This is the life well-deserved at 85 I say.
Meanwhile my reading week has been sporadically invaded as always by that thing called Life.
Lovely friends, lunches and evenings out plus racking up the performance standard at choir practice as the Vocal Harem Annual Gala Concert approaches.
If I had to choose the songs I have always wanted to sing in a big choir, America from West Side Story and Rhythm of Life from Sweet Charity would be two of them and...well who knows, we might.
And just take a look at our rather special guest soloist.
Bookishly, I'm revving up for this Sunday's NTTVBG choice to be hosted here, The Boys in the Trees by Mary Swan, so not another word about that until then.
Now I hope Rev Cheryl won't mind me mentioning that we had a delightfully cheery and very long phone conversation this week that proved dangerous all round.
Ostensibly it was about the possibility of giving a new home to a typewriter for Bookhound after the Norwegian Blue Imperial episode, which he was thrilled about, but I take no responsibility for the fact that Cheryl was online as we spoke and thus in a ready-steady-go position to buy almost the entire William Maxwell oeuvre as I was enthusing.
It works both ways though because I was frantically scribbling down Cheryl's recommends and dashed off to purchase the minute I'd put the phone down, in particular Writing in an Age of Silence by Sara Paretsky, which has since arrived.
Whilst I seem to be reading the US chaps at the moment, I'm also finding books on reading, writers and writing hold great allure and a book tracing a writer's journey from 'silence to speech' was going to be a winner. Rev Cheryl has also been impressing upon me for some time that there is a huge gap called "Sara Paretsky" in my reading life, so I aim to fill.
I also gather Richard Mabey may be another omission to be remedied.
I read news last weekend of the latest Sylvia Plath recording to be made available by The British Library and ordered the CD immediately.
I find there is something beguiling about listening to Sylvia Plath reading her own poetry. An indefinable accent and ever the performance artist, structuring her presentation with precision and modulating the timbre of her voice with great care, Sylvia Plath left nothing to chance as she read, and as my collection of Plath readings are on old cassettes the CD seemed in order.
It goes without saying that I wasn't in the least bit interested in the recording of Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes in conversation, the only known recording of them speaking together about their work, their marriage, their lives, and the impact of the arrival of baby Frieda, plus Sylvia's growing interest in bee-keeping and bee imagery ...no of course I wouldn't buy the CD just for that...
Other reading has seen me finally finishing Time Will Darken It by WillIam Maxwell, after a four week-long very slow and deliberate read.
Also that re-read of The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald.
Two beautiful books I want to think about carefully before I rush my thoughts out on here.
And on the subject of William Maxwell, my heartfelt thanks to Kamala, a U.S. reader who very kindly offered me a copy of The Element of Lavishness Letters of Sylvia Townsend Warner and William Maxwell and then so generously included I'll Stand By You The Letters of Sylvia Townsend Warner and Valentine Ackland in the package, thus diverting the books from their fate at her local library sale.
With apologies to potential purchasers in New Jersey they really do belong in Devon and Devon will treasure them. Do you know that feeling when a book parcel arrives and you almost want to cry with happiness...it can't just be me, and whoever said in comments that neither William nor Sylvia ever wrote a bad sentence was spot on.
Cornflower and I have postponed our Persephone Tea this coming week but will be back at the end of May with The Children Who Lived in a Barn by Eleanor Graham, but exciting news which I knew of some time ago and now officially announced, Persephone Books will be launching their own online forum on June 1st. Anyone is most welcome to join in a regular discussion of the books there starting with Number One, William - An Englishman by Cicely Hamilton.
So that's my week, how about yours?