Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Tatty Old Books and the Disappointments of Richard and Judy

Yesterday was a trip into Manchester in order to do a little writing and a tiny bit of book-browsing. Mostly to get away from the roofers who are crawling over next door’s house and the scaffolding that’s everywhere at the moment. The previous day one of them put their feet through our bathroom ceiling, bringing down a shower of what looked like wattle and daub and the filthiest muck.

Anyhow, WH Smiths had the Autumn Richard and Judy book club choices in already. You might have read me whiffling on about their summer books here on my blog. I read about nine or ten of them through June and July and just loved most of them – and then, later, found them a little less distinct in my memory…  their novelty fading quite quickly. They kind of melted into one like a load of sticky ice creams in the sun.

Yesterday I had a bit of a scan through their new choices and I must say, wasn’t particularly excited by many of them. There were quite a lot of lookalikeys of previous choices – there’s always the semi-nostalgic saga of a family with problems; the serial killer with an interesting quirk (time travel, in this case); the missing child / husband / wife novel; and then the novel that looks a bit historical and literary, but is a bit bland and soapy. I think they need to use a tad more imagination. Time was you could rely on R&J to chuck in at least a couple of things that weren’t completely obvious.

I’m sure I’ll end up reading some of these, anyhow. In fact, I ended up picking one to go into the special offer with the book (not from R&J, but still promoted by Smiths) that actually caught my eye of its own accord – ‘The Misinterpretation of Tara Jupp’ by Eva Rice. I read her first novel seven years ago when we were both with Headline, and I’ve been waiting for a second ever since. It was a nice surprise, finding this in town.

Then I was rummaging on the book stall at the back of the Arndale, where the old romances and science fiction and detective novels are a pound each. It's a wonderful elephant's graveyard. And, due to my recent addiction to a certain style of SF, a couple of dusty old forgotten tomes duly fell into my hands.

I was writing after that – in my favourite spots in the Village – in Via and the Molly House. Writing and playing about with some new ideas, and also reading Susan Cooper’s ‘Ghost Hawk’, which is her new novel and one I’ve been waiting the best part of a year for. Now I’m halfway through and not at all sure whether I’m enjoying it. I’m thinking about it a lot, and willing it to drag me away into another world, but it isn’t quite happening yet. We’ll see..! And I’ll let you know more…  but in the meantime, I better get back to trying to write.


  1. I'll be interested to hear what you think of the Susan Cooper - I read the Guardian review and really didn't fancy it - and was gutted!

    1. I just looked up the Guardian review, Liz. Marcus Sedgwick gives the book a really over-the-top rave review. I think if i'd read that first i'd be very keen to read it - and then feel quite let down. He says it's her best book yet, which (though i'm not done with it yet) is just wrong.