Charlotte Wood, Stone Yard Devotional
Tredynas Days by Simon Lavery
by Simon Lavery
1M ago
Charlotte Wood, Stone Yard Devotional. Sceptre, 2023  I posted four years ago on Australian author Charlotte Wood’s previous novel, The Weekend (link HERE). The producer of the BBC World Service programme World Book Club contacted me to invite me (with others from around the world) to pose some questions to Charlotte during the recording of an interview/phone-in on that novel. The programme was broadcast on 11 April (link HERE), and it’s well worth listening to on the BBC website: Charlotte gives engaging and thoughtful insights into her creative processes. I referred in my post on The We ..read more
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Anthony Powell, Dance, vol. 4
Tredynas Days by Simon Lavery
by Simon Lavery
1M ago
Anthony Powell, A Dance to the Music of Time. Collected edition vol. 4 (Arrow Books) Vol. 10: Books Do Furnish a Room (1971) The strange title derives from the nickname for the seedy left-wing jobbing journalist, Bagshaw (later involved in television; the final three volumes of Dance portray the rapid changes in British cultural and social life in the decades after the war). It became attached to him according to one of two variations on a sleazy sexual encounter he’s alleged to have been involved in. Nick has returned to university to research a book on Burton (author of Anatomy of Melancholy ..read more
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Tom Baldwin’s biography of Keir Starmer
Tredynas Days by Simon Lavery
by Simon Lavery
2M ago
Tom Baldwin, Keir Starmer: the biography, (William Collins 2024) Tom Baldwin’s biography of the current leader of the British Labour opposition party, Sir Keir Starmer, follows a fairly conventional chronological pattern. It starts with his upbringing in a small Surrey town. His father was a skilled toolmaker. This would have positioned him, in our British class-conscious social system, as working class, not meriting the esteem accorded to the privileged beneficiaries of inherited wealth and a private school education. A stern, undemonstrative man, his father’s patriarchal approach to family l ..read more
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Anthony Powell, A Dance…vol. 3
Tredynas Days by Simon Lavery
by Simon Lavery
3M ago
Anthony Powell, A Dance to the Music of Time. Collected edition vol. 3 Vol. 7: The Valley of Bones (1964) The title arises from a reading in church from Ezekiel (the famous song ‘Dry Bones’ derives from the same Old Testament source). WWII has started and Nick is a lowly officer at a training unit. There’s a whole lot of new characters: fellow officers are variously pompous, officious or ineffective, or a combination of these. The other ranks are slightly less eccentric, but still full of quirks. David Pennistone is one of the most interesting of the recurring characters; Nick had met him year ..read more
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A novel of the troubles: Louise Kennedy, Trespasses
Tredynas Days by Simon Lavery
by Simon Lavery
3M ago
Louise Kennedy, Trespasses (Bloomsbury paperback, 2003; 20221) Mrs TD urged me to read this novel when she’d finished it – especially as its protagonist shares my family name. Louise Kennedy writes about the region she grew up in: the Belfast area of N. Ireland. Trespasses is a powerful novel set there early (late 1960s-early 70s) in what became known as ‘the troubles’. Her central character is Cushla Lavery. Her first name is Irish Gaelic for ‘beat of my heart’ or ‘darling’. One of the features of this divided community is that people are usually identifiable as either Protestant or Catholic ..read more
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Powell, A Dance…vol.2
Tredynas Days by Simon Lavery
by Simon Lavery
3M ago
Anthony Powell, A Dance to the Music of Time vol 2 (Arrow Books, 2000) I posted in January about the first in this sequence of 4 bulky 3-volume editions of the 12 novels in Anthony Powell’s A Dance to the Music of Time. My response then was less than enthusiastic. Now I’ve finished the second volume, which contains these three novels: At Lady Molly’s (1957) Casanova’s Chinese Restaurant (1960) The Kindly Ones (1962) – the title refers to the Eumenides or The Furies, the Greek deities of divine vengeance and retribution. I’m now firmly hooked: A Dance to the Music of Time is brilliant – wi ..read more
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More on choughs
Tredynas Days by Simon Lavery
by Simon Lavery
5M ago
I’ve posted several times in the past about those handsome, red-footed, red-beaked corvids: choughs. They were once widespread in the British Isles, but are now particularly associated with Cornwall, where they started to breed and flourish again early this century. I came across recently a sequence of online newspaper articles that surprised me: images of choughs are to be seen in a convent in Salamanca, Spain, in the region of Castile and León. The Real Convento de Santa Clara there, founded in 1238, now an art museum, has a remarkable range of over 150 medieval heraldic paintings, concealed ..read more
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Anthony Powell, A Dance to the Music of Time, 1-3
Tredynas Days by Simon Lavery
by Simon Lavery
5M ago
Anthony Powell, A Dance to the Music of Time (Arrow, 2000)  I took this one-volume paperback edition of the first three novels in Anthony Powell’s acclaimed 12-novel sequence with me on our Christmas-NY visit in Spain. The three titles are: A Question of Upbringing (1951) A Buyer’s Market (1952) The Acceptance World (1955) There’s a huge cast of characters, but the central group consists of a few young men who met at their prestigious boarding school (said to be based on Eton, where Powell was a pupil). We then follow their progress into the privileged world associated with their class an ..read more
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Claire Keegan, So Late in the Day
Tredynas Days by Simon Lavery
by Simon Lavery
6M ago
Claire Keegan, So Late in the Day. Faber, 2023  Earlier this year I posted on Irish author Claire Keegan’s recent novella, Small Things Like These, describing it as ‘intense and profoundly moving’. I’d say the same for So Late in the Day, but in a different way (link HERE). The earlier book is set in the 80s when the Magdalene laundries were still posing as refuges for young women who were classed as sinful or undesirable by their families, but which were far more sinister and dangerous places run by nuns with retribution and exploitation as their prime objective, rather than the charity ..read more
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Bart van Es, The Cut Out Girl
Tredynas Days by Simon Lavery
by Simon Lavery
6M ago
Bart van Es, The Cut Out Girl (Fig Tree, 2018) Mrs TD heard this non-fiction book being discussed enthusiastically on the BBC Radio 4 programme A Good Read. Our excellent Cornwall Libraries provided this hardback copy within days of my reserving it. We recently travelled through the Netherlands, which brought back memories of visiting Amsterdam over the years: the Anne Frank House, the Jewish Museum and quarter. I thought I knew a fair bit about the murderous treatment of Jewish people under the German occupation, and the ways some Dutch residents risked their lives to harbour some of them in ..read more
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