Tuesday, 16 June 2009

An Equal Stillness

I read this last night, and absolutely loved it. I was hoping to go and hear Francesca Kay talk about it tonight (and Mark Mills on the Information Officer), but my poor car is still poorly (this time it is the fault of Ford who apparently are incapable of packing up a new door so that it arrives at the garage in better shape than the door that has been replaced...), and Direct Line have never got back to me about that hire car (I feel a complaint coming on...).
This is a fictional biography (completely fictional, in that the character does not exist, as opposed to fictionalised biography) of Jennett Mallow, an artist. The book tells her story from her childhood and discovery of artistic talent, through her marriage and children, and the way in which it impacts on her abilities as an artist. What I found particularly special was the way in which Kay describes Mallow's paintings; the depictions are so vivid that it's almost hard to believe that this is only a book about a fictional character. In some ways, I found it reminiscent of Pat Barker's Regeneration Trilogy which is partly about artists and their lives in a period covered by the book.
It was Kay's debut novel, and according to the sticker on the front of the library copy, has been serialised on Radio 4. I expect to hear good things about this book (shortlistings for prizes, or possibly Richard and Judy), and will be interested to see what Kay produces next.

Anyway, the good news is that I managed to get hold of the sequel to Miss Buncle's book (another fantastic Persephone that I read a fortnight ago), called Miss Buncle Married. I started reading it at lunchtime, and it's just as entertaining and readable, though I'm wondering if D.E. Stevenson is going to be able to pull such a spectacular twist in this novel as the previous one. According to the prelims, there is a third book, and that is also in the store at the library headquarters, so I've decided that 85p reservations do not fall into my non-book-buying and sent off for it.
I'm going to make some strawberry clotted cream ice cream today (must remember to take a picture while the machine is on!) and then I guess I'll have a quiet sit down with the rest of Miss Buncle :)


  1. I'm hoping to read this one soon. It has just won The Orange prize for new authors, so has already had some success, but I'm afraid to tell you that Richard and Judy are finishing, so it has no chance of getting on their show.

  2. Do you have to pay to place a reservation on a library book? At the library where I work it is free but so frustrating when people don't pick up their books. That's a lot of wasted time. In a neighbouring city to mine they charge .50 for each book left uncollected.

  3. I have this one on my wishlist at the bookdepository - waiting for it in paperback - I have heard such good things about it :-)

    I will start with Miss Buncle's book (when I receive it!) and await your verdict on the next two!

  4. Thanks Jackie, I thought it had won a prize, but couldn't remember for what! I'm sure it's likely to win something else, it's that sort of book. Highly recommended.

    Darlene - I pay 85p for each book which comes from another library in the county, or from the store at the headquarters. I'm lucky in that I live next to the county's biggest branch which also has its own store, but I find that so many of the books that I want are at the headquarters. I used to work in a public library (I now work in a college library, as well as at the Bodleian, in Oxford), and as a staff perk I used to get free reservations - I desperately miss that! Along with the lack of fines - I frequently forget to renew my books because I spent 5 years not having to!

  5. I have been curious about this one but sitting on my hands to prevent myself from requesting it from the library until I have finished reading the ones I currently have - the TBR books and the 50p request charges are piling up!

    I desperately want to read Miss Buncle's book. Next to Katherine Mansfield's Journal it is Most Coveted Persephone #2.

  6. 50p *envious*

    Do you not have a birthday or anniversary or something coming up for which you could point someone in the direction of an Amazon wishlist?! However, I find it easy to find excuses for a celebration, but less easy I have to say in justifying celebrating with some new books or persuading my nearest and dearest of the same.

  7. PS: PBR, if you like, I can lend you my copy?

  8. Oh Verity, how kind! I may need to take you up on that offer at some point... I have more than enough books to keep me occupied just now although I do appreciate the offer.

    Unfortunately the next celebration for me is Christmas :(.


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