So finally my hypothalamus is starting to realise it is not still in New Zealand, but it seems to have taken a very long time. Thank you to everyone who said it would take two weeks, you were right.
Next time I will plan the homeward leg differently. I hadn't really given much thought to jet lag but now realise that being away for a month, and acclimatising very quickly to the land of bright light and sunshine, and then coming home to the gloom of February in the UK and, well maybe it was going to be a bit of a challenge to sort out my body clock. Waking at 2am and not going back to sleep, and then trying not to snooze in the day in the vain hope, only to be awake at 2am again the next night.
And then being ravenous at 3am.
Thank heavens for books is all I can say. The Balkan Trilogy is ongoing on Kindle but it suddenly occurred to me that maybe backlit screens don't aid sleep when you are in circadian chaos, so I quickly accumulated a little pile of real books to keep me going and thought I would share the life-savers with you...
Having read the Cazalets back in the day I hadn't read anything else by Elizabeth Jane Howard until The Long View arrived from Picador who have republished it as part of their iconic Classics series. In fact a van pulled up at the gate with the parcel and I happened to be outside with the dogs, before I could stop him Rusty was in the back and hoping for a ride.
'I'm sorry I'm going to have to shout,' I said to the poor driver, only a young lad looking quite horrified at the muddy paw prints all over his parcels, before shrieking 'OUT' at Rusty.
I calmed down at the kitchen table, opened the parcel and was delighted...
'Moving backwards in time from 1950 to 1926, The Long View paints an unusually revealing portrait of a marriage. It traces the lives of Antonia and Conrad Fleming through the eyes of Antonia, as she looks back on her married life and unravels her choices - good and bad - and the motivations behind them . . .
An uncannily authentic take on matrimony from the long view - from both the outside in and present to past - Antonia and Conrad Fleming's story is as extraordinary as it is prosaic, as gut-wrenching as it is exhilarating.'
I had no idea about EJH's early writing and have to say this one really is superb. Every sentence counts, not a word wasted and mature writing of real depth for only a second novel. I will certainly be seeking out more and if you have read any I would welcome some recommends.
You know the book that you take from the pile. It looks interesting but the reading mood is such that the requirement is to be immediately drawn in and engrossed. Well I was and can only hope this one keeps up the gentle momentum (with undercurrents as yet to be revealed) that I am enjoying so much...
'In the summer of 1947, a young priest, Petter, his wife and baby daughter, arrive by mail boat at a tiny island. They are to take over its drafty homestead from where Petter is to minister to the scattered community. In this evocative tale, Ulla-Lena Lundberg draws us into the minutiae of an austere yet purposeful life where the demands of self-sufficiency - cows to milk and sheep to graze - are tempered by the kindness of neighbours. With each season, the family's love of the island grows and when the winter brings ice a new and tentative link is created. Told through the eyes of Petter, the wholehearted if naive novice priest, and Mona, his tough-minded wife, a story unfolds that is as immersive as it is heartrending.'
This is the book I have been looking forward to for so long and had a job to keep my hands off before I went, so I swooped on it when I arrived home and I am not disappointed.
Taking the lid off women's lives via the buttons in her grandmother's box and using them to explore social history through clothes, Lynn Knight has written a wonderfully engaging book. There are plenty of references to Liverpool in the 1930s which are all adding to an understanding of my mum's life growing up there in a working class family, and explaining some of the reasons behind a few things that I had never really quite understood. More about this one soon.
And a salutary thought as I look to my wardrobe for a much-needed clear out... the average working class person owned one change of clothing, that's all. Lynn Knight's examination of the origins of the unspoken rules of fashion, and the shame of Getting it Wrong, have all segued perfectly with my return from a month away striding around in shorts and outdoor gear, looking a bit uncoordinated in the clothing department, heaven forfend wearing the same pair of socks two three days running, whilst also realising that my hair will actually dry without the help of a hair dryer.... and not really worrying about any of it.
So that's me, how about you...
Any thoughts about any of these...
And what are you all reading...I absolutely HAVE to know.