A Quick(ish) Catch Up

I’m pretty grumpy today, mostly because it’s freezing cold and I’m not caffeinated enough and also because I got up late and didn’t have time to straighten my hair (think Hermione circa CoE) – or I guess I could have straightened my hair but then I would have had to drive to work and I’m trying not to drive to work because I keep eating Crème Eggs and large(r) lunches and If I’m going to do that I need to do walking and so I’m sat in the office in a hoody with mahoosive hair and that’s fine, normally but today I got an unexpected visit from a supplier I am in a battle with and not only did I not know they were coming, the girl was also all high heels and smart suit and perfect hair and makeup and I’m looking the most unprofessional ever and felt totally wrong footed. I’m grumpy about it. Glamourous people scare me. & holy run on sentence, batman. & I have one of those hurty pieces of skin sticking out of my nail bed, you know the ones? OUCH. Ill probably rip it off later and it will bleed and hurt more and I’ll have regrets. Such is life.

Anyhow, enough of that.

I want to talk to you (at you? to you?) today about the things I’ve been reading and watching and looking at. About what my life has looked like I guess, for the last couple of weeks. Grab a Creme Egg – because who actually cares if it’s ages off Easter, they’re in the shops now. Eat them all – and make yourself comfortable. This might get long.

The Secret Life of Bees is one of those books that I actually cannot believe it has taken me so long to read because I really really liked it. & the crazy thing about that is that if my fabulous pal Natalie hadn’t bought me a copy for Christmas I might never have read it and that is ridiculous. So so ridiculous. It’s such a me book (not about the Holocaust Helen, hush) which Natalie totally knew, mostly because I went on at her for the longest time to read The Help which is one of my faves (and its film adaptation one of my faves also) and this is a book that’s pretty much in the same vein of that.


Anyhow, The Secret Life of Bees is a book about family and equality and hate and love and what it means to be different and with all the shit that is going on in the world right now, with the real life horror show that is Donald Trump, it feels like a book that carries one of very many important messages. But it
’s also an easy read, it feels warm and comfortable. It’s the perfect book for that lazy Sunday, for the sofa and a blanket and snacks. It feels, pretty much right off the bat, like an old friend.

The book is set in South Carolina in the 1960’s, when Lily Owens thinks she killed her Mother, her Dad is a complete ass-hat and her black nanny Rosaleen, on her way to register to vote, insults the biggest racists in town and ends up in a prison cell. Lily springs her free and the two of them make a run for it, ending up in a small South Carolina town that Lily thinks holds some answers with regards to her Mum and taken in by three (black) beekeeping sisters. 

The characters are flawed, which I liked a whole lot: it kind of had that TKaM feel about it sometimes, vaguely, if I squinted. Take Lily for example, who mostly I loved, but who I also sometimes really wanted to shake; sometimes the way she treated Rosaleen made me rage, even though I knew that she loved her probably more than she loved any other person ever. That’s what made her real and that’s a big part of made this book resonate with me; Lily’s a teenager, a white girl growing up in the South where racism was so deeply ingrained that people like Lily didn’t even realise that to a degree they were part of the problem – little things said and done in a heartbeat without even realising the damage they had the potential to cause, probably, and I liked that that was addressed: unconscious prejudice.

This is a novel about race and it’s a novel about feminism and it’s the kind of novel that if I had a daughter, I would want her to read.. It’s not in your face with its messages either, not that I AM WOMAN HEAR ME ROAR kinda books are in any way a problem at all, just that this isn’t one of them. It’s subtle but no less powerful for it. And it makes you want honey because there are bees in this book, so many bees. Which, and this might surprise you because it surprised me and is part of the reason it took me so long to pick it up – did I really want to read a book about bees? Not so much – actually works really well and makes the whole thing gel and is really clever, actually. And also interesting.  & it left me with all the feelings. Seriously, I was a hot mess of emotions when I finished this book, which is not to say it’s sad so much, more that it gets under your skin, and burrows deep into those places where your feels are kept.

If you like TKaM (are there actually people who don’t like TKaM?) or The Help or Fried Green Tomatoes then this might be a book that you should consider picking up. Except you probably have already because I am incredibly late to this particular party. Le sigh.

Also, I’ve just read The Girl on the Train. I know, right? How am I just reading that now? I think I might actually be the last person left in the world to read this book. I get like that about a book sometimes, when it’s had all the hype. I either jump right on that bandwagon to see what all the fuss is about, or I put if off because it can’t possibly be that good.

With The Girl on the Train I put it off. Til now.

I liked it though, when I finally read it. I mean I didn’t devour it in one sitting like I half thought I might and it took me a while to really get going with the story, and Rachel kind of bugged me for a while and Anna bugged me more later on and you know actually I don’t think there is a single likeable character in this whole book which makes it a fairly interesting read actually and a good character study as well as saying rather a lot about Hawkins’ writing because keeping me engaged in a story that centres around a group of people I actually think a pretty awful, that’s kind of impressive. Although you know me – I love an unreliable narrator and this book is bursting with them. And it did grab me, once it got into its stride and once it grabbed me, it grabbed me, grabbed me to the point that I read the last just-less-than-half in a night, tucked up in bed with a Crème Egg. All the Crème Eggs all the time.

Do I need to properly review it, with a synopsis and  everything? I feel like that might be a bit meaningless now, what with everybody ever having read it and all. In a nutshell though: Rachel gets the same train every day, which stops at the same place every day and offers her tiny view at the lives of the people who live in the houses right there by the tracks. One day she sees something at one of the houses and then the lady that lives there disappears and ALL THE DRAMA.

I liked it a lot. Did I say that already? I was gripped, and it wasn’t predictable and even though I had kind of worked out where the story was going before The Big Reveal the writing was sharp enough and had enough pace and enough suspense that I still couldn’t turn pages fast enough and there were plenty of red herrings which I have liked since my Enid Blyton days although the red haired guy? What was the point of him, exactly? Were we supposed to think he did it? I didn’t; I just got irritated by not seeing the point of him and wanting to get back to the story. Also, why did the police not do more about questioning Rachel because should she not have been a suspect? She was there; she was drunk; she had no recollection of what happened and no alibi. Oh, hello PRIME SUSPECT. That was weird.

I should watch the film now I guess although Emily Blunt? Is it me or is that some strange casting?

Talking about watching, what have I been watching?

I had a big empty space once I’d finished watching Gilmore Girls which if you haven’t seen then you’re doing life wrong and perhaps at some point I shall do a post just about that how and fangirl so hard I give myself an injury (yes I did just order a hoody with In Omnia Paratus printed on the front I had a voucher don’t judge me)
You know what. Have some gifs because then you may understand why I think this show is my spirit animal:

So there was a void and I filled that void with Homeland over Christmas (and it’s now back on Channel 4 hurrahs) and now I’m all about Gossip Girl – I know, yet another party I’m late to, whoops.  It’s a funny one really, because what is it about ridiculously privileged and bitchy young adults that I find myself so drawn to? I know not. I am drawn to it though. & I think I have a crush on Blake Lively. I want to be her friend. I want to be her.  I’ve got Lemony Snicket lined up to watch next. And I really want to watch The OA mostly I think because Jason Isaacs. Also it was suggested to me yesterday that I watched that thing on the BBC with Sheridan Smith. Moorside? I didn’t because I thought it would give me a sad but I’ve been told that I should have, so perhaps I’ll do that tonight. Watch that and start a new book – either The Trouble With Goats and Sheep or a re-read. I’m sensing Handmaid’s might be due another read…..

Helen and I have watched LaLaLand recently, which I think we need to watch again mostly because on first watch both of us were what can only be described as underwhelmed, and Joy which I liked. I like Jennifer Lawrence and it was a lovely way to spend a Friday evening – a film and Chinese food and my bestie. Yes thank you that will do. Also The new Trainspotting. Anyone seen that yet?

In other news I am in a wall art related dilemma because I have wall space that needs filling and I keep changing my mind what to fill it with which is ridic because I’ve had my house for a year and a half now. So that’s going on, with the googling and the imagining and the deciding and the mind changing and I am driving myself so very crazy. And Irregular Choice keep releasing more shoes and they’re all so pretty I want to cry and that, pretty much, is my life.

Til next time.