Category Archives: books

Day 4 of 12 Days of Christmas : 4 Calling Birds & Song

I never liked the idea of a calling bird. It smacked of the Judas Goat, even when I was a child. But I’m told that “calling” is a mondegreen in this context and the original was probably “colly birds”. Which apparently are blackbirds.

4 calling birds, Christmas Island stamp 1977Hmm. Bit of a cheapskate suitor there, then. I mean, blackbirds come free with the landscape. All he had to do was scatter a few breadcrumbs on the lawn and then point out the descending blackbirds as her present.

Mind you, the Easter Island stamp version is along the same lines. And gulls call all right. Anglo Saxon poets thought they were the souls of dead sailors. Give me a blackbird every time.

So I’m assuming that our Day 4 gift is of tuneful birds. Continue reading

Day 3 of 12 Days of Christmas : 3 French Hens & translations

Day 3 cover Little Red Hen French and EnglishDay 3 should be 3 French Hens but, since we couldn’t find said triplet chooks,
we decided to give you a singular hen —
red
— and appropriately, in French.

A peu près la même chose?
as our cross-Channel amis might say?

Which raises the tricky question of translation,
especially of beloved books like The Little Red Hen. Continue reading

Day 2 of 12 Days of Christmas : 2 Turtle Doves & Jewellery

2 turtle doves vector for day 2Two turtle doves are, perhaps, the most understandable of the strange gifts the True Love sent to his beloved. They are the symbol of perfect romantic contentment, billing and cooing and utterly absorbed in each other.

Whether she needed ten more pairs after that first gift, of course, is debatable. Continue reading

Day 1 of 12 Days of Christmas : A Partridge in a Pear Tree & P D James

day 1 partridge in a pear tree UK stamp 1977“Ooo yes, let’s do a series of book recommendations for the Twelve Days of Christmas,” we said.

But those 12 days of presents were really pretty weird. I mean, if a  pear tree was small enough to give someone as a present, it  wouldn’t be big enough for a partridge to perch in. A problem faced by the designer of the 1977 UK postage stamp, I notice. A solid bird, the partridge.

So our list is going to be associative, rather than literal, if you see what I mean. There is a connection, in our minds at least. But not always necessarily obvious. Continue reading

Christmas Wishes and 12 Days of Goodies to come

curl up in front of fire for 12 days of Christmas

Goodies to Come for the 12 Days of Christmas…

Starting on Boxing Day, we’ll be posting a daily fun episode of the 12 Days of Christmas, but instead of suggesting a song to sing, we’ll be focusing on books we have read and a few of the ideas — sometimes silly or frivolous, sometimes serious — they’ve given rise to.
Please join in with your own suggestions. We’d love to hear what you think.

Don’t miss the First Day of Christmas, here on 26th December
pear tree at the ready…

This Book is Dedicated

I’ve always been fascinated by dedications in books. There’s the intriguing possibility that they are clues to something hidden. Probably private. Possibly intense. Potentially the whole reason for the book. Thrilling or what?

stuffed bookcase

This is the second time I’ve returned to the subject in this blog. First time round I wrote about a range of books, only some of which I knew really well. No, let’s be honest. One of which I detested.

This time I’m writing about one of my great loves. Twice, under pressure of space, I’ve cleared out copies from my bookshelf, believing that I wouldn’t need to read them again. Twice I’ve bought new copies.

Which Work?

Dedicated to Dorothy GanapathyThis is a dedication which intrigues me enormously. I was reminded of it by the recent sad news that  Tim Pigott-Smith has died. He played the ambiguous and haunting villain Merrick in the BBC’s epic series about the end of the Raj, The Jewel In the Crown. 

The series was based on Paul Scott’s mighty Raj Quartet.  Continue reading

Crossing Cultures and an Author Panel

Author panel participants

Earlier this month a publisher invited me to chair an Author Panel. There were four of them, all just publishing that difficult second novel. We were to meet at Waterstone’s Piccadilly and they would discuss Love and Romance Across Cultures. Their own experience and writing gave them the basic material. It sounded a blast. But I havered… Continue reading

dedicated to the one I love

Dedicating to the One You Love – or Are You?

 

Trumpets dedicating

Dedicating a book to someone is powerful. It’s an announcement with trumpets.

We’ve all read the thanks that go on for several pages. They embrace everyone from the author’s family, agent and editor, to anyone who gave them help with research or did the typing.

Justified? Probably. Sincere? Mostly. But a dedication? No. Continue reading

Be My Valentine? I Don’t Think So

old laptop with valentineWhen email was new and spam was something you found in school lunches, I once got a message on my hefty laptop headed “Be My Valentine?”

I deleted it, unopened.

With a shudder. And I’d never even heard of viruses then. I just didn’t want to go there. Continue reading