The holiday’s all booked
Ah, summer reading. How I look forward to sitting in the sun and making my way through the pile of books that has been steadily growing beside my bed, forever in peril of toppling and burying me. Susan? She was last seen in Botswana with Alexander McCall Smith, we believe. Should a search party be sent?
Holidays come with permission to indulge in the unpunishable sin of reading all day. It is important to be comfortable and with access to good shade (broadbrimmed hat; a chair that can be shifted about according to the heat of the sun). Refreshments? I will be in a slouchy Adirondack chair, which comes with arms wide enough for a glass and a plate, too, if a family member should be moved to fetch me sustenance. I am not fussy about food on holidays and have been known to make a meal of discarded Christmas cake icing, as I have the great good fortune to be the only member of the household who thrives on marzipan.
I have my eye on the inflatable PVC swan and flamingo pool toys on the Sunny Life website because the smaller models come with drink holders on their backs. What fun, and how Miami, to float about our new pool and have a bird serve me a cocktail. The plunge pool is barely six breast-strokes in length, but it will get a workout this January and I have already purchased a pontoon thingy shaped like a pineapple on which to rest my books.
The list? A few of these I have almost finished so I know I will enjoy the final chapters. I am the sort of reader who always has four or five books on the go; they are left about the house to be picked up in hours of need, like Panadols or puffer sprays.
As ever, I like to be transported to exotic places and love narratives with a strong sense of place. So I am happy to be in South Africa’s Klein Karoo, thanks to Sally Andrew’s Recipes for Love and Murder (Text Publishing), which is a cosy crime novel with an emphasis on home cooking. It even has recipes for dishes as intriguing as Honey-Toffee Snake Cake.
Also in the soft crime mode is The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra by Vaseem Khan (Mulholland Books), set in modern Mumbai. From the first sentence, I was in. “On the day that he was due to retire, Inspector Ashwin Chopra discovered that he had inherited an elephant.” And there is one chapter to go in Rawblood by Catriona Ward (Weidenfeld & Nicolson), a Gothic thriller set in Dartmoor in the late 19th and early 20th centuries that has had me jumping at every creak and squeak of our old house.
Yet to be opened is The Japanese Lover by Isabelle Allende (Simon & Schuster) and the fabulously titled Trigger Mortis (Orion Books), a James Bond homage by Anthony Horowitz. One for constant grazing will be Better than Fiction 2, edited by Don George (Lonely Planet), an anthology of adventures from 30 novelists, including favourites such as Marina Lewycka and Mandy Sayer. The former is adrift in the eastern Ukraine, “where tourists never go”, and the latter is “sleepless in Samoa”.
Summer is about sleep, too, or at least rest and relaxation, so excuse me while I check out for a month and lie down. Your T&I will be back in full flight on the weekend of January 16-17 and, meantime, happy holiday season to you all. Keep safe, stay warm.