25 June 2016
Never one to only settle for one book at a time, and eager to escape the real world for the fictional one, this week I have been reading quite a dispirate pile!
First up is an old favourite from the eighties: The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 3/4
It's quite lovely visiting an old friend from thirty four years ago, and realising that he has aged pretty well, and his jokes are still funny even after all the intervening years.
Pandora Braithwaite has aged very well with her treacle hair, and Bert Baxter is still smoking woodbines and behaving abominably for a man whose years suggest he should know better.
Highlights include the affair between Mrs Mole and Mr Lucas next door, and Adrian's attempts to paint over his noddy wallpaper with black paint, while Noddy's bell's contunue to show through.
Favourite quotes? There are many! For example, 'I used to be the sort of boy who had sand kicked in his face, now I’m the sort of boy who watches somebody else have it kicked in their face.' and who could forget his verse about Pandora: 'Pandora! / I adore ya. / I implore ye / Don’t ignore me.'
Onto my second book of the week: John Wyndham's Day of the Triffids. I love a bit of dystopian fiction, but short of watching the old 1980's tv adaptation of this and listening to a really good updated version of The Kraken Wakes on Radio 4, I have never delved into the book itself or indeed much of John Wyndham, and somehow I managed to dodge this one in my English Lit classes. There are a few things that grate, as a result of it being very much a book of its time (1951). Most of the dystopian fiction I read tends to be written by women, so I am not used to just how pathetic the female characters can be written in books by male writers. The female characters in The Triffids always seem a little more concerned with what they are wearing, than the impending takeover from the creepy, wandering plantlife, which is something that just wouldn't happen with an Atwood or a Carter But I remain a sucker for dystopian stories that bring in elements of London after the fall. (Whatever the fall might be). Here we are treated to more visions of Bloomsbury and the outlying areas, which really gets my imaginative brain going. The story is still very compelling, and it is paced very well.
It seems to be a theme with re-visiting elements of culture that were popular in the eighties... whatever next? Robin of Sherwood? Nope, it's the nineties! And the third book I am delving into... (And guess who is not engaging with reality this week!) Another diary - Bridget Jones' Diary. This one is slightly harder to re-read. Of course I read it when it came out originally, but when something has been filmed with such a memorable cast, and watched quite a few times, it becomes difficult to go back to the original text and get an 'as new' experience of re-reading it. But there are still subtleties to be found between the covers that were not captured in the film, and Bridget still is a bit of an 'every woman' who it would be hard not to relate to on some level. Whether it is suffering under the scrutiny of the smug marrieds, or dealing with the trauma of her disfunctional relationship with Daniel Cleaver, Bridget is still really engaging and appealing.
What's next in my reading pile? Another diary - that of Samuel Pepys, and whatever else I can get my hands on! Then it is back to the writing page for me in two weeks' time, as I am booked on both a Research Intensive and a Writer's Retreat - woohoo!