I'm always making reference to the disaster area that is the loft here and this keeps happening.
I read a book and some big past association thing happens and I just have to go up there and find the object of association packed away in a trunk, some relic from the past which suddenly earns its rightful place in the present.
It was always a mistake to ensure that if we were building new bits onto the house that the loft would be readily accessible. It's the easiest ascent we've ever had, a mere hillock compared to an Everest after some of the killers of the past; no more tricky traverse from the plank balanced on a landing windowsill; no more abseiling through fresh air on descent and waving your foot around to find the top of a rickety step ladder.
By comparison you just blink at this loft hatch and the spring-loaded ladder miraculously drops down and you're up there in a nano second.
Consequently so is every bit of clutter you can't quite bear to throw out and this week thoughts of heading aloft are all down to my new best friend.
I was telling you that A.S.Byatt and I are now good friends after years of indifference and The Children's Book has now been a part of my life for four whole weeks, that's a great big reading chunk to give any writer here and I've hardly been able to pick up anything else. Some good books have fallen by the wayside and now's the time to apologise to those authors who'd written great books that I was loving but which have been sacrificed to the all-consuming demands of this read. I can usually juggle several books with ease but not with this one.
Claire Peate, I'm so sorry, please just go and knock on A.S.B's door and have it out with her because I was really loving your book Headhunters published by Honno Press. It's very well written, wry and funny and digs way beneath the conceits of the established Church and the powers that be everywhere else too. I was three-quarters through then I diverted, dealt with life events and was then blasted out of the water by A.S.B's writing and themes and I just couldn't get back.
I do think that sometimes when life throws you off-balance there's a safety and comfort in having just one great big fat book by your side that works for you, embraces you and wraps your mind in that warm blanket of words, drags you in and diverts you from reality the minute you open it.
Cue that piece in the Guardian this week. Life is apparently too short for the big book, see what Normblog suggests. He's just so sensible.
I've lost the momentum with Jude Morgan's Passion again as well which feels like a heinous crime given that I now love his writing style, he's sat in the dovegreyreader asks... armchair and eaten a virtual scone with clotted cream and I am desperate to read more. On the back of that I was gathering a good head of steam for looking at Mary Wollstonecraft too, Letters written in Sweden, Norway and Denmark and Janet Todd's Death and the Maidens.
The timing was just all wrong, but I'll be back.
I think I've managed to scratch my way back into The Professor by Charlotte Bronte and late night reading of The Great Western Beach by Emma Smith has also survived. It's an absorbing memoir of a 1920's Cornish childhood in Newquay made whole for me by that sense of a known place.
In fact things aren't all bad because I have much to report on the Jean Rhys front too.
But what of the loft and A.S.Byatt?
The Children's Book has elevated all manner of things into my consciousness and Bookhound barely raised an eyebrow (because he's used to this) when a propos of nothing that had gone before in the conversation, I raised my head from the book and said,
'We'll have to get the box of puppets out of the loft.'
This a picture I took walking through Angouleme in France last year.
If you've read the book you'll know the loose connection, but more about the book itself on Monday, quite why it's worked for me when I know it hasn't worked for others, and the puppets, the pottery, oh the whole lot to follow.
It's just been the very best reading experience I could have wished for over the last four weeks.