Thank you to everyone who stuck with me through my holiday postcards from Tuscany. Although we have had a couple of lovely weekends away this was our first proper holiday in over two years... and it was wonderful. We drove to Italy through France and the Mont Blanc tunnel. The scenery was stunning!
As well as sightseeing and relaxing there was a lot of eating and drinking... food was definitely one of the highlights of the holiday! And there was also plenty of time for reading too which has meant I've got through several books this month.
I finished The Hand That First Held Mine before we went away and loved it, but I've not yet read a Maggie O'Farrell book that I've not enjoyed. It tells two parallel stories, that of Lexie who moves to London from rural Devon in the 1950s and the other set in the present, tells of new parents Ted and Elina as they struggle with parenthood and the effects it has on them. The two stories gradually come together in beautifully observed writing
I was given Go Set a Watchman for my birthday but before I read it I wanted to reread To Kill a Mockingbird as it is so long since I read it the first time. It was every bit as good as I had remembered and well worth reading again. I'm sure I don't need to give a review as can there be anyone who hasn't read it? I wasn't so enamoured with the sequel however. Much has already been said and written about it since its release and I don't want to give too much away but I was disappointed. The best word I can think of to descibe it is 'unecessary' and I think Harper Lee should have left well alone! Fortunately for me it didn't detract from Mockingbird, but if you want your images of Scout and Atticus (who will always be Gregory Peck in my mind) left untarnished then don't read it!
The next book I read while we were away was The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy by Rachel Joyce. This is not so much a sequel to The Unlikely Pilgramage of Harold Fry, which I read and enjoyed a few years ago, but more of a companion, telling the same story from a diffeent perspective. Queenie is dying, but she is waiting for Harold as he makes his way on foot from Devon to Berwick to see her one last time. It was sad, but funny too and another beautifully observed book. If you enjoyed Harold Fry you will like this too.
My last holiday book was Mrs Hemingway by Naomi Wood. Although a novel, it tells the story of each of Earnest Hemingway's four wives, cleverly weaving each story together, whilst also painting an interesting picture of Hemingway himself. I found it fascinating as it moved from Paris, Antibes, Key West, Cuba and London. And as a bonus we stopped over in Antibes on our journey home, which was absolutely beautiful..
Since coming home I'm finding it hard to settle to a new book or to anything very much really. My washing machine broke the day before we went away so I have had that and the holiday laundry to deal with as well as getting Jacob safely back to Guildford and settled in his new accommodation. Today I'm off to Tunbridge Wells to give a talk and there are all sorts of other new things bubbling away on the horizon but I'll save those for another day!
For some reason I seem to have bought a lot of magazines this week which have made up most of my reading... it's about all I can concentrate on in the evenings. But I have started a new book for September - The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared. I've started it and so far I'm finding it sort of funny but strange... but I'll let you know next month!
Of course, the other thing I've been doing since coming home is baking and finding creative ways to use up the courgettes that had grown in our absence in the form of a courgette and lime cake. (I used Nigella's recipe from The Domestic Goddess) Like I need more cake after all we've eaten on holiday! It did taste good though.