"When I first saw the advertisement in the newspaper I thought I might actually burst. I'd had rather a cheerful day so far despite the Luftwaffe annoying everyone by making us all late for work, and then I'd managed to get hold of an onion, which was very good news for a stew. But when I saw the announcement, I could not have been more cock-a-hoop."
That is the opening paragraph of Dear Mrs. Bird by A.J. Pearce, just published and already widely praised. I picked up the book yesterday, read the beginning and felt drawn in and comfortable straightaway thanks to its lovely light, bright and breezy tone.
The narrator is Emmeline Lake, would-be journalist, who lives in Pimlico with her best chum Bunty, working as secretary to a solicitor by day while manning the telephones for the Fire Service in the evenings. Emmy dreams of being a War Correspondent, so she answers an advertisement for a junior position at the "The London Evening Chronicle" and believes her time has come.
Described as "charming and delightful", "joyfully uplifting and optimistic", it sounded just the sort of thing I was looking for, and a couple of chapters in I can't wait to read on.
"When we ask one another 'What are you reading?' sometimes we discover the ways that we are similar; sometimes the ways that we are different. Sometimes we discover things we never knew we shared; other times we open ourselves up to exploring new worlds and ideas. 'What are you reading?' isn't a simple question when asked with genuine curiosity; it's really a way of asking, 'Who are you now and who are you becoming?' "
Will Schwalbe, Books for Living: A Reader's Guide to Life.
I am between books, having just finished the above and being not quite sure what I'm in the mood for next, but if you have a moment, do please tell us what you're reading and how you're finding it, and maybe that will steer my choice.
I'll spare you all the dramatic details, but my absence over the last few weeks has been down to Mr. C's having double pneumonia requiring hospitalisation. I'm glad to say that he is now much recovered and back at work, and life is returning to normal*.
Posts may still be sporadic though, as when things were at their worst I couldn't read at all - I began three or four books (by reliable authors) and found I simply couldn't engage with them. As the patient improved I turned to Will Schwalbe who, in Books for Living: A Reader's Guide to Life, provided the warm, intelligent, naturally comfortable voice I needed. More on it soon, I hope, as I pick up the Cornflower reins again.
*Even when 'normal' equates to 'a bit dull', there is a lot to be said for it!