Have had to tinker a little with this post as I left it so long to write that I have had to ‘seasonalise’ it by pretending it’s a Christmas post, rather than my tardiness in writing my review a whole three months after my holiday …. but here goes the very first of my Christmas posts. These are not new reads as I figure the Sunday supplements will have those covered, so I thought you could consider some of these as gift ideas for the bookworms in your life.
Armed with my new Kindle Paperwhite (the original, retro Kindle committed Hari-Kiri the day before my holiday) a speedy set up and download at the airport and I was armed with a couple of good e-books for my 11 hour flight and three weeks away (don’t hate me!). For the purists out there I would like to assure you that the Kindle is perfect for travel and tripe reading but I would never eschew a real book, to me a book is a thing of beauty that should be savoured. And besides you can’t really ‘gift’ or share ebooks other than in voucher form, if I read a good book I can’t help but buy it for everyone I think its relevant to.
I am a fickle reader and rarely read the same genre or author consecutively and like an eclectic mix up. On holiday I always like to read a couple of classics that I haven’t read before – sadly my Literature O’Level (yes, I really am THAT old!) all those years ago comprised of books that I didn’t really like and in my opinion were poorly taught – My syllabus included William Golding’s Lord Of the Flies, (good but the boys descent into savagery was a continual annoyance to me and I was quite sure if there had been some girls to spread some common sense, things may not have escalated to such a devastating effect). Brighton Rock (too dark), Macbeth (again a dark tale of murderous ambition, I was genuinely terrified of Lady M) and finally the only book that I really loved and for years could quote verbatim, The Importance of Being Earnest, (I still have to mutter to myself A Haaandbaaaag sotto voce, in the manner of Lady Bracknell whenever anyone mentions handbags!!).
So this year for my yet unread classics I chose WUTHERING HEIGHTS, fuelled largely by my Twitter feed being full of news of Kate Bush’s appearance at the Hammersmith Apollo. I loved the story, a haunting gothic book of love and passion (and yet no sex). The book tells the story of Mr Lockwood renting a house on the isolated English moors where he meets his mysterious landlord and owner of the nearby manor house, Wuthering Heights, the troubled Heathcliff. Intrigued by the dour property owner, Lockwood asks his housekeeper, Nelly Dean to tell him the story of Heathcliff and he transcribes much of the dismal tale that Mrs Dean tells him. The tone is somewhat melodramatic but the descriptives transport you to the bleak windy moors and conjure up the all consuming passion between Catherine and Heathcliff. A great gift for the book lover and available from Waterstones in their Cloth Bound Classics collection.
Then on to TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD – Harper Lee
To Kill A Mockingbird, now my new favourite book and literary crush, Atticus Finch, a man of few but wise words, a dry sense of humour and a strong sense of justice who as a widower nobly cares for his two sassy children and defends the rights of the wrongly accused Tom Robinson. Yes, Mr Atticus Finch has usurped Laurie from Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women as my literary beau – oh how I loved Laurie. From the age of 12 I was ever hopeful that he would move in next door to me and fall madly and passionately in love with me … until I ‘met’ Atticus Finch that is, perhaps this is my coming of age book (ridiculous that it has taken me until I am nearly 50 to move on from my teenage crush!) and as you meander through the streets with the quirky Scout and discover the new characters you see where some celebrities have chosen trendy names for their offspring ( Scout, Jem, Boo, Dill and of course, Harper ….). Anyway, I digress, a fabulous story essentially about good winning over evil, the beautiful descriptives transpose you to the steamy Alabama streets and the underlying racial and social tensions of America’s deep South. If you want to buy a special gift for someone then try the Folio Society copy at £29.95, a beautiful cloth bound edition, that is definitely going on my Christmas wish list.
And I just found this …. a Christmas tree bauble that is filled with hand-cut and vintage strips of the novel taken from the pages of discarded and damaged vintage books, no longer suitable for selling. I love these sort of little gifts to give to special friends over the Christmas period when visiting, if I don’t have food gifts to take I often pick up things like to keep for those who may appreciate literature or something other than my marinaded olives (recipe to follow in a later post). Also available Dickens’ Christmas Carol and lots of Jane Austen versions of the bauble too.
And of course the great thing about classics is that you can re-visit the book time and time again which is why they make such a perfect gift for all ages, wonderful to give to a child to start their own little library of classics – that is how I fell in love with Little Women, finding a dog eared, faded copy that had belonged to my mother and aunt – or a gift to someone older who feels they no longer ‘need’ anything – we all NEED books to enrich our lives and transport us to another time …..
Tomorrow …. The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society, The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed out of the Window and Disappeared and my opinion of Lolita