Friday, 9 May 2008

April is the cruellest month

Rocking horse during the shaping stage, photo: Craig Jewell

As regular readers will know, April was pretty stressful time, and it was necessary to admit that I couldn't do everything, however much I wanted to. Work had to be the priority and, despite much gritting of teeth, I ignored everything else and battled on. I did manage to keep up with the Cornflower book club choice, the wonderful Speaking of Love by Angela Young, and to –briefly – make a contribution to the discussion, but otherwise I resolutely turned my back on distraction, so I have masses of catching up to do! I shall have to tackle it very slowly, as I still have work deadlines to meet, but I can allow myself a little time for amusement from now on, as well as for gardening and other diversions.

Reading suffered, too, of course, since most nights I was so tired I fell asleep before I got to bed. My mainstay was Lark Rise to Candleford, since I could read a page before my eyes closed without having to worry about remembering the plot! I went back to it, frustrated by how little the television adaptation had to do with the book, and warmed all over again to the matter-of-factness of Thompson's comments on the vicissitudes, as well as the joys, of a bygone rural life. I also read the second of the splendid Green Knowe series – I can't think why I didn't read these as a child, I was aware of them, and also remember a BBC series. They are proving to be a great pleasure - atmospheric, imaginative stories of the adventures of the children who lived over the centuries in an ancient, moated manor house (the real house is at Hemmingford Grey in Cambridgeshire). They are the sort of books that make me wish for a grandchild to read them to. A rocking horse features in the stories and, since my father used to make them, I chose this picture of a horse in construction - not one of his, I'm afraid.

  • Lark Rise to Candleford by Flora Thompson – re-read
  • Speaking of Love by Angela Young
  • Parker Pyne Investigates by Agatha Christie
  • The Book of the Dun Cow by Walter Wangerin Jr
  • Treasure at Green Knowe by L.M. Boston


  1. The Green Knowe books are stunning but not necessarily an easy read for children. The BBC serialisation was superb and opened a door to Boston's work for many readers who might not otherwise have coped. My peronal favourite is 'Stranger at Green Knowe' which might well bear a re-read in this time of questions about asylum seekers and immigration.

  2. I'm interested that you say they aren't easy, because I have a feeling that I was given one to read when quite young and didn't like it. Perhaps the historical sections are a bit demanding for young children, but I think if I had read them when I was a little older than the obvious "target" audience I would have liked them very much - I find it odd that I loved Puck of Pook's Hill, and Box of Delights, and yet Green Knowe hadn't gelled. That's why I said I thought they'd be good for reading aloud, but you may know otherwise? I'd love to have seen the serialisation (I think A Dog So Small may have dated from about the same period? and I thought that was superbly done).

    I plan to read them all now, at any rate, and look forward to Stranger at Green Knowe in view of what you say, especially since next year's conference will be about - in part - immigration. A little comparative reading is in order, I think!

  3. I stopped watching Lark Rise after the first episode because I couldn't bear the differences from the book. I read the book some years ago when I was recovering from a bad bout of 'flu and it was so comforting.

    Green Knowe I haven't read, but I vaguely remember the BBC series. It sounds good.

  4. I must go back and read the children's books I missed the first time round... a diet of nothing but Enid Blyton probably hasn't done me any harm, but does mean I missed out on some gems.

  5. Booksplease, only the need for escapism kept me in front of the whole series of Lark Rise, but I was pleased to be prompted to go back to the original. Do try Green Knowe, they are lovely.

    SiaB, I feel a list coming on (see forthcoming post). I wasn't a huge fan of Blyton, but I liked the ...of Adventure series.

  6. I loved Lark Rise, and the sequels. It's been a few years, and I find myself missing them.

  7. They are good to re-read, Nan.