Friday, September 25, 2009


I've been on holiday, haven't I?
Hunston Mill was the place, near Chichester. It's a 'Converted Mill' and very enjoyable it was too. Quiet is probably the one word i'd use if I could only use one word to describe it.
I'll stick some photos on Facebook later on should you like to see Freya eating blackberries or wonderful sunset scenes.
Here though, I thought we could talk about books. We sell books at the Big Green Bookshop and so it seems to make sense.
Let's talk about the Booker Prize first of all. We've got a Booker Book Club at the shop where we're challenging our customers to read all 6 of the Booker Shortlist between September 8th, the date when the shortlist was announced, and October 6th, the date when the winner is announced. In order for people to afford this we've turned into a library, and for £20 people can borrow each of the 6 shortlisted books in order to read them in time. We'll all be meeting in the shop on October 6th to discuss each of the books and decide who should win, before watching the result on TV (it'll probably be on BBC4), and moaning that the best book wasn't chosen.
Anyway, I thought i'd get an early advantage and read a couple of the longlist that I thought would make it to the shortlist. Colm Toibin's Brooklyn and William Trevor's Love and Summer.
Those of you who know what's on the shortlist will know that neither of these books made it, so I still had 6 more books to try and squeeze in.
However, I can say that, although i'd never have thought about reading these two books usually, i'm really pleased I did.

Toibin's novel is set in the 1950's in a small Irish town and follows Eilis Lacey as she is forced by duty to leave her small town life and her family and friends to move to America (Brooklyn, obviously) where a job at a department store is waiting for her, arranged by the mysterious Father Flood.
Slowly the pain and heartbreak of leaving Ireland is replaced by an acceptance of her new life, and through the routine of her job and shared experiences with her flatmates, she begins to enjoy her life again.
But for how long....
The book drew me in, and although I was initially reluctant to warm to Eilis, by the time she'd reached the land of the free I wanted to know what happened to her. Colm Toibin's style of writing is very simple, and so I was initially surprised that it was a Booker Longlisted book, but I think this is what makes it so readable and accessible. The main issue I had with the book was that he introduced us to some really interesting characters, but then they disappeared and that was the last we heard of them. The woman she shared a room with on the journey to America and the man who sang at the Christmas lunch at the church hall. These are just 2 of the people I'd have wanted to learn more about, but I guess Toibin was trying to say as you go through life, you cross paths with interesting people , never to see them again. But it still annoyed me.
Anyway, it was well worth reading.

Love and Summer by William Trevor was utterly wonderful and it's a travesty that it didn't get onto the Booker shortlist. It is, simply put, the story of a summer love affair between Florian Kilderry, who, one day cycles into the small Irish town of Rathmoye in Ireland, and Ellie, a convent girl who years ago was sent to work for a recently widowed farmer and ended up marrying him. Although Florian plans to leave Ireland a passionate and wreckless affair begins between him and Ellie.
I've never read any William Trevor before but I definitely will be reading more. He has an incredibly evocative way of describing things, from the shift in power between the two protagonists in the story, to the tragedy of Mrs Connulty, who's mother funeral the story begins at. I bloody loved it.

I'm reading Wolf Hall at the moment, and i'll tell you about that some other time and maybe i'll also tell you know what I thought of Summertime by JM Coetzee (maybe i'd best not).

Next week we have a series of guest blogs , and also news of some exciting developments in the world of the Big Green Bookshop, so keep watching.

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