Friday, 2 May 2014

The year in books :: May

I continue to join in the The Year in Books hosted by Circle of Pine Trees and my book of the month for April was Ghostwalk by Rebecca Stott. Ghostwalk tells the story of  Elizabeth Vogelsang,who is found drowned, clutching a glass prism in her hand. She had been writing a book about Isaac Newton's involvement with alchemy but the final chapters are missing. Her son Cameron asks his former lover, Lydia Brooke, to ghostwrite the missing final chapters of his mother's book and Lydia agrees and moves into Elizabeth's Cambridge home. As the story evolves, Lydia discovers a dangerous conspiracy involving ghosts of the 17th century that become ensnared with twenty first century Cambridge.
When I started the book I was really enjoying it but half way through I got lost in all the conspiracy theories and tales of ghosts lurking in the shadows. By the end I wasn't sure if I'd enjoyed it or not... but I think I did. And I did enjoy the Cambridge links and found about new places... such as The Leper Chapel. which I'd not even heard of before.

Still in April, I read another novel The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty... one of those picked up on a whim at half price, when browsing through Waterstones. It tells the story of Cecilia Fitzpatrick who discovers a letter in the attic, written by her husband, with the intsructions that it is only to be opened in the event of his death. What follows is a carefully woven tale of various lives and it was a real page turner. It was also very witty with that wonderful punchy brand of Australian humour. I really enjoyed it.

I've also been dipping into some non-fiction during April. The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp was given to me by my friend Marian and contains plenty of good advice that Marian has written about here. It was after conversations with Marian that I realised that my interest in fashion and dress had largely been ignored recently and so I'm re-reading The Thoughtful Dresser by Linda Grant which is a fascinating study into our relationship with what we wear.
The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell has also grabbed my interest. Malcolm analyses that point or moment when an idea or trend crosses a threshold and suddenly goes viral. I've often wondered how one person's blog or Facebook page can go from a few hundred followers to thousands and although I acknowledge it cannot do this without good content, there does seem something random about how it happens. Much as I love making art I'm also fascinated with the process of marketing it and making contacts and spreading the word. So speaking of which... if you would like to "like" my Facebook page... there's a button on the sidebar!

So in a rather long winded way I've come to my book for May which is The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver. It tells the fictional story of Harrison Shepherd, a writer who spent time working in the household of artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo. This one is a re-read. When I first read it a few years ago it made such an impression on me that it inspired a piece of work. My book of lace, Lacuna, filled with hidden stories. You can read about it here.

As I read The Lacuna again, I'm loving it just as much and it is inspiring me all over again.
But this time, I want to get back to my work on Frida Kahlo.
What are you reading and what is inspiring you this month?


  1. I remember your lace book - it is stunning. At present I don't seem to have time for serious reading but these titles do sound appealing.

  2. How interesting all these titles sound! I've been reading a little about creativity too, it's such a fascinating topic to me :)

  3. I tend to get lost in books and daren't pick one up at the moment. So I shall be either out in the garden or reading academic papers about making maps with people or for information for people to allow them to participate in planning. Actually some of them are pretty interesting

  4. I hated Ghostwalk. The only reason I persevered to the end was because it is set exactly where I live and i did find the locations quite gripping.
    I loved The Husband's Secret.
    I started The Lacuna but didn't finish it and now I don't know where it is...
    And I haven't heard of the others but I think I will investigate.
    Just finished Bring Up The Bodies which I adored. And am now rereading one of SmallerBean's Famous Five books.

  5. And the mountains echoed... Love Khalid Hosseini although this wasn't my favourite. I've got The Other Typist and The Colour of Milk next.

  6. I'm stuck in the middle of Ghostwalk and probably the only thing I really like are the local references, and the historical facts.
    Look out for events t the Leper Chpel, we went to a light nd sound installation nd they also have music and storytelling.

  7. Have been working my way through Penelope Fitzgerald's novels since one of hers was a bookclub choice; an old Patricia Wentworth "thriller" - very comforting; and our latest bookclub choice, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. Oooh, that was long...

  8. I seem to have a disconnect from modern novels - wonder if it's advancing age?! Currently re-reading: the Mapp and Lucia books for the nth time - so tightly written and fabulous characters; Lord Cockburn's memoir of life in Georgian Edinburgh (probably only of interest to Scots!); The Hamster that loved Puccini - Simon Hoggart's hilarious compilation of Christmas round robins. You may guess that I like to be amused (prob another sign of age - I've done all the serious thinking by this stage of life!) But the Twyla Tharp looks very enticing - thanks for the tip, Gina!

  9. I like the sound of the Thoughtful Dresser and the Creative Habit. Meanwhile., I am reading A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby which has just been made into a film. It's about four potential 'jumpers' on the top of a tower block on New Years Eve. Jolly, eh?

  10. Haven't read any of these so will be adding a couple to the ever lengthening TBR list. Current book at bedtime here is Americanah which is taking an age to finish as I have to keep going back to remind myself who the characters are (and I keep dropping off!).

  11. I am particularly drawn to your non fiction choices. "The creative habit" may just be what I need and "The tipping point" is a topic that I find fascinating. I might have picked up the "Ghostwalk" had I not read your review, and the comments. I am not keen on conspiracy but like a good mystery. I am listening to "Cloud Street" by Tim Winton and I love it. I am not quite on top with my own link but soon... Enjoy your bank holiday Monday.

  12. Your reference to The Lacuna made me look up the book and the meaning of lacuna (an unfilled space, for the ignorant like me) which of course made me immediately understand why you were working with lace. It also rang a chime with what I've been doing with my "iron work" from the V&A. The book is on my list. After not reading anything for ages, I'm reading the "White Princess" by Philippa Gregory. Not big on plot but she spins out a readable tale about an interesting period of history. Not as good as the rest of the "Cousins War" series.

  13. Ah, Ghostwalk is my read for this month - I'll be interested to see what I think! You lace book is gorgeous x


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