Year: 2013

Under the tree

1. Penelope Fitzgerald: A Life, Hermione Lee; 2. Sweet Peas for Summer: How to Create a Garden in a Year, Laetitia Maklouf; 3. Home Ground: Sanctuary in the City, Dan Pearson. Well, okay, there are a few other things that I want for Christmas too. A few things that might have tumbled into my Amazon basket before I’d actually managed to buy anything for anyone else. What can I say? But I wasn’t as naughty as I could have been: they’re safely tucked away in a box at the bottom of the wardrobe, waiting for someone to wrap them & give them to me on Christmas day. Hmm. Thinking about all the other wrapping also waiting to be done, it might have to just be enough to open the box on the big day. An abridged version of the Penelope Fitzgerald biography was beautifully read on Radio 4 a couple of weeks ago by Penelope Wilton (already vanished from the iPlayer I’m afraid). Having read nearly all her books (just a couple tucked up my …

All I want for Christmas

is my own book blog. Six years & thirteen posts doesn’t seem like the best of track records. But, in a spirit of early self-gifting, here we go again. Is there anyone else out there who’s waiting for an invitation in the post to join this most democratic of publishing mediums? I just need to remember that if you’re bored, you’ll go away. I’m not forcing anyone to read, let alone share, my opinion. Also, you’re not even there. Simple.


I’ve been rediscovering the pleasures of reading over the shoulder of a feeding baby. Daytime feeds may now involve building train track with my feet, but the last feed of the evening is accompanied by short stories (currently the collection Where the God of Love Hangs Out by Amy Bloom, someone I haven’t read since my teens). Meanwhile, my bath-time reading habit – a whole hour of reading in late-pregnancy – has now been reduced to a poem. Patti Smith’s slender memoir Woolgathering may not quite be poetry, but each of its fragments is the perfect mood-altering, uber-concentrated shot of words. Try this from the section titled Barndance: The mind of a child is like a kiss on the forehead – open and disinterested. It turns as the ballerina turns, atop a party cake with frosted tiers, poisonous and sweet. The child, mystified by the commonplace, moves effortlessly into the strange, until the nakedness frightens, confounds, and he seeks a bit of cover, order. He glimpses, he gleans; piecing together a crazy quilt of truths …

Time passes

‘Well, we must wait for the future to show,’ said Mr Bankes, coming in from the terrace. ‘It’s almost too dark to see,’ said Andrew coming up from the beach. ‘One can hardly tell which is the sea and which is the land,’ said Prue.To the Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf A thin white January sky. The Biscuit is five and a half, the Moose is two and three-quarters, the Pip Pop is five weeks. Like Max in The Wild Things we have sailed in and out of weeks and this is where we have landed: here in the thick of parenthood, here with three car seats lined up in the back of the car, here in a thick tangle of love and children.