Sunday, 22 May 2011

Fairy Tales

Now, I must admit that the re-working of fairy tales with a modern twist never appeals to me.  Too much whimsy and it can border dangerously with magic realism. You know, one minute your protagonist is looking in a mirror and the next minute she's turned into a snake.  Oh no.  Not for me thanks. So this book - well, I say book, but it's an unbound proof copy in the tiniest print you can imagine, has languished for weeks under a pile of books beside my bed.  On the floor, actually, as said bedside table is about to collapse under the weight of far too much printed material (another nudge to buy a Kindle?  No, banish that thought) Anyway, the time came when I had run out of reading material and I reluctantly picked it up.  The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey published by umm...gosh, I don't doesn't say.  I'll google it in a moment and let you know.  But my goodness I'm SO glad that I did.  I had to finish it one swoop. It's wonderful.  It made me realise that I really love anything set in the snow - it's so seductive...and it reminds me of those wonderful Scandinavian and Russian paintings that I adore.  The snow blankets everything, and pillows sharp corners, and people have to stay huddled inside around a fire whilst gazing outside at the icy brightness.  Snow of course covers all things with a virginal innocence, but doesn't cover the sometimes dark secrets that lay lurking beneath.  It's a re-told fairy tale indeed, one of a childless couple that one winter builds a snow child that comes to life.  Of course, like all fairy tales the poor snow child comes to a sticky end - usually through human love, or the start of Spring... but this is a no nonsense tale set in the harsh landscape of Alaska and I knew that I could rely on the author not to stray into whimsy or mirrors turning onto snakes... My heart was lost to the tale of the middle aged couple struggling against all odds in that snowy landscape, beating out a hand to mouth living. Then the flight of fancy and a much needed break of grinding habit leads them to make a snow child one frosty evening... the rest is pure magic. (Reagan Arthur Books)

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Language of Flowers

Aren't librarians nice? And most publishers, too.  I was at The Reading Agency Roadshow which was held at Brighton library (an opportunity to pitch new books to libraries) and at the end of the day the generous publishers gave some books away (or perhaps they just didn't want to carry them home - no - banish that unworthy thought) And I was given The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh published by Macmillan.  Now, clever, clever Macmillan have also published a little handbook as well by Mandy Kirby with a forward by Vanessa to accompany it.  Double whammy huh? But well worth it.  Enchanting.  I loved it.  The novel is fascinating, but the concept of the Victorian language of flowers bought up to date is charming.  Of course, the Victorians didn't actually make up bouquets telling a story (of a love affair - natch) but they were used as talking points on a dinner table, or a conversation piece on an over mantle.  Geranium? True friendship.  Marigold? Grief.  Nasturtium?  Impetuous love.  Moss? Maternal love. Violet?  Modest worth. Periwinkle? Tender recollection.  Awww.... Roses of course had many, many meanings depending on the colour.  So I leave you with....