Monday, June 28, 2010

Holiday Reading

At the end of the week I’m off on ‘holiday’ – I’m packing up the Scottish one and taking him north to my father’s for a couple of weeks. The extra punctuation is because they’re in the middle of a house move and because I made the mistake of having a look at the weather forecast again (it looked okay yesterday, but pretty bloody foul today). I love my family, and I love Shetland but unrelenting rain doesn’t improve either, so getting the holiday reading right is crucial and tonight I’m rifling the shelves for suitable candidates.

Air travel and family time both put certain constraints on packing, after a couple of thick woolly jumpers the next most important thing to go in the case is as much wine as I can carry for family consumption (and a bottle of something harder to sedate the Scottish one should he feel the need for it). I reckon that leaves me space for four books; no hardbacks, nothing to ambitious (failed to read Ulysses on two different trips), but something with a bit of substance to it, nothing I can read in a day however tempting it is, things which will cover a variety of moods, and finally books which might also appeal to my travelling companion if the whisky runs out and it really does rain all the time. hard can it be to make that sort of selection? That’s right, I’m struggling with the choice and have been doing so for some days, but right now this is the shortlist:

Daphne Du Maurier’s ‘Jamaica Inn’ – I’ve always failed with Du Maurier, but feel like I should love her, and if I buckle down I might just crack it – and it should appeal to both of us.

Elizabeth Von Arnim’s ‘The Pastor’s Wife’, I’ve just got this and it’s very tempting. She’s likely to keep me absorbed when I do want to escape into a book.

Compton Mackenzie’s ‘Whisky Galore’ – we both want to read this and so it’s almost certainly coming with me, especially after enjoying ‘The Monarch of the Glen’ so much.

A S Byatt’s ‘The Children’s Book’ – I’ve wanted to read this since it came out and I don’t doubt it has a bit of substance to it!

Wilkie Collins – ‘The Law and the Lady’- it was Shetland summers which started me off on a love for Collins, so what better place to revisit him?

Rumer Godden’s ‘In This House of Brede’ which is another newish acquisition and another one which I hope will be utterly absorbing.

Vera Caspary’s ‘Laura’ – pulp fiction bought on a whim and actually looking very tempting about now...

As you can see already more books than I can really take with me, and of course they do have bookshops in Shetland, so which books do I weed out? ‘Persuasion’ is on as I write this, and it’s making me want to hit the Austen pretty hard which hardly makes the decision making process smoother. I spent some time thinking about it at work today with the end result that I ran over my foot when I was moving champagne cages. End result – my foot hurt and I still have to work out what to pack. Any suggestions gratefully received – though the irony is that once we’re settled in it’s probable there will be no reading at all.


  1. I've only readThe Children's Book out of that pile but it is the one that I took on holiday last time I went away and it did a good job. It's vivid enough that you can ignore it for a few days and not get lost when you return and its size means that you possibly will not need any more books!

  2. I also only read The Childrens Book and I loved it so I'd obviously recommend that. I also love Collins though I have not read that novel -- but it seems like a pretty safe choice to me, so I'd probably take that as well.

  3. My vote would definitely be for The pastor's wife - it's entertaining and pithy and very Elizabeth von Arnim - it was the first one of her books that I read and definitely started my addiction to her works. Hope the foot isn't too painful!

  4. Hayley you're so funny! If you're packing light just take The Children's Book - it took me two weeks to slog my way through it and I am known for my speedreading! I didn't love it but it was still a good book, and beautifully written. And any Du Maurier is always good, though I haven't read Jamaica Inn so can't comment on that specifically! I hope you have a wonderful time - Shetland sounds wonderfully dark and brooding - I would like to visit one day.

  5. Like Rachel, The Children's Book took me an age to finish; if you read it then it is unlikely you will read anything else (unless it's to get away from the pain and the direness that is TCB!)

    I vote for Du Maurier; I think the Shetland Isles would be the perfect setting to read Jamaica Inn, from what I know of it.

  6. I am in the middle of The Children's Book at the moment and so hope to finish and blog on it maybe next week - it is definately a good holiday book and I second rachel - it is dense and takes time to get through!

    Have a great "holiday"


  7. The Children's book is looking like a must pack - strong reactions either way, and it's as good a time as any to start it... The Pastor's wife is coming, and Whisky galore - which just leaves a toss up between Wilkie Collins and Jamaica Inn.

    I start to panic if I don't have a book or two about me, and part of the fun of holiday's is planning my reading options - one thing I like about physical books is the choosing process.

    Rachel - I'm really hoping it will be bright and sunny rather than dark and brooding, but packing for both possibilities.

    Now - how many of the 4 books or just how much of the childrens book will I read, and how many will I buy?

  8. Ooh I want to read the Rumer Godden - please review it!

  9. The plot thickens - which shall it be, thinking I'll save the Godden till I get back, but do plan to get to it soon.

  10. Well, I've read none of 'em, but loved the one E von A I have read!

  11. Is it too late to throw in a plea for In this house of Brede? I love it. I know I've already recommended Wilkie to you via email but Brede is about nuns - what's not to like? Although I would also love to know what you think of The Pastor's Wife, it's lurking on my tbr shelves. Have a lovely holiday.

  12. Thank you Lyn, almost decided which ones to take but it's a tough choice:)

  13. I've almost decided what to take Lyn, but it's such a tough choice;)