Sunday, 30 March 2014

Memorable Literary Mothers - My Top Ten

It's Mother's Day today and everywhere I've looked this week people have been talking about their favourite fictional mothers - either in books or in film - so, ever one for making a list, here are my booky top ten ,....

1 - Mrs March (Little Women by Louisa May Alcott)- a very traditional sort of mother but strong and independent at the same time. Maybe the sort of mother I'd most like to have or be...

unless I could be like

2 - Jane Bell (All Fun and Games Until Somebody Loses an Eye by Christopher Brookmyre) - a bored middle-aged housewife discovers a new lease of life when she goes to the rescue of her kidnapped son. Swapping housework for spying, Jane discovers life really begins after 40!

3 - Not sure I'd like to find myself in Dolly Oblonskaya's place (Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy)  - a bit pushed into the background in many ways by her sister-in-law Anna, Dolly always seems over-burdened and worn out coping with her unfaithful husband Stiva and bringing up their large family.

4 - another mother stretching herself in all directions but in a modern multi-tasking way  - investigative reporter come crime solver Annika Bengtzon  from the series by Liza Marklund

5 - Motherhood at its most protective - the un-named mother in Veronique Olmi's Beside the Sea goes to extraordinary lengths to keep her family 'safe'

6 - or suffocating  - Mrs Morel (Sons and Lovers by DH Lawrence) keeps a firm grip at the hearts and minds of her sons, never wanting them grow up or willing to let them fly the nest.

 7 - a different sort of manipulation - Sara Fitzgerald deliberately conceives a 'designer' baby to help save her elder daughter from a rare form of leukaemia. 13 years later, no permanent cure has been found and there's no end in sight to the procedures and surgery her younger daughter is undergoing to save her sister.   My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult

8  - a mother going off the rails - two extra seconds in the day bring Diana's carefully constructed, emotionally empty, world crashing down in Perfect by Rachel Joyce

  9 - Lexie from The Hand That First Held Mine by Maggie O'Farrell - although on reading Elina seems the more obvious choice of 'memorable mother', Lexie's the one that stayed in my mind - I won't say why in case you haven't read it!

10 - Isabel Sherbourne (The Light Between Oceans by ML Stedman) unable to have children of her own, Isabel 'adopts' a baby found in a boat washed ashore on her remote lighthouse-island home, leading to an emotional tug-of love.

Links on the titles take you to a 'proper' book review

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Woodland Spring

After a week of glorious sunshine, Spring is in the air in the Wood.

The first primroses are in flower.

Anemone leaves peeping through.

There's blossom on the sloe bushes and wild cherry trees

Even some green leaves starting to show on the hawthorn hedges

and frogspawn in the pond.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Along the River at Chatsworth

This weekend the weather was just too nice to stay indoors so we went over to Chatsworth and as the house and grounds don't open till next week, went for a walk along the river.

as far as the weir and mill ruins

We glimpsed some deer at a distance but this local was happy to come quite close.

As we walked back to the car, the setting sun sparkled off the golden windows

Friday, 7 March 2014

Shipley Snowdrops

Last year we went to Shipley Park for our 'snowdrop visit' a little too early but managed to time it a little better this year - and the ground was truly covered in drifts of them

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Not the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction

Tonight's the night the longlist for the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction is announced. Now I doubt there's going to be much on there that I've read, so here's my totally alternate Top Twelve of the last year. Is anyone likely to agree? Which were your favourite deserve-an-award reads? no particular order...

click on the links to read my reviews over on OurBookReviewsOnline

Caroline Smailes - The Drowning of Arthur Braxton - a strange mix of myth, magic and mundane in the public baths

Jo Baker - Longbourn - Pride and Prejudice from the servants point of view

Evie Wyld - All The Birds, Singing

certainly my Serendipitous Find of the Year thanks to Twitter

Lavanya Sankaran - The Hope Factory -
 a sort of modern, literary, Indian 'Upstairs, Downstairs'

 Rachel Joyce - Perfect - what could possibly happen in two extra seconds? Well, as it turns out for 11 year old Byron Hemmings and his family, enough to change his whole world.

Naomi Wood - Mrs Hemingway
the story of not one, not two, but the four wives of Ernest Hemingway

Anna Hope - Wake
a brilliant debut novel, deeply moving, well-plotted and engrossing, about the aftermath of war and its effects not only the combatants directly involved but a far wider circle
 Emylia Hall - A Heart Bent Out of Shape
a coming of age novel set against the backdrop of Lausanne
 Helen Walsh - The Lemon Grove
It's hot, steamy and full of illicit passion but it's more than a summer sex romp. It's also a wonderful portrayal of a family reaching a turning point in their lives.

Adele Parks - Spare Brides
everything you expect from a conventional romantic novel - glamorous parties, gorgeous clothes, an enigmatic hero and a passionate love affair - and more!

Natalie Young - Season To Taste or How to Eat your Husband
the title says it all - a darkly humorous tale of murder and body-disposal

Meike Ziervogel - Magda

a short perceptive novel trying to get inside the head of Magda, wife of Joseph Goebbels

Monday, 3 March 2014

Cromford Reflections

A sunny day during the half-term holiday drew us out to Cromford - a not-at-all strenuous walk along a good dry footpath to lunch outside in the sun, followed by a gentle stroll back.

Walk alongside any still stretch of water and there's bound to be reflections, some more identifiable than others.

The Friends of Cromford Canal have been chopping down some trees along the banks and now opened up this view of mill-owner Arkwright's house.