Friday, 7 August 2015


I have been painting:    

Also walking: 
near Reigate, North Downs Way

and last but not least reading:

In the Mountains - Elizabeth Von Arnim 
I’ve started this before, then stopped because it didn’t accord with my ideas of Von Arnim and what I expected and wanted from a book by Von Arnim. Being miserable in the last two months – for good reasons that I'm not ready to go into – it suited me rather well this time round. 
The main protagonist crawls (her word) into the Swiss mountains where she was once so happy before the war, trying to heal from her shattering of faith in goodness, the deaths of loved ones and possibly more that is never explained.
The book is written in diary format and as the diarist heals she starts to look outwards, to her guests, and the attention shifts and becomes more typically fairytale and less interesting, but I was still engaged to the end. 

The Adventures of Elizabeth in Rugen
If this book is even half true Von Arnim seems to have tried to do for real life people what she does so well for her fictional characters. Sadly real people don’t always play along. I was astonished that she ever thought they would.

With a Zero at its Heart – Charles Lambert
it’s a shame I didn’t read this in paperback. The book has a charming cover that doesn’t come through in pixels and certainly not the dull black and white of second generation kindle.  As always though once you start reading you don’t notice. 
It’s written in fragments of memory, sorted loosely, some more significant and some less and really, who knows which is which? Highly recommended. (Pretty sure I first read about this on Savidge Reads, which is also recommended.).

I'm also rereading:

Broken Homes by Ben Aaronovitch. 
I’ve kind of lost momentum with the Rivers of London series. Foxglove Summer disappointed me and I’ve not managed to rekindle my enthusiasm with this one despite thoroughly enjoying it the first time round.

The Pale Horse
One of the creepier Agatha Christies, written in the 60s and in a setting contemporary for the time. Unlike TV Poirots and Marples, eternally suspended in the age of Art Deco and sombre suits, or retired colonels and summer dresses, Christie wrote of what was happening at the time. The Pale Horse starts among the coffee bar set in Chelsea.   

There is no Poirot or Marple in this one, but Marple’s Dane Calthrops (The Moving Finger) and Poirot’s Despards (Cards on the Table) are there, raising the interesting prospect that Marple and Poirot could, under certain circumstances, have actually met.
Also along for the ride is Ariadne Oliver, Agatha Christie’s alter ego, always a joy in small doses like the ones we get of her here.   

One of the things I've always liked about Christie - from when I started reading her in my teens, is that she doesn't despise or have low expectations of the young people in her books. Occasionally one might be naive, or an older character may find their fashions or politics confusing, but there's none of this sweeping dismissal of anyone under 20 or 18 or 14 which you get from supposedly broadminded journos. Third Girl is a good example of that, and so to a lesser extent is this. 

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