Amid all of that baking over the weekend, I did some reading too. And two of the books were particularly worth mentioning.
On Saturday afternoon, lying in Christchurch meadows, and then on the sofa at home whilst my boyfriend tackled mountains of washing up, I read The death of the heart by Elizabeth Bowen. What a fantastic read. It took me a little while to get into (sometimes it's difficult to concentrate reading outdoors) but then I was gripped. It's another coming of age story, about Portia, an orphan (of complicated family circumstances) who goes to live with her relations and falls in love for the first time. It's a story of different relationships with a huge amount of insight into how mixed up they can be. Definitely to be recommended. One thing that puzzles me though, is why Elizabeth Bowen is published by Vintage and not Virago, I'm sure she'd be a candidate for the latter.
On Sunday, whilst watching my boyfriend perform with a concert band in Amersham gardens, I rattled through DE Stevenson's Miss Buncle's book which was a real page turner - it's another Persephone title, and I'd love to read the sequel, but I guess my chances of finding Miss Buncle gets married are rather slim. Anyway, this is the fantastic tale of a woman who anonymously writes a book about the people of the village she lives with who are transformed by a mysterious visitor out of the personas that they carefully present to the public. The real villagers are horrified by their depictions, but gradually reality begins to mirrow the book. Absolutely brilliant idea, and beautifully written.
I was planning to try a Deidre Madden today, and had it in my handbag ready, but I picked up a new Virago from the library at lunchtime which I've been desperately awaiting - it's by Joan Bakewell, and is called All the nice girls. It's set during the Second World War, and although I think it will be a fairly light read it seems to far as if it has been very well researched (only had time for 10p while eating sandwich). Boyfriend is off to buy a bike (another one!) tonight, so I hope to have time for it then. It's strange, I watched a lot of tv, or more specifically DVD boxsets and films back in Dec/Jan/Feb when I was first feeling really poorly (as opposed to just poorly); now I'm feeling a bit better and the weather is better I can't bear to have the tv on so it's reading all the way!
Diana Tempest by Mary Cholmondeley
2 hours ago