Monthly Archives: August 2012

Books By The Bedside #4

It’s time for me to do a little sharing of what I am reading, and of course ask you all to do the same, with my latest ‘Books by the Bedside’ post. I have to admit after my break away and the utter lack of reading while I was there I did come back and have a small period of readers block. That seems to have cleared now thankfully and I am back on reading form. Phew!

One of the books that got me out of a funk, and I am still dipping in and out of, was ‘Adrian Mole From Minor to Major’ which is a collection of the first three volumes of his diaries (‘The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 ¾’, ‘The Growing Pains of Adrian Albert Mole’ and ‘True Confessions of Adrian Albert Mole’) written by Susan Townsend. I was look at books that would get younger people reading, to deliver a presentation for that job I didn’t get sadly, and so dug these out for a re-read. Well, I have been in hysterics! I forgot how funny, and how rude, they are and it is amazing that they haven’t aged, despite the fact they were 30 years old this year they read quite currently.

The second book was also one that I picked up to dip into while I had the small reading block. Nancy Mitford’s essays ‘A Talent to Annoy’ was a book I spotted last week in the library, the perfect place to wander when you have no idea what to read, and almost whooped with joy when I spotted as it is really hard to get hold of. They are perfect quick sharp reads for when you only have five minutes spare and her dry and wry humour just gets me every time.

I am also currently reading two other books. This is very unlike me but let me explain. I have been reading a very advance copy of Colm Toibin’s ‘The Testament of Mary’ which, as I am not religious, is taking me a lot longer than I expected as I keep having to go and Google all the references, like the story of Lazarus, that I know little of. Now when I was getting my head around all this I had a book sort, not ridding myself of any just manoeuvring them around, and I picked up ‘The Age of Miracles’ by Karen Thompson Walker and read the first page… two hours later I was still reading, utterly hooked, and have now almost finished it but as I don’t want it to end I am back to Colm. Do any of you do that?

I then have two books that I am really keen to get to once these lovely reads are all over. I have not read one of Susan Hill’s Simon Serrailler novels in quite a while, the sixth comes out soon and I suddenly realised I was only on the third. ‘The Shadows in the Street’ was a purchase at an independent bookshop I will be writing about very soon. I weirdly had the fifth in this series but not the fourth and though they stand alone I am a stickler for reading in order.

Last, but certainly not least, is ‘Bringing Up The Bodies’ by Hilary Mantel. Now I admit I did say I was going to resist reading this until at least Christmas because I was so sick of hearing about it, then it was long listed for this year’s Man Booker, the hype went up and suddenly I was desperate to read it. I think it the fault of Anne Boleyn, I am fascinated by her and so that is the major pull. Oh and the fact that I loved ‘Wolf Hall’ of course.

So that is what is on my reading horizon, what is on yours?


Filed under Books By The Bedside

The Blank Wall – Elisabeth Sanxay Holding

I don’t know about all of you but when I am reading a book it’s like a film version appears in my brain somewhere whilst the words are in front of me. Well, that is what happens to me and I can’t really put it any better than that, though I am sure we all see the images differently. Reading ‘The Blank Wall’ by Elisabeth Sanxay Holding is the first time I can ever say that a book has played in my head rather like a black and white matinee movie you watch to relax with and be entertained by on a Sunday afternoon. It was a truly delightful experience, even though it is a suspense novel.

****, Persephone Books, 1947 (republished in 2003), paperback, fiction, 232 pages, borrowed from the library

‘The Blank Wall’ is set during World War II not long after the Holley family have moved into a new lakeside home. Well, not all of them have moved for Lucia’s husband Tom is out at war and so when their daughter Bee starts seeing a rather disreputable looking older man Ted Darby, Lucia is left in the difficult position of having to deal with it. However fate intervenes as the next day, and this isn’t a spoiler as it happens early on in the book, Lucia finds Ted dead in their boat house. Deciding it must have been her father, who also lives with the family, she hides the body on a nearby marshy island and things start to go from bad to worse.

The first thing that I loved about ‘The Blank Wall’ was the speed in which Sanxay Holding sets up the story, within a few chapters you have a murder  and also a huge amount of back story that could give several people several motives for doing it. This could lead to your run of the mill, though always exciting as they are, whodunit murder mysteries instead this becomes the start of a really suspense filled tale of how Lucia copes as the situation spirals and tries to save her family in her own rather bumbling yet highly strung and reactionary way. But is she protecting her family or could she be making everything worse?

‘She got a book and read it in bed, with stubborn determination. It was a mystery story she had got out of the lending library for her father, and she was not fond of mystery stories. Nobody in them ever seemed to feel sorry about murders, she had said. They’re presented as a problem m’dear, her father said. What’s more, they generally show the murdered person as someone you can’t waste any pity on. I’m sorry for them, she said, I hate it when they’re found with daggers sticking in them and their eyes all staring from poison and things like that.’

The second thing I loved about the book was Lucia herself and the fact that the novel is narrated through her internal dialogue as well as the external she has with the other characters. This gives us a real insight into just how difficult it is to go from, and remain, the idyllic housewife and mother whilst trying to cover up a murder and possible scandal. As Lucia unravels herself there is the entertaining elements of whether she should wash up, make the beds and clean the baths or go and meet with a blackmailer (this had me in hysterics) yet also an unexpected emotional sting thrown in as the cracks in the relationships with her family (her children are vile, so of course rather readable) members that she hasn’t been aware of before.

‘If Bee comes back and finds the dishes in the sink… Even unsuspicious Father would think that was queer… What reason can I give for running out of the house?
“Oh I don’t know!” she cried aloud in angry desperation. “It’s nobody’s business.”
She decided to finish washing the dishes, and leave them draining. Then I’ll tell them, if they ask me, that I felt like being alone. I’ll say I wanted to think. Why shouldn’t I? Other people do.’

Whilst it does have a domestic setting, ‘The Blank Wall’ is a great thrilling novel that slowly but surely notches the suspense up as you read. You can never be too sure what people’s motives really are and you never know if Lucia is making things even worse than they already are. I picked it up and could barely be parted from it. A truly entertaining, and also rather endearing, suspense novel from an author who deserves to be much more widely read. I will definitely have to root out some more Sanxay Holding novels in the future.


Filed under Elisabeth Sanxay Holding, Persephone Books, Review

Oscar The Kitten… Update #1

Well I have done as I promised and been very restrained in not giving you lots of Oscar pictures, even if I actually take a picture of almost any movement he makes still as he is so cute. However, a fair few of you said that you wouldn’t mind getting Oscar updates and so I thought late on a Thursday night was the time.

He has actually, only last night, had a rather influential visitor in the form of Polly of Novel Insights, who regular visitors will know I have been friends with since the tender age of four years old. She came to stay for the night as she was working not too far away for a few days and so naturally had to come and check out my new pad, new bookshelves and most importantly my new furry friend. As you can see from the picture here —–> considering he isn’t the biggest fan of ladies, as he lives with two men and the last ladies who visited either trod on him or brought a dog along with them, he was more than happy to perch on Polly. He does absolutely love being walked around on your arm, lazy so and so.

He’s finally had his first visit to the vets; we discovered he hadn’t been before we got him, which was his least favourite outing ever. Good news came though that nothing was wrong with him and he is a healthy little kitten. If a bit boisterous (the snip will sort that out in a few weeks). At 20 weeks he has suddenly found a new zest for life and when he isn’t pouncing on you, he hides round corners and jumps to much hilarity and then pain, he is also into and chewing on everything. Yes everything…

Even though he is insanely cute and very cuddly this is one habit that he is going to have to drop, pronto, I am a little bit anal when it comes to books staying rather pristine even if they have been read. Never mind!


Filed under Random Savidgeness

The Colour of Milk – Nell Leyshon

Every so often you meet a character in fiction that you will remember for the rest of your life. These don’t always have to be the narrators of a book nor do they have to be likeable, I am thinking of Mrs Danvers now in ‘Rebecca’, yet when they are it makes a book very, very difficult to put down. In ‘The Colour of Milk’ by Nell Leyshon, an author I hadn’t come across until this book which is her fourth, with Mary and the story she tells I found one of those exact books and (cliché alert) I simply could not put the book down.

*****, Fig Tree/Penguin Books, 2012, hardback, fiction, 172 pages, kindly sent by publisher

It is 1831 when we meet Mary, or as she writes ‘in this year of lord eighteen hundred and thirty one i am reached the age of fifteen’, a young girl and one of four daughters living on a farm where you work, sleep and eat before doing it all over again the next day. The family isn’t a particularly happy one, particularly as it is led by an angry and unpredictable father who will even beat his own father if he dare cross him. Mary herself is rather unruly and some what the black sheep (farm pun not intended) of the family, this could be all from the fact she was born with a crippled leg at birth, and soon is forced to move away, yet oddly doesn’t want to leave, to the vicarage to care for the vicars invalid wife.

‘he ain’t lazy, i said. he ain’t got no choice but to sit there. ain’t like his legs’d take him anywhere.
might as well be dead for all the use he is, she said.
wish i were dead, grandfather said, having to listen to you going on like that.’  

Before you all think I have lost the plot (and the use of spell check on my lovely new laptop) the way the novel is written is one of the things that make it so special, alongside Mary’s narration which as a device it also underlines, because it isn’t your usual fare. You see the tale of an unhappy farm girl who moves to the big house, where good or bad things might happen to her, is not really an original one. However with Mary’s character and the fact the novel is written as she talks, and sometimes almost phonetically ‘straw berry’, really adds to the voice of the novel and makes it stand out. It also somehow gives it that feel of being a classic novel even though it is a contemporary novel, the last time I read a book like this was Jane Harris’ ‘The Observations’ narrated by the ever swearing and gutsy Bessy Buckley, and I loved Mary just as much.

‘my leg is my leg and i ain’t never known another leg. it’s the way i always been and the way i always walked, mother says it was like that when i come out into the world. i was some scrap if a thing with hair like milk and i was covered in some hair like i was an animal and my nails was long. and she says i took one look around me and i opened my mouth and i yelled and some say i ain’t never shut it since.’

Really Mary is the reason that you end up loving the book so much, well it was for me. She is a heroine of teh first degree; gutsy, funny and tells it like it is, occasionally she almost breaks your heart too. The book is a story of a girl who leaves an unhappy home, yet we figure that out as we read on because really Mary is quite happy with her life on the whole thank you very much. The fact the story is reminiscent of a Victorian classic also works in the books favour because it feels comfortable and yet different, does that make sense? I have to admit that i did hazard a guess at ending that seems to have shocked other people I know who have read it, which I will not spoil or even hint at, not that it stopped me loving the book because I was being taken along by Mary who I could have read for another few hundred pages or more.

There are certain books that you instantly take to aren’t there. Books which coax you into the heart of their tale and just have you hooked. ‘The Colour of Milk’ by Nell Leyshon is one such book, for me it is one of those books that is pretty much perfect, in fact so much so I would dare any of you to read it and not do it in one reading gulp. Seriously, I dare you to prove me wrong. And if you don’t believe me then check out reviews from bloggers I trust, and who agree, here and here, one of my books of the year without a doubt. Now who has read any of Nell Leyshon’s other novels?


Filed under Books of 2012, Fig Tree, Nell Leyshon, Penguin Books, Review

Un-Reviews #2

Earlier in the year, in fact so far back I was still in my twenties (starts weeping), I started what I thought was going to be a rather regular new feature of Un-Reviews. A series of posts where I could discuss the books I didn’t finish and, without being harsh or mean (though possibly wry), I could explain why I didn’t get on with the book and couldn’t finish it. I have discovered, more surprisingly than I thought, that I either a) keep reading the books I don’t initially like b) don’t start many books I don’t like, because this is the second of these posts and its some months later. Anyway let’s get to the three books in question shall we?

Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James

I have to admit that I wouldn’t have read this book if I hadn’t bought it for The Beard’s mother as she so politely asked and as there was a few days between its purchase and seeing her I thought ‘well I should really give it a go’. Only twenty pages in and I was thinking ‘this prose is not for me’ but also ‘I don’t believe a girl like Ana could exist’. For those of you who may have been to Mars in the last few months and so don’t know what the book is about Ana, a fresh graduate and seemingly importantly a virgin, who by chance meets Christian Grey a man who likes to domineer in more than just his business ventures and with whom she starts an S&M relationship with. I admit I was intrigued by Christian and in another authors hands why he was into what he was could have been really interesting but for me this book, and the totally unbelievable Ana, were just written for the sex bits, which I of course went on and rushed to and found mildly titillating the first time, then boring and slightly offensive the more I read. If you won’t take my word for it here is the review of The Beards mother sent via text…

“Managed two thirds of the book, was very badly written, trite and totally without humour. As erotic as DIY shopping, with maybe a few more uses for the items those shops stock. Jilly Cooper in her heyday far more erotic. Can’t for the life of me think why it’s become so big, but once it starts its self perpetuating hence why I wanted to read it. There that’s me done, have passed it onto John [her husband].”

The Villa Triste by Lucretia Grindle

I feel slightly mean writing about this one as the publishers very kindly sent it me (the publishers of Fifty Shades said they sent it but it has been lost in Royal Mail, see even postmen are reading it) as it was set in Florence and so would be ideal for my trip. I could see why they would think so as the story is a thriller set in the 1940’s, when Italy was invaded by Germany, and then in the present when an aged partisan is killed by being shot and having filled himself with salt. The crime element of the book and how it was connected with the past almost made me read on past page one hundred and something but sadly the author seemed to have a tic which just grated on me. Too many similes, way too many, I think in one paragraph I counted six ‘likes’. It became so noticeable it took over from the prose and I started to sigh a lot. When a police procedure gone embarrassingly wrong and was compared to ‘like grannies disco dancing’ I decided enough was enough. A shame as it had a lot going for it.

Ancient Light by John Banville

I have been told by so, so many people that I must read John Banville (Gran is a big fan) and so as everyone was saying it was a dead cert for the Man Booker I thought I would give it a try. I don’t know why this book didn’t work for me, for a start I really liked the prose in many aspects, I just didn’t get hooked and was longingly looking at other books on the TBR. This tale of Alexander Cleave (and his wife’s) grief was intriguing as was how Alexander consoles himself in the memory of an affair he had with his best friend’s mother when he was younger, but something wasn’t there. Maybe this just wasn’t the time for me to read it? Since I have put the book down I have learnt that the narrator is also in ‘Eclipse’ and ‘Shroud’ and so maybe subconsciously I felt I was missing part of the story, would I go back and read those books, hmmm, I am not sure. I liked something about the prose though so maybe I should try one of his other books instead, any recommendations?

So those are the latest books I have started but been at a loss to finish for various reasons. What about all of you? Have any of you read these and managed to get all the way through, if so what am I missing?


Filed under Un-Reviews

The Bookshop Band

Sometimes I hear about something bookish and I have to do a quick and immediate post as I want you all to hear about it. Today is such a case, as I have already scheduled a post for later on, as after I listened to a previous Guardian Books Podcast and heard a musical act, The Bookshop Band, who I thought if you hadn’t already heard of then you really might like to. Before I go on here is one of my favourite of their songs ‘A Shop With Books In’

Alas their website is down so I can’t find out too much about how the band started and all that jazz, however, I know they would perform at Mr B’s Bookshop, or Mr B’s Emporium of Delights as it is rather delightfully called and I would kill to visit, in Bath taking a book and writing a song based on it. You can have a look through their other videos on their Vimeo account.

Once I had had a good look through their videos I of course wanted to get my hands on the actual music and couldn’t initially find where you could by it. I then stumbled upon their twitter account (@thebookshopband) and found a landing page where you can buy the music and guess what… it comes in a package that looks like a selection of books. Can you guess what I have added, rather early on, to my Christmas list this year?


Filed under Random Savidgeness

The School of Whoredom – Pietro Aretino

What I think is interesting with the whole phenomenon of ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ is the fact that it seems to have opened up the whole debate of reading erotica amongst the masses. What I also find funny is the fact that some people think this is the first time such a book has been written. It seems D. H. Lawrence’s ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’ and the furore that caused has been long forgotten, not to mention Anais Nin or even Pietro Aretino, a name not many would say they know and yet is the man who it is believed wrote the first erotic novels back in the 1500’s. I have been reading his books for the last few years and like Nin and Lawrence yet unlike E. L. James (from the small amount I read of ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ before giving it up and away) story, prose and characters are as important to the books as the erotica is.

Hesperus Press, 1535 (republished 2003), paperback, fiction, 99 pages, kindly sent by publisher

I am rather confused as to whether ‘The School of Whoredom’ is the first or the last in the series of three novella’s (the other two being ‘The Secret Life of Nuns’ and ‘The Secret Life of Wives’) featuring the wonderfully forthright, blunt and no nonsense Nanna. Either way it is a tale of Nanna advising a young woman, this time her daughter Pippa rather than Antonia (who does get a mention), in the art of whoredom and how to be the perfect courtesan.

Initially this may seem like a simple excuse for the author to write something sensational and a little bit vulgar and, if I am being honest, there is something about those qualities that make it so readable. As the book has dated it really isn’t that shocking, though I seem to remember I was a little shocked at ‘The Secret Life of Nuns’, it is more slightly titillating and then more of a fun romp than anything else as Nanna explains all the skills you need as well as all the wiles. However the more I have thought about this novella the more I think that Aretino actually depicts society and people in Italy at the time he wrote it in the 1500’s and that is what makes the book all the more interesting and more than just a bit of historical raunch.

As Nanna advises Pippa on what her clientele will want she also tells Pippa all about them. Initially there are the different ages of men, then the different walks and positions in life these men have and finally how different men from different parts of Italy will also differ and yet have things in common. This, along with her insights and experience in the world of the courtesan, really does give conjure up the atmosphere and life at the time. I found it quite fascinating.

One of the things I have always loved about the series is Nanna. As all three of these books have been told as a two woman dialogue you really feel like you are eavesdropping on a very private conversation. Nanna makes it all the more entertaining with her exaggerations, dramatics and rather saucy sense of humour. She really is one of my favourite characters in literature (and yes I would say these books are deemed literature) and one I am definitely going to miss now I have read all three.

“Nanna: Pippa, though I make people believe you are sixteen, you’re twenty clear and plain; you were born just after the end of Leo’s conclave, and when all Rome was shouting ‘Balls, balls!’ I was screaming ‘Oh God, oh God!’ And it was just as the arms of the Medici were being hung on the door of St Peter’s that I had you.”

Some people may be rather shocked or disappointed that I have chosen to include a review of a book like ‘The School of Whoredom’ on the blog, but to be honest as the whole world is discussing the Fifty Shades series I would like to send you in the direction of some erotica which has deeper characters, finer prose, a sense of irony and some historical context. You get all of those and a good titter too with this series and with each one being under 100 pages you don’t have to get to page 131 for the, erm, action to kick off as it were. Plus I am pleased Fifty Shades has got erotica out there more, I mean why should you be ashammed to read it? Go on; give them a whirl I say!


Filed under Hesperus Press, Pietro Aretino, Review

It’s A Don’s Life – Mary Beard

If you had told me at the start of 2012 that I would have embraced the world of classic civilization over the next few months I would have looked at you with a raised eyebrow and the expression ‘I seriously doubt it’ all over my face. My mother teaches Classics and as a child I got all the myths, taken round Pompeii for about nine hours, endless (literally endless) trips round museums with Roman and Greek relics and then ridiculed at secondary school (where my mother also taught) when I got 100% in the Classics exam. I might have studied it further had that not happened and my mother being one of the only teachers who taught it. However this has changed this year, this is in part thanks to two women. One was Madeline Miller and her wonderful debut novel ‘The Song of Achilles’, the other was watching Mary Beard’s ‘Meet the Romans’ which had me hooked and led me to ‘It’s A Don’s Life’ a collection of her blog posts for the TLS.


Profile Books, 2009, paperback, non fiction, 224 pages, kindly sent by publisher

The things that I most liked about Mary Beard when watching her present ‘Meet the Romans’ was her warmth, humour, enthusiasm and the fact that she talks to the audience, which even though you know is lots and lots of people you feel is just you, in a down to earth tone without implying you are stupid. I was relieved, and rather thrilled to discover that as soon as I started reading ‘It’s A Don’s Life’ her blog posts, which read like brief essays, had exactly the same qualities about them. It doesn’t matter if she is discussing the academic world (she is a ‘Don’ after all), her students at Cambridge, politics, Amy Winehouse or a new historic place that she visits, the way she writes is like she is talking to you over a coffee. She never patronises or come across as ‘clever’ even though she clearly is.

“You have to pay extra to visit the harem and technically speaking you can only go round with a guide (parties leave every half hour). But despite fierce notices about not getting separated from your group, none of the guards seemed too much bothered if you hired an individual ‘audio guide’ and wandered pretty much at will.”

Even though I have been completely won over by the way she brought everyday Roman life to, erm, life in ‘Meet the Romans’ I worried that with this collection I might feel slightly out of my depth. I am no Cambridge student after all, though I wish Mary Beard had taught me, and I was worried that as the book went on the merge of the classical history and the academic life might prove too much. It doesn’t and that is for two reasons, as I mentioned before the book isn’t just about Classics and Cambridge, but when it is its insightful and funny ‘Pissing in the Pyramids’, ‘Keep Lesbos for Lesbians’ and ’10 Things You Thought You knew About The Romans… But Didn’t’ are all prime examples of that, there is also the fact that she will throw in sentences and asides that you empathise with and know about through daily life.

“I do have a soft spot for Woman’s Hour. I like the way it squeezes in wonderfully subversive feminist reports next to those drearily wholesome recipes for tuna pasta bake.”

As read in Verona Arena…

I almost want to call Mary Beard’s style of prose a little ‘naughty’ in some respects, on ‘Meet the Romans’ I loved how she gave us the nitty gritty side of Roman times like communal loo’s and tales of murder, here we have more Roman insight and all the Latin words for naughty bits (which I have been telling everyone about since and then praising the book overall) yet I think ‘wry’ is probably a better term for her demeanour.

 “Most people go onto Amazon to buy books; easy shopping, and it would be an entirely admirable enterprise, if it wasn’t killing all our local bookshops. Authors, though, sneakily visit Amazon to check how their books are selling… …But what every author wants to know is how many sales does it take to get you zooming up the Amazon ranks. I’ve always suspected we are dealing with single figures here. But proof came the other day when the husband decided to buy 4 copies of his own book on icons, which seemed almost as cheap, and a lot easier to obtain from Amazon than from the publishers. The result was that he zoomed more than 250,000 places up the rankings.”

The second reason that the book doesn’t get too much, I seemed to get sidetracked from this earlier sorry, is that by its very nature this is a book that you dip in and out of rather than simply read it in one or two sittings as you might a novel.

In fact one of the phrases that Mary uses in the afterword of this collection is “The book is also a convenient and portable commodity. No one I know reads their laptop on the underground, in bed or on the loo.” This seems most apt as I have been dipping in and out of this collection in all these places, well, swap the underground for an aeroplane and throw in a Roman Arena as shown above. Whether you know a lot about Classics and the Romans (even if its lain dormant or hidden) or nothing at all I would highly recommend spending some time with Mary Beard be it in book form, blog or on the television, it is a joy and you’ll learn things without knowing it. I am really glad I have the next collection ‘All In A Don’s Day’ in the TBR for similar style reading over the next few months.

So who else is a big Mary Beard fan? (Some of you may know I started a twitter account for ‘The Beardettes’ @welovemarybeard should you wish to follow it.) Are you a regular reader of her blog for the TLS? Have you read any of her other books such as ‘Pompeii: The Life of a Roman Town’ or ‘The Parthenon’, if so should I give them a whirl? I am very tempted.


Filed under Mary Beard, Non Fiction, Profile Books, Review

Juliet’s Balcony, From Romeo & Juliet

I will be doing some longer posts on my break away in Italy, from the sightseeing to the bookshops that I discovered, over the next few weeks. Today I thought I would do a special post on the most literary of the venues we went to in Verona which is, of course, Juliet’s balcony which is said to have been the inspiration for the story behind the story of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ if that makes sense.

I have admitted before that I was thoroughly put off Shakespeare by my English teachers at school, yet ‘Romeo and Juliet’ was my favourite of the plays we studied, I was also of the generation who ran to see Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation when it came out at the cinema, all edgy and new, which we all thought was amazing. So seeing ‘the alleged ledge’, as I kept calling it, was on my list of places to go (so was Juliet’s tomb but we kept missing it when we were hunting for it) if we could. What amazed me is what a Mecca it has become for lovers; the walls of the entrance to the courtyard are just covered in graffiti of lovers, love hearts and initials.

So much so that there isn’t any space for anymore and so people have started flattening chewing gum and writing in permanent marker on those chewy circles when they have dried, or sticking notes and post its through the same method. Clearly the tourist board aren’t too happy with that and so they have started a new craze which is to padlock your initials, and therefore love, to chains around the courtyard instead…

Oddly enough all the nearby shops have cottoned on to this and you can by a variety of padlocks in all sorts of colours and sizes. We saw endless girls running, some squealing, to the shops (invariably dragging a slightly embarrassed beau with them) and buying a padlock there and then. Well, who were we not to join in?

Alas we didn’t get to see the tomb where it all ended so dramatically, and which I suddenly desperately wanted to find, nor did we visit Romeo’s house (The Beard said ‘his house isn’t famous for anything, let’s be honest’) or have a picture touching the statue of Juliet’s breast (why do people do this?) but it did make me ponder if I should turn to Shakespeare again? I have been reading some of his poems on and off since and I am seeing them in a new light. Anyway, I thought with its literary twist you might like to see Juliet’s ‘alleged ledge’, have any of you been and left your mark? Oh and do any of you know if it is true that apparently the story of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ was a local fable which Shakespeare ‘borrowed’ and was inspired by? That is what we heard while we were there. Hmmm, intriguing.


Filed under Random Savidgeness

A Small Book Bloggers Plea…

This will learn me. After having just moved my work from my old laptop onto my hard drive alas old Larry the Laptop made a horrid buzzing sound, went completely blue in the fact and apparently died. It seems I was just in time getting Louis the Laptop this week doesn’t it?

While my work was saved, thank heavens, I have lost a fair bit of music, most of my pending reviews (though I have a sneaky suspicion they are on one of many memory sticks) plus all my favourite websites in my internet browser favourites, yes I know I should have Google reader, lesson learned. So could you please do me a favour…?

…If you have a book based blog and I have visited in the past, remember I have been dreadful of this of late because of the slow laptop of no more, can you please leave the link to it in the comments below. Also if you have a book blog and I haven’t visited, or you are newish, please can you leave a link in the comments below too?  This includes any lurkers who don’t comment, ha! This way I can catch up with you all (plus any updated/moved blogs) and meet new faces and maybe even create some kind of book blogging directory, is there one already?

Note: I won’t say thank you individually, though thanks in advance, but I will pop and comment on a post so you know I have been and visited.


Filed under Random Savidgeness

50 Shades of Posh Porn…

I am still in the midst of sorting out my new lovely laptop and transferring everything from hard discs or my old laptop if it can stay on for two seconds. However today I have been out and about to cheer me up (I didn’t get the job I went for because they didn’t feel I read enough ‘literature’, more on that in a day or two) and went for a trip around Formby. It has two book shops and loads and loads of charity shops, so I was in heaven. I did laugh though as why it is when you have a specific book in mind on a charity shop trawl it is fated to be the only one that none of the ten, yes ten, you go in have. Nor did the two new bookshops, drats. Anyway, having a pub lunch I saw this in the paper and had to share it all with you…


I loved this article for several reasons. One is the fact that I think Victoria Beckham is a bit brilliant and have for years, there’s a wryness to her that I really like. Two, I never thought that I would hear her talk about books. Three, she bought one for her mum, and I bought it for my possible future mother in law, so that makes us peas in a pod doesn’t it? Four, that this book has really had everyone talking about it! Will Kate, Camilla or Queen Liz be seen with a copy peeking out of their purse at some point, maybe the Olympics closing ceremony?

Anyway it entertained me and was bookish so I thought I would share it with you all.


Filed under Book Thoughts, Random Savidgeness, Uncategorized

Laptop Crashes & Brain Freezes… Sort of Sorted

Hello one and all, I hope this finds you all well? I have to make a small apology as for the last few weeks I haven’t been blogging or posting with quite the enthusiasm or punctuality of normal. This is because I have been having laptop issues, which I think I have bored you all with before, and they have been getting more and more severe meaning doing anything on my poor laptop was just becoming a chore with endless waiting around while it freezes, decides to turn itself off, fizzes at the plug (!!!!), crashes etc, etc. Well now that should all be over as guess what I went and got yesterday…


A new laptop, finally!!! I have to say it’s not been 24 hours yet, and I have yet to finish the trillion updates that you have to install when you get a new laptop, yet I am back enjoying spending time typing away again. I have to admit with Granny Savidge Reads being ill (she still hasn’t got any feeling really in the left leg, but can squeeze her left hand), The Beard getting a new job, me having an interview for a dream bookish job, my moving house again, the antics of Oscar the kitten, a trip to Italy and Green Carnation Prize submissions to read my brain has been crashing rather like my computer was. I am post job interview (which I don’t think I have got as I don’t think my interview was great, ugh, I don’t think I sold myself as a reader or my literary knowledge – am very cross with myself) and after an amazing holiday (which I will report back on) I am back, and with my rejuvenated love of typing so will the blog be… in full gear within the next day or so. Just give me time to get my laptop and brain updated and fully ready, ha.

It’s about time actually as I have so much to tell you about. There’s a backlog of books, some as far back as March which I haven’t posted about, possibly my thoughts on the Man Booker longlist 2012 (which I actually really like) and finally I can introduce some new pages and the like which I have been meaning to do for ages but been unable to. That also goes for visiting other book blogs and commenting back on my own; sorry I have been rubbish on all that.

So I have given you a sudden rush of all my latest news and happenings off the blog, what have you all been up to? Read anything good of late? Any non bookish excitement to share?


Filed under Random Savidgeness