The Ruby In The Smoke, Philip Pullman
Earlier this week, my girlfriend and I were discussing Sally Lockhart. I got sad that I had lent The Ruby In The Smoke and the other one of the quartet that I owned (I can’t remember which, as I got the other two out of the library more than once, and it was years ago, but The Ruby In The Smoke was my favourite) to someone when I was 11 or 12. I loved those books. Sally Lockhart was what I wanted to be when I grew up.
Then, on Tuesday, it was a bit of a miserable day, so we went to Skoob. I’ve only been there once before, for the #bookshopcrawl, but I really liked it. A second-hand bookshop near Russell Square, it’s an absolute treasure trove, filled to the brim with books and pokey corners. We both could have easily spent a lot of money in there, on all sorts of things, but we were mighty restrained. I picked up The Tiger In The Well and The Tin Princess. My girlfriend also found Extraordinary Popular Delusions, and said that it’s really interesting and her dad loves it, and I had a brief look and decided that I needed that, too.
And then, on Wednesday, because I am weak, I went to the nearest Waterstones to where I work, and bought this really beautiful 30th anniversary edition of The Ruby In The Smoke. And also Tom’s Midnight Garden, which I haven’t read since I left primary school. I am, apparently, all about revisiting childhood this week.
I had been reading Quiet: The Power Of Introverts In A World That Can’t Stop Talking, by Susan Cain, but I couldn’t resist the lure of Sally Lockhart, so I devoured The Ruby In The Smoke in two days’ worth of commutes and an afternoon in the garden. It is as good as, maybe better than, I remembered. There were nuances that I definitely didn’t get as a child, and I didn’t have a real working knowledge of London the way I do now. Falling back into this book was like wrapping myself in a comfort blanket and meeting up with old friends, so familiar but slightly different from last time we met. It was wonderful.
And I still want to be Sally Lockhart when I grow up.
Other categories that The Ruby In The Smoke fits into: a mystery or thriller, a book you can finish in a day, a book from your childhood, a book that takes place in your hometown