Looking back on the past month, I realise two things:
I haven’t read as much as I would’ve liked because I’ve had my head buried in my writing … but what I have enjoyed has been massively eclectic. So here’s a quick snapshot of what’s been entertaining me in February – this time with a little film and TV thrown in for good measure, because well, why not?
The Secret Keeper – Kate Morton
I read Kate’s first novel, The Shifting Fog/The House at Riverton (UK title) back in 2007. I really enjoyed it, but for some reason I skipped her last two books – not because I didn’t want to read them, just that I never got there for some weird reason. So it was time to put things right with her latest novel – a huge, sweeping mystery which darts back and forth in time from pre-WW2 to the present day and unravels the violent secret buried at the heart of one family. I so enjoyed this book. All of Morton’s characters are beautifully drawn and as well as some killer twists, there were also many touching moments, particularly between Laurel and her ageing mother, Dorothy. Morton does an amazing job of conjuring the different times and places woven into her novel – she’s a true master of her genre and it’s no wonder she’s a MASSIVE international bestseller. All hail Queen Kate.
Poem for the Day, One – by Wendy Cope, Nicholas Albery and Peter Ratcliffe
Given to me by a wonderful friend, I have been dipping in and out of this book all month. It’s an absolute treasure trove of poems and such a fun concept to be able to to turn to a particular day of the year and discover a new poem or meet a familiar, old friend. The collection ranges from modern verse to absolute classics. I’m loving it. I can recommend this as a great gift.
Romantic English Homes – Robert O’Byrne
I stumbled upon this book while browsing the shelves of the Macleay bookshop in Potts Point – an absolutely gorgeous store. I’m a sucker for coffee-table-style books with gorgeous pictures of English landscapes or interiors and I hoover them up in the name of research. This book is proving to be fantastic inspiration as I write my new novel.
OK, so other than the writing, perhaps the other reason I haven’t read as much as usual this month is because I’ve become rather obsessed with the amazing American crime-drama series, True Detective. I have one episode to go and I cannot wait to see how the show wraps up. Starring Matthew McConaughey (so hot right now!) and Woody Harrelson, it’s a very dark, very twisty show about two cops on the hunt for a serial killer. God, that really does boil it down to the absolute basics, but it’s hard to write about this show without giving spoilers or reducing it to something way below the sum of its parts. The dialogue is smart, the filming beautiful, the performances electric, and there is a dark, eerie tension that has me teetering on the edge of my seat each week. Don’t watch it if you can’t do dark and ominously scary. Do watch it if you love American drama at its absolute best.
Lastly, for a complete change of pace – a romantic comedy! I’m aware I’m probably the last person on the planet to see Richard Curtis’ About Time. To be honest, I thought it looked a tad cheesy and the trailer told me it involved time travel of which generally, I’m not a fan. I find it hard to suspend my disbelief in things like that and prefer my drama grounded in reality. So I waited for a quiet night, home alone, with nothing else on offer to indulge in. However, I take it all back. I REALLY loved this movie. It was sweet and emotional and yes, at times, a little cheesy (but good cheesy, in that way that found me grinning inanely at the TV screen) and so full of heart that I was actually cross my husband came home early and interrupted the properly weepy bit near the end. Yes, it’s full of perfect English idylls and posh, privileged people navigating matters of the heart … but sickly-saccharine and annoying, not so much. I actually think it’s one of the sweetest films I’ve seen in ages and I reckon I’ll be watching it again, someday soon – this time with the hankies at the ready.
So how about you? Did anything great in film, tv or books grab you last month? I’d love to hear your recommendations …