Gaskella’s Midweek Miscellany #12

Apologies for going AWOL, but I’ve been a bit over-busy! Lots of preparations for a big event at school, my Mum being in hospital, and a summer cold combined with being zonked by anti-histamines for the worst hayfever I’ve had for some years, meant that although I have been reading, I haven’t had time to blog about it.

Photo by Philippa Strange

Our Country Fayre at the weekend went brilliantly. We hold a ball in alternate years, and in between have usually done some kind of party for parents. This year, we decided to involve the children as well and to hold an afternoon event. What activities could we offer to supplement a big BBQ and bar? Well we decided to do a mini version of a County Show. We got in a mini farm menagerie which had the most lovely kid goats; the lambs and Shetland pony got lots of hugs too. Then we had folk come in to give working dog and hawk displays plus ferret racing. Ferret racing (down tubes with a meaty treat at the end) is so much fun, and all the children got involved. Our marketplace with an assortment of stall-holders helped to make it special too, and as the sun shone all afternoon, the ice-cream van did well also. We made over £500 towards our fundraising projects, so it was a successful afternoon all round!  The first thing I did when I got home though was to have a cool shower to calm down my hayfever, then I was soon asleep in front of the telly.

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Back to bookish things now …  My thoughts are now beginning to turn towards summer holidays. We’re going to Fowey in Cornwall for a week towards the end of July.   A certain Cornish author famously lived in the area, indeed I have a book she wrote about the county purloined from my Mum, (see right). 

The question is, if I choose one Du Maurier book to take with me to read on holiday, which one should it be?    I have read Rebecca, My Cousin Rachel, and Jamaica Inn – but all of them many years ago. Rebecca excepted, I can’t remember much about the others, so I would be happy to re-read them. Or would you suggest another of her books for a holiday read?  Do let me know.

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And lastly, a selection from my incoming pile, which includes a couple of books I just had to order from other bloggers’ recent posts:

  • Forgetting Zoe by Ray Robinson. I was introduced to this wonderful contemporary author via Scott Pack’s blog, and you can find an interview with Ray about this, his latest book here.  His first two novels (Electricity and The Man Without are challenging in subject matter – but both got five stars from me they were that good –  so high expectations of his third.
  • War with the Newts by Karel Capek – the inventor of the word/concept ‘Robot’ in his 1921 work Rossum’s Universal Robots. War with the Newts is glowingly reviewed by John Self at Asylum here.
  • How Bad Are Bananas?: The carbon footprint of everything by Mike Berners-Lee. I love good popular science books, and this timely one has garnered good reviews and sounds fascinating and scary as the things analysed within are rated in increasing carbon footprint. I daren’t look at the contents to find out what’s at the end, but I’m sure it’ll be an interesting journey!
  • Joe Speedboat by Tommy Wieringa, translated from the Dutch by Sam Garrett. Wieringa is from Aruba, a former Dutch colony off the coast of Venezuela which looks idyllic in my Lonely Planet Travel Book. This is a coming of age story, and sounds charming and eccentric.

15 thoughts on “Gaskella’s Midweek Miscellany #12

  1. I’ve stopped with Daphne, because each was a let-down after Rebecca… but that’s just me! Have you read The Rebecca Notebooks, a sort of behind-the-scenes about Rebecca, I think (although I own it, I haven’t read it… of course!)

    • That’s rather sad in a way Simon! The Rebecca Notebooks may well be worth finding out more about though

  2. I LOVE Vanishing Cornwall, one of my favourite books. Why not try DDM’s first novel, The loving spirit, set in 1900s Cornwall. And you should read the fourth of her “great four” Frenchman’s Creek at some point, absolutely gripping.

    • I got a job lot of ten DDMs for £10 from the Book People some time ago. Frenchman’s Creek is definitely a contender, will check which other titles are in the pack. Thanks.

  3. I have only read Rebecca but have Jamaica Inn from the library. What about one of her short story collections? I havent been to Cornwall for years, I used to go all the time when I lived in Somerset but now I dont go further than Devon. Have a great time.

    • I haven’t been to Cornwall for ages – Last time I remember pushing our daughter who was just toddling around the newly open Eden Project in her push-chair – we’ll be going back there to see how it’s grown.

  4. What about Du Maurier’s The King’s General. Still Cornwall, very swashbuckling, very everything type of story. You may like reading this book. (My review is up on my blog)

    • Mystica – I shall be looking this one up – the ‘swashbuckling’ word has got me interested. Arrr, me hearties.

  5. Scott’s post persuaded me to read Forgetting Zoe too. I’m really looking forward to it!

    I was very tempted by War with the Newts too. I look forward to seeing what you make of it.

    • Those two are top of the pile as far as I’m concerned. Robinson’s other two were both brilliant taking on epilepsy and transvestisism and really getting to grips with their subjects. As for Capek, I’d always wondered about the chap who invented robots. Watch this space as they say.

  6. The King’s General was the first Du Maurier that I read and got me hooked but I loved Frenchman’s Creek and The Loving Spirit too. What about The House on the Strand? As I recall, and it has been years since I read it, it is slightly spooky. What I do remember is not wanting to put it down until I had finished it!

    I love the sound of your country fair. The ferrets in the pic are so cute! I have a friend who runs a ferret rescue and sometimes takes them out on leads – although only one at a time because otherwise she ended up with the leads wrapped around her ankles!

    • I’m up for the King’s General and the House on the Strand – thanks for the recommendations.

      The school country fair was a great afternoon – it was nice to do another big family event during the year that wasn’t fireworks. The ferrets in particular were real crowd-pleasers, but the baby goats came a close second.

  7. Another vote for The House on the Strand, drug induced time travel…what more could you ask for? ;-) Or Margaret Forster’s biography of Daphne which I have lingering on my shelves. I think I’d prefer it to Justine Picardie’s Daphne which left me feeling rather flat.

    • My Mum didn’t take to the Picardie book either, so I haven’t read it yet. House on the Strand is sounding good though …

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