Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Village by Marghanita Laski

I've spent the past few days reading this wonderful book by Marghanita Laski at every opportunity. It exceeded all of my expectations and I suggest that if you have a copy languishing on your bookshelf that you get it down. To set the tone... Then they parted, Mrs Trevor going up the road to Wood View on Priory Hill where the gentry lived and Mrs Wilson going downhill on the other side, down Station Road among the working-classes. Picking up on the the last night of WWII, Laski takes us through the conflicts that arise when the classes mix. Much to the dismay of the Trevor family, their daughter, Margaret, falls in love with Roy Wilson. Despite the fact that Roy has served his country and learned a trade which earns him more money than Margaret's father, he will never be worthy of the Trevor's hospitality - much less their daughter. The ways in which class distinction are observed in this story made for a fascinating study. Mrs Trevor knots her scarf under her chin, Mrs Wilson knots hers on top of her head in turban-style. Wendy Trevor chides her daughter for using the term 'Auntie', blaming her association with Roy for her lapse of proper English, the correct term would be 'Aunt'. The romance between Roy and Margaret is so sweet, they go to the cinema, ride their bicycles and have a picnic while they plan their life together. I had to laugh when Roy, being ever so chivalrous, lets Margaret know that she won't be working once they're wed. Which suits her just fine as all she's ever wanted for herself was to be a homemaker and raise a family. Roy, tired of romancing his intended under a veil of secrecy, marches to the Trevor's front door to speak with the man of the house. Gerald and Wendy are perplexed as to why someone from Station Road would use their front door. You can imagine the explosive scene when Roy announces that he and their daughter are engaged. "And how do you think we're going to feel with a son-in-law we're ashamed to introduce to our friends?" rages Mr Trevor. You will have to read this book for yourself to discover whether true love prevails over class distinction. I don't know what made me grab this book at the last minute for this reading challenge but I'm awfully glad that I did.

A Book Chat at Persephone

A treasured memory of my trip to London last May, was the day Kristina and I visited the Persephone shop for a book chat. As luck would have it, the book being discussed was Someone at a Distance by Dorothy Whipple which I had just recently finished. We were shown into the room at the back where we sat on chairs in a tight circle. Tea was promptly poured and offered around, it was loose leaf, of course. Nicola sliced some Devon Seed Cake, so perfect with a cup of tea. Once the conversation began I think the group would have happily sat there for hours discussing the ins and outs of the book. One of the many topics mulled over was the significance of twin beds and married couples. We all had a laugh when one lady in the group said that her mother thought it was unhygienic for a couple to share a bed! It was terrific to have that kind of insight from someone whose mother would have been a grown woman in the 50's. I think of that visit often and wouldn't hesitate to plan my next trip around another book chat at Persephone. For those of you lucky enough to visit whenever you like, do yourself a favour and attend one. I've baked a few Devon Seed Cakes since May to remember a very special afternoon and laugh when I remember asking Nicola if hers was home baked, to which she replied "yes and presumably by someone in Devon". Wonderful!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Reading Persephone

This is one of my favourite spots in the house to read. I was just starting A House in the Country by Jocelyn Playfair but in the end I ran upstairs to grab The Village by Marghanita Laski instead. I'm quite near the end and really enjoying it, I'm so impressed by some of the other participants that are managing a book a day! I'm blaming my shortcomings on Deacon, whose pleading eyes and whimpering have me in the park more than on the couch!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Cauliflower Cheese

Grocery shopping takes on more of community feel the closer we get to harvest time. Yesterday, the displays of vegetables were mounded high and there were rows of peaches in baskets, hand picked from area orchards. As we were deciding over a basket of new potatoes, R spied the small bite-size ones that we really love. An obliging fellow shopper passed them to us from across the display so we wouldn't have to walk around. The lower prices had me pondering over the peppers as to what I could make with them. Kristina has posted recently about the vegetables from her allotment and inspired me to bake a cauliflower cheese - several times lately. It was on the menu again last night and was delicious, for dessert we had apple pie. Fall and the glorious smell of woodsmoke will be upon us soon and I for one, can't wait!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Nella, Nadel and Knitting

Sometimes you just have to push yourself away from the computer. For a couple of days I focused on other things and spent more down-time reading my book instead of in blogland. But yesterday after work, when I was feeling caught up, I went to log on and discovered that we had no internet service, shock and horror! After an hour on the phone to someone in India and then another hour on the phone to someone in a city closer to home I was told there was a problem in my area and it would last into the evening hours. Never one to waste an opportunity, every time that I was put on hold I managed to get my meatloaf one step closer to being in the oven. So R and I had an evening of visiting the 40's. He's reading Sure and Certain Death by Barbara Nadel, a murder mystery set in 1941 amidst the bombed remains of East London. I brought it home from the library for myself but he snuck off with it first and is really enjoying it. I watched Housewife, 49 whilst trying to make some headway on a pair of socks that I started last May. It tells the story of Nella Last, who wrote a diary as part of a public project to record the effects of war on the general population. It's an award-winning drama so if you're at all interested in that era then do try your library to see if they carry it. Two bits of good news, our internet service is back and my Persephone book, Minnie's Room by Mollie Panter-Downes has finally shown up in my mailbox, hooray!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Picking a Persephone

Have you been planning for the Persephone Reading Week Challenge coming up on August 24? Some of you may be waiting to see what sort of mood you'll be in, will it be romantic, nostalgic, domestic, comedic or whimsical. The best news is there's a Persephone book for all of these situations and more. My selection has been narrowed down to A London Child of the 1870's, Mariana, A House in the Country, Miss Buncle's Book and Greenery Street. In somewhat related news, I've submitted a 'Persephone Missing in Action' report with The Book Depository for Minnie's Room, it left their premises on August 3, that much has been confirmed but so far, nothing at my end. Patience is a virtue, right? In the meantime, my Persephone grey T-shirt/reading uniform is clean and ready for service (I have several, no worries). Are you ready? This reading event is being brought to you by Verity and Claire.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Julie & Julia

Do yourself a favour and see this wonderful film. R came along with me yesterday saying that he'd see anything if I bought him some popcorn. Well, it ended up that he enjoyed more than the popcorn so don't hesitate to take the man in your life along. Meryl Streep is absolutely wonderful as Julia Child and don't be surprised to see an Oscar nomination come her way. I can also see a Fall season of Child's cookbooks flying off of the shelves, you can't help but be tempted to get your saucepans out of the cupboards after watching this movie. There was a funny moment when Julie's friends mention that she should set up a Pay-Pal account on her blog to help defray the cost of cooking so many recipes. R leaned over and asked "Can you get that on your blog?". "For what?" I replied. "All those books that you're buying" was the comeback. Very funny coming from the gentleman who talked me into buying two books from the bookshop only an hour before. That man does like to tease. In conclusion, two very enthusiastic thumbs up for this feast of a film. I'd see it again in the time it takes to say "butter".

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Throwing Down an Oven Mitt

R and I have lovely friends. There's a core group of eight couples and we like to get together at certain times through the year. Last night we got together for a BBQ hosted by Mr and Mrs C at their lovely home with a swimming pool and room for a pony. Lately, it seems as though there must not be a gathering without the men partaking in some sort of competition. Last night the event was Who Can BBQ the Best Steak. There were numbers drawn, a couple of trust-worthy people secreted in the kitchen to cut up samples, sheets handed out with a grading system and a teen with excellent math skills to calculate the submitted points. Toward the end, I felt a little like Geraldine Granger from The Vicar of Dibley trying to eat just one more brussel sprout at Christmas Lunch. All of the steaks were delicious but sadly, I have to report that R's steak did not achieve a top three position. Not to worry though, in September we'll be doing it all over again at our Ribfest. R made a trophy for that one and he's quite determined that it will grace our mantle this year. He took a sterling silver piggy bank and mounted it on an old soccer trophy that he bought at a charity shop, the player on top was done away with. The trophy is affectionately referred to as 'The Porker'. Heaven help me.