I don’t know what happened – life, food poisoning, work, hospital, family visiting. Some wonderful, others awful. I have been reading throughout it all, though, so I’ll post a few books that I’ve read recently.
A Life’s Work by Rachel Cusk: an incredible account of the author’s early experiences of motherhood. She writes about being pregnant and the shock of having another being in her body; she writes about the realities of giving birth and she writes about what it’s like to have a very, very small baby in your care (mewling, puking and screaming). She talks about the code of silence that seems to exist between mothers so that they don’t tell you the realities of motherhood and how extremely difficult it just all is. She is very honest and often very funny. I found it a brilliant book, because at last there was someone who went through the same experiences that I went through with my babies (I still shudder when women tell me they are broody, and still feel jealous when someone tells me she has such a good baby who sleeps through the night – and my children are now 15 and 17).
The Bradshaw Variations by Rachel Cusk: this is a novel by her and a powerful depiction of family life, middle-aged love and marriage. She writes about the Bradshaw family, from the old parents to the middle aged brothers. Cusk is a writer who focuses on the minutae of life, written so beautifully that it is a pleasure to read even when she talks about a character making coffee. She is a serious writer, in my mind, in that she crafts her sentences very carefully and sometimes uses words that I have to look up in the dictionary. I think this book is well worth reading if you enjoy books about the intricacies of family life.
And just so you know, I’ve been reading Rachel Cusk’s books because she is my supervisor for an MA in Creative Writing that I’m doing through Kingston University in England. It’s a low-residency degree, which means I only have to go over there twice in the next two years for a week a time and the rest is done online. Needless to say, I am now frozen with admiration and wonder how on earth I am going to have to expose my amateur writing to a real author – an award-winning one at that.
Another book I’ve read recently that I thoroughly enjoyed is “The Summer of the Bear” by Bella Pollen. I like all of her novels, in fact, “Hunting Unicorns” is one of my favourite books. This one is equally satisfying, with an air of magic about it. Letty Fleming takes her children to an Outer Hebridean island after her husband, a British Diplomat, died unexpectedly. There she tries to uncover the truth behind her husband’s death – whether it was a suicide, or in fact a murder – and, in doing all this, distances herself from her children who are left to their own devices and roam the island. Jamie, her youngest, searches for his father constantly, and while doing so encounters a bear who has escaped on the island.
Enough said about it. Read it if you like quirky books with likeable slightly eccentric characters.