Friday Flashback…

I found this little Librarian badge at the British Library in London, and had to get it since it reminded me of those long-ago school days when students were given “jobs” to do (along with special badges if you were lucky).

(This may have been a very 1960s/1970s English thing…)

Although I was sadly never offered the position of librarian, I would have jumped at the chance. Instead, I have this fabulous little badge to make up for that dreadful oversight.

(Our school used to give out “posture” badges, although I didn’t actually earn one. (My sis did though.) I may have slouched my way through my school days, I think…Tired arms and shoulders from swimming training?)


Catch Up Time…


So I’ve been doing some reading and thought I’d do a quick catch up post of mini-reviews for you. Nothing wrong with these books at all – just perhaps don’t have that much to say about them, really. Don’t let that stop you from reading them (except for the Bradbury – I can save you some time there. :-))

A Child in the Forest – Winifred Foley (1974)

A delightful memoir of a childhood growing up in the Forest of Dean with a family close to the poverty line – perhaps poor of money, but rich in other ways (but that’s not much good if you’re cold and hungry though….) Anyhoo, this was a really sweet and poignant collection of autobiographical memories for Winifred Foley, and almost made me cry. Along the lines of Cider with Rosie (pre-blog) but a bit tougher of a childhood, I think. The author has a very sly sense of humor which frequently made me smile.

Farewell Summer – Ray Bradbury (2006)

Having been delighted with Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine , I came across this sequel only to find out (post-read) that it’s actually Book 3 in a trilogy. (Dandelion Wine is number one.) No worries. This still works out of order. It’s a fictional take on a small town group of boys who are coming of age as the summer months come to an end, and there are some really good descriptions here of the long summer days and an ongoing half-serious half-humorous battle between the old men and the young gang. Both groups are aching to stop time (but for different reasons), and it’s this theme that runs through the novel. I adore Dandelion Wine, and consider it to be one of the best autumn books to read at that time of year. I think that this title would also be good to read when the leaves turn. However, no leaves turning here and as I’d also been reading another childhood memoir (but NF), I think that this title suffered in comparison. (Plus there was a very unexpected last chapter which was totally out of the character with the rest of the book. Bit weird.) A very quick read, and one I’ll have to pick up again in a few months. It might be fun to read the whole Green Town Trilogy (as it’s called)…

And by golly, I’m determined to finish Arnold Bennett’s Anna of the Five Towns this week. It’s been a few weeks on this one, and I just need to devote some solid reading time to it. Also about growing up in a small town up in the Potteries in England (but this is set later on in childhood, really). I’m enjoying it, but just piddling around with this read. More to come.

How’s your reading life coming along?


Of a Boy – Sonya Hartnett (2003)

I don’t seem to have read that much Australian literature, so thought I would get this one, a novella that was shortlisted for 2003 Man Booker Prize (as it was called then), and also the winner of the Miles Franklin Award. And this read was a corker!

Written from the POV of a nine-year old boy who is living with his grandmother (a reluctant caregiver) and his layabout but kind uncle Rory, this gives the reader an inside look at how Adrian sees the world: he is worried about quicksand and spontaneous combustion, he only has one friend (and this is a bit shakey), he knows that his parents didn’t really want him, and the world is spinning uncontrollably and confusingly around him.

What makes things even more unstable for Adrian is that three young children from his town go missing and the media are full of their story for weeks. And it is this unexplainable disappearance that worries Adrian the most – if it could happen to those children, it could happen to him. And if his parents don’t want him and his grandma is not that enthusiastic, who would look for him?

I really just wanted to squeeze little Adrian and say life gets easier for the most part. But he’s a character in a novella and so, as the reader, you are forced to sit there, watching him worry about things that nine-year olds shouldn’t really be worrying about.

Hartnett really did a good job of bringing Adrian’s thoughts to the fore in this story. I could really understand why Adrian felt the way that he did and did some of the choices that he did because if I had had his life experiences, perhaps I would have done the same. His wary development of some neighborhood friends is nerve-wracking – I so wanted things to work out well for him.

And then, the ending! Wow. I certainly didn’t see that coming. It was an excellent and shocking finish to the story and I am still thinking about it hours after I finished reading it. A very good read.