Books I had read before Ukraine news broke


by Diana Studer

- gardening for biodiversity

 in Cape Town, South Africa


Ukraine flag. Yellow and blue originally represented fire and water. Then 'golden domes of Christian churches and the blue Dnieper river' with Kyiv the birthplace of  the Russian Orthodox church. And now 'blue sky above yellow field of wheat'. Their national flower is sunflower.


Why invade via Chernobyl - good paved road across the marsh to Kyiv.

Propaganda for Russian children staged as the 'good old days'

Not so carefully chosen words

The first Great Information War

South Africa's Ramaphosa and Russia?

BBC returns to shortwave radio for news to Russia as in WWII


Colours of the Ukraine flag My clear blue sky and golden Euryops daisy
Colours of the Ukraine flag
My clear blue sky and golden Euryops daisy

Escape into my pile of good books.


Susan HILL

Betrayal of trust


Solving a cold case of murder. Running in tandem with the detective's sister, who is the doctor at the local hospice. We saw the Woman in Black on the London stage, and I found that disappointing - but this novel I did immerse myself in.


Illustrated Child cover rising from tones of grey sketch to living colour
Illustrated Child cover
rising from tones of grey sketch to living colour


Illustrated child 


With a cover that echoes the story. Romilly lives with her father - who uses her as a character in series of books. Then the painful echoes of the past emerge.




The duke and I


January painfully needed some light relief escapism. This fit comfortably.



Michel BUSSI

Time is a killer


Translated from French. Life and people in Corsica - not sure quite how seriously to take this one? Skeletons in the closet. Family honour across generations meets nature conservation.


[waiting in the interminable supermarket queue during summer holidays] she had scribbled a list of questions on the back of her shopping list. With no answers.


Franck was probably right, if you wanted to be happy you were better off making a shopping list than a list of questions, concentrating on insignificant ingredients rather than the blank page on the other side.

Only reading the recto of life.




Magic lessons


How to witch.


She was found on a January day in a field where the junipers grew, wound in a blue blanket with her name carefully stitched along the border with silk thread.


carefully stitched in blue by my niece
carefully stitched in blue by my niece


Another country


Paris. London. Bombay. The author was born in Bombay the year we married.


Stained glass by Lawrence Lee (scroll down for the second article)


Guardian angel with bombed church in London
Guardian angel with bombed church in London


Arctic chill


Translated from Icelandic (Indrida's son is called Arnaldur - Icelandic solves naming people so elegantly!) To the Arctic. Passed this one on to my cabin fever Ungardener too.


He wondered if there was any other country in the world where they talked about 'a normal missing-person case'. Perhaps history had taught the Icelanders not to make too much of a fuss when people went missing.


The frost tightened its grip as evening fell, whipped up by the chill Arctic wind that blasted in from the sea and south over the desolate winter landscape. It ... ravaged its way over the lowlands where the settlement spread out, a glittering winter city on the northernmost shores of the world


Hands upraised. Turning to leaves then words
Hands upraised. Turning to leaves then words


Lake of dreams


Stained glass and a girl who wanted to be a priest. And Japan.


They had hung the window in the fellowship hall, and it was even more striking than I remembered. Early afternoon light poured intensely through the colours, through the patterns whose style had grown so familiar, the stems and flowers, the interlocking moons making the repeated shape of the vesica piscis, an ancient sacred geometry, the hands of the people all upraised, turning into leaves, into words, rising up.


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  1. The Daily Maverick article was interesting - thanks for the link. I think "Putin's War" (as it's now commonly referred to here in the US) may become more untenable to accept with each passing day. I'm holding out hope that China finds it so anyway as that may be the pressure that makes the difference in the end. In the meantime, I'm reading a lot of escapist books at the moment and burying myself in the garden.

  2. Thank you for the reading suggestions. It is so hard to settle down to anything with all of the war coverage. So heartbreaking. xo Laura

  3. Thanks for the book recommendations. I will research them for my book club. There are so many great books to read. Like Laura and Kris, I'm unsettled by the war. Trying to focus on hope, but it's tough.

  4. An eclectic pile! I enjoyed reading through the list and learning that tidbit about the Ukrainian flag. My heart goes to them.