2015 reading challenge, Books, Feminism, LGBT

Book challenge #32: A book with antonyms in the title

Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? Jeanette Winterson

Truth for anyone is a very complex thing. For a writer, what you leave out says as much as those things you include. What lies beyond the margin of the text? The photographer frames the shot; writers frame their world. Mrs Winterson objected to what I had put in, but it seemed to me that what I had left out was the story’s silent twin. There are so many things that we can’t say, because they are too painful. We hope that the things we can say will soothe the rest, or appease it in some way. Stories are compensatory. The world is unfair, unjust, unknowable, out of control. When we tell a story we exercise control, but in such a way as to leave a gap, an opening. It is a version, but never the final one. And perhaps we hope that the silences will be heard by someone else, and the story can continue, can be retold. When we write we offer the silence as much as the story. Words are the part of silence that can be spoken. Mrs Winterson would have preferred it if I had been silent. Continue reading “Book challenge #32: A book with antonyms in the title”

2015 reading challenge, Books, Recommendations

Book challenge #30: A classic romance

Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day, Winifred Watson

“All these years she had never had the wicked thrill of powdering her nose. Others had experienced that joy. Never she. And all because she lacked courage.”

Back in April, Kat Brown wrote about how, when doing her tax return, she discovered that, in one year, she had bought seven copies of Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day as gifts, and “it’s got to the stage where I dole out my favourite like medicine”. So when, several months later, I was feeling particularly rotten, she suggested I read it. I dutifully went into Waterstones on an otherwise dull shopping trip, and picked up the spectacularly beautiful Persephone Books edition, and have been reading it on the train.

Continue reading “Book challenge #30: A classic romance”

2015 reading challenge, Books

Book challenge #19: A book with magic


Tom’s Midnight Garden, Philippa Pearce

I can’t remember what prompted me buying this. I vaguely remember having a conversation about it with my girlfriend, but I think it was to illustrate a point about something else. I haven’t read it, though, since primary school, and I couldn’t remember the author, so I asked in the Waterstones near work, while picking up something else. They didn’t have it, though, so I went home with the book I’d actually gone in for. Then, a few weeks later, I went in again – again, for something else – and notice this beautiful edition sitting on the shelf. So of course I bought it. Continue reading “Book challenge #19: A book with magic”

2015 reading challenge, Books

Book challenge #16: A book from your childhood

The Garden, Dyan Sheldon and Gary Blythe

I don’t have many books left from my childhood. A few, but not many. Foolish lending put paid to several of them, like one of my Harry Potters, and The Ruby In The Smoke. But my real sadness comes from the multiple teenage purges that parted me from my battered, beloved, read-and-reread copies of books like Black Beauty and White Fang – though not Just So Stories or The Jungle Book or A Little Princess, presumably because I thought that, as I was, at the grand age of 15 or whatever, so grown-up, that I couldn’t possibly want a book about a horse any more… I don’t know. I needed space for Real Books, or something. How wrong I was. I’ve replaced some of them in recent months, but there are others I can’t remember the titles of, or have forgotten about completely until reminded of them, and, besides, it’s different, having a new copy, to having the same one I hid under the covers with a torch to read. My mum made me keep two copies of the same book, Teddy’s Friend – one is the English version, the other American, and there are a few subtle differences between them – but no other picture books.

Except The Garden. Continue reading “Book challenge #16: A book from your childhood”

2015 reading challenge, Books

Book challenge #7: A book by a female author

The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion, Fannie Flagg

A book by a female author‘ is hardly a challenge for me – of the seven books I’ve read so far this year, only two have been written by men, but this seems a fitting one because it is so very much about women. It follows, simultaneously, Sookie in Alabama in 2005, and the Jurdabralinski family in Wisconsin in WW2. Sookie has four children and a mother who knows everything and everyone; the Jurdabralinskis have five children, four of whom fly planes for the American military. Continue reading “Book challenge #7: A book by a female author”