Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Tuesday Intros, a Christmas theme.

I'm joining Barbara, the hostess of Tuesday Intros, with a book set at Christmas time. Rosaleen's four children return to the west coast of Ireland for a final family Christmas in the home she is going to sell. The back cover blurb describes her as, 'a woman who doesn't quite know how to love her children.'

I've yet to start the book and I'm not too sure how cheerful it's going to be for this festive season. Wishing you a very Happy Christmas, with your stocking bulging with at least one good book!

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Tuesday Intros.

I'm joining Barbara, who hosts the Tuesday book event, with a novel by Mark Haddon about family members who take a week's holiday in a rented house in Wales.
It took me a while to get into the rhythm of the story. The opening page isn't too promising, but on the strength of his first book, which I had enjoyed, I kept reading. Each chapter is another day in the week's holiday.
Each character in the book gets their fair share of attention - some are more deserving than others!
We are lucky to have two really good independent bookshops in my nearest city and I've been there today to buy Christmas presents. I can't tell you what I've bought because family members look at the blog. Both shops feel like Aladdin's cave. I'll take my camera along next time and photograph them for you.

Saturday, 26 November 2016

Farewell Fidel

Four years ago I went on holiday to Cuba. What an experience! The city of Havana was captivatingly beautiful, in spite of being in a state of extreme neglect. The squalor of the living conditions for some of its inhabitants was distressing. How curious the way that the vulnerability of the place only  seemed to increase it's beauty.
Change is happening and the death of Fidel Castro was announced today. Hopefully things will soon improve for the people of Havana and they will be able to enjoy a decent roof over their heads.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Tuesday intros: Anne Tyler

Along with many other thousands of readers I LOVE Anne Tyler books, I'm immediately drawn in and emotionally involved with the characters that she creates. She keeps me on tenterhooks, just the right level of concern, the right level of hope.

Here is the opening page.
I'm just into the first few chapters, disturbed by Cody's behaviour, worrying about gentle Ezra. Oh, the joy of a good book and an author you can trust!
With thanks to Barbara for hosting TuesdayIntros.

Friday, 28 October 2016

At the Tate

This week I've been in London for a couple of days, staying with the First Born. I went with a friend who has visited New Mexico and raved about the experience and our visit was to see the Georgia O'Keeffe exhibition at Tate Modern before it closes on Sunday. What a FABULOUS show! It is so good to go not expecting too much and then to be totally swept off your feet. I have only known her work through reproduction and with some other artists, at the Hopper exhibition, for example, the actual paint surface or some other element was sometimes a disappointment. Not this time, from start to finish the work was sublime. 
The exhibition was very intelligently hung, just enough information, wonderful quotes, interesting photographic back-up. And what a handsome woman. 
No photography was allowed, so my images are taken only from a postcard and the small programme that came with my ticket. There were three very covetable paintings of New York made while she was living in an apartment on the 30th floor of a skyscraper - a bird's eye view!
There were many photographs, those of her husband, Alfred Stieglitz, like small, muted wood prints and the contrasting large, crisp images of the landscape by Ansel Adams. 

Absolutely glorious - very beautiful paintings of a very beautiful world - now I want to visit New Mexico!
To recover from all this excitement we went for cocktails to Freres et Fils. It was rather like being in a Manet painting.
Janet and the F B had cocktails, but I needed to calm down and had camomile tea! The young waiter looked after us magnificently, things kept arriving at our table - salted nuts, olives and cheese puffs. "You've looked after us so well, we'll come here every night," I told him.
The following day we went to Tate Britain on the first day of the Paul Nash exhibition, our heads still full of the previous day.
How very English it looked, and all the images and references well understood. There were some lovely surprises, a painting of the vernal equinox owned by the Queen, where the sky is divided equally into day and night. And again, lovely quotes. Talking about the landscape in his painting, 'Wood on the Downs' he describes it as a place 'where you might meet anything from a polecat to a dryad.'
We had a walk through the work of the Turner Prize nominees. Don't get me started on conceptual art.
We came home on the train absolutely exhausted!

Earlier in the month I visited two local exhibitions in Bath, a city famous for it's flower displays!

First a drawing exhibition.
Himself submitted an old college drawing.(Centre left below.)

Secondly a sculpture show 

with interesting things to say about drawing.

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Tuesday Intros: Nancy Mitford and Isabel Allende.

I picked up this battered paperback in the telephone book swap. I hadn't read a Nancy Mitford book for years and this edition had a story that was new to me.
So here's an old favourite, 'The Pursuit of Love.' And what a great opening page! Right from the start it is sarky and funny and nostalgically sad. It re-introduced me to the Bolter who has the last words in the novel. When told that, "he was the great love of her life, you know," she replies,
'Oh dulling, one always thinks that. Every, every time."

The novel in the book that I hadn't previously read, nor, indeed ever heard of was, "The Blessing." Having now read it I'm not surprised that it sank into oblivion!
From the traveling library I chose 
A reliable author and another title mentioning love.

Lark House

When Irina Bazili began working at Lark House in 2010, she was twenty-three years old but already had few illusions about life. Since the age of fifteen she had drifted from one job, one town, to another. She could not have imagined she would find a perfect niche for herself in that senior resident, or that over the next three years she would come to be as happy as in her childhood, before fate took a hand.

I had great hopes of being enthralled by this story but it wasn't the case, it felt curiously flat. If you've read it I wonder if you felt the same. Joining up with Barbara at Bibliophile by the sea who hosts Tuesday Intros.

Monday, 24 October 2016

Book Club Sunday lunch

Yesterday our book group gathered to discuss 'Transit' by Anna Seghers, first published in 1942. The story is about refugees during the Second World War and their desperate efforts to get to a place of safety.

Given all that is going on in the world at the moment it was a troubling read.
But the company, the setting and the food were all great. Janet had redecorated the small sitting room with a pop of colour and it really displays her embroideries and paintings by Steve and friends beautifully.

 Painting below by Alf Stockham.
 Daisy was not impressed. 
'Wake me up when the food is served.'
 Situated by the Severn Estuary, the quality of light is wonderful.
 The sun was setting as we left.

 You can see how the environment influences their work.
Oil painting by Steve Jacobson.
Today the weather is cold and wet and I'm well wrapped up in winter woollies - it's a very invisible Monday! 
But last Monday was a different matter, warmth and sunshine in Corfu and the opportunity to wear a  sundress from Gap in my favourite colour purple.
Worn with a fair trade cotton crochet sunhat and a M&S cardi to share with Patti at Not Dead Yet Style.