Book review – Caroline Criado Perez – “Invisible Women” @ShinyNewBooks

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Invisible WomenI read this one in April but my review is up on Shiny New Books today. This was a HARD book to review – so much in it (so much, SO MUCH) and also it seems to have been written and chatted about and reviewed everywhere (but mostly by women, hmmm …)

Here’s an excerpt from my review – do click over and read the whole thing because it took me aaaaages to put together and because Shiny New Books is a brilliant resource and we want it to keep going and sharing all these wonderful books, don’t we.

We all know the premise of this book by now, right? Because the world is designed for men, women end up in, variously, ill-fitting protective clothing, taking drugs that don’t work the same for them, running the risk of worse accidents because most crash-test dummies are male, and having heart attacks that no one notices because they’re not like men’s heart attacks. Oh, and there’s something about snow clearance in Scandinavia. In fact, a lot of the book is fascinatingly about urban planning and other more prosaic aspects, and all the more rich and meaningful for that. You’ll also be relieved to note that the author does offer suggestions for changes, and highlights where good work is at least being done, rather than just wailing into the abyss about the current situation. Read more.

Book reviews – Sarah Vaughan – “The Art of Baking Blind” and Debbie Macomber – “Rainy Day Kisses” plus books in #amreading #bookconfessions

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Lots of lovely work, lots of running, officiating and preparing to officiate and a bit of learning Spanish have cut into my reading time and also my reviewing time. Here are two books I read while I had a cold the weekend before last (I appear to have only been reading Iris Murdoch’s “The Sea, The Sea” since then!) and then some lovely new books in for review. Well, I say lovely, and they are, but where am I going to put them??

Sarah Vaughan – “The Art of Baking Blind”

(23 April 2019)

One of my most recent acquisitions, bought when I went to meet up with my friend Linda in Shirley and couldn’t leave the charity shops alone, this was an idea poorly read. It’s a well-done novel set during a competition to find the next Mrs Eaden, housewife and home baker extraordinaire (and just passed away, thus avoiding any Mary Berry comparisons!) run by the supermarket that still bears her (husband’s) name. Bake-Off gets a mention: it’s not a Bake-Off novel but lovers of the show are sure to like it.

Life has happened, away from a preheated oven and a greased baking tray. (p. 111)

We get the stories of the five contestants plus extracts from Mrs Eaden’s own life story and recipes/handy hints, which were well pastiched. Note that all human and family life is here, so there need to be trigger warnings for fertility issues and loss and also eating disorders (both well sign-posted but done in a bit of detail, although carefully handled and resolved). There’s also an amusing MAMIL (middle-aged man in lycra) in the form of one contestant’s very annoying marathon running husband – I loved the description of his daughter’s growing discomfort as she supports his marathon and his wife and daughter’s reactions to his self-obsessed silliness (while of course hoping I’m not the equivalent MAWIL!).  Nuclear options are faced up to, mothers and daughters might be reconciled, and it’s all done really nicely with some good set  pieces and characters, showing different types of bravery.

Debbie Macomber – “Rainy Day Kisses”

(14 July 2018)

Picked off the middle of the shelf for cold-day comfort, neither the title story nor the accompanying novella were unfortunately DM’s strongest work. I suspect that “Rainy Day Kisses” with its handy modern-day frame is a re-do of an older story (she does this quite a lot, and fair play, her books are a brand that are consumed in great numbers by many) and it’s a slightly annoying tale of an undomesticated woman and the man who saves her. Yes, she’s an ambitious businesswoman, but …  “The First Man You Kiss” is a silly but amusing tale of a lucky wedding dress: slight but fun. That’s all I have to say about those two!


Books in

I continue to receive lovely parcels for my attention at Shiny New Books – I’m very grateful to Harriet and Annabel for allowing me to be one of their reviewers and the publishers for sending me such lovely books to read.

The first to arrive were the other two I’d requested (any of) from Thames & Hudson’s superb catalogue. Michael J. Benton’s “The Dinosaurs Rediscovered” looks at the last couple of decades of dinosaur research and how things have come on both in the technology and the facts it reveals.

“Chromatopia” by David Coles is a lovely wallow through the history, attributes and mixing of colour – it has various sections but I was immediately attracted by the series of pages with a delicious illustration and then text about the colour, covering the whole palette:

You expect beautiful books from Thames & Hudson and this is no exception: stunning images and clear, fascinating text. And hooray, I’ve noted down all the publication dates and this is first up!

Then a couple of days ago, Stephen Rutt’s “The Seafarers: A Journey Among Birds” arrived, which details the author’s travels around the British coast examining the lives of the birds found there. What a treat!

It’s nearly time for #20BooksOfSummer again and I have to work out whether to put whatever I have left of these on June 03 onto my Pile or keep it just for the TBR itself. Hm.

Book review – Mark Boyle – “The Way Home” #amreading @NetGalley

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A NetGalley book I fancied the look of when they emailed me about which I didn’t seem to feel the same as other people.

The blurb:

No running water, no car, no electricity or any of the things it powers: the internet, phone, washing machine, radio or light bulb. Just a wooden cabin, on a smallholding, by the edge of a stand of spruce.

In this honest and lyrical account of a remarkable life without modern technology, Mark Boyle, author of THE MONEYLESS MAN, explores the hard won joys of building a home with his bare hands, learning to make fire, collecting water from the stream, foraging and fishing.

What he finds is an elemental life, one governed by the rhythms of the sun and seasons, where life and death dance in a primal landscape of blood, wood, muck, water, and fire – much the same life we have lived for most of our time on earth. Revisiting it brings a deep insight into what it means to be human at a time when the boundaries between man and machine are blurring.”

Mark Boyle – “The Way Home”

(12 March 2019, NetGalley)

I’ve shared the blurb because it is entirely accurate,  however I think Boyle must be a “marmite” writer and I didn’t take to him myself, which did colour my reading of it. He decides to give up all technology and live on a smallholding in rural Ireland. I hadn’t realised he’d previously given up money, and written about that, but quickly realised he does go all in on things. I’m not sure what else this book could have been, as you couldn’t survive the modern urban world without tech, whereas you can just about live on a smallholding.

The stories of his current adventure are interspersed with the tale of how he came to this point and details of a visit he makes to the Blasket Islands, a place in Ireland that has moved from being a self-sufficient community to being a tourist location (and he really doesn’t like tourists or tourism, admonishing the reader in the introduction for having a propensity to want to visit the places they’ve read about – this put my back up, even though I understand his intention). This breaks up the hard labour and deer-skinning but there’s always the presence of his, reading between the lines, girlfriend Kirsty, caught between making nettle tea and doing all the plain cooking (he does the exciting bits) and wanting to live the authentic life she wants to have lived, running off with some ponies.

There is lots to value and interest here. The detail is fascinating, not least his agonising over where to draw the line: he eschews time (yet manages to know what day and time to go to the traditional music evenings in the pub) and contemplates making his own mushroom paper and ink for a feather pen, although we don’t get told if that happens. I did like the bits about the oddness of writing with a pencil not a computer. There are plenty of yucky descriptions of respectfully slaughtering fish and eating them raw and dealing with a road-kill deer, so no one looking for the blood and muck of it will be disappointed: there is also information on farming and foraging. No pet that is mentioned meets a sticky end and the musing on the nature of dogs is nicely done. He does also check his privilege, both of birth and of being able to choose to live in this way, but I did find him irritating, I’m afraid. No other reviewer seems to have done that so maybe I’m just struggling with my need for technology and envy of his way of life (he doesn’t have a toilet. So no).

Thank you to NetGalley and Oneworld Publications for allowing me to read this book in return for an honest review.

 

Book review – Simon Armitage – “Gig” plus MORE confessions! #amreading #bookconfessions

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I’m a bit behind with my reviewing, as I was making myself work on my review of “Invisible Women” for Shiny New Books (what more can you say about this much-reviewed book? I will share what I’ve said when it’s out) before I did the books I’ve finished. I ended April with two books on the go, which I’d started on my travels to London last weekend, and I was a bit under the weather this weekend, hence picked some easy reads off the TBR. So be prepared for an influx.

In other influx news, on Friday and then unexpectedly early on Saturday, I have received two books from the publishers, one on a subscription model that I was more than happy to lend a helping hand to, one from the publisher from a selection I expressed interest in earlier in the year! See below for a pic of these absolute beauties that I am privileged to have in the house.

Simon Armitage – “Gig”

(10 April 2018, Oxfam Books)

I bought this on the day I started using my new hairdresser, so precious memories and all that!

A book of loosely connected anecdotes about his own poetry ‘gigs’, music gigs he’s been to and his forays into band membership, imagined and real, and fandom/subculture membership (it’s hard to be a punk in a northern village with a scathing dad, it turns out). Funny and poignant as usual, we get a lot about his mum and dad (I love the long piece about the family’s amateur dramatic tradition) and his wife and daughter. Good to see his Iceland trip referenced and there are some great comparisons, including this on Mark E. Smith, who he says is like

the owner of a family-run furniture manufacturer in provincial northern England, bullying his staff and mocking his customers.

There’s some birdwatching (he’s the one in the back of the car with the silly comments and biscuits) and family jokes (Alan Bennett mode is a corker!) and I laughed out loud at his list of band names and why they got rejected. A great read.


So a while ago I joined an Unbound campaign for a book about the mental health benefits of birdwatching (and being in nature in general). Unbound works like the old subscription model, or crowdfunding, where you pay in advance to help a book get published, and there are various levels (I chose to receive one hardback book of “Bird Therapy” and have my name in the list of supporters, which pleased me mightily when I spotted myself, but you could also have a special edition or various birdwatching treats for more of a pledge). A quote from the publisher’s page:

In this groundbreaking book filled with practical advice, Joe explains the impact that birdwatching had on his life, and invites the reader to discover these extraordinary effects for themselves.

You can buy it on Amazon from next month and I will try to review it very soon. I found Unbound easy to work with: one book I was supporting failed and I had a refund I could apply easily to anything else.

Bird Therapy and Futurekind books

“Futurekind” by Robert Phillips, kindly sent to me by Thames & Hudson and out next week, is a wonderful, beautifully illustrated book about community-led design projects. I’ll let the blurb do the talking:

Structured into eight areas of application, from healthcare to education, this book showcases over sixty projects – not the kind you see in glossy magazines or online, but the ones that have made a genuine difference to communities and lives around the world. Rather than being client-driven, as commercial design often is, each project here is the result of designers who reach out, communities who get involved and the technologies that helping people to realize ideas together. From a playground-powered water pump in South Africa to a DIY budget cellphone, each of these groundbreaking projects is presented through fascinating and life-affirming stories, diagrams that reveal the mechanisms and motivations behind each design approach, and photography that celebrates the humanity of the endeavour.

It looks absolutely fascinating and I can’t wait to get stuck in.

I’m currently reading “The Sea, The Sea” by Iris Murdoch, for what must be the fifth time at least, and I’m still drawn in, excited, by that first page. What are you reading that’s exciting you?

Book review – May Mackie – “Cobwebs and Cream Teas” plus comp winners and lovely incomings #amreading #BookConfessions

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Sometimes you need a palate-cleanser of an easy book amidst a sequence of more challenging ones, and dotted through my TBR you can find just those. This was an easy win, as it was one of my most recent acquisitions, spotted on my wishlist by Gill and appearing for my birthday. Only a short review as it’s a little book, but then I will share the new books that have come in this last week or so. Oops!

First an update on my Anja Snellman “Continents” competition. I put the names in alphabetical order and without them knowing that, asked the publisher to give me three random numbers (yes, they are giving away THREE print copies). Well done to Jillybeans, Kaggsy and Tredynas Days. The generous publisher has also offered e-copies to all participants, so you will have had an email from me with details of how to claim your prize by now.

Mary Mackie – “Cobwebs and Cream Teas”

(21 January 2019)

A slight volume, just the thing among heavier books, devoured and enjoyed quickly. Mary’s husband gets a job as houseman (general handyman and maintenance/cleaning coordinator, also deputising for the administrator) at a National Trust property, and they move into the flat that goes with it. We’re taken through a year in their lives, explaining the cleaning, preparing, displaying and closing routines with the addition of funny, stressful and occasionally sublime incidents. The author is a writer which allows her to get drawn into helping in the house but also means it’s well-written with some nice descriptive passages and the ability to set a scene. Chris is endlessly inventive, even inventing a new way to dust decorative plaster ceilings (only allowed once checked by the NT). Attractive drawings add to this edition.

Books in

When we were at the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery on Friday, Matthew noticed this on their display. A joint production of Birmingham University’s Cadbury Research Library and the BMAG, “The Birmingham Qur’an Manuscript” tells the story of the uncovering of a page of script from the Qur’an which PhD researcher Alba Fedeli matched with other leaves scattered in libraries across the world. There was something of a fuss about the dating of the page, whereas what was more interesting was the artefact as a palimpsest, with varied readings included and over-written. I have been lucky enough to work with Alba in my job, helping polish articles and documents (she speaks approximately 1 million languages) and so I had to snap it up. There are lovely reproductions of the actual pages, plus input from various people including a librarian and conservator I know! Really a pamphlet more than a book, but it had to be purchased!

My clever and practical friend Sian found these two books from my wishlist around birthday time and kept them in reserve in case the book she wanted to give me didn’t arrive. She had Matthew take them off my wishlist just in case, and now she’s read them herself, she’s passed them to me, anyway – hooray! (When I met her for a coffee, I gave her “Girls to the Front” which she’d given me for Christmas but I knew she’d enjoy.

Tim Parks’ “Where I’m Reading From” is according to the back “lively and provocative” – it’s pieces about what readers want from books and apparently how to look at literature in a new light. Kim Gordon’s memoir, “Girl in a Band” covers her time as a founding member of Sonic Youth and a lot more and has had a lot of positive talk.

Then I went to Shirley to meet my friend Linda for a coffee, I was a bit early and I popped into the charity shops. Sarah Vaughan’s “The Art of Baking Blind” is set in a baking competition – I enjoyed the Strictly novel I read years ago and this looks to be the Bake-Off equivalent. One of those light palate-cleansers I mentioned above; Linda’s already read and enjoyed it. Margot Lee Shetterley’s “Hidden Figures” was a good find – we watched the film about black woman “computers” at NASA in the first days of space flight at the weekend, talked about reading the book, and there it was! And Cathy Kelly’s “The House on Willow Street”, although from 2012, is one I haven’t spotted before: I like her reliably well-written stories of, usually, three or four women and their lives and issues. This one’s set by the sea instead of Dublin and looks fun.


Has anyone read any of these? I’m looking forward to getting to some of them reasonably soon, as I continue to read my TBR in my new way (oldest, newest, Kindle book). I’m currently reading “Invisible Women” for Shiny New Books and hope to have that reviewed for them soon, and will then start another NetGalley on the Kindle as I’m travelling to London to support the marathon this coming weekend.

Book review – Nancy Campbell – “The Library of Ice” #NetGalley @simonschusterUK @nancycampbelle #TheLibraryofIce

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A great read from NetGalley: I do get round to these eventually as they lie hidden on my Kindle!

A fascinating book about the author’s own fascination with northern, cold places. She starts off as an artist in residence in Greenland, living and working in a museum and ending up trying some painting because she discovers that while painters, sculptors, etc., are asked to leave their work there, writers are asked to take it away! In fact she seems to return to Greenland more than anywhere else, popping back, catching up with people, etc. I love her love of language: she leafs through a dictionary and discusses Greenlandic words almost from the start, and later on talks about the Icelandic neologisms, trying hard to keep their language pure (fartolva for a migrating computer = laptop is a favourite of mine).

She spends time in various libraries and artist-in-residence locations, living quite a nomadic life although she’s seeking to settle by the end of the book. These are interesting places in themselves, adding a lot of depth and background to the narrative.

Of course she goes to Iceland and its glaciers, and that was a stand-out chapter for me, seeing familiar and not so familiar places through her eyes. She also spends time with a composer who records ice melting and creates compositions from it, among other people from reindeer herders to dog sledders trying to adapt to modern tourism. She’s lyrical on the ice cores scientists create (once they planted flag poles; now they bore through the ice for samples) and there’s much more to it than environmental concern, although that’s there, too, as it should be.

An original and unusual read which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Thank you to the publisher, Simon & Schuster, for making it available and selecting me to receive a copy in return for an honest review.

Next time: Book Confessions! Oh no! Or … hooray!

Book review – Iris Murdoch – “Henry and Cato” #IMReadalong @IrisMurdoch

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“Henry and Cato” is the later book I remember least, even though I have to have read it at least four times now. I always remember there’s the dodgy character of Beautiful Joe and a rather sulky inheritor, but the details had once again escaped me. Once I’d re-read it, I wasn’t entirely sure what to think. Is it actually a thriller? Does it work as a thriller? Does it work better than “The Nice and the Good” which is the other one with thriller elements? I’ll try to unpick my thoughts and many, many post-it notes, and look forward to hearing everyone else’s reactions.

If you’re doing the readalong or even selected books along with me, or of course some time afterwards, do share how you’re getting on and which have been your favourites so far.

Iris Murdoch – “Henry and Cato”

(08 January 2018)

We open so memorably (OK, I will admit to always recalling this scene when crossing Hungerford Bridge myself, but never quite remembering which book it’s out of) with someone called Cato dropping a gun into the Thames, in a bit of a state. And of course in a lovely echo and doubling, he’s popping back over the bridge with something else bulky in his coat in the closing moments of the book. In between he goes through an ordeal which he survives but doesn’t feel he acquitted himself well in – his father certainly doesn’t think so, but did he?

We are then introduced to Henry, a bit spoilt, a rubbish academic, coming back to the UK to claim his inheritance after his loathed brother has died. He considers his mother, then we cut to her and faithful retainer Lucius, and Cato’s father John, disappointed in his unacademic daughter, all concurrently – which I think is a masterful stroke that shows IM’s confidence and technical ability as a novelist (something I’m not entirely certain the book shows off all the way through). IM gets into her element describing Laxlinden Hall – has she had a lovely big house to dwell on quite so happily since “The Bell”? Henry will decide what to do and bend everyone to his will before curiously giving up. Cato will stick to his principles until he suddenly doesn’t. Everything will be changed but still somehow the same, and two people will die, only one violently. Oh, and there’s a faithless priest in an abandoned house in an East London wasteland, which we’ve definitely had before, haven’t we.

We have the usual Murdochian themes and echoes of other books. Themes-wise, we find out very early on that Henry is writing a book on an artist, John Forbes intends to write one on Quakerism, and Lucius is also writing a book, which is getting shorter and more personal as he approaches the end of his life. The theme of ageing women comes in again, with Gerda coming in for a hard time, Lucius wondering if she dyes her hair, and noticing, “Of course she was faded and her features were less fine” (p. 10) (that “of course” is harsh, isn’t it?). Women’s lots are discussed – John Forbes has always “fought for women’s liberation” but sees women as having an “invincible stupidity” which somewhat undermines that (p. 20). Stephanie is described right from the start in fairly disgusting/disgusted terms, with her moustache and her greasy nose, her fat and her unflattering clothes, and her ageing is pinned down cruelly, too:

How strangely and mysteriously evident was the ageing of the body. A weariness in the breasts, in the buttocks, a certain coarsening and staleness of the flesh, proclaim the years as much as lines and wrinkles can. (p. 166)

Siblings abound, of course, and they either complement or are wildly contrasted – “really Sandy was just a big calm relaxed man, unlike dark manic Henry” (p. 16). We climb over a wall with Henry, notably at the start of the book but then also over the gate between Laxlinden and the Forbes estate. And of course we also find ourselves looking at people standing outside windows (Henry, seen by Gerda), looking through windows (on Henry’s first arrival, peering at his mother), trailing across gardens (Henry seems to be forever running off down the terraces) and indeed following people, with Henry following Colette through the bamboo (as one does; and she comes back, which is unusual: does this signify that she’s more his equal?). Colette is the one with the hair, apart from Henry’s dark curls and Joe’s weird blond bob: she even has straight and flat bits of hair that frame her face, although they’re not metallic like some people’s. She looks like her hair has been cut when Henry visits her after her injury (although it hasn’t been: she has remained whole (see below)). Gerda also stands with her “pale, broad face thrust forward” (p. 109) which is a common Murdochian way to arrange oneself.

There are flashes of humour in this odd book with its large themes. When Henry thinks of his brother being dead, he is said to have “flexed his toes with joy” (p. 3) The descriptions of Lucius’ creeping age, “a kind of itching ache was crawling about his body, making it impossible for him to find comfort in any position” (p. 10) shouldn’t be funny but is in light of his fussiness, and he’s a creature of arrogance who we laugh at – and also produces that dreadful poetry that so upsets Gerda in a very funny scene where she’s found it in his room: “Clump, clump. The old girl” (p. 201). The sentence, “He had lived on talk and curiosity and drink and the misfortunes of his friends” seems perfect. There’s also the lovely detail of the different kinds of holy men, with Cato finding Father Thomas dull and Father Thomas thinking he’s a “frivolous amateur”:

Of course, Cato and Father Thomas, being decent sincere men of God, recognized their prejudices as prejudices. But this did not stop them from quietly feuding. (p. 34)

I really giggled at the description of Henry, having met Stephanie for the first time: “As he began to calm down he bought himself four very expensive shirts” (p. 104) and he also has a very odd scene playing with hats.

We have one of our mysterious figures who moves the plot along in certain ways (near the end in her case) in Rhoda, whose speech is unintelligible to everyone except for Gerda (was she given to her like Biscuit was to Lady Kitty). She doesn’t run her errands for her, but a mystery hinges on her. What an odd character. Along with the mystery, fate leans and breathes heavily over the action as often seems to happen (c.f. all the portents in “Sacred and Profane”: “[Henry] felt panic, terror, a kind of nebulous horror as if he were a man destined by dark forces to commit a murder for which he had no will and of which he had no understanding” (p. 59) – although of course he doesn’t, and this is probably something about accepting contingency which I’m trying to grasp to understand myself.

Seeing and attention, which IM is obviously famous for talking about and which slip into the novels more and more as time passes, are prominent here. Beautiful Joe says early on, “You’re the only one who can really see me at all” (p. 38). Gerda mentions that Henry cannot see his future wife (Stephanie) when she’s met her and observed them. Gerda herself is described as having “attended carefully to Stephanie” (p. 315) and reaches an understanding with her (in the literal and figurative senses, it turns out).

There’s a very odd quirk in the language – did anyone else notice this? We have “adjective Henry” all over the place, as well as bird-headed Rhoda and philistine Sandy: changeling Henry, much-travelled Henry, etc., etc.

The portrait of Gerda’s grief is very moving, as she tries to hold herself together and not make a fuss. I didn’t much notice her as a character originally but I feel she’s very brave, actually. An almost feminist point gets made about a certain kind of woman at a certain point in time and society:

I suppose that women … learn pretty early on that they’ve got to be alone and bear things alone, even when they’re in the bosom of their family. (p. 196)

Who is the saint and who the enchanter? Henry seems to enchant Stephanie but then she’s looking for an owner to create (“You needed me and you invented me” (p. 264)) and he wants to keep her submissive rather than being created as an enchanter figure. They enchant each other, “So it turned out that in an upside-down way, he was her captive, not she his” (p. 165) but then Henry also admits that, having been bullied, maybe he was looking for someone to bully (certainly thus not doing the absorbing of pain that IM espouses).

Cato tries to be a hero and maybe even though he commits a crime in truth, it’s more like when Tallis drives the assailant away in the Chinese restaurant in “A Fairly Honourable Defeat”, as he’s doing it to protect someone weaker. He also has a revelation when imprisoned, but his this the kind that is had in “The Unicorn” or a lasting one? He also finds he has to “hold onto myself” – is this the opposite of unselfing? Father Brendan has too fancy and well-arranged an apartment to be a saint (Cato lives in a smelly state). Or is it Colette, who restores order and knows her own mind, but is fearless in protecting her brother? She has her own trial and comes through wounded but stronger, and gets what she always wanted. Is that the reward of a saint, though or something else? She certainly doesn’t pass pain on, as she knows about the lack of accomplices but doesn’t tell Cato. She tries to even love her enemies, saying of Joe, “you must try to love people even when it’s hard or awfully odd” (p. 286)She’s also used by Henry to give himself courage, “the thought of her wholeness and her courage entered into him like a spear, like a hard line of pure non-Henry in the midst of the humiliating jelly of his personal terror” (p. 260). And I’m glad that her father sees her as “the heroic one” in the end, although he’s too hard on Cato, perhaps. Could Gerda be seen to be a saint, absorbing her own suffering (although she does impose it on Lucius, doesn’t she?). She does have some netsuke, always a good indication of Good, although she happily parts with them (in a Buddhist way?).  In the end, maybe it’s Colette and Cato’s dead mother who was the saint, described as such by her children:

She was the sort of saint that no one notices or sees, she was almost invisible. (p. 335)

In a nod to “A Severed Head”, Henry, Bella and Russ have discussed Henry’s affair with Bella with their analyst. John Forbes buying Oak Meadow echoes Monty wanting to buy his end of the garden in “Sacred and Profane”. The mention of John’s engagement with Quakerism reminds me of N and his community in “The Philosopher’s Pupil”. Surely it’s a hat-tip to “The Black Prince” when Henry randomly sends Russ a postcard of the Post Office Tower? Cato mentions the underground warrens underneath government offices that play such a part in “The Nice and the Good”.

I’ve not even mentioned the religious aspects: I found them interesting and the network of religious sponsors and mentors fascinating. I loved how Father Brendan described priesthood as being like a marriage, long-term and needing to be worked on after the first excitement of love. But I’ve written a lot and if you’ve got this far, I salute you!


Please either place your review in the comments, discuss mine or others’, or post a link to your review if you’ve posted it on your own blog, Goodreads, etc. I’d love to know how you’ve got on with this book and if you read it having read others of Murdoch’s novels or this was a reread, I’d love to hear your specific thoughts on those aspects, as well as if it’s your first one!

If you’re catching up or looking at the project as a whole, do take a look at the project page, where I list all the blog posts so far.

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