Friday, 29 July 2011

EY UP M PROUST

I am a creature of habit.
I like to go to certain places at the same time each year. I also like to read certain books at the same time. And I don’t like to read what I consider to be a ‘winter book’ during the summer months. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes is a ‘winter book’ so although it has in no way been discarded, it has been temporarily put to one side. Equally, I could not re-read either A Christmas Carol or The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe at the moment.
I have had a whole week of doing ‘nothing much’. I have been sat on the swinging seat in the garden, in the sunshine, with my books. Of course, with new books there is a novelty value and you do not quite know what to expect. But with ‘old friends’ there is a certain convention of time and place which must be observed.
Currently ‘on the go’ I have A Perfect Summer, Dancing Into Shadow in 1911 by Judith Nicolson. I read this last year but felt it was important to give it another read-through now as the summer it refers to is now exactly 100 years in the past. I almost wished I had left it for another year, but my brother had a ‘retro’ wedding last October and I was able to use Diana Manners’ photo as the inspiration for my outfit. I am also part-way through Brideshead Revisited and have almost finished a fabulous account of the same period – Bright Young people. I came across Bright Young people in perfect condition in a charity shop in Hucknall and thought it would be a worthy companion piece to both of the former, and so it has proved. I have also started The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford because I tend to associate the South/West US with summer reading since I spent a whole August about twenty years ago ploughing through Battle Cry of Freedom.
Forget eating a madeleine, when I open the cover of any of my favourite books, I am instantly transported back to the first time I read it. I can tell you where I was sitting when I read the last line. I first read Birdsong on a coach on the way to Warwick Castle and my Mum read me Jamaica Inn in a chalet at Hayle.

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