Archive for category Books
I know that at least one of my followers has read The Trouble with Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon but the rest of you may have an opinion on it too. I read it in a hurry this week – it was due back at the library and couldn’t be renewed due to another reservation, which shows how popular it is.
The story takes place over the famous hot summer of 1976 with flashbacks to 1967. It focuses on the disappearance of a woman and the repercussions this has on the rest of the people in the street. Much of it is from the viewpoint of a 10-year-old girl.
It took me a while to settle into the book because I was trying to read it too quickly. The pace very much reflects the languor of summer days that are too hot and school holidays that stretch forever into the future. The book needs to be read at this pace to appreciate the tiny details of daily life 40 years ago. The story is the slow peeling of secrets from the streets inhabitants – people aren’t always what they seem. I lived through that summer and, like 10-year-old Grace, collected Whimsies – little pottery animals that cost 10p. There’s lots of this exquisite minutiae and description in the book and don’t read it when hungry because a lot of biscuits are eaten too!
My only (very tiny) gripe is the brief mention of a bouncy castle – I don’t remember those being around as I grew up.
As a writer, this book has made me realise it’s the well-placed tiny detail that makes a reader believe in the story and want to stay in that imaginary world for just a little longer …
If, like me, your work tends to lack description, read The Trouble with Goats and Sheep and watch how the reader really can’t escape the heat of the sun and the watchful eyes of the neighbours.
Five years ago, in 2012, I wrote about Enid Blyton’s Famous Five turning 70. It was one of my most popular posts.
In May of this year, that gang of four children and a dog will turn 75. The anniversary of the first publication of Five on a Treasure Island is being celebrated as part of Visit England’s Year of Literary Heroes 2017.
To mark the occasion the Royal Horticultural Society is creating four ‘Five Go on a Garden Adventure’ trails, one in each of their gardens: Harlow Carr, Hyde Hall, Wisley and Rosemoor. All four gardens will also hold a picnic party on 11th August to celebrate Enid Blyton’s 120th birthday.
A series of new paperback books will be released in May to coincide with the anniversary. These have new covers, an example of one of these can be seen on the Bookseller’s website. Have a look and tell me what you think. I’m not keen but I guess today’s children wouldn’t be impressed by the ‘old-fashioned’ original covers. I much prefer the one I’ve used to illustrate this post.
However, I do fancy that picnic – especially if there’s lashings of ginger beer plus plenty of ice cream (didn’t Julian always buy an ice cream for Timmy the dog?) and then we can relax on a bed of springy heather and keep watch for the smugglers on Kirrin Island …
This novel is based on the true story of one of the twelve people who survived both the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombs. Having survived the first bomb, the main character (the story is told in the first person and I don’t think he’s given a name) catches the last train back to his home, wife and child in Nagasaki and arrives 90 minutes before the next atomic bomb explodes.
There is much description of the terrible injuries and deaths inflicted by these bombs and there is no way this book can be described as ‘enjoyable’. However, if, like me, you were vaguely aware that America dropped these bombs on Japan but know little else about their impact, this book will be an education for you.
Running through the book is the question of whether the main character was blessed to have survived these two bombs or cursed to have been in the vicinity of both. This is a great example of a novel where the main character goes ‘on a journey’ and emerges as a slightly different person at the end.
Above all, I felt Mr Two Bomb was life-affirming – and I think there’s a case for it being required reading in secondary schools.