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Amaryllis Goes Off

We have just had our book group meeting discussing the lost classic, Zuleika Dobson by Max Beerbohm over D’s delicious hand-made cookies and my shop-bought banana bread. Zuleika and I are quite alike in a femme fatale sort of way: ‘a cynosure indeed! A hundred eyes were fixed on her, and half as many hearts lost to her’. How well I know that experience. However I do baulk at the youth of the town embracing a watery grave to prove their adoration. Gifts are always an acceptable and less messy alternative. Really, we decided that Zuleika cannot be blamed for the folly and stupidity of Oxford undergraduates and we wished her well in Cambridge…
 
Zuleika did not let affairs of the heart interfere with her appetite and I doubt whether such ‘a lithe and radiant creature’ would have had recourse to such a book as L’art de la Simplicite – How to Live More with Less. Generally I do not agree with censoring books but I have had to remove this one from the shelves… You might think such mantras as ‘fasting is an art to be cultivated’ or ‘I can go to a restaurant and be happy just to talk: I don’t need to eat’ and ‘An empty stomach clears the head, cleanses the spirit and feels pleasant’ more likely found on a ‘Pro-ana’ site than an international bestseller supposedly proposing a happy and healthy life. As a young 15 year old schoolgirl, I was told by my very thin history teacher, as she taught through our lunch break, that empty stomachs would improve our intellects: to say I have spent decades with a very fraught relationship with food is an understatement. Of course, that remark isn’t the only reason but these things fester!
 
Anyway, a good week culturally: on Saturday, I went to see the wonderful Woolf Works at the Royal Opera House thanks to the lovely V. It was dramatic, moving and mesmerising in all kinds of ways; bodies in positions and attitudes one wouldn’t believe possible; an amazing light show; electrifying and powerful music by Max Richter. All in all, a feast for the senses!
 
Also on the weekend, the weather excusing any possibility of a walk, I devoured The Heart’s Invisible Furies, John Boyne’s latest novel and in which he has taken on a Dickensian likeness. I actually laughed out loud several times, which I almost never do (reading) and came perilously close to tears as the book neared its end. It was a perfect fusion of comedy and tragedy played out by a host of marvellous characters, who like the author, I suspect, do not know whether to love or hate their native Ireland.
 
Last week, despite freezing rain and bleak, grey skies, I found some brave little snowdrops heralding the Spring – we hope!

About Amaryllis

 

Amaryllis is our bookshop blogger.

 

Her pen name is taken from Alice Thomas Ellis’ Other Side of the Fire, which is unfortunately and scandalously out of print. One of the funniest bits in the book is the bodice-ripper that one of the characters is writing and the female - who slays the men with one toss of her raven locks and one glance from her fiery green eyes as she strides among the glens, faithful wolfhound by her side - is Amaryllis! And the name just seemed to suit so here we are.

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