The sun has shone (mostly) so this week’s holiday has been spent doing a little gardening, aka sitting in the garden. Whilst Lucy Pussy decimates Scotland’s population of bees, I have done a little reading.
The Changeling by Robin Jenkins. How come I haven’t heard of Robin Jenkins before? He’s a Scottish author, now dead, and writes quite beautifully. This is our next book group choice and is set in the Glasgow slums of the 50s, although it seemed much earlier. Mr Forbes, a teacher and family man, takes pity on one of his pupils: 13 year old Tom. Tom is on probation for theft, having stolen food to survive, but is highly intelligent so Mr Forbes decides to take him on holiday with his family to Towellan, a little village ‘doon the watter’. Tom struggles to fit in with the family and the family struggle to cope with Tom. I don’t think our book group will be short of things to say on this one. I thought it was beautiful and thought-provoking and I didn’t guess the end at all.
After you’d Gone by Maggie O’Farrell. This book is in the same vein as all her others but nonetheless it is a gripping read. Alice boards a train at Kings Cross to go and visit her sisters in Edinburgh. Hours later she steps out into traffic and ends up in a coma. Set between North Berwick and London, it is a tale of love and betrayal and passion. It takes a wee while to get used to the jumping back and forth in time, but if you get an uninterrupted time to read (like gardening) then it is soon apparent who is who and where you are. I love her use of language and descriptions and this love story was un-put-down-able.
Stories for Children by Oscar Wilde. On Saturday someone suggested reading children’s stories at Quiet Days and on Retreat. This was recommended and although I knew The Happy Prince I realised I hadn’t read any of the others. These are dark fairy tales but not without humour and pathos. Definitely to be read aloud.