When I was nineteen I moved to Rome to au pair for an amazing family with two girls. A couple of years later I was in Milan looking after a little boy with very good taste in books. When I read the first couple of pages of Love, Nina – Despatches from Family Life, it brought back all of my memories from that time. This book is a must for all au pairs and nannies out there!
Made up of letters written to her sister in the 1980s, this book gives a candid insight into Nina’s life as a nanny in the home of the London Review of Books editor, Mary-Kay Wilmers. She didn’t realise it then, but she had landed in the house of literary connections; Friends and neighbours included Claire Tomalin, Michael Frayn, Deborah Moggach and Alan Bennett, who Nina introduces as “the Alan Bennett… He used to be in Coronation Street.” Bennett, referred to as ‘AB’, is a frequent visitor, often joining the family for dinner. He brings along eccentric conversation, surprising cookery advice and the odd rice pudding. But it’s not the famous names scattered throughout that has left such an impression on me – what I really love is the relationships between Nina, Mary-Kay and the kids, Sam and Will. She fits right in as a member of the family, and her dialogues made me reminisce about similar conversations I had with the children I looked after. These mini dialogues are short and sweet, but there’s a cleverness in the simplicity. Continue reading
It was my friend’s Great Gatsby themed hen do a couple of weeks ago, and so I finally read this ‘Great American Novel’ in the name of research!
This book had an effect on me which not many have, where it’s not so much the reading of it that I found interesting, as the aftermath. A similar thing happened with Story of O. I finished The Great Gatsby over a week ago, and yet I’m still thinking about it. And the more I think about it, the more I like it. I almost want to read it again to take a closer look at the words, and read more deeply into the many significant metaphors that I may not have noticed first time round. For such a short novel, there are so many themes. It’s a quick read, but certainly not a light one.
** WARNING: Contains spoilers **
Recently there has been controversy over the Game of Thrones TV series. It’s been written about in the Guardian, and even Woman’s Hour has picked up on it. This all stems from one particular episode that included a rape scene between Jaime and Cersei Lannister, which was definitely consensual in the book – if anything Cersei was pushing for sex, while Jaime held back. I was not happy with this change because it isn’t consistent with Jaime’s character, which is becoming far more sympathetic.
When I heard that the BBC were adapting my favourite Daphne du Maurier book, my first instinct was to be horrified. I felt sure that they would ruin it - there’s so much that could go wrong! After watching the trailer and reading all of the tweets, curiosity overcame me and I sought out Jamaica Inn on the iPlayer.
** WARNING: This post contains spoilers! **
Sitting down to read The Lord of the Rings feels like catching up with an old friend. I have read it several times since I first fell in love with Middle Earth as a teenager, and I love it just as much every time.
The characters, settings and plot are so familiar to me, but on each re-read, I discover new things, or appreciate things in a slightly different way. There’s so much going on in the series, and so much backstory, that’s it’s easy to miss things first, second or even third time round!
The opening chapters are comforting, especially for those that have read The Hobbit. We’re back in Hobbiton, and enjoying the excitement at Bag End as hobbits Bilbo and his heir Frodo prepare for a Long-Expected Party to celebrate their joint birthdays. Continue reading
Story of O – the highly praised erotic classic - I was so very intrigued when I picked it up. Having not read any erotic fiction, I wasn’t too sure what to expect. I had certainly expected (and hoped) to be shocked by the language and content, but instead I only found the book emotionally draining.
I’d read that Story of O was a ‘…pornographic book well written and without a trace of obscenity’ (and who doesn’t trust Graham Greene?) Continue reading
I might soon be moving to London! Well, my boyfriend is moving to London for work and I plan to join him as soon as I’ve found a job that I’ll be happy with. (So please feel free to link any interesting jobs in the comments section below!)
It’s all very exciting, but I have a problem – a book problem. Moving to London means moving to a much smaller place. I don’t have that many books, but I can’t bear the idea of getting rid of any of them. So I’ve been desperately searching the Internet for some inventive ways to store books, and got a bit distracted…
My uncle and auntie live very close to Kentish Town. Not only are they lucky enough to have Hampstead Heath almost on their doorstep, but they also have a lovely local bookshop. It’s great having an independent bookshop nearby, especially this one.
The Owl Bookshop is wonderfully orderly, with well thought out displays and very clear sections – it’s an easy shop to navigate for readers in search of a particular subject. Continue reading
Wow! Today is my third blog-birthday (or blogoversary), and I hadn’t even noticed until this evening! But I’m always up for a celebration and would love you to join me. I’ve read some fantastic books since my second blog-birthday and have decided to spread the joy of reading by choosing three of my favourites to send to three lucky winners!
It was the Meet David Sedaris programme on Radio 4 that first brought this funny man to my attention. I like to listen to it when I’m cooking and often annoy my boyfriend with my constant laughing.
David Sedaris on the radio is hilarious. It’s not just what he says, it’s how he says it. He pauses in the right places and emphasises words to create maximum hilarity. His delivery is flawless. Continue reading