The Girl Booker

The Girl Booker

Friday, October 17, 2014

Wife Drought Love

Zeitgeist. The Wife Drought has hit the zeitgeist square in the eye, like a freakishly timed splash of chilli oil from a Chinese hot, but much less painfully and with far fewer tears.  I was so excited about reading it that I put a picture of the book up on my Facebook account when I received it, and I think the only other post I have received more attention from is the one announcing my pregnancy. In subsequent days, several other friends posted about the book themselves. One lovely lady took herself off and waited for a bookshop to open so she could buy it. I’m not sure that’s happened since the final Harry Potter book was published.

So what is the book about? Put simply, it is about men, women, family and work.  Put slightly less simply, it is about how those four things get matched and mismatched, what society's expectations are, and what they could or should be. It is a conversation I have been very keen to have for a while now, and I am so heartened to see that I am far from alone. The conversation, in inimitable Annnabel Crabb style, is probing yet cheeky, and unutterably thought provoking. It covers much similar ground to Overwhelmed, which I raved blogged about earlier this year

To sum up, it’s a fucking awesome book and everyone over the age of about ten should read it. And Annabel Crabb Is my hero. And Annabel, if you are reading this can we get married so I can be your wife? Or you could be my wife. We could BE EACH OTHER'S WIVES! Or we could just be really, really, really great friends who do everything together and go to each other's place for dinner all the time and talk about politics and food and the sisterhood. I mean that in a totally non-stalkerish way of course. I can make a super delicious Greek dish made from chickpeas and zucchini that I think you'd really love...

Friday, October 10, 2014

More Than Cold Comfort

Sorry to be boring; I know I have raved previously about Stella Gibbons (best known for writing Cold Comfort Farm on this blog. I will try not to repeat myself too much as I gush and enthuse about Here Be Dragons, the latest of her out-of-print-for-many-years-but-now-reissued that novels I have just read.

There is a slow, quiet wonder in this book. It is ostensibly a story about some pretty plain and ordinary people, yet it is dreamy and whirling and wondrously, magically descriptive. Some of Gibbon’s turns of phrase are so scrumptious I want to eat them. I have loved the experience of merrily reading the story, and then being pulled out of it to notice a delightful sentence that makes me mentally sigh and clasp the book to my chest in momentary ecstasy.

“… The hush of the dead hour before dawn, and neglect, and the past, lay over the walls gleaming softly in an embossed paper of cream and silver.

In the more down to earth moments, the book is fully of mid-century English people having tea and cakes, and being organised industriously by competent females. Something about this feels like magic to me too, and it reminds me of so many authors and books I have loved over the years: Mary Wesley, Nancy Mitford, Noel Streatfield. Not to mention a series of books about girls in a Swiss boarding school I read quite obesessively between the ages of about ten and fourteen.

I think the weaving together of the ordinary with the fey is what makes the book such a delight to read. The whimsical passages become more approachable and believable, and one is given permission to relish them, mixed up as they are between more sensible, solid concepts and characters. Likewise, these characters seem more interesting and Romantic than they otherwise would because of the floating passages that sometimes describe their movements and machinations. 

Five tea cakes out of five.