I have a number of books on the go, under different headings ranging from references, research, to book club and pleasure and from fiction to non-fiction and in tangible paper format and on my Kindle. Where to start?
Let’s start with the fiction books:
On my Kindle: Tobias Hill
After reading Tobias Hill’s The Cryptographer I have now started The Love of Stones, a wonderful and in-depth researched tale of the search for a jewel called the Three Brethren. The book is a mine of information on jewels and precious stones and the story has it that the Three Brethren was originally commissioned as a shoulder clasp by the Duke of Burgundy in the 15th century. It consists of three balas rubies, arranged in a triangle around a diamond faceted like a pyramid with three pearls at the triangle’s points and a fourth hanging from one of the rubies. I have not finished this book but enjoy the journey which so far as taken me from Turkey and London to Baghdad and I’m sure there is much more to come. I have been following the travels of the jewel also by continuously searching the internet and it is really not clear what is fact and fiction because a jewel / shoulder clasp and variations of The three Brethren are shown in portraits for example of John the Fearless (the Duke) who wears a shoulder-clasp.
Most of all, Tobias Hill is a great writer who comes up with enjoyable sentences and images that we can all learn from. If you want to know more about Tobias Hill you could read the interview in the Guardian, last Saturday.
Lottie Moggach: Kiss me First. I read this at the end of January, an uneasy and chilling read that invites us to consider the possibility of committing suicide without anyone ever finding out because you have invited someone else to take over your identity. It is the story of Leila who is not at all at ease with herself and contemporary life that is played on social media websites full of superficial friendships. The question is of course whether or not someone could completely take over the identity of someone else, including relationships and attachments. It definitely kept me reading!
Beryl Bainbridge‘s According to Queeney, a book I should have read already of course but I was not really attracted by the invitation to consider Samuel Johnson’s physical decline in particular. I have recently joined a book club and this is the one on their list for discussion the next time they meet (my first time), so let’s see what the consensus is. Of course, Bainbridge is a fantastic writer, however, it still is not a book that would be high on my to read list, for the simple reason that I find the personalities and their idiosyncrasies slightly off putting. Bainbridge does a wonderful job though bringing them to life and all marks for her writing.
Non-fiction and writing
I am well on my way through a second editing of my novel and enjoy having the time to do some more research. Parts of the story are set in different countries, the Netherlands, England and Iran and so I have a great time browsing through Dominic Sandbrook’s ‘The Way We Were: Britain 1970-1974 which also brings back memories of the lights going out and the miners’ strikes. Seems such a long time ago, all that! Sandbrook’s series on the history of Britain also includes volumes on the History of Britain in the Sixties, a History of Britain from Suez to the Beatles, and Seasons in the Sun (197401979). For anyone interested in what really happened in the sixties and seventies, this is a must have.
Yes, I’m having a great time catching up on so much reading. The other books on that table? Well, a collection of short stories by Alice Munroe (Dear Life) and The Penguin Book of Classical Myths by Jenny March – both also well worth having around for those times that you want something different!