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Notes from a Teenager

I have always loved Wimbledon fortnight: tennis is actually the only sport that I can bear to watch; I think because, at its best, it is like dance; elegance and fluidity masking extreme athleticism and hard work.
However, I have to admit that there are things about the whole televised bit that really annoy me… First of all, Britmania! the obsession with British players so that, until they are hopefully and thankfully knocked out in the first few days, we have to suffer boring matches on every channel whilst fully aware that elsewhere some brilliant, edge of your seat match is going on that we, (well, I because I don’t have iplayer and anyway they shouldn’t assume that everyone does) will never see. And if we’re not watching these matches, we are forced to sit through endless discussions with every unlucky commentator about every shot played. I’m not really into patriotic fervour regarding sport, and tennis especially is much more about individual performances. And, before anyone mentions it, I do switch off my television and go and do something else instead but I would prefer to be watching actual, superb tennis in this very short two weeks.
Even worse though are the lingering shots of the ‘Royal’ box. The metro this morning featured a sickening image of George Osborne stuffing himself with Carole Middleton’s bucket of sweets. Why is he there? And Pippa Middleton and so many others… I can see the appearance of royalty gives a bit of occasion to the finals and understand why the player’s family and other sports people should have a seat but just because someone is rich and famous or, as in the above, infamous, seems entirely wrong and reinforces its elitist image. Too many seats are given up for corporate occasions and then left empty as they sup champagne away from the court. I would rather see the box full of enthusiastic school children who would really enjoy the treat and who also might be inspired to be players worth talking about in the future.
Anyway, Wimbledon signifies summer and so I thought I would suggest a few titles for all those embarking on their holidays. A lot of the papers seem to suggest hard-backs which seems pretty unhelpful unless you have a Bunter, Jeeves or Alfred accompanying you…
So here are my suggestions, all paperback:
Pachinko by Min Jin Lee – for those who want an engrossing, longer read, this book follows memorable characters from South Korea to Japan during the 20th century. It is a period and region I realise I knew little about and Lee is a wonderful storyteller.
Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld – my colleagues will probably be very surprised that I am suggesting this as they now I usually avoid retellings of classics like the plague… But actually I thought this was rather a clever and funny reimagining of Pride and Prejudice, more like the Clueless version of Emma. I read it lying on a beach and I think it is perfect as just that.
The Hours Before Dawn by Celia Fremlin – a lost psychological, crime classic reminiscent of Patricia Highsmith but set in the claustrophobic world of 1950s British gentility.
Broken and Burned by Mark Hardie – a crime novelist new to me and this is his first book. A police duo tackle the murkier side of life in Southend and the surrounding area but sometimes it is hard to distinguish who are the bad guys…
Jane and Prudence by Barbara Pym – I am re-reading this for our book group on Monday and am reminded what an utter delight it is and just perfect for summer. 

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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