It is two years today since the wonderful and bookish influence on my life that Gran was sadly passed away far too young and far too soon – we still had so many books to talk about and bookshops to go to. It’s weird in some ways as it feels at once much longer since she died and also like it was yesterday. The raw bits from the final few weeks have gone and the happy memories (of which there were many) are much stronger now which is lovely. I still miss her hugely and still think of phoning her when I finish a book or ponder what I should read next or when I read one of her favourite authors latest books and wonder what she would have made of it. Or kick myself that she couldn’t have seen me judging a prize like Fiction Uncovered and have come to the party where she would have been in her absolute element. None of this will ever go or fade, especially when she makes spooky appearances in copies of her books I have inherited as I mentioned recently. God love her. I’m just still slowly acclimatising I guess.
I was umming and ahhing about how to make her reading influence mine again this year; I delved into Graham Greene after she died (which was hit and miss) and then last year finally read (and even met) Rose Tremain and fell in love with her prose and stories as Gran had many years before me and kept urging me to read her. So I was pondering who might be next, if I was going to do it. Well I am, and the answer came to me when I was moving books on shelves earlier this week, as I have three shelves of books I inherited from Gran… and one author I suddenly realised was in quite abundance.
Nevil Shute! I have myself only read one of Nevil Shute’s novels, On The Beach, which I was dubious about reading way back when it was chosen for a book group I was a part of in London. As it was, and despite the fact it is set on a submarine which is even worse than a book being set on a boat, I thought it was a marvellous novel which as stayed with me longer than I thought it would, I remember being very emotional at the end. Anyway Gran had quite a collection, which as I cannot ask her I am assuming she had read as I remember one particular cover of his novels from my childhood as it was on her bedside shelves in Matlock Bath for years and years and years. Weirdly it is the only one that I cannot find…
I wonder if my aunty Alice inherited it, it was probably the fact we had an Alice in the family that made it resonate in my brain. So I am going to track down that edition of A Town Like Alice in the next few weeks and get a copy, I know it won’t be Gran’s but the image has a nostalgia. I am also slightly miffed I can’t find her edition of Requiem for a Wren which I know is meant to be amazing. Anyway… I haven’t decided which of these books, or his books, I will read or in what order yet but I will be reading some Shute over the autumn and probably the winter and would love it if any of you would like to join in. I would also love it if you had some recommendations for me on which Shute novels are particularly brilliant. Thank you – and thanks Gran… I hope!