Thank you, Great Uncle Jack

I keep a spreadsheet of all my books. It’s currently at around the 1500-books mark. I’m giving you all the opportunity to stop reading now. Still with me? Good. Well, it’s the greatest endeavour to which my rudimentary excel skills have been employed (a regret for any grown woman; a travesty for a policy official)….

Lockdown and loneliness

Bastard Covid-19’s prohibition of our habitual touchy-feely ways  –  on a sliding scale from jovial shoulder slaps with a favourite Co-op assistant (we’re pretty tight with the Co-op crew round our way) to warm embraces for family and friends – has reduced our emotional world to include only that which exists between our four brick…

What exactly does one read during a pandemic?!

I had hoped to restore a bit of humour to Bronte’s Page Turners, given my recent focus on subjects as heartening as depression and immortality, but then BOOM: along comes a pandemic like Covid-19, and like most people I am navigating an ever-present readiness to sob and howl What. The. Actual. Fudge. Yesterday evening, as…

Books and immortality #deep

Last year, I set myself a challenge: to finally read the fifty-odd books I inherited from my Nanny Turner when she left us for the big library in the sky in 2014. A wide-ranging collection for a woman with little formal education apart from the English GCSE she took in her 70s (too busy being…

Poems as refuge: In The Pink by The Raving Beauties (1983)

‘Poetry has become divorced from our lives. We no longer feel part of the great oral and written tradition of myths and legends in which so many things were once protected and preserved. Nothing protects us, our minds, bodies and spirits are freely raped in the age of atomic suicide. The eternal truths of language…

My sure solace: books, depression and me (#properjolly)

Last year, over the summer, I experienced a period of major depression. It hit me like a juggernaut, comprising of a familiar crash in confidence but also, less familiarly and far more worryingly, a crash in identity. I had no idea who I was anymore, and struggled to visualise myself as a meaningful human being,…

The End We Start From by Megan Hunter

The End We Start From is a ‘cli-fi’ novel, set in Britain as flood waters close over London, and written from the perspective of a woman who has just given birth to her first child. Most parents will concede that the first year of parenthood is the hardest year of one’s life, its balm being…

Kurt Cobain: 25 years on

It’s hard to believe that it was twenty five years ago that I ran out of my parents’ bedroom crying melodramatically that ‘Kurt Cobain’s dead!!!’ after emergency tele-communications from a school friend on a Spring Sunday morning (oh for the days pre-internet/mobile phones, when such shattering news could be delivered so personally).  At 13, my tribute…

The Wake by Paul Kingsnorth

In 21st century England, 70% of the land is still owned by less than 1% of the population; the second most unequal rate of land ownership on the planet, after Brazil.  It is questionable whether this would  be the case had the Normans not concentrated all of it in the hands of the King and…

Armistice 2018: Beyond the Glass by Antonia White (1954)

Set in the twenties and the last in the ‘Frost in May’ series, Antonia White’s semi-autobiographical account of a young woman’s descent into madness after an intense love affair with a soldier too swiftly follows a failed marriage includes the following haunting scene appropriate for this poignant Sunday. During High Mass, requiem is being sung…

Fried Green Tomatoes At The Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg

I began reading Fried Green Tomatoes At The Whistle Stop Cafe with low expectations. Can a woman who voluntarily renames herself Fannie Flagg be trusted to write a great work of literature? Can a book which inspires a film starring Chris O’Donnell be anything other than pure schmaltz? I won’t fannie about (sorry). Yes, Fried…