Readers’ corner – September to October 2022

Every month I give my brief take on books I’ve been reading, and an article or two that I’d recommend from my travels on the internet.

Here’s what’s been keeping me busy since my last post:

Circus of Wonders – Elizabeth Macneal (Picador)

Imagine if your father sold you to the circus? That’s what happens to Nell, who lives in poverty in rural Victorian Britain, literally up to her elbows in flowers that she and other people pick to be sent to far-off markets. Nell is different – she has speckled skin. So when the circus comes to town, her father sees his chance and sells her to Jasper Jupiter, an unpleasant man with ambitions for his Circus of Wonders.
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Reader’s corner – June, 2022: Getting carried away

My name is Renee and I don’t belong to a book club.

There: the truth is out. There are many ways to fail at being a middle-class woman and not belonging to a book club is one of them.

Somehow, when book clubs became a thing, I wasn’t paying attention. It’s probable that I was hanging about in pubs at the time, with various other reprobates. Or perhaps I was too busy reading.

The thing is, left to myself, I can read more books in any given week than I have hot meals. I mean this – I could comfortably get through two books a day if people would leave me in peace. Continue reading

Could you ever write something in a library book?

Rows of books in Stockholm Public Library

Stockholm Public Library: Picture: Marcus Hansson, Göteborg, Sweden

When I was in Grade 2, I had a teacher called Miss Reynolds. She was outwardly terrifying and children in Grade 1 spent a lot of time hoping they would not be placed in her class.
But there I was, stuck with Miss Reynolds for a whole year. And it turned out she was lovely – my first life lesson in the uselessness of worrying about things that haven’t happened yet.
My memories are hazy, but in a clear indication of how good it was, I do remember clearly that we had a big tin of dog biscuits kept ready for the daily visit of a big golden neighbourhood dog called Shannon and we all took turns to give him a biscuit.
But one day, in a fit of six-year-oldness, I took a book and hit my desk mate on the head with it. I don’t remember why, and I don’t think I hit the child all that hard. But Miss Reynolds was mightily displeased. I can’t remember the punishment (being made to sit in a corner, probably) but I remember very clearly what she said: you don’t do that to a book. (In retrospect, it’s a little odd that she cared more about the book than the other kid.)

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