THE HOOPLA LITERARY SOCIETY
“A little madness in the Spring / Is wholesome even for the King.”
This weekend is the spring equinox, which means Spring really, really has sprung.
Perhaps that’s why I’ve been reading in all sorts of strange ways this week. Do you ever do that? Last night it was whilst I was cooking the kids’ dinner, flicking the pages with a damp wooden spoon. The day before it was whilst waiting for a doctor’s appointment.
Snatching moments to immerse myself in an alternative reality is always a guilty pleasure but let’s face it, the characters in books are usually doing something far more interesting than making spag bol or hanging around doctor’s surgeries!
Escaping into a book is a wonderful way to deal with life when it’s stressful and busy. I’ve picked books this week that fit that bill to a tee.
Before I Met You, by Lisa Jewell
“Betty had chosen to do an Art diploma here in Guernsey rather than a degree in London. And she had chosen to stay on in this big cold unwelcoming house with a ninety-four-year-old woman rather than find herself a room in a shared house with her friends. She had made these choices willingly and freely, in spite of the seventy-odd years that divided them, in spite of Arlette’s irascibility and her misanthropy and her unshakeable grey-tinted view of the world, because she loved her.
“Arlette had lived in this house for seventy years, had given birth in this house, grown old in this house, and Betty was determined that she would die in this house, surrounded by all her lovely things.”
When Betty’s grandmother Arlette dies and her will is read, everyone is surprised at the bequest made to a person none of them have ever heard of, Clara Pickle. Ms Pickle’s last known address is in London, which is unexpected, since as far as anyone knows, Arlette had never left Guernsey in her life.
With little information to go on, and using a small bequest of her own, twenty two year old Betty sets off the London determined to secure a place to live in Soho, find a job and somehow locate the mysterious Ms Pickle. Unwittingly, Betty is also traversing a parallel journey her grandmother had made at the same age, to a 1920s London blossoming in a post war glow and filled with people determined to make the most of new opportunities.
Slowly gathering clues, Betty uncovers her grandmother’s secret past, filled with nights in glamorous clubs where bands played the new style jazz music and life was just one big party.
As Betty builds her own life, nannying for a rock star and falling in love, she discovers the whereabouts of Ms Pickle and perhaps why her grandmother fled London never to return.
Lisa Jewell has a swag of bestselling books to her name, of which Before I Meet You is the latest. Carefully crafting the foundations of this mystery/ romance, Jewell leads the reader into the fascinating 1920s London of the Bloomsbury set and Bright Young Things placing it alongside Soho in the 1990s when it was reinventing itself as a London hot spot.
It’s the mystery that keeps you turning the pages through the complicated relationships and musings of young women on the cusp of life. You too will want to know who Clara Pickle is and why she meant so much to Arlette that the old woman left her a small fortune.
Is it possible that the nerd in the red and white striped top is still around after all these years?
Today, Friday 21st September, Wally celebrates his 25th birthday.
Since the first book was released in 1987, Where’s Wally? has gone on to sell 56 million copies and until Harry Potter came along, was the fastest selling children’s book of all time.
He has been number 1 on the New York Times bestsellers list three times and in this new digital age where your social media presence is everything, Wally has almost 4 million facebook likes and has sold 5.9 million apps. That’s quite phenomenal, isn’t it?
Happy Birthday Wally!
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