Saturday, 14 February 2009

Pure Escapism!

It's been lovely when the sun is shining on these cold winter days, but not so much when it is dull and grey. June from the monthly book club I go to told me she had been reading The Glassblower of Murano and I have been itching to read it ever since. At the last book club meeting June very kindly lent me her copy to read. I fell in love with Venice when we first visited four years ago and have been enthralled with anything from the city ever since and use it as a theme in my art work. June also paid me a lovely complement as she said that the cover (with its green background and red writing) reminded her of some of my artwork that it is up in an exhibition at the moment. This book is perfect for escaping these dull winter days and makes me dream about when I can visit the city again. The story is centered around one of the skills that Venice is famous for - glassblowing and is set both in the modern day and also at the time when the techniques of glass making were well kept secrets from the rest of Europe. I couldn't put this book down with its mixture of mystery, romance, history, and wonderful descriptions of Venice. Apparently the author Marina Fiorato has another book coming out this year with an Italian theme so I shall be looking forward to that. What books do you recommend to brighten up a cold grey day?

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Lots of Snow

Here in Shropshire and the Midlands we have had quite a lot of snow recently, so much that the councils apparently are running out of salt/grit for the roads. I suspect that they have cut down on their orders for salt and grit as the last few winters have been relatively mild.

The snow brings a beautiful light, especially when the sun shines and I love the patterns that it makes all around.

I don't think I will be sitting out here for very long! I think I will leave this for the summer:

I also love children's excitement at the snow and luckily my daughter still wants to go out and sledge and play in the snow. For me I enjoy the scenery, the difference in the light and keeping warm!

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones

Every month I go to a book club that was set up by my avid book reading friend Darcy. I don't always have the time to read the monthly book (although I do try my best!). However, this month I excelled myself and read two books. The choice this month was totally up to us and I chose Crow Lake by Mary Lawson which was very good, and my second choice was Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones. Mister Pip was an exceptional read - a real rollercoaster of a ride with some pretty horrific scenes in it but these were essential to the story, particularly as the island Bougainville where the story is set actually exists. I won't spoil the story - just to say that the book is based on this island in the 1990's where education has been suspended due to outside influences. The consequence of this is that the only white man on the island, Mr Watts is asked to teach the children and does so by reading one of the greatest books of all time - Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. The children are engrossed in this novel which allows some of them to 'escape' the world they are living in. Lloyd Jones' writing is exceptional and he writes through the experiences of a 14 year old girl which is not an easy thing to achieve. I am very glad that I have read this book and it made me want to find out more about the island and the people living there. I imagine that this book could be (if it already isn't) on the reading lists for GCSE O Level/A Level English Literature pupils. I think that this would have been better than the options I took which were William Golding's Lord of the Flies and Joan of Arc by George Bernard Shaw. What was on your exam reading list?