Ten books for March

 by Diana Studer

- gardening for biodiversity

 in Cape Town, South Africa 


 

Lovely LIBRARY BOOKS. First visit was a pile of 20. The books are quarantined for 72 hours before clearing.

 

Swedish IKEA square glass vase
Swedish IKEA square glass vase
(bananas from 2018)

Tom MALMQUIST

In every moment we are still alive

~

A Swedish poet and musician writes his first novel. For me a window into contemporary Sweden, and life as the father of a newborn. He has a long legal battle to convince the powers that be, he is, the father of this baby. Intense grief set against utter delight of baby Livia.

 

Battling the wind at Olifantsbos
Battling the wind at Olifantsbos

Joanna CANNON

Three things about Elsie

~

Three people in a retirement home, remembering. When I reached the gracious closing sentences in her acknowledgements - I understood how she could see the world thru the eyes of Florence and Jack.

~

If we'd stopped to think when we were younger, that one day we would be back here, stooped and grey, if we'd given a moment to think how we would struggle against the wind to stay upright, and how our feet would feel afraid and uncertain; perhaps, then, we would have taken a little more time over things. We would have enjoyed the soft, easy days of childhood a little more. Arms and legs full of confidence and energy. Minds free from hesitation. Perhaps we would have danced through our youth a little more slowly.

 

Flats near Olympic Park London
Flats near Olympic Park London

Mick HERRON

London rules

~

Espionage. But unexpectedly hilarious! Throughout the book are lyrical passages about the time of day. Dusk and twilight are unknown here in Cape Town.

 ~

When dusk at last comes it comes from the corners, where it's been waiting all day, and seeps through Slough House the way ink seeps through water; first casting tendrils, then becoming smoky black cloud, and at last being everywhere, the way it always wants to be. Its older brother night has broader footfall, louder voice, but dusk is the family sneak, a hoarder of secrets.

 

Library cloth binding and gold lettering
Library cloth binding and gold lettering

Julia ROCHESTER

The house at the edge of the world

~

Our heroine is a book binder. (On my shelves are two books which were repaired for me by the book bindery at the University of Cape Town - simple library cloth with careful dedication) She gathers the threads of her story till they meet, in an unexpected way, at the edge of the world. PS Jagger Library was gutted by fire this past weekend! - more links in my next post

~

'Only three more weeks!' he said.

'Why do we hate it so much?'

Corwin shrugged his shoulders. 'It's a seaside town,' he said. "They're essentially unlovable. They never deliver what they promise.'

~

We live in a seaside suburb. I chose this as similar to the way I remember Camps Bay when I grew up. A neighbour said then, as the McMansions elbowed in, I feel as if I live in their garden shed.

 

Wooden hoopoes
Wooden hoopoes

Gaile PARKIN

When hoopoes go to heaven

~

Thru the eyes of a 10 year old boy. Moved, again, following his father's work, to Swaziland. Mama bakes celebration cakes (sequel to Baking Cakes in Kigali)

~

Sometimes he felt like something had knocked his mind from the place it had found to sit comfortably, and now it was struggling to find its balance in a more difficult place.

~

That was our 2020?

 

New cat
New cat in 2017

Gail HONEYMAN

Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine

~

A coming of age, and finding your way story. Gaining social skills after a harrowing childhood.

~

Raymond was holding a cardboard box with handles in one hand, and a huge, bulging plastic bag in the other. ... placed both items gently on my hall carpet ... tea? ... "Later, maybe. I've got to tell you about the surprise first, Eleanor" ... He opened the lid very gently ... [the cat is] A woman who knew her own mind and scorned conventions of polite society. We were going to get along just fine.

 

Lockdown means I don't dress in silk
Lockdown means I don't dress in silk

Judith ALLNATT

The silk factory

~

Weedon Bec in Northhamptonshire. The story bounces between a young family today, and the heroine's generations of silk workers around 1812. Grim working conditions with echoes reverberating to today's medical and essential workers in  COVID lockdown. Luddites then, today's transition to 'working from home', online delivery not high street shops, and more automation putting people out of work.

~

My mother has ancestors called Lay, perhaps French Huguenots, silk workers?? (My she would notice that a word she hadn't seen before, would bob up again promptly - there is another Oliphant in this book!)

 

I miss being allowed to sing together
I miss being allowed to sing together

Dennis McFARLAND

The music room

~

Those family memories, or not. So many questions not asked (stories never told) and now can never be answered.

~

[Mother] would have to have threatened to take us away from him. It didn't matter whether or not she could actually have done it ... All that mattered was that she'd come up with something Father wouldn't dare to risk. And why did Perry know these things while I didn't? Simple: I had never asked. 

 

and Swiss train journeys commuting
and Swiss train journeys commuting

Jean-Paul DIDIERLAURENT

The reader on the 6.27

~

A refreshingly different love story

Interview with the author

Two minutes of the author reading with delight the original French

 

The End in Greek
The End in Greek

Panos KAMEZIS

Little infamies

~

Short stories about a desperately poor Greek village. Layers of grief, laced with joy and laughter - as life is.

~

...she could not suppress her tears of joy... her husband ...only had to look up from his newspaper to see that she had been crying. He frowned behind his glasses. 'What now, woman?' he asked wearily.

She quickly conjured one of her incredible excuses, which never failed to get on her husband's nerves: 'How many times do I have to tell you not to buy onions from that peddler. He grows them in the old battlefield and they are full of tears.'

 

I read voraciously. I remember how that quote looked on the page, and where in the story it lives.


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Comments

  1. I always appreciate your reviews. I read the Honeyman book some time ago and I recall I enjoyed it. I just noted the Mick Herron book for future reference and passed the mention that it was "unexpectedly hilarious" on to a friend.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for the tipps, I like to read in english.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Dear Diana, what an exquisite reading list. Have to jump to my bookseller's page and search for them. It's so wonderful to meet people reading taxingly literature. It was part of my profession - so I do it again and again and again.
    All my best and have a wonderful time.
    Take care
    Elisabeth

    ReplyDelete
  4. I read about the burning of the University of Cape Town’s JW Jagger Library. Awful.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I enjoyed this! I love book recommendations and this is such an interesting selection. The only book I've read is the Mick Herron.
    Amalia
    xo

    ReplyDelete

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