up by not having really liked it, I felt like I’d had a massive falling out with a friend.

I wrote my review, sat back and wondered where we should go from here.

After a few days of cooling off, I felt it was time to make the first move and try to get our relationship back on track. So, I picked up the copy of Moranthology that had been sat on my shelf since it came out in paperback, and proceeded to the water closet. I figured it would probably be a title that would benefit from being dipped in and out of, and there isn’t a more perfect room in the house for books like this.

Unfortunately, it turns out I am rather regular and frequent (sorry) so was meeting up with Moran more often than I had anticipated. In hindsight, we should have taken more baby-sized steps to coming back together, perhaps one step a week. Meeting up with her one, often twice (sorry) a day, turned out to be too much.

As someone who doesn’t read The Times for moral reasons, I have to admit that I based most of my opinion on Moran from the occasional article I’d picked up here and there, her Twitter feed and (the still wonderful) How to Be a Woman. Now, having read this collection of columns, I can conclude that she only very occasionally writes about anything important (feminism included) and that I should applaud her for having made a career from writing about nothing very much at all.

I’m actually being  pretty serious here, men have gotten away with making a lot of money from writing about not much at all for ages, so its good that Moran exists – if only to prove that women are funny actually and can make money from it, thank you very much.

And she is, she is funny and from this day on I shall view her as a humourist before anything else.

I can’t see any evidence of “strident” or “militant” feminism in much of her writing though, she doesn’t appear to shed any light on any issues that don’t revolve around herself or western media. There is no world view, no powerful manifesto to act upon. Just lists of stuff she likes and lists of stuff she doesn’t like.  So, if you are hoping for something along the lines of How to Be a Woman, you’ll be disappointed.

And thats what clouded this for me, I was expecting rants, spot-on opinion, the world getting taken to task. But it was just a bit *points at funny thing*.  And most of those funny things are plucked out of Moran’s immediate orbit.

Moran is basically the friend that nods along as you tell her about this week’s piss-taking moments of horror, only to butt in at the sniff of a pause, to exclaim: “Weeeeelll, when that happened to Meeeeeeee…” and carry on talking about herself for the next 3 hours, as if the uniqueness of her life-experience is somehow key to your own. And these are the main reasons why I will now think of her as “humourist” and not “political feminist”. She talks about herself A LOT, and other things a little, and it can be as draining as those real life moments with spotlight hogging friends.

And she comes out with some odd stuff too (bit weird that you spent your Amy Winehouse obituary apparently confirming she had an eating disorder), and some stuff that is just dull (really, you kept that bit about meetings in? Really? Sorry, most of us DO unfortunately have to attend meetings regularly and we’ve made those gags a million times before). And when she’s not being dull or weird she’s incessantly referring to The Beatles as if liking them is somehow interesting and vital.

Other stuff just missed the target with me – I think the made-up interludes with her husband, where she pesters him with questions about herself as he tries to sleep (“what would you miss about me if I died young?”) are meant to be cute, but she just comes off as an utter pain in the arse.

Also, the bit where she’s talking about her trademark hair and how she somehow now has ownership of that style, what’s that all about? She reminded me of the time I was outraged that one of my friend’s had got The Great Escape for Christmas: “Oh, so you’re a Blur fan too now are you?” I scoffed. When I was TWELVE. According to Moran, if you have a grey-streak in your hair you are copying her and should stop:

“But Caitlin, those women suffer from poliosis”

“No, they are copying me.”

No, honestly they do, they have poliosis like Ed Miliband

“Nup, I totally remember them buying my book, didn’t have hair like that then”

“Maybe but, and I’m  just saying here, perhaps they are copying Caryn Franklin…”

“Nup, me. Franklin’s copying me too”

“But…”

“Nup.

I know I shouldn’t take it all so seriously, but she seems to gets paid an awful lot of money to write about liking The Beatles and last night’s telly. I WANT MORE MANIFESTO! MORANFESTO!

All in all I found this a pretty draining read (based on one or two articles a day). I just wanted to get her out of my house as quickly as possible by the end, but she tends to linger, and though I haven’t lost sleep this time, I do feel a bit like she’s going to shove her head through my window at any moment to tell me a hilarious, quirky tale about her last shop at Waitrose.

She is funny, and she does have a wonderful turn of phrase, but as when all relationships end, you have to weigh up whether you really knew the person in the first place. Personally, I got carried away by her – I was seduced by the image, the one-liners, the fight for female justice. But it feels like a smoke screen, and while I wait for the dust to settle on our relationship, I will reach out for the arms of other writers with a feminist bent.

Its over.

well, until the next time…

 

Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding

bridget tara mcpherson

The wonderful cover by Tara McPherson

I was inspired to pick this up during fellow book blogger Emma Louise’s recent #sunathon. I wanted something fun and lightweight, and after a couple of false starts, I decided to try Bridget Jones’s Diary.

As you may have read in my #Bookadayuk week four round-up post,I had spent the years between its release and now piling sloppy scorn on this book. I based my opinion purely on the film ( I know! I know!), Renee Zellweger’s beyond twee English accent, and the fact I felt a lot of women saw themselves as “Bridget Joneses”, wearing their sadness on their sleeves as a  self-mocking badge of honour, adding “self-scorn” to the pile of issues already damaging their self esteem. Not knowing Bridget yet, I wanted to shake them and scream:

“YOU ARE SO MUCH MORE THAN THIS CARICATURE! STOP POSTING PICTURES OF YOURSELF ON FACEBOOK EATING ICE CREAM IN YOUR PYJAMAS, CRYING! TAGGING IT “BRIDGET” DOESN’T MAKE IT CUTE! COME TO MY HOUSE AND LETS MAKE A COLLAGE ABOUT HOW EXCELLENT YOU ARE INSTEAD!”

It felt to me, that as long as they had their poster-girl for self-pity, they had the trendy excuse they needed to ignore their excellence.

But that was before I knew just how excellent Bridget is, and though some women may have taken the imagery from the film a little too far in the pursuit of endless “what’s up hun?”s on Facebook, I must now agree that she is totally heroine-worship worthy.

bridget 2 I had decided that maybe I could read this book without scowling when, another heroine-worship worthy woman, Hadley Freeman, listed it in her book Be Awesome as a must-read. It goes to show how utterly clueless I was when Freeman’s inclusion of Bridget made me laugh aloud: “err…what Hadley?! I was not expecting THAT nonsense to turn up at the end of your otherwise excellent and humourous book about modern feminism“.

Once I had scoffed myself dry, I went and had a cup of tea, and remembering the vow I made after reading The List,I decided to get over myself and pick up a copy as soon as one fell at me from a charity shop shelf.

I figured that Hadley knows what she’s talking about, all the other books in that list are just fine, she wouldn’t send me out to spend my hard-earned pennies on a book that wasn’t totally awesome.

It didn’t take long to find a copy, it seems to be perpetually passed on by, what I now know are excellent women re-distributing the wisdom. And once I’d started there was no putting it down!

Every page is hilarious, Bridget is completely vivid, alive and loveable. I mourned the fact she wasn’t real, that I was having to read about her over a latte in Cafe Nero alone, without her actual, physical presence. For me, she wasn’t the needy, sad-faced, puppy-woman that mourned at me from film posters, she was determined, dogged and hilarious!

Ok, so perhaps she didn’t recognise these things in herself and spent many calories, alcohol units and 1471 minutes trying to find solutions to her problems, but isn’t that just what I was talking about above? That the main issue women have is that they don’t see how great they are? That they spend too much time counting things and over-analysing things? Don’t we all just need to get over all the “fuckwittage” and get on with being awesome every day?

I applauded her each time she left a panting Daniel Cleaver, his respect for abandoned as quickly as his trousers. And I nodded along, recognising her struggle, as she tried to balance her overwhelming feelings with what she knew was right. I loved that though she may have stuffed her face under covers at home, outside her head was always up, no matter what humiliation or letdown she was currently enduring. bridget 3

All of this was lost on me before I’d read this. I thought she was a whinger, pining for a life she didn’t have, jealous of those around her that seemed to have what she wanted – those “smug-marrieds”. I thought I would hate her, that I would think she was pathetic and needy. What I didn’t know was her ability to cut these people down, that it was actually their eyes that were judging HER, that it was BRIDGET that was having to come up with the wise-cracks and the withering put-downs in order to survive another dinner party where her life was scrutinised and picked over along with the main course.

As Freeman says herself, the plot of this book is so very much secondary to Bridget, Fielding has written such a vivid, brilliant and very, very funny character, she could pretty much get up to anything and I wouldn’t blink – I just want to hear her tell me about it.

What I thought was a sad woman clad perpetually in Haagen-Daz splashed night wear and big pants, was actually a woman with a thick skin, unapologetic about her actions and undeniably her own person. She is a fantastic role model and I am glad that I have found her, and anyone that says anything else, probably hasn’t met her.

Book info:

  • ISBN: 9780330512176
  • My copy was published by Picador in 1998
  • Bought copy from charity shop

The illustrations I have used in this post are by the amazing Tara McPherson for Penguin. Once I have my hands on a copy with this cover I shall do my wise-woman duty and give my current copy away.

#Bookadayuk Doubleday final round-up

The topics for July 2014

The topics for July 2014

So this marks the end of Doubledays’ tenure at the helm of #BookofadayUK. I just want to thank them for a fun and really inspiring selection of questions! You really got me thinking!

In August #BookadayUK is being hosted by The Siobhan Dowd Trust and the questions look like corkers!

July 28th – Favourite animal character

Book cover design by Katharine O'Hara

Book cover design by Katharine O’Hara

I was going to go for Snoopy, but I have to go for Badger from Wind in The Willows. No other character for me personifies (badgerfies?) that belligerent, balloon-popping, wisdom that can only stem from love. A wonderful, brooding grump who seemed utterly indifferent to you, but would fight to the death to keep you safe.

July 29th – Favourite likeable villain

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I’m repeating myself again here, but I have to go for Hannibal Lecter. This character gets in your head and stays there, this ability to bore into your mind and linger there is far more disturbing than the bloods and guts. I find his relationship with Clarice Starling fascinating, and he becomes likeable to me by his seeming unwavering, twisted, protection of her.

July 30th – What have you been inspired to read?

As illustrated above, I have been slightly embarrassed by my very narrow answer base for these questions. I have definitely been inspired to look out from my Western world and read more books that aren’t set in the US or UK. I think I may also start trying to get through a couple of classics a year (its a start!).

July 31st – The book that reminds you of someone special

black arrow

My dad was a voracious reader and there were always books scattered about the house (all bookmarked with sheets of loo roll) all currently being read. I would often ask him what his favourite book was, and like all book lovers, he struggled to pin point just one, but The Black Arrow always seemed to be first on his list. When he was buried it was only right that he had a book to take with him, a copy of this was the book we packed.

Letter to an Unknown Soldier

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I have just added my letter to the remarkable Letter to an Unknown Soldier project. There is still time to send one, so what would you say to him if you had the chance?

I found this a really inspiring and moving project to take part in. We live in a world so self-centric that I think the time we take to stop and pause is rapidly getting eaten up.

I wrote about how the rest of the universe carried on whilst our planet went mad. How this soldier’s corpse was probably not cold before man found a way to bypass the massive and harness the tiny beauty of the atom to make everything seem deadlier.

I would really like to say a massive thank you to Emma who I poked and prodded for scientific history questions!

You can read my letter HERE.

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