Wednesday, 2 July 2014


My book last month for The Year in Books was Dear Life by Alice Munro. I had such high hopes for this - a winner of the Man Booker International prize by a Nobel Prize winning author, with some great reviews. I really wanted to like it - but I didn't like it at all.
I admit I'm not that keen on short stories at the best of times but I found these completely flat for want of a better description. I could appreciate the cleverly crafted prose and the economy of language but I found nothing appealling about this collection of dismal stories about dismal, shallow, sad people. We read it for our village book club and it wasn't that popular with anyone there either. In fact, I still haven't finished it... although I managed to finish two others in the middle of reading this. Both really good crime thrillers, one set in London and the other in Cambridge - both very familiar settings.  I thoroughly enjoyed both and I'm looking forward to reading the second in each series. Maybe I'm just not intellectual enough for Nobel Prize winners!

My book choice for July is a biography - Frida by Heyden Harrera. I've already started it and I'm already enjoying it.
And it has inspired me to finish off a doll that I started about two years ago.

I know it must be a long time because I only really make dolls when I'm teaching a doll making class and it is a really long time since I last taught doll making.

She has been sat on my shelf all this time needing those finishing touches... and I've ignored her.

But a combination of clearing out my studio, seeing the Made in Mexico exhibition, making flowers with the Young Embroiderers and starting the biography of Frida Kahlo has prompted me to get her finished

And although I'm never that keen on dolls, I do quite like her!

I've got some other Frida Kahlo Inspired work waiting to be finished so maybe I'll get going on that too!


  1. Oh Frida is amazing Gina, it's a shame you don't like making dolls as you're very good at it, her eyes are wonderful!!
    V x

  2. I am not a doll person either, but I really like yours! I'm also no good at prize winning books, I never seem to be able to get on with them! I don't imagine that you or I are deficient in any way, I think that they are either just too complicated or dull!! xx

  3. I am not a doll person either, but Frida is something special - she has real character and is beautifully made. I don't like short stories as a rule but have just read A Cat, a Hat and a Piece of String by Joanne Harris and really enjoyed them. At present I am reading Vera Brittain's Testament of Youth and find it fascinating.

  4. I was equally disappointed by Alice Munro's drab stories. In my book group, only two people liked the short story collection we read. I don't think it is the lacking intellect for high brow literature, it is just that sometimes those prizes are not awarded with the average reader in mind. I hope you'll enjoy your next book. I'll look into the two crime novels your read, perfect for my holiday. x

  5. I'm not a fan of the short story, either, so I've no idea why I bought a (different) collection by Alice Munro which is still unread. Loved The Cuckoo's Calling, though, and was delighted to hear that JKR plans to write a further six Cormoran Strike novels. You did a great job with your doll, btw.

  6. Hey, I remember the Frida Kahlo work from last year (or was it earlier) and it's great to see she still inspires. I think I might like that biography so will add it to my list of books to buy or get from the library. I am a big Alice Munro fan but have not read the latest. I know the short story can be an acquired thing but she is worth sticking with even though from your comments about the other book club members and others written here,I think I may be in the minority. What with travelling to Bruges, making all those flowers and finishing off dolls whilst reading books you are emulating Superwoman again - I still don't believe you share the same time clock as the rest of us mortals!!

  7. Fridas life is fascinating and I love her work, I also enjoyed The Lacuna. Your doll is beautiful x

  8. Gina, there's so much to comment upon...where to begin?

    Frida Kahlo is a fascinating person, and quite a good inspiration for a doll as fascinating as your, dear Gina. FK's own favoriting of traditional crafting in her clothing always seemed to add to her persona. What colors! What an appreciation of nature. I think that she would be charmed by your creative homage.

    My own summer reading doesn't vary much from my reading in other seasons. Yes, I do love well-written crime novels. and have got my name down on the library request list for The Silkworm.

    I'm now alternating between Frances Fyfield's Casting the First Stone, and Michio Kaku's The Future of the Mind. Also checked out from the library's stacks are several vintage short story collections by Jane Gardam (with her most recent collection on request.) I do think that writing short stories must be very difficult.

    Trying to stay cool as our city heats up. Giant thunderstorm accompanied my commute home from work last night. Lots of drama, bright lights, loud crashes and heavy rain. Today, leftover humidity is being served up.


  9. Wow Gina, your Frida doll is amazing!

  10. I agree with some of the other commenters, that it's a pity you don't enjoy doll-making because you always end up with such great results. The Frida doll is brilliant, I think you should send a photo of it to the FTM and say she was inspired by the Made in Mexico exhibition.


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