Witches, vampires, lust, Church, pilgrims and a donkey

More than half way through my week’s holiday and I’ve only managed to read two books. This was because Son #1 came to stay and needed my assistance in setting up a new business. In return he made copious quantities of coffee and food and occasionally left me alone for 30 minutes to read. I took him back to Edinburgh yesterday and let out a huge sigh of relief. Bless him.

The first book was sent to me by a friend whose taste in books I share. It is A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness and a Sunday Times Bestseller, no less. Now, I wasn’t really sure that I was going to enjoy it when I saw it was about witches, vampires and daemons albeit set in the world of academia. But in fact, I really enjoyed it. There was forbidden love (vampires and witches don’t usually get it together), adventures, baddies and goodies, and history too. In fact, it is Twilight for grown-ups or as Entertainment Weekly said ‘for the tweedy set’. Anyway it was great escapism and I thoroughly enjoyed it. My only complaint was that as I neared the end I realised the story was not going to be sewn up neatly but would be continued in the following books of the trilogy, as yet unwritten. I hate that! It’s like when ‘To Be Continued’ appears on the screen and you didn’t expect it. But at the same time the book also journeys into the world of time-travel and I can see that it will be like those old favourites by Diana Gabaldon beginning with Cross Stitch.

The next day, as the interruptions were many, I decided not to read but to watch the whole series of The Borgias. What a treat, that was. Sex, intrigue, politics, incest, murder, more sex, and all set within the confines of the church. Delicious. The vestments were lovely too.  Really one feels that one should never complain about the College of Bishops in our little church ever again.

The next book was Spanish Steps: One Man and his Ass on the Pilgrim Way to Santiago by Tim Moore. This was a Christmas present from the non-church-going husband of the Rector’s Warden who’d seen it and thought of me. Wasn’t that nice? Santiago is, as regular readers will know, on my bucket list but it is the walking that keeps it there. Tim Moore is a very funny writer and almost too funny to write a book. The jokes just came so thick and fast that I had to stop reading for a while every so often because it was just too much. Anyway, the story is as it says on the cover – his pilgrimage to Santiago with a donkey. He’s not religious so is not doing it for that reason, but is intrigued by the epic accounts of a pilgrimage undertaken by one in three medieval Europeans. Realising that walking all that distance with a rucksack ain’t gonna be a lot of fun, he decides to take a donkey along with him to carry the load. Of course, he knows nothing about donkeys. There is a wee bit of The Way in this story – non-religious person finds ‘spirituality’ on the road through the other people he meets. But there is also irreverence, amusing characters, and enough eccentrics to keep you going for a long time. There’s a touch of the Bill Bryson about it too, if that’s what you’re in to. I enjoyed it in doses.

4 thoughts on “Witches, vampires, lust, Church, pilgrims and a donkey

  1. Not sure I could cope with too many witches – shuddering through Phil Rickman’s latest – The Secrets of Pain – just now. I’ve requested Spanish Steps from the library to help me recover from Rickman.

  2. Told you you’d enjoy it!
    Took me by surprise too, I almost didn’t bother reading mine once I’d read the blurb – I’d picked it up in the two for £7 shelf at ASDA or TESCO along with 7 others!

  3. Have you tried ‘Rivers of London’ by Ben Aarovitch. One review says:”An engaging mix of magic and police procedural, this is a great kick off to a very promising series as well as the most satisfying fantasy thriller to hit bookshelves in quite some time.”

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