Those of you who are truly eagle-eyed will have noticed that I have very definitely not kept up with my promise to read fewer crime novels this year, but there is a reason for that and I want to explain myself before exposing you to at least two new reviews over the following week.
Life, in the form of my health, has gone decidedly pear-shaped in the past few weeks and I’ve found myself stuck at home not knowing from one day to the next whether or not I’m going to be able to do any serious reading and thinking. I’ve had to give up my teaching and support work for the moment and this, as you can imagine, has been really frustrating. So, in order to feel that I’m doing something useful, I’ve gone back to reading ARCs through the good offices of NetGalley. This suits me perfectly at present because most of the books aren’t going to be published for some weeks and so I can read and review them on the good days and then store away the accompanying posts until the books become generally available. However, it does mean that my reading is limited by what NetGalley makes available and the only books at the moment that I am even remotely interested in are all crime novels.
Of course, on those good days I am also reading other material, but all the really interesting stuff takes a little bit more brain and definitely more continuity than I can offer at present and so is tending to pile up waiting for better times. I have recently finished Penelope Fitzgerald’s wonderful novel, Offshore, and I even wrote a cracking good post (if I say it as shouldn’t) about it. Unfortunately, this was last Wednesday afternoon, when the wind and the rain here were doing a passable imitation of Lear’s blasted heath and it wasn’t until I tried to publish it that I discovered my broadband connection was down, that I had been working offline for all but eighty words of a nine hundred word post and consequently it hadn’t been automatically backing up. When I pressed the publish button the whole thing, with the exception of the first paragraph, was wiped out of existence. Let me tell you, there was much gnashing of teeth and turning of the air blue. The Bears had to put their paws in their ears and very nearly sent me to wash my mouth out with soap and water. I will re-write the post at some point but there is little more disheartening than having slaved over a piece of writing only to then find you have got to do it again. All this is being saved to Pages paragraph by paragraph as I write!
The one book I really regret having not yet got round to is the January pick from Heywood Hill, Javier Marías’ A Heart so White, but I promise that this is the next one up as soon as I’ve finished my current book group read, Stephen Dau’s The Book of Jonas, which I will definitely be writing about because it is a most unusual piece of work. Fortunately, February’s book hasn’t yet arrived so I’m not feeling too pressured.
And a final note, again, I’m afraid, just for those of you who are local. I’ve just received notification from the RSC of two sessions that they are running with Hilary Mantel about Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies. The first is on Saturday March 22nd at 11.15 and is just a very short (45mins) discussion between Mantel and Mike Poulton, who adapted the novels for the stage, but the second, which is on the Sunday, is a five hour affair from 11.00, entitled Cromwell’s Court and is a day of talks exploring the context of the novels with Mantel and various Tudor experts. I think these are open to general bookings and if you’re interested I suggest you get in quickly because tickets are going fast. Again, do let me know if you are going to be there. It would be great to meet up.