I haven’t done a book post for ages, I seemed to lose my reading mojo over the spring and summer. I lost my usual reading slots, I used to read on the bus to visit my mum which was a two hour round trip, so lots of reading there. I also read on the train on the way to work, then I had three months off isolating! Anyway, I’m now getting the bus to work which usually gives me an hours reading time each way, so I’ve got a few books to share…
Walking Home by Simon Armitage; Simon is a poet who lives near the beginning of the Pennine Way. The Pennine Way was the first long distance walk and it stretches from Edale in Derbyshire, all the way to Kirk Yetholm in Scotland, all 256 miles!! My friend and I do a long distance walk each year but we’ve never even entertained the idea of the Pennine Way, we know our limits! Simon was walking it from north to south, so he was walking home. He hit on the idea of offering a poetry recital in return for board and lodgings. He would sing for his supper! He was accompanied by a wide range of local people during the different stages. It was interesting and quietly entertaining, especially if you’ve done some long distance walks, though it does go on a bit, a bit like the Pennine Way!
A Single Thread by Tracy Chevalier. I pre-ordered this book as soon as I saw it was coming out in paperback. I’ve read a couple of her books and always enjoyed them. I also listened to a talk she did as part of the Yorkshire Festival of Story, it was interesting to hear how she researches books. For this one she learnt how to do tapestry and how to ring bells in particular. It’s set in the early 1930’s, Violet is a ‘surplus woman’, after WW1 there just wasn’t enough men to go round, it was really interesting to read about what life was like for women at that time, ‘surplus women in particular. They were expected to stay at home to look after aging parents, those who did get married left their jobs to be housewives, same sex relationships were still illegal and ladies living together would be socially ostracised. Violet joins a group of embroiderers at Winchester Cathedral and befriends one of the bell-ringers. I really enjoyed it, though I did find the ending a bit contrived, though very moving. A good read.
H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald; This has been on my radar for a while as it’s been mentioned in quite a few of the nature books I’ve read It was only published in 2014 but has become a bit of a classic already. As it says on the back…’H is for hawk is an unflinchingly honest account of Macdonalds struggle with grief during the difficult process of the hawks taming and her own untaming…it is about memory, nature and nation and how it might be possible to reconsile death with life and love’ It’s beautifully written but I did find it a bit heavy, though maybe this was the wrong year to read it in!
I wanted something light to read next, on TV recently there’s been a new adaptation of All Creatures Great and Small’ by James Herriot. It’s been a lovely series, though it doesn’t stick much to the book. It’s also filmed in Grassington in Wharfedale, I’m sure the villages of Wensleydale and Swaledale where the book was set are spitting feathers! Anyway, it made me decide to read the books again. James Herriot was a newly qualified vet from Scotland in the 1930’s, he got a job in Thirsk and most of the patients of the practise were up in the remote corners of Wensleydale and Swaledale. The books are very entertaining, the characters he meets and the two brothers who are his new colleagues. A week or so back on TV there was a re-run of one of the original episodes of All Creatures Great and Small, which I remember watching as a child, it was classic Sunday Night viewing. After the programme there was another one about behind the scenes of the series. It was very interesting…apparently James Herriot insisted the first time round that they stuck exactly to the book. The next in the book series is All Things Bright and Beautiful, I’m just waiting for it to come into stock in our local bookshop. They’re great books, funny and entertaining.
The Sewing Machine by Natalie Fergie; I read a review of this book somewhere and ordered it straight away. It’s based around an old Singer sewing machine across four generations from the lady who worked on it in the Singer factory at the time of a big strike, to the lady who bought it and her descendants. It’s one of those books which does a chapter on each character and timescale, so it flits from 1911 to 2016. It’s interesting how she weaves the plot and builds the characters, you spend most of the book trying to work out how they’re all connected and of course you don’t find out until the final chapter! I enjoyed it, I almost want to read it again knowing who was who. It was also interesting reading how societies values and morals have changed over the 100 years. A good read.
I’m not sure what I’ll be reading next, we now have an independent bookshop in Otley so I’m trying to support it!