Two splendid books this week. The Unlikely Pigrimage of Harold Fry was recommended by Linda.
Harold and Maureen, two English pensioners, have slowed down so much they have nearly stopped altogether. They live in separate worlds, sitting each side of the breakfast table, so close, yet so far from each other. When Harold gets up from the table to post a letter to a long ago friend, he has no idea that he won't be back in time for morning tea. Or lunch, or dinner, or bedtime.
This is the story of Harold's unexpected journey. And it is a love story, and a reminder that every one of us carries secrets and burdens, whole inner worlds invisible to those around us. I needed that reminder.
The second recommendation is from Miss Maudy. Cross Stitch, as it is published in the UK and Oz, or Outlanders, its much better title in the US, couldn't be more different to Harold Fry. Miss Maudy sent me to Diana Gabaldon when I said I didn't like fantasy, and did like decent historical fiction. Well, this does contain elements of fantasy (time travel anyone?), and is completely indecent, although historically accurate..
I drive The Man crazy by pointing out unworkable paradoxes in time travel movies, so he refuses to watch them with me anymore. SO FAR this is the best time travelish device I've come across in a novel, with a delightfully spooky 'timey-wimey' (sorry, the children watch Doctor Who) twist at a moment when you are least expecting it..
I grew up reading Scottish novels - Robert Louis Stevenson and John Buchan, then about a hundred years ago wrote an honours thesis on an obscure point of historical oddity in Walter Scott's novels, and I have Scottish ancestors, so enjoyed ever so much this wild, heart-in-mouth adventure around the Scottish highlands, as the clans are beginning to rise in support of King James in 1743.
The most unlikely moment in the novel, I thought, was when a woman who had just given birth the week before, jumped on a horse and rode for two solid days hunting for her brother over the moors. I don't know about you, but the most I could ever manage a week after giving birth was a weak totter down the street to the nearest cafe.. clearly I am not cut out to whisk around in the Scottish Highlands in the eighteenth century. Must make mental note not to muck about near standing stones..
Also I would love some advice as to how to pronounce Leoch, Laoghaire and Geillis?
However before you click over and order it for your thirteen year old who loves Doctor Who and time travel, or rush down to the bookshop to buy it for your Baptist mother-in-law who loves Scottish history, just be warned, there is language, graphic violence, and a certain... earthiness that is no doubt very historically accurate, but that may have had Walter Scott turning in his grave. Or maybe not. There is an endearing minor character who is a fussy and pedantic lawyer from Edinburgh, but who has the romantic soul of an adventurer and throws in his lot with a band of highland outlaws. I can't help but hope that the author meant it as a tribute to Scotland's own romantic literary lawyer.
So thank you my lovelies, for a most profitable and entertaining week of reading, and how wonderful that Rachel Joyce has written another novel, and that Diana Gabaldon has written two entire series related to Outlander. Oh, goody! And keep the recommendations coming..