Thursday, 25 June 2009

A start in life (Anita Brookner)

I wasn't feeling very well yesterday, and had to come home from work to lie on the sofa, which meant that I missed the second Oxford Persephone book-group, of which I'd already missed the first. My ability to cope with stomach pain seems to be somewhat diminished when I am overtired. So I chose a little paperback book off my tbrbc that wouldn't require much effort to hold up (!), and fortunately didn't require much effort to read.

I picked up A start in life from the Oxfam bookshop a couple of weeks ago because according to the back of the book it was about a woman who's life is dominated by books. It was another book where not very much happened, and it was another book which was predominantly a coming of age story. The book starts with a memorable opening sentence: "Dr Weiss, at forty, knew that her life had been ruined by literature". From this sentence, the book goes back to Ruth's (Dr Weiss') childhood, and is predominantly a coming of age story where Ruth spends her life escaping into books - from her parents, and from her perceived inadequacies, and from her inability to find love.
It was interesting to read a book by a Booker winner the day after reading an actual Booker winner. I'm really curious now to read Hotel du Lac as although I enjoyed A start in life, I'm not convinced Brookner could produce anything as good as Holiday. I'm trying to remember if I have read anything else by her, I don't think I have, although I have been wanting to read her most recent title Strangers.

I then went on and read Caro Fraser's The trustees which was absorbing enough to stop me from being bored while my boyfriend worked, but not especially memorable (although I am a fan of her books precisely for that reason), and then looked at the pictures in the Good Housekeeping "Great Cakes" book which I recently borrowed from the library, but I didn't see anything I wanted to make. Luckily I've already got plans for this weekend :)

Anyway, something that cheered me up was a nice email from Lydia at Persephone in response to my anxious enquiry about my last Persephone book. Apparently the request for the free book hadn't shown up, but she was putting The London Child in the post for me. So hopefully you won't have to wait much longer to see my Persephone pile! Am very envious that Paperback Reader went to the shop today, and I am wondering if I can fit in a quick visit next week when I am up in London to see the stage show Calendar Girls with one of my oldest friends - it is only a 20 minute walk from the theatre according to the Transport for London website...


  1. Hope you're feeling better today! How lovely that you have Persephone book groups in Oxford, you'll have to be sure to make the next one. My copy of A London Child...will be sent surface mail as that's how they're sending free copies overseas, I could be waiting for weeks, sigh. Lost and Found was such an adorable story by the way! Our library did have it so I read it last night on my break. Here's hoping that you make it to Persephone, now it's my turn to be very envious!

  2. Thanks for your kind message - not feeling much better really, moving extremely slowly around at work - have had to give up on carting books around, but at least it is nearly the weekend.
    I'm so glad you enjoyed Lost and found, maybe you have some of the other titles too.
    Here's hoping London child turns up quickly for both of us :)


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