Sunday, 15 September 2013

Home Economics

I hadn't realised that there are Universities still offering 'Home Economics' as a degree subject: you can take it at undergraduate and postgraduate level in Ireland. Of course I found this ages after publishing Candy Nevill, when it might have been very useful as a research tool, while searching for something else entirely. Ireland would be an awfully long way for someone like Candy Nevill to travel. Though I think she'd probably find a good course in America and emigrate. Those last sentences probably suggest I'm too close to my characters, but my books can take 18 months to 2 years to put together and they do feel like close friends at the end of that time. I've just spent a happy half hour on their website looking over the curriculum. I'd rather assumed that you had to choose a practical catering course like Cordon Bleu or similar if you wanted some sort of post-school qualification in food. That said, there doesn't seem to be as much practical cookery and I'd certainly appreciate that. I don't think I need another degree though, much as I like the look of it. I'd also need to relocate to Ireland and I'm happy where I am. This blog post skidded in so that I have time to tidy up before watching the Great British Bake Off that I missed earlier in the week. Twitter gave me the result and now I want to see the full episode. Roll on 7pm on BBC2.

Sunday, 1 September 2013

The Lotus Cup - Jane Louise Curry

I enjoy a good page-turner, particularly if it involves crafting and The Lotus Cup was one of those random 'finds' in a secondhand bookshop that I've been waiting for enough time away from rights puzzles and emails to read - I ended up not wanting to put it down and read it late into the evening. That's always a good sign of an interesting book, but not good when you have an early start the following morning. It's a teenage novel from the 1980s which seems oddly more dated than some of the more vintage (c. 1950s) fiction I've been reading. Especially when a teacher taking students on a trip out uses two student cars plus her own car to transport the class and advises two students to share a seat-belt as they're slim.

Yes, there are lots of Hawaiian shirts, clashing colours and jangly plastic earrings, but this is a charming book about a very shy girl finding her talent for ceramics in a declining pottery town and negotiating the teenage difficulties of boyfriends and parental expectations. East Liverpool (Ohio) was once a thriving centre for pottery. Now, it's in decline and only a small local pottery museum and the odd supplier remain. The larger potteries have closed leaving unemployment and scars on the cityscape.

Corry is shy and skittish, struggling with maths and desperate to achieve the college entry requirements. The visit to the pottery museum inspires her to work with clay and overcome at least some of her shyness to try (and succeed) in creating and firing a delicate ceramic cup.

As much as I liked the story, I also liked the technical information on kilns, glazes and firing that are woven in. Lovely book that I'll be keeping on my shelves for a reread. The author does have a website and I'll be trying more of her books in the future.