Wednesday, 17 September 2014

End of summer break reading

Uni goes back in a matter of days and so I've spent the past few days indulging in a real orgy of reading to finish a few books I know I don't want to put off until we have a break in November.

First up was Nora Webster by Colm Toibin.

Not officially published until October 7th, I read an advance copy thanks to Netgalley.

This held me captivated on a slow train journey to Cambridge and back, it follows a couple of years in the life of one family as they come to terms with the death of a family member.  In many ways this is a gentle book, very much in the vein of Maeve Binchy, but underneath all of this is a darker undercurrent that keeps you off balance and unsure as to where the plot is going to take you.
I became totally involved in the whole Webster family and my sympathies with individual characters changed all the time as we learned more about them.  This isn't a challenging book, but it is quite haunting and certainly a great read.

My next book was Travelling to Work by Michael Palin.

I've said before that I am a sucker for diaries and Palin's are no exception.  I always liked the films Life of Brian & Holy Grail plus the Ripping Yarns series and I can watch and re-watch Palin's epic travel series and enjoy them each time so it goes without saying that I'd like jump on the diaries.

The third volume doesn't disappoint, it is full of tiny details about Palin's life as well as asides about people in the entertainment world - but if you aren't interested in diaries or Palin then the book really won't be for you!

Palin is known as a really nice guy - and I'm afraid that I have to agree after meeting him a few years ago - but he rails against this from a very early stage. His diaries won't do much to dispel the image but I loved the hours I spent reading the tome!

The final book for the weekend was H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald

I love birds of prey, and I'm lucky enough to have spent a day learning to handle them and another learning how to photograph them.  I think that if I has the time and money I would consider owning my own.

This is something that is shared by Helen Macdonald and in fact she has gone further and is a qualified falconer and has owned several breeds.

This volume is part autobiography, part falconry manual and part biography of author T H White and it totally blew me away.

After the sudden death of her father Helen decides to buy and train a goshawk, one of the hardest birds of prey to train and fly. The book then mixes memories of her father, insights in to training Mabel and much more.  Several times the book brought tears to my eyes, it is very personal and beautifully written and deserves to become a classic book.

H is for Hawk is published but I read a copy again provided by Netgalley.

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