Tag Archives: Mary Westmacott

Seven books and a smell

For a few panicky seconds on Christmas Eve as the presents were being handed out, I was afraid we were going to do a Mr and Mrs Hilary Mantel thing. I’d read how last year they gave each other the same book. This comes of knowing perfectly well what the other one would like.

At Bookwitch Towers Daughter is good at knowing this (the Resident IT Consultant follows the list given to him), and when I found myself staring at a British Library Christmas crime anthology edited by Martin Edwards, I hurriedly tried to recall what I’d got the Resident IT Consultant. Two collections edited by Martin, but which ones? And how did they differ from the ones last year?

In the end they turned out to be different collections, but Daughter and I had clearly studied the list of crime stories edited by our Mr Edwards, and then made our separate choices. This was a problem I’d not even seen coming!

As you can see I am looking at a varied reading diet for the near future. Eoin Colfer and Shaun Tan were by request, so to speak, while the Literary Almanac was the result of individual thinking by the Resident IT Consultant. So, Silent Nights from Daughter, and also two Mary Westmacotts, chosen without even the prompting of Sophie Hannah’s suggestion in the Guardian during the year. Very perceptive. And at last I have got my Glamorgan sausages back! I’ve been going on about Michael Barry all year, after realising that parting with his cookbooks from the olden days might have been somewhat premature. I just couldn’t find his Glamorgan sausages online. But here they are. Someone paid attention to her mother, and then went secondhand book shopping.

That’s the seven books. The final gift was a scented candle from ‘an author’, smelling of old bookshop. The candle. Not the author. I’d have thought Bookwitch Towers might almost manage that smell on its own, but now we’ll leave nothing to chance.

I wish my hairdresser could see me now. I mean, when I unwrapped my books. Earlier in the week he’d asked if I thought the Resident IT Consultant would surprise me with a really special Christmas present. I’m afraid I laughed. I came home and told the other two, and the Resident IT Consultant said that it really would be a surprise if he were to do that. But I felt fairly safe from any development in that direction.

In return I surprised the hairdresser. Twice. Seven years on he discovered I have a Son. Who is not a scientist. And who does not translate for the police. He’s also into books. Son, I mean. And the hairdresser does read, so I decided to combine the two, and went back a few days later and gave him one of Son’s.

Neither tried nor tested

It’s funny how I do things I really ought not to. Except it’s not funny. I just feel as though I must. Must buy that book, or at the very least, put it on a list to be ‘dealt with’ soon.

I have spent several days not reading the second half of an incredibly good book. Some of those days I have instead glanced a little at the first few chapters of a book I read many years ago, which I remember to be very good, but can’t recall a thing about.

But what I thought I’d mention now are some books I’ve not read. That’s fine, isn’t it?

Nick Green has a new book out. It’s only available on Kindle, so that’s what I bought. It took me all of two minutes to decide, after Nick had told me about it. It’s called Sparrowfall, and it’s only £2.95, which is cheap for something he spent four years writing. It’s an adult novel, but even Nick didn’t know that to begin with. If you hurry, you might have time to read it before me.

Then there are books I probably won’t be buying. But you know how hard it can be to resist books with gorgeous covers! And these two travel books by Charmian Clift, are about to be reissued by Muswell Press in the spring. While we can’t travel ourselves, it’s just as well that books can do it for us.

Some people I trust more than others. And while Sophie Hannah’s ‘own’ crime scares me a lot, I trust her implicitly when she recommends certain books. The time she talked about her discovery of Agatha Christie as a child; well, that could have been me. So when she wrote in the Guardian Review that we absolutely must read Agatha’s non-crime novels, published under the name Mary Westmacott, I knew Sophie was right.

In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if I’ve already read one. But you know how my memory works, or rather, how it doesn’t. So I can see myself needing to read these six books. At some point. Though possibly not in the next month…