29 February 2024

A Good Read

Transcription by Kate Atkinson

The novel begins in 1981, Juliet Armstrong was 60 years old, and while she was distracted by her thoughts, she was struck by a car when she attempted to cross the street. Her story is told between 1940 and 1950 before landing back in 1981 again.
In 1940, eighteen-year old Juliet was reluctantly recruited into the world of espionage. Sent to an obscure department of MI5 tasked with monitoring the comings and goings of British Fascist sympathisers, the work was both tedious and terrifying. But after the war ended Juliet presumed the events of those years would be relegated to the past forever.
Ten years later, now a radio producer at the BBC, Juliet is unexpectedly confronted by figures from her past. A different war is being fought now, on a different battleground, but Juliet finds herself once more under threat. A bill of reckoning is due, and she finally begins to realise that there is no action without consequence. Juliet discovers one is never entirely free of the spy business. Once a spy, always a spy.
One of Juliet’s thoughts from 1981: "The Russians had been their enemies and then they were their allies, and then they were enemies again. The Germans the same – the great enemy, the worst of all of them, and now they were our friends, one of the mainstays of Europe. It was all such a waste of breath. War and peace. Peace and war. It would go on forever without end".

This is an ingeniously plotted story, so much so that I initially had difficulty working out what was happening. But I did, and as usual, with Atkinson's novels, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

∼ Happy Reading∼ 

Polly x

23 February 2024

Lunchtime Concert

Today's Cathedral Concert was Juanjo Blázquez, a brilliant Spanish pianist

unfortunately the programme was not to my taste,
I stayed for most of it though.

The weather was lovely with glorious sunshine which changed to rain and hailstones in the afternoon!

Despite lots of rain signs of Spring are all around
∼ Be warm and well∼ 
Polly x 

18 February 2024

A Good Read

The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell
For her 25th birthday Libby Jones inherits an eight bedroom mansion in London’s SW3 - the heart of Chelsea. Most people would be over the moon to own a house in that area of multi million pound homes, but the house is dilapidated, and has a very sinister past.
Told from the points of view of Libby, Lucy, and Henry, in both the past and present, this disturbing family drama begins with the previous owners of the house. The Lamb’s were a wealthy couple with two children, Henry and Lucy. Martina (the mother) liked helping people and invited a homeless charismatic stranger named David and his family to move into their home. But David wasn’t as charming as he appeared to be. He was malevolent and manipulating and before long he had turned the house into a commune and had the family obeying his every whim, all except Henry - he wasn’t falling for David’s charms, not one little bit!

The story builds slowly and steadily, developing the characters and revealing their roles in the plot. It's a fast compelling read.

∼ Happy Reading∼ 

Polly x

9 February 2024

Rain Stops Play

Today I should have joined my u3a bus pass group for a trip to Harlow. My village is surrounded by countryside and fields and when we get a lot of rain the roads get flooded, not bad floods, (lots of people have to deal with much worse than some water on the roads). Roads into and out of my village were flooded, and more in the next village. It was possible to drive through the water but single file and slowly, so my journey took longer which meant despite leaving a bit earlier I was late arriving at the meeting point and missed the bus.
Many people who know Harlow think of it as not a nice place for a day trip but there are some nice parts of the town, and our group leader had arranged a tour of the Gibbert Gallery, I'm disappointed to miss that, but I'm sure my friend M and I can go another time.  
However, missing the bus meant I was able to attend the formal opening of my village church's new servery and toilet, attended by the Rt Hon Kemi Badenoch, the new Archdeacon of Chelmsford, a few reverends and lots  of villagers.

It was a nice do with hot drinks and cakes, which always go down well 😋


We have had a mixed bag of weather here in the UK - rain, wind, mild, cold, freezing cold and sunshine.

This part of our walk is lovely when the sun is shining because that hedgerow is a barrier against the wind.

∼ Be warm and well∼ 
Polly x 

2 February 2024

A Very Good Read

Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Kya Clark was barefoot and wild, for years she had been known as the Marsh Girl. As a very young girl Kya watched her Mother walk  away without looking back. Soon, all her siblings followed suit, leaving Kya alone with her drunk, abusive and often absent father, who also eventually left. She had to care for their home, learn to shop, to provide food, cook and clean, all while dealing with loneliness, abandonment, loss and prejudice, and always wondering when and if her Mother would ever return. She spent one day at school but was so badly ridiculed she never returned.

But Kya was smart and clever with a curious mind. She knew the marsh and found ways to make money and provide for her basic needs. She learnt lessons in life, through nature and the wilderness surrounding her, and with help from books and her brother's friend Tate she learnt to read and write. The lovely couple 'Jumpin' and Mable showed her kindness and love, and the store cashier helped by often giving her too much change.

But while she had the skills to live in solitude forever, the time came when she yearned for company. Drawn to two young men from town, who were each intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opened herself to a new and startling world. But when popular but unpleasant Chase Andrews was found dead, locals immediately suspected Kya.

I was engaged with Kya’s story from the beginning. It is beautifully written with poetic prose and wonderful descriptions of the marshes. It has a little bit of everything, a likeable main character who tugs at the heartstrings, romance, murder mystery, courtroom drama and lovely characters who are kind - Tate, the cashier who gives back too much change and 'Jumpin' and Mable. I loved it and so did my book group.

∼ Happy Reading∼ 

Polly x

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