Don't these weeks march round with increasing frequency, or so it seems? This week's read involves a small confession from me - I have to admit to being just a tiny bit in love with Alan Bennett, the author of this week's read. This is an ever so slightly impractical and unlikely crush, I think it is a crush, rather than a love, for the following reasons. Or maybe not even a crush, more a strong admiration.
1 I am straight, Alan Bennett is gay
2 I am moderately young (?), Alan Bennett has just turned 80
3 I am married, very happily I must add, Alan Bennett is to my knowledge in a relationship and probably very happy too
4 I am moderately clever and well read, Alan Bennett is phenomenally clever and well read
Now having settled that I do like Alan Bennett, the books of choice is "Four Stories". These aren't new material, but four of his very popular short stories, brought together to celebrate his 80th birthday. A very quiet unassuming celebration for a very quiet unassuming man. The book was a Christmas present from my husband, and is my favourite sort of book, hardback, with a lovely tactile paper sleeve, a gorgeous shade of aqua, so in at the moment, and the paper used by the printer is lovely too. I know nothing of the art of printing, but this paper has a lovely feel, so tactile, a paper that means business yet is quite soft. The sort of paper used in books years ago, expensive feeling, and a good bold type set which is easy on the eye. The book is also handbag sized, if you have rather a large handbag.
But, never mind the cover, what about the content? I really don't want to spoil any of the stories, all I can say is they are all hugely enjoyable, my favourite being The Lady In The Van, which I had read previously and also seen played in local amateur dramatics. Alan Bennett has a quiet way with him, a wry look at the world, as can be seen in his expression on the front cover. He writes very sparingly and often emotionally without being sentimental or mawkish. I always remember that in his biography he wrote about visiting his elderly mother, suffering from dementia, in a nursing home. He put her survival down to sustaining her appetite whilst a procession of elderly room mates "genteely starved to death". I have always remembered that. I think it was in "Writing Home", a book of biographical writing. "Writing Home" is one of my favourite non fiction books.
To balance this, and have one in the bank, so to speak, I have also been reading MC Beaton's "Death of a Liar". This is the latest in the Hamish Macbeth series, and they never fail to delight me. A little bit of gentle crime, a little bit of the Scottish Highlands, a little bit of humour. Brilliant. I have yet to finish this, but I know I'll enjoy it right to the end. This also ties in neatly with the theme for the host blog, (52 Books In 52 Weeks) - gentle crime. I may have mentioned before I also love the Agatha Raisin series written by MC Beaton. They are never going to be acclaimed as high literature and MC Beaton, does not expect them to be. They're curling up in front of the fire with "a cup of coffee and a biscuit" books, an afternoon with an old friend who never disappoints.
The next book I will be reading is "Broken Harbour" by Tana French, for the book group I am part of. I know nothing about it, except it looks rather long. My book crossing friend Liz, has reviewed "The Miniaturist" this week in her blog The Wheel On The School, check it out here.
linking in with 52 Books In 52 Weeks.