Sunday, 9 April 2017

April showers bring... good opportunities to stay in and read!

I’m feeling out of sorts this morning, as I’ve had what I thought was a bad cold all week, but it turns out I have a throat infection, which makes it hard to enjoy doing anything, including swallowing.  Thank goodness for a wide variety of delicious hot beverage choices, which are sure to soothe my raw and scratchy throat.


After blogging and walking last week, I had to decide on what to read next, and I toyed with rereading Anne of Green Gables, but I really felt like I needed something heavy, deep, and serious, something atmospheric that would transport me to another time or immerse me in another era or situation.  I tried a few books that I got from the library, and a couple from my own shelves, but nothing was grabbing me.  Then I received an email announcing the shortlist for the Baileys Prize (formerly the Orange Prize): http://www.womensprizeforfiction.co.uk/reading-room/news/revealing-2017-shortlist  Since I have enjoyed Orange Prize/Baileys Prize winning books in the past, I decided to read Fruit of the Lemon by Andrea Levy.  She won this prize in 2004 for her novel Small Island, which I have been meaning to read for a number of years;  unfortunately, it just didn’t grab me when I tried to get into it.  So I thought I’d start with one of her earlier novels.  This book, set in London in the 1980s, focuses on the experiences of Faith Jackson, 22-year old daughter of Mildred and Wade, who moved from Jamaica to England so that their children could have a better life.  Faith believes that this is her home, and has little interest in learning about her ancestry, although her parents, when asked about their lives in Jamaica, are less than forthcoming.  But as Faith moves into the workforce and faces subtle racial discrimination, she begins to suspect that glorious Britain may not be as fair as it at first seems.  When she witnesses an attack on a black female shopkeeper by the National Front, these suspicions are confirmed.  It is then that her parents arrange for Faith to take her first ever trip to Jamaica, claiming that everyone should know where they come from.  What Faith encounters as she arrives at the Kingston airport is chaos, disorder and lackadaisical service, including having her luggage go missing and receiving no clear instructions on how to get it back.  When her Auntie Coral arrives with her cousin Vincent to collect her, she is enveloped in a flurry of embraces and activity that is as disorderly as London is ordered.  But over the course of her two-week visit, she learns that her family stories are many and varied, and that truth is multifaceted.  Faith’s search for a sense of belonging drives this novel, and the first half, set in London, seemed to this reader to be rather limp and grey, somewhat tedious and uneventful.  The second half of the novel, however, was a riotous cacophony of voices and colours and experiences and stories and names and characters and family trees.  Perhaps this was intentionally done by the author, to highlight the ways in which the cultures of each area are influenced by the weather and landscapes, making me wonder about the truth of the statement:  You are where you live.  I’ll admit to enjoying the second half of the book more than the first half, mainly because it seemed to have more character;  I particularly enjoyed the stories that different relatives told Faith about her distant relations.  It was an interesting book, and a good introduction to her writing style, so hopefully I will be better prepared when I next pick up Small Island.  

Just a quick reminder that the Canadian Federation of University Women's giant book sale is coming up in a couple of weeks, on April 21 and 22: http://cfuwkw.org/index.php?page=annual-used-book-sale
I've already started a list of books I want to look for, because I know that, once again, resistance is futile!!

That’s all for today.  Enjoy the sunshine and mild weather!  

Bye for now…
Julie

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