Friday, 2 November 2012

This week's books

i've been lucky with reading this week - I've loved all three books i've read - and they've each been a lovely escape into someone's world - which is just what i need when i'm working and writing constantly, as i have been recently.

First of all there was Julie Cohen's 'The Summer of Living Dangerously', in which Alice - a technical writer who's hiding from life after a bereavement - winds up having a wonderfully surreal summer that turns her life around. She starts writing articles about a historical re-enactment that she takes part in every weekend at Eversley Hall. She falls in love with the Regency period and her sexy boss, too, but she's also lumbered with a sexy ex-husband who's moved back in with her and a whole set of problems that she needs to sort out. Life and history start to blur and mix throughout this book, as our heroine finds herself drawn to spend more and more time back in the past.

As with the other Julie Cohen's I've read and raved about here - this is witty and funny and just lovely. And fiendishly clever, too, in the way it weaves everything together. She's got her characters talking about *being* in a Romance novel - and still she makes us fall for them.

Then - galvanised, i think, by early talk of next year's 50th anniversary - I decided on reading a Doctor Who book - and just devoured Jacqueline Rayner's 'Stone Rose' - which is a Roman romp from about six years ago, It's all about living statues and lots of dashing about - and revelling once more in the company of the tenth Doctor, Rose and Mickey. There's also a wonderful villain at the heart of it. Not really a villain, but an overly-literal, somewhat tetchy creature (with a duck's bill!) who is surely meant to remind us of E Nesbit's The Psammead? Anyhow - a lovely Doctor Who story - more about people and quandaries and comedy, just as all the best ones are.

And then, the rest of the week has been about having an early Christmas! I've been holding off reading Carole Matthews' 'With Love at Christmas' until we got a little closer to the festive season, but this week i couldn't wait any longer. This tale of Juliet and the Joyce family as they go though a somewhat hectic Christmas period is just bliss. It's got a large cast - all of them completely lovable - from the selfish, heavily pregnant daughter, the louche son, the recently-gay grandad, grandma losing her marbles, the boss in the middle of a crisis and even the horrid hooker who turns up on christmas morning. There are some wonderfully funny moments - the book's two saucier scenes are comic classics. Especially Christmas Eve with the coffee table!

But there are some really touching moments, too. I think my emotions are all over the place just recently, but there were a couple of very wobbly moments I had reading 'With Love at Christmas.' One involving a sudden, unexpected death and the other involving the Russian Mafia! It's funny, occasionally sentimental - but always in a way that earns its sentiment. We go through a kind of festive hell with these characters - and we feel like we've really been there with them. I think this one looks set to become a yuletide favourite for me, kept ready for rereadings in future years.

So, that's me, this week - it's all been crises and optimism and love stories and prematurely festive affairs. How about you?

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