Mister Litlove is unwell, with the exact same throat bug that our son had a couple of weeks ago. He came down with it last Friday and still has a fever overnight, although he is getting better during the day which must surely mean he is improving. Poor Mister Litlove; he is the toughest and the strongest of us all generally, and so used to good health that he is a very unhappy bunny indeed when he loses it. I admit I feel very tired and empty-headed, after so many bad night’s sleep, and a lot of low-level fretting. I really don’t like the illnesses, I’d honestly rather we were poor than one of us was ill.
So, reading-wise it’s been comfort all the way lately. I did begin Orange longlisted On The Floor by Aifric Campbell, but it was a queasy sort of novel, about a young woman working in the overly-testosteroned environment of a trading bank and putting herself through all kinds of physical hell in order to stick with the pace and the competition. She was being tested beyond her limits when the novel began, because her relationship had just ended. It is most probably true that it’s relationship failures that bring women down, but I sort of wished that the story wasn’t about her relationships at all. The workplace in general remains masculine territory, banks displaying the worst features of it, and I’d be interested in a novel in which a woman does not have to ape masculinity to gain approval, but still enjoys her job and is good at it. To hold out against the prevailing culture in the workplace and make it a better, more ethical environment, now that’s a story that I’ve never heard told. But anyway, I am only a few chapters in to the Aifric Campbell novel and it was very powerful, so I shall return to it.
Fortunately, Simon, that sweetie from Stuck In A Book lent me his copy of Shirley Jackson’s Raising Demons, the second of her family life memoirs. Most people know Jackson from her short story ‘The Lottery’, or her literary horror-ish novels. But she also wrote about bringing up her four children and the stories she tells are just hilarious. She has a wickedly dry sense of humour and a lovely turn of phrase. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading that book these past few days.
I’m now reading The Attenbury Emeralds, written by Jill Paton Walsh but using Lord Peter Whimsey and Harriet Vane from the novels by Dorothy L. Sayers. Paton Walsh does a pretty good job of recreating the voices of Peter and Harriet and (she is a very experienced novelist) the story flows beautifully and effortlessly. It’s billed at Lord Peter’s first case,undertaken in 1921, but the time of recounting it is 1951 when Peter and Harriet have long been married. So Lord Peter is looking back to his vulnerable time after the war and the first social engagement of his slow rehabilitation. He is, as you might imagine, at a country house party celebrating the engagement of the family’s daughter, Charlotte, when the king-stone emerald from the family jewels goes missing and he finds himself drawn into the investigation. What’s a little odd is that this story is entirely recounted to Harriet by Lord Peter and Bunter. But I’m enjoying it so far for the well-wrought Golden Age atmosphere and an intriguing mystery.
I’ve also had a couple of new books arrive this week: our dear friend Lilian Nattel‘s bestselling new novel, Web of Angels, and the latest from Jude Morgan, The Secret Life of William Shakespeare. I hope to get to both very soon, as soon as I have a tad more brain capacity. And when Mister Litlove is better he will update my side bar for me, I’m sure.