06 January 2018

Four reading

Library books in various stages of being read - in bath, bed, bus, or on the sofa - now that my latest pair of glasses make reading easier - no more "double lines" or having to close one eye, what joy.

Jane Urquhart is a Canadian author whose books always seem to involve art or artists in some way, at least all those I have read do ... the first such was The Underpainter (described in this scholarly article), the chief character of which is coming to terms with his personal history in a series of paintings called The Erasures. Her latest book is described as "a novel of melancholy" in the NYTimes' review's title (I have not read the review). The artist appears in the first chapter, in a photograph; the character who appears in the second chapter sees his work, a mural in Gander airport (the novel is set in 1960, the days when propellor planes refuelled at Gander after crossing the Atlantic). I look forward the chapter 3 and the rest of the book, melancholy or not.

Donna Leon's detective novels, set in Venice where she lives, can have grisly scenes but I enjoy the main character, Guido Brunetti, and his colleagues with all their irritations. This 1995 novel has computers doing some of the work, but mobile phones haven't made the scene yet. However there is prescient, if somewhat jokey, mention of avoiding using plastic bottles - and from this interview, it seems that ecology will be rearing its head more fiercely in subsequent novels (there are now 26).

Sea Room is about the Shiants, three tiny islands in the Hebrides, home to half a million puffins, which Adam Nicolson inherited (and has now passed to his own son). Read the first chapter here.

The little grey book, one of the 125 Persephone reprints of neglected or forgotten books by 20th centure writers (mostly women), is Saplings by Noel Streatfeild, whose ballet-themed books I devoured in early adolescence - Ballet Shoes sold 10million copies by the time of her death. Saplings was her tenth book for adults.

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