Sunday, 21 November 2010

Sifting towards a shortlist

It's a smudge after one o'clock in the afternoon and I find that I need the reading light on already. It's a grey, damp light and the day will only improve with warming spiced pork supper and apfelstrudel. Now that supper is as prepared as it can be for the time being, I have presents to purchase, so I am mentally shortlisting. A gentle wander around Foyles - I needed to read blurbs and turn pages gently - has helped greatly in sifting.

The reissued hardback of Ballet Shoes is a perfect 'small present', white cloth binding with rich red wine ribbon bow at the front and a delicate embossed picture of Pauline, Petrova and Posy. It's a beautiful design and I'm continually impressed by the enduring interest in the book - I don't think it's ever actually been out of print since 1936. For myself, I'd like a copy with the original silver dustwrapper, but I don't have a fairy godparent with deep pockets. A publisher can continue dreaming.

I may need to buy a duplicate copy of The Help, just so that I prise my own copy back from eager reader relative who takes great care of my books, but reads them slowly.
For friends who, like me, have taken to 'costume crime', I'll need to introduce them to Nicola Upson and Frances Brody. Both fascinating for the types who love period detail. A word of warning, though, the scene in Two for Sorrow where a seamstress dies with a mouth stuffed with cut-glass beads left me turning the pages rapidly - I don't usually 'skip' (unless it's a Chalet School sale or night in mountain hut), but this necessitated a swift jump to the next chapter.

I also intend to spend some of my Christmas holiday inside with a good, long book or three. My cooking will be designed to be the sort that needs long slow cooking in the oven with minimum intervention from me. This means, I hope, that I will be able to start (and finish) Kate Morton's The Distant Hours, reread Just Henry and stamina is needed for that, and try Apollo's Angels: A History of Ballet. The book claims a contemporary crisis in ballet, so I'd like to read the argument.

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