This morning I listened to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie on BBC Radio 4’s Cultural Exchange programme (in which creative minds choose their favourite cultural work) and learnt about Ben Ewonwu, the Nigerian artist ( 1917 – 1994). Adichie spoke about Ewonwu’s painting Tutu, of a Yoruba princess. The original painting has been missing for years, but when Adichie was growing up in Nnusuka, in South-east Nigeria, a print of the work was in practically every middle-class Nigerian household. It is still on the wall of her parents’ home.
One of my favourite fantasy series is Joan Aiken’s Wolves Chronicles. There are twelve books, including a prequel (The Whispering Mountain), with Dido Twite the protagonist in most of the stories.
After I read Calmgrove‘s post about The Stolen Lake, I couldn’t resist re-reading it. It’s the fourth book in the main series and my favourite as I find it has the most thrilling and unusual plot. The ever plucky and pragmatic Dido is also especially endearing in this installment. I like her so much and find her optimism and can-do attitude inspiring and cheering. (I want to be Dido when I grow up.)
In this story, Dido is onboard the HMS Thrush, heading back to England. Dido, having escaped death and worse in the previous two books (Blackhearts in Battersea and Nightbirds on Nantucket), is looking forward to going home and is dismayed when the Thrush is forced to make a detour after the Captain of the ship is summoned by the Queen of New Cumbria (a country in Roman America, Aiken’s alternate history version of South America). Surprisingly, the Queen requests that he bring Dido with him.
It turns out that Queen Ginevra requires help to get back the country’s ceremonial lake which she claims has been stolen by the King Mabon, ruler of the neighbouring Lyonesse. Even more surprising is that the Queen is apparently more than a thousand years old and is waiting for the return of her husband, King Arthur. Could her longevity be linked to the noticeable absence of female children in New Cumbria?
Dido is soon in the thick of another adventure, this time one involving an imprisoned princess; shape-shifting witches; human sacrifice; cannibalism; and reincarnation.
I’d resolved to re-read less this year in order to make some progress with my TBR list, but I’ve decided to just read whatever I feel like. I will be re-reading Black Hearts in Battersea next.
When my ex husband left me for another woman, he was quick to inform me that she was ten years younger (and infinitely more supple) than I was.
Ten years later, they have finally gone their separate ways. She is still ten years younger than me, but she is now forty and I wonder if she regrets the decisions she made in getting involved with a married man who made no move to divorce his wife (I was the one who pushed for divorce and he resisted to the bitter end), and who, it appears, never intended to marry her.
In the early days of their relationship, they did talk about marriage and children. It’s of course entirely possible that she changed her mind. In my opinion, she would have seen his true colours and thought better of getting legally joined to a verbally (at times physically) abusive and emotionally manipulative man. If she has no intention of getting married (to him or anyone) then that’s fine. I just hope that if she has arrived at that conclusion, it’s not because he treated her badly.
There was a time when I hated her deeply. I no longer have any strong feelings towards her. Too many years have passed and too much has happened for me to remain angry and resentful.
It seems that every fantasy and sci-fi book that’s been published in recent years has been a trilogy, at very least. So, I sometimes take it for granted, when I read a new book belonging to these two genres, that there’ll be another two books to enjoy once I’ve finished the first. For this week’s Top Ten Tuesday meme (hosted by The Broke and the Bookish), I’m listing three books that I wish were part of longer series.
Seraphina by Rachel Hartmann – I realised it wasn’t going to be a trilogy when I got to the end of the sequel Shadow Scale and eagerly asked my book merchandiser friend (who had recommended Seraphina in the first place) when number three was due to be published. She said there was only going to be two books and I was crushed.
But perhaps not as crushed as when I found out that …
The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison is a standalone.
The Imperial Radch series is a trilogy, but I want more books.
In all three cases, it’s my attachment to and interest in the books’ main characters that make me want more stories about them. Just re-reading the books that exist would be like looking at pictures of a friend and never learning anything new about their lives.
I’ve been listening to Sofie Hagen‘s Made of Human Podcast (MoHPOD) for a while now. I like her so much. She’s lovable and funny, in a low-key, absolutely-not-obnoxious kinda way (I wonder what she is like when performing. Will I ever find out 😦 )
Was listening to episode 23 of the podcast (in which she interviews Mae Martin) today and liked what Mae said about self care and how she positively molly coddles (not her words) herself every single day. It made me happy to hear about someone not pushing themselves, but just easing into their day, every day: ‘Have a bath. Read a book for an hour etc’ (her words, more or less).
I’ve had to do that of late. My anxiety levels are crazy and are set off by the littlest, silliest things. Like, just five minutes ago, my daughter was looking for and couldn’t find something totally unimportant and I could feel my ears turning red and the start of palpitations. Like WTF. Anyway, I have had to practise a hell of a lot of self care. I sleep a lot. I read what I want. I lie in bed and ignore deadlines, within reason. It sometimes makes me feel guilty that I need to do these things to function. Listening to Sofie and Mae talk about being kind to themselves made me feel better about it.
What I most love about Sofie: She is fat and frank and positive (but real) about being fat (like she’s not 100% positive, which would just be not believable at all, but she is dealing with it positively, has an awesome life, is awesome, talks about her struggles and fears, and also her triumphs, is sexy and has sex – I mean, these are important things. Fat girls need to know that they can have an awesome life including have sex). She was what I needed at sixteen. And I still need her now at forty-nine.
The other person I now look to for inspiration and comfort: Jessamyn Stanley. Who needs Lena Dunham or Amy Schummer? Fuck them, I have my real heroes, Jessamyn and Sofie. Follow them on Instagram: Jessamyn & Sofie.