Weekly Fragments ~ December 17th

quill_n_paperI’m posting here later than I intended mainly because much of this last week has been spent going back and forth to my doctor and consequently I have to give advance warning that much of the early part of next year may well be spent going back and forth to the local hospital.  If, therefore, I should suddenly vanish from the ether for longer than expected you will know that it is because I am either being filled full of extremely nasty substances or having equally nasty foreign bodies put into places which were definitely not originally designed to accommodate them – or quite possibly both.  The irony of all this is that while I am now living with a certain amount of discomfort this is because I have had to come off a particular medication and as a result my mind is clearer than it has been for at least the last twelve months.  It is worrying how the effects of seemingly innocuous drugs can creep up on you without you realising the extent of the damage they are doing.  I knew I had been a bit on the dopey side recently but I hadn’t understood how much until the cause was removed.

Still, enough of that other than to say that it has rather got in the way of my reading these past few days and I have to admit that I still haven’t started my Heywood Hill book, The Great Fire.  However, I hope to put that right later in the day and to finally wean myself away from the crime fiction which is always my standby when I don’t want to have to think too much.  Over the weekend I read the latest in the Rebus series, Saints of the Shadow Bible and I’m halfway through a novel by an Irish writer new to me, Claire McGowan, called The Lost.  This is McGowan’s second book and deals with the search for two young women who have gone missing in the border area of Northern Ireland.  She has been likened to Ruth Rendell, but for me she reads more like Jane Casey and, as I prefer Casey to Rendell, that makes her a firm recommendation.  Having spent much of my working life in the company of people who in one way or another were touched by the problems in the province during the very worst of the troubles, I think she’s caught the atmosphere perfectly and I am certainly going to be getting hold of her previous novel,The Fall.  From what I can gather about the earlier book, McGowan is writing one offs, which is a shame because in forensic psychologist, Paula Maguire, I think she has a character worth developing. However, that’s the way S J Bolton, for me the very best of the younger generation of crime writers, started out and once she ‘discovered’ Lacey Flint she allowed her to grow and is developing a compulsive series around her.  Perhaps McGowan will do the same.

Saints of the Shadow Bible was a satisfactory enough read and if I hadn’t known Rebus of old I would probably have been well pleased by it.  But, I do know Rebus of old and consequently I was disappointed.  What is happening to him as he gets older?  The man is turning into a positive pussycat.  I don’t want to spoil it for those of you who haven’t yet got to the top of the library waiting list but when you see who ends up as his drinking companion you will be shocked indeed.  The Rebus I know, if not quite love, would never have been seen dead in such company.

So, what about the week ahead?   Well, I really am going to start The Great Fire later on today and then where more literary reading is concerned it will be either The Luminaries or The Goldfinch.  Would those of you who have read them have any suggestions as to which I should try first?  I’ve also decided that I’ve been wrong to neglect what’s coming out in the way of Children’s Fiction and at some point this afternoon I’m going to collect Marcus Sedgwick’s She is not Invisible and Rebecca Stead’s Liar and Spy from the library.  I’ve also downloaded the Dutch children’s classic The Letter for the King by Tonke Dragt, which has just been translated for the first time and which I’m really looking forward to being finally able to read.   I’m not going to give up the crime scene altogether, however, and have The Late Scholar, the new Peter Wimsey as told by Jill Paton Walsh and the latest William Brodrick, The Discourtesy of Death to start, as well as Louise Penny’s most recent Inspector Gamache novel, How the Light Gets In, saved specially for Christmas Day.

Oh and yesterday I did manage to get away from the doctor long enough to see the second episode of The Hobbit.  Do you know, I think Tolkien would have recognised at least a third of it!

21 thoughts on “Weekly Fragments ~ December 17th

  1. Firstly, I’m very sorry to read about your health and I do hope treatment will go well for you. I’ve only recently discovered your blog but have very much enjoyed reading it. Secondly, I’d vote for The Goldfinch – wonderful Dickensian novel that you can sink into. But then I haven’t got around to The Luminaries, yet….

    1. Thanks Susan. It looks as if ‘The Goldfinch’ is winning out at the moment. I’m hoping to have time to read both of them but it will depend on how much time I have to spend in hospital waiting rooms. The one advantage of them both being so long is that I’m unlikely to resent being called hours after my appointment time.

  2. Sorry to hear about the doc and hosp. From my experience, make sure you stock up on comforting things – foods, drinks and books – as it’s tiring just going back and forth, let alone everything else.

    Mr Liz is reading Luminaries and can’t put it down (well, can’t get it out of his ears, I suppose, as he’s doing the audiobook). Then again, I don’t fancy that OR Goldfinch so I should probably be quiet!

    1. Liz, you should never be quiet! I will definitely stock up on books. Hanging around in hospitals is one of those times when a well-stocked e-reader definitely comes into its own. The other two are rather more difficult as at the moment I am pretty much existing on porridge and yoghurt. However, I will add a festive sprig of holly for Christmas day!

  3. So sorry to hear about all the doctor visits! I hope you are able to avoid the hospital and all those unpleasant sounding things that would result. Hope The Great Fire is off to a good start! I’ll be seeing the Hobbit movie on Christmas Eve, I’ve heard there is much added but Peter Jackson has been doing such a good job with the movie it doesn’t seem like such a very bad thing.

    1. I really rather enjoyed the first of ‘The Hobbit’ films. I thought the changes that Jackson made were necessary to make the film ‘whole’ and that in general they were in line with what Tolkien was doing, but this time it really is just padding for paddings sake and the whole enterprise would have been better if he’d just finished the story off in this second episode.

  4. Sorry to hear about the doctor trips! Haven’t read either of them so can’t help, I’m afraid. I’m just about to start The Goldfinch myself, so here’s hoping. And I’m also hoping Santa might bring The Luminaries so I’ll be interested to hear what you think of whichever you pick. 🙂

    1. The vote is tending toward ‘The Goldfinch’ at the moment but I’m hoping there will be time for both of them. The trouble is my expectations of what I’m going to be able to read always outstrip what i can actually manage. Unless, that is, I am waiting around at hospital. Then I always find I don’t have enough. I must get that sorted for the new year!

  5. Adding my sympathy with the doctors and crossing my fingers that the hospital trips may not be necessary – or at least few in number! I haven’t read either book, so I can’t vote.

    I don’t know why I am so bothered by the inclusion not just of Legolas in the film, but also a female elf – since I have no plans to see it, I shouldn’t let it bother me, or again, get a vote. But every time the topic comes up, I feel compelled to point out that neither is in the book!

    1. I might have coped with an appearance by Legolas given that his father is the king of the Elves of Mirkwood and that Elves live such long lives. I’ve always assumed that he must have been around when the Dwarves were there but not a whole storyline.

  6. More waves of sympathy coming your way. It sounds a fairly miserable way to contemplate the start of a new year. Rebus going soft?? No surely that can’t be true – seems so much out of character. I want him as curmudgeonly as always

  7. Like all other visitors am sorry to hear about your hospital trips. I understand what you say about the grip of crime fiction when you don’t want to think too much. Haven’t read Jane Casey – if she is better than Rendell she must be worth looking up!

    1. Thanks Ian, I’ve never been the greatest of Rendell fans so I may be biased, but if you haven’t read Casey then she’s certainly well worth trying. Have you read S J Bolton? I don’t think she can be beaten at the moment.

  8. I’m sorry that your health is giving you such problems, and hope that at least books can offer you some solace. I’ve read the first Claire McGowan, and though it had weaknesses I thought that it showed great promise and that it was very readable. I must order the next one, to join the most recent Jane Casey – and the first Kate Rhodes – on my library pile,

    1. Thanks Fleur. I’ve just had a call from the hospital and I’m going in for a first set of tests on Christmas Eve, just for the day. I suspect no one else was prepared to go but as I only have myself to organise (just try organising Bears!) and I only live fifteen minutes away I’d rather get the process started. I see there’s a second book in Casey’s YA series due out in the New Year. I shall definitely have to get hold of that.

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