Who would believe that a sunny day could become a sort of guilty pleasure? That is how it felt to me earlier this week when we bathed in balmy temperatures that were off the record for February. All very pleasant to cast off heavy winter coats and sit outside with faces turned up to the sun but it just felt weird. I was uncomfortably reminded of the 1961 film, the Day The Earth Caught Fire, in which a nuclear arms race between Americans and Russians means they both simultaneously set off H bombs resulting in the Earth being tilted from its axis and sent hurtling towards the sun and the human race can do nothing but wait… Maybe Mr T and Mr P could watch this at their next film and burger night – get old Kim Jong along too!
Female Irish writers are on a roll at the moment: Sally Rooney, Anna Burns, Eimear McBride and Jess Kidd to name a few with their tales of vulnerable young love, secret, sex and, my personal favourite, gothic mystery featuring various saints in advisory roles. But female Irish writers of this calibre are not new. They may be rather buried beneath the gold of marvellous male novelists: William Trevor; John McGahern; Colm Toibin etc etc but we read both Molly Keane and Elizabeth Bowen in book groups last week and they still shine diamond bright: satirical, witty observation from the first and exquisite, restrained exploration of affairs of the heart from the second but both deeply enmeshed in the dark politics of their time and both fabulous. And I have to mention Mary Lavin’s short story collection, In The Middle of the Fields, or I will be mobbed by her devotees!
Well, at least February has brought some new books (see last week!) as well as the artificial spring and my favourite reads this month have been:
Tessa Hadley’s new novel, Late in the Day. I love the way past and present co-exist and inform on the other in her novels and this one centres on the complexities in the relationships of two couples.
Home Sweet Homicide, Craig Rice (actually the pen name of Georgiana Ann Randolph Craig) – American crime from the ‘40s. Murder is murder but this is investigated in an utterly beguiling way by 3 wise-cracking children who outmanoeuvre the adults at every turn.
Lee Miller, Carolyn Burke – we are reading this for the Reading Women book group and it is completely fascinating, at time, eye-popping. Such an extraordinary life lived in a spectacular time.