I think I'm a few Salons short of a full house having sacrificed May (theme ~ Road) to the final pre-concert choir practice, and realising I still hadn't brought you news of April and the theme of London, and look it's June already which means Plague and Pestilence this evening.
Going back even further, here's a soothing picture of the recently restored Endsleigh rose walk taken last year, and don't miss the little bit of film over here >>>>under 'Seeing' if you missed it. The gardens have slowly been restored in accordance with Humphry Repton's original and very detailed early eighteenth century plans, a place of breathtaking beauty with surprises around every corner.
So off to London and Linda kicked off with her choice Balthazar Jones & the Tower of London Zoo by Julia Stuart and gave it a real thumbs up. It's fiction, Balthazar, married to Hebe, is a beefeater at the Tower and keeper of the Queen's menagerie, it is the sudden death of their son Milo that forms the backdrop to the story and with it all the twists and turns of human relationships with some unusual animals thrown in. I'm feeling a bit vague all this time on but I'm sure a Lost Property Office features somewhere, but don't take my word for it, take Linda's, she really enjoyed it.
Next choice, City of the Mind by Penelope Lively also given a very enthusiastic resume. London as a character, through layers of history and time as the stories rise up through...you'll have to forgive this sparsity of detail, I was listening but I also had the chair facing the window and kept glancing out onto the parterre garden it was a glorious evening. Anyway, highly recommended.
Samuel Pepys -The Unequaled Self by Clare Tomalin also a fascinating read, the diary set in it's sociological context and much emphasis on the impromptu, spur of the moment life of the man as a focal point of interest for this reader. Highly recommended.
I think I'd taken along a Muriel Spark but I didn't write down which one and it's so long ago I can't remember which one...perhaps Memento Mori, someone will confirm or correct.
Hawksmoor by Peter Ackroyd was proving a bit of a struggle for the chooser, but with pledges to finish it seemed all was not lost.
Oh dear, Saturday by Ian McEwan...a book I feel I've heard so much about I really don't need to read it and have never really wanted to either. Champagne socialism apparently featuring a 'smug b*&$%&*d of a neurosurgeon and the reader, not one to mince words, wanted him dead. Round-robin bragging letters featured in this discussion somehow, I have a feeling the neurosurgeon's family sickeningly won Olympic gold at everything.
We wondered how we felt about Ian McEwan on that recent TV programme where a clearly adulatory interviewer fluttered her eyelashes at him, declared him our 'national novelist' and asked how he felt about that.
We felt we'd like to have been consulted first.
Hmm again and thrice hmm and a lot of tutting over Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger. Highgate Cemetery, surreal plot and it got a thumbs down but did have us discussing better books with a twin-ish theme like Behind the Scenes at the Museum by Kate Atkinson....which if you haven't read, my saying that has just ruined it for you, forget I said and read it anyway.
Rebecca loved London Belongs to Me by Norman Collins, good story and characters, very enjoyable read.
Angela had us mesmerised by The Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England by Ian Mortimer who she and Linda had heard speaking locally but it had all been a bit rushed, he'd got lost and was late they had a table booked for lunch.
London we asked?
Oh yes, big chapter on London we were assured...
Rat infested ditches.
Pig population out of control.
Forbidden to lob excrement into the ditch around Fleet Prison because all the prisoners were dying.
No stigma attached to brothels.
Lots of executions.
Oh plus ca change we all agreed, give us Devon any day.