Friday, 30 December 2011

Noah's Ark by Barbara Trapido

The central character of this story is Ali, a woman who was once married to the vile Mervyn Bobrow, and who is now married to the protective Noah Glazer. Noah rescued her, her marriage to Mervyn was over (he had left her for another woman). At her wits end dealing with this and with her clingy daughter Camilla, Ali absent-mindedly stepped into the road and was saved from being hit by a car by Noah pulling her back onto the pavement.

Noah takes charge. Ali is still under the influence of Mervyn, who is a horrible bully without any redeeming features at all. He is cruel to Ali and vicious to their troubled little girl;

'You wet the bed every night as an act of aggression,' he once announced to her helpfully before an audience of adult strangers. 'You do it because you hate your mother.'

This is the seventies and Mervyn thinks of himself as something of an activist, though for what isn't clear. He's all talk and no action. As the years go by he becomes increasingly obsessed with status;

He became a man who looked for his name in the Sunday Times birthday lists and felt himself slighted to find it omitted.

Ali marries Noah and they have two children together. Noah helps her to set boundaries with her ex-husband and with all the hangers-on who want a piece of her. Then back into her life comes Thomas Adderley, her first love. She knew him when they were young together in South Africa. A genuine activist (unlike Mervyn) Thomas creates waves around the steady ship of Ali's marriage.

First published in 1984, I thought that this book did seem a bit dated. It had a shallow, brittle 1980s feel about it. Mervyn Bobrow is possibly the most horrible character I have ever encountered, he is a grotesque. The fact that Ali had married him made me think less of her. In fact I didn't really understand Ali at all. I certainly didn't understand how she could risk her marriage. Possibly this book would've made more sense to me if I'd read it in 1984. Helen Dunmore wrote the introduction to the library copy I read. She really likes it, so I'm sure it's a good book - just not for me. I have read a couple of other Barbara Trapido books which I have really enjoyed.

Thursday, 29 December 2011

A reading day

I haven't managed to get much reading done over the Christmas break, there hasn't really been time, and I'm too tired on an evening to read more than a couple of pages. But this afternoon Billy has gone round to one of his friends to play, so I am going to take the opportunity to crack open a Terry's Chocolate Orange and get a few hours reading in.

I'm reading Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh. I'm enjoying it, but I think it's suffered from me not being able to devote a chunk of time to it. Lots of characters and intertwining stories strands which I'm getting confused at the moment.

I've downloaded a couple of things onto my new Kindle; a memoir by Diana Athill, and Gawain and the Green Knight by Simon Armitage. Both were in Amazon's 99p sale. I've noticed that when I open a book on the Kindle it opens on the first page of the story, not the cover page. I want to change that if possible, so I'll investigate that as well today.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Books for Christmas

I was very excited to receive a Kindle from my husband for Christmas. It wasn't a surprise as I had been dropping not very subtle hints for months. All I've downloaded onto it so far is a short story by Kristine Kathryn Rusch called Hero Dust. I'd heard part of it on Radio 4 Extra a few weeks ago and it sounded interesting. When I investigated it on Amazon I discovered that it was only available as an e-book, so I made a note of it to be my first download.

I also got Penguin by Design: A Cover Story 1935 - 2005 by Paul Baines. The blurb reads:

Ever since the creation of the first Penguin paperbacks in 1935, their jackets have become a constantly evolving part of Britain's culture and design history. Rich with stunning illustrations and filled with details of individual titles, designers and even the changing size and shape of the Penguin logo itself, this book shows how covers become design classics.

I love Penguin books, especially the logo, so this should be an interesting read.

Billy got a collection of Famous Five books, a big book of Disgusting Facts, and various annuals. He's examined his Chelsea FC annual quite closely, but his Nintendo DS has pretty much taken precedence!

I hope everyone is having a lovely Christmas holidays, and getting lots of good reading done.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

A Christmas Carol read by Monica Dickens

This is an interesting article by Alison Flood in The Guardian's book blog about a recording of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol by his great-grandaughter Monica Dickens, the link is here.

I'm reading A Christmas Carol to Billy at the moment for his bedtime book. I was a little bit worried that the ghosts might be a bit frightening for him, but so far so good.