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About Viccie

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    reading, writing, wine, dawdling around
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  1. The Death of Grass - John Christopher
  2. This series, featuring Paula McGuire, a forensic pathologist who returns to a border town in Nothern Ireland to help her father who has broken his leg is a new discovery and one I highly reccommend. Paula's father was in the RUC despite being a Catholic in an almost entirely Protestant force and her mother vanished 17 years ago and is presumed to be one of the disappeared - those abducted by the IRA and murdered. Paula has been living and working in London for the last decade. There's lots of well fleshed out back story and the background of the ongoing tensions between the two communities despite the Good Friday Agreement is convincing and not heavy handed. Well worth a try.
  3. Tarquin Winot - hedonist, food obsessive, ironist and snob - travels a circuitous route from the Hotel Splendide in Portsmouth to his cottage in Provence. Along the way he tells the story of his childhood and beyond through a series of delectable menus, organized by season. But this is no ordinary cookbook, and as we are drawn into Tarquin's world, a far more sinister mission slowly reveals itself . . . This is a very clever book, too clever some might say, and beautifully written - there's not a duff sentence in it. It's barely 200 pages long, yet it took me nearly six weeks to read it, partially because the prose, though elegant, is verry dense and it gets wearing after a few pages, but mainly because Tarquin has to be one of the most unpleasant charecters in literature. I don't mind unpleasant narrators but Tarquin has no redeeming qualities at all and it gets hard to read of endless self absorbtion, conceit and downright evil with barely any relief. It's a book club choice and I must not have perservered otherwise - I would have deliberately abandoned it, just never got around to picking it up again. However I'm glad I did, it's definitely a book to look back on and consider and I hope will provoke a really good discussion.
  4. The Song of Achilles - Madeline Miller
  5. It's a wonderful book. I re-read it after about 30 years while visiting my daughter in Palermo (there's a museum dedicated to the Leopard) looking at the gloomy and distinctly shabby palazzos wondering which had inspired parts of the story. Probaby the best combination of book and place I've ever had.
  6. .I'm thoroughly enjoying Normal People too - being in France we can't access Iplayer so I'm watching it weekly chunks
  7. I'm reading this too as my daytime book, it's far too big and new to read in the bath which is reserved for secondhand tatty books!
  8. Audible is addictive! You should try Timothy West reading Trollope. Wonderful.
  9. In 1785, Jonah Hancock, a Deptford merchant, finds one of his captains has sold his ship for a mermaid. It's hideous but Jonah still manages to make a lot of money charging people to see it and so meets Angelica Neal, the most glamorous woman he has ever met and an acomplished if not very money wise courtesan. This is a wonderfully fresh and original story with excellent writing and a superb sense of place and what the seamier side of Georgian sociatey (very seedy indeed) was like. It sagged just slightly in the middle, not that much though, and there were a couple of unexpected plot twists that I didn't see coming and an ending that was both satisfying and left you wanting to know more. Not for those who can't cope with bawdy but I thoroughly enjoyed it.
  10. Silver is the follow up to Chris Hammer's Scrublands - one of the best books I read last year. Silver takes place not long after the events in Riversend in Scrublands. Martin Scarsden has been holed up in Sydney writing a book about what happened while Mandy has moved to Silver Bay, a town on the NSW coast, where she is about to inherit a house. Martin, book finished, comes to join her, walks into her rental, fnds a freshly stabbed body on the floor and Mandy sitting in shock, hands covered in blood. Naturally she's the obvious supect, Martin is determined to prove her innosence but it's tricky especially as Martin has history which he hasn't told Mandy about yet.There are parts of the plot which stretch belief, especially why Martin hasn't told Mandy about his past, and this book doesn't have the power and raw energy of Scrublands. That said it's still an excellent read, very fast paced, I read it until 1.30 in the morning and then woke up early so I could finish it, haven't done that with a book for ages, so I have no hesitation in recommending it. I was sure Mr HG had already done a post on Silver but I've searched and searched and couldn't find it.
  11. I'm a tour guide (not that there's going to be much of that this year!) mainly for one of the big river boat companies though I'm strictly very part time, usually with one or two shifts a week during the summer. When I take tours round the local town we finish with a visit to one of the Sauternes chateaux and a tasting. Our house was a winemaker's house at one time and still has the old winery, minus tanks etc, at the back. It's no mansion though, basically a cottage, its vineyard which has long since been sold was ony ever just a few acres.
  12. Blood and Beauty - Sarah Dunant
  13. I'm very lucky in that I live in the middle of the vines in rural France so there's plenty of scope for going out though we are supposed to only leave the premises for exercise for one hour a day and not more than 1 km from home and carry a signed piece of paper with our names and address, darte and time on it. Fortunately there is a wood next door where no one ever goes so I can nip in there for an extra walk if I'm restless! Behaviour in the supermarkets here is pretty impeccable but that could be because we're out of town. I belong to several expat groups on Facebook and all I can say about quite a large proportion of some of the partiicpants is that it's time Facebook added a "sanctimonious" emojo to Like, Live, Wow etc.
  14. Oh good! I didn't know there's a new one in the pipeline.
  15. Tender is the Night - F Scott Fitzgerald
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