Thursday, July 22, 2021

All quiet on the home front

My big sister and her husband came to visit yesterday. They live in flat, flat Lincolnshire and she's been pining for hills and rivers and been unable to get up to Wensleydale this year, so I took them to my favourite local river, where we could walk in the shade. It was so lovely to see them. These days it feels more special than usual to spend time with family.

My sweet peas this year have been better than ever, and I can't decide if it's because of the weather patterns or the way I sowed the seeds. 

I put two loo roll insides in a large yoghurt carton and filled the whole thing with compost, and then sowed one seed inside each loo roll. That way the roots of the plants stayed separate. I know you can buy root trainers, and actually I had ordered some to try, but this worked just as well. 

I'm back to the lovely summer pattern of going out every morning to pick a bunch.

I finished my latest painting:

Acrylics on canvas board 30.5 x 25.5 cms

Does this heat make you lazy? I have a list of boring jobs on my desk that I look at each day - stuff like choosing a new electricity provider, and finding an internet company that will give better speeds than Plusnet for a house on the edge of a village - and think -  I'll sort those out tomorrow.

The heat also turns my brain to mush. If I have a normal busy morning, by 3 o'clock in the afternoon I am wiped out, too tired to even draw or read. Yesterday I was so bushed I lay on the sofa and - I'm disappointed to admit - I watched Neighbours after a month's abstention. Oh dear.

I am between books and need your help, and I'm asking because in the past you've come up with some terrific book suggestions. Having read and relished Standard Deviation, which was not just hugely entertaining but also thought provoking, I bought the author, Katherine Heiny's new book. But I don't care about the central character and have given it up. 

Please, friends, give me some suggestions. I want fiction that is accessible but has some depth. No crime, sci-fi, or magic realism, nothing harrowing and nothing impossibly wordy (e.g. books by Barbara Kingsolver.) 

Please help.


Anonymous said...

'A Tale for the Time Being' by Ruth Ozeki. I really love this book - have read it twice. (don't be put off that I also like Elena Ferrante, and Lydia Davis - neither of which appealed to you! My sister said this story was so consuming, it offered escape from a grisly summer.)

'Hamnet' by Maggie o'Farrell. Wasn't fussed for the first couple of chapters, then was caught. I also read her memoir entitled 'I am, I am, I am: 17 brushes with death' - she has been through some perilous experiences and near misses!

'The Island' by Victoria Hislop - don't know why I read this, but did enjoy (the followup rather less so.)

'Lincoln in the Bardo' by George Saunders. Loved it.

Currently reading '10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World' by Elif Shafak and enjoying it. Unusual, well written.

I too hope there are some good recommends forthcoming from other readers!

And...your blog and photos are the closest I ever come to sweet peas, Sue!
Long may they bloom.

Thea xx

Sue Hepworth said...

Thank you, Thea. I have a feeling that I read the Ozeki book ages ago. I've looked online just now and the plot sounds very familiar.
Unb=fortunately the Saunders and the Shafak sound as though they are outside my comfort zone - the first in terms of experimentation, and the second in terms of subject matter. It sounds too harrowing.
I didn't like the Hislop, and I tried Hamnet and gave up, but will definitle try it again. It could be that I was just not in the mood for it. I really liked O'Farrell's early books, but lately I have found her too wordy.
I appreciate your suggestions: thank you. I'm sorry to be so hard to please!

Anonymous said...

You are funny - maybe I should have sent you that Samuel Beckett I threatened long ago, just so you could enjoy easier reads!

I too am eager for new recommends and hope others respond.


Sally said...

I've recently enjoyed 'The Hearts Invisible Furies' by John Boyne. It took me a few chapters to get hooked & then I couldn't put it down.
Have you read 'The Trouble with Goats & Sheep' by Joanna Cannon? It might tick all the right boxes. I also very much like her book 'Three Things About Elsie'.
Another vote for 'Hamnet' from me.

Your sweet peas are sensational! I might copy your method next year. Sally x

Sue Hepworth said...

Oh Thea, I am obviously not as intellectual as you! But don’t give up on me.
Sally, thank you for your suggestions. I think your tastes and mine might overlap. I am going to read a sample of the Boyne and Three Things about Elsie
To both of you - I will try again with Hamnet.

Kristine said...

Hi Sue,
Book recommendations:
I guess you have read Elizabeth Strout, "Olive Kitteridge" etc.... all good.
I think you would like "The Erratics" by Vicki Laveau-Harvie, "Wintering" by Krissy Kneen, Elizabeth Berg's "The Art of Mending" and "Open House", Raynor Wynn's follow-up, "The Wild Silence".
Did you finish/enjoy "Illyrian Spring" by Anne Bridge?

Sue Hepworth said...

I knew you’d have some suggestions, Kristine: thank you.
Yes I have read and loved Olive Kitteridge, plus the sequel.
Wintering looks like something that Thea would like, not me (!) but Elizabeth Berg’s writing looks promising.
I did enjoy the people and relationships and dilemmas of Illyrian Spring, but I skimmed some of the lengthy descriptions of place.
I am an impatient reader. I am very difficult to please, but on the other hand I am passionate about the authors and books that I like.
Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Memoir by Joanna Cannon. Breaking and Mending is one of my best books ever. She reflects on her experiences in psychiatry in the NHS as a young doctor I really inhaled it. Shuggie Bain has been a stand out for me too. Not light but the writing is superb and the story compelling.
Jacqueline Marley, The Truth About Her was a great favourite earlier this year. A journalist and a friend of my daughter, she writes so well on being a single parent and on so much more. A most satisfying novel and so readable

Sue Hepworth said...

Thank you very much, Ana. Shuggie Bain is not for me, but I will look at the other two. X