An A to Z to pick up the threads

I have been elusive – if not downright absent – for quite some time.

The world is still stange and uncertain, I have been travelling on a bumpy road, and a very big bump knocked me for six.

It was a health bump.

My prognosis is very good but the next few months are going to be tough.

I really don’t want to dwell on that but felt that I should explain, and say please understand that I may not be out and about in this online world very much at all.

What I do want to do is share some of the lovely things in the world right now – with just a few not so lovely things for balance – in the form of an A to Z ….

A is for ANTOINE LAURAIN. I am waiting patiently in the library queue for a copy of ‘The Reader’s Room’ and I must praise my library for balancing the need for precautions with its duty to put books into the hand of readers.


B is for BEWILDERING CARES by Winifred Peck. After loving one of her out-of-print titles, I think I am going to read this in-print novel next.

C is for CASTAWAYS. Desert Island Discs has had a particularly good run of episodes lately, with Bernadine Evaristo, Yusuf, Samantha Morton and Floella Benjamin.

D is for DEBORAH CROMBIE. I rarely read books by the same author back-to-back, but when I finished reading ‘To Dwell in Darkness’ I couldn’t resist picking up ‘Garden of Lamentations’ and it won’t be long until I pick up ‘A Bitter Feast’. Then I shall be completely up-to-date with the series for the first time.


E is for ELORIE. This is my knitting in progress. I have knitted from the top down to the bottom of the yoke and I am feeling virtuous knitting yarn that has been waiting for the right project for a very long time.

F is for FIFTEEN (NEARLY). My lovely Briar will be celebrating her birthday next weekend.

G is for GET GARTER.. I knitted the beanie for the Man of the House and I would like to knit the beret for myself one day. I love the way the German short rows disappear into the garter stitch and the pattern you see on the crown with a varieagated yarn.

H is for HELENE SCHJERFBECK. When I caught sight of one of her paintings I couldn’t help thinking that it would have been a lovely cover painting for a green Virago Modern Classic.


I is for I TRY NOT TO COMPLAIN TOO MUCH ABOUT VISITORS because a great many of them are lovely and I know that the local economy depends on them, but it seemed that this year a full season of the kind of visitors who forget that rules of the road and good manners apply here came in just a few short weeks and took over the town.

J is for JOHN HOWARD. A lovely addition to my life’s soundtrack – I have been listeing to the reissued albums from the seventies and his more recent material.

K is for THE KILLING. I always was a late adopter and I have reached episode 19 of 20. I am hooked but I am not sure that when I read the end and look back the psychology of some of the characters is quite right. I can’t see a way of resolving everything, but maybe ….


L is for LUMINOUS ISLE by Eliot Bliss. The writing is lovely, what she has to say is wonderful, but this book lacks the clarity her only other published novel ‘Saraband’.

M is for MATCHA TEA. I have never been a tea drinker but I have just given up caffeine and I thought I would try the single sachet that came from I -don’t know-where. I loved it!

N is for NICCOLÓ RISING. I have set off on my second series of books by Dorothy Dunnett and I am loving it.

O is for THE OTHER BENNET SISTER by Janice Hadlow. This is my next library book to read, because I have been waiting for it for a very long time, and because I know somebody else is waiting for it.

P is for PIRANESI by Susanna Clarke. I loved it bit I have no idea what to say about it.

Q is for QUEST ENSEMBLE – another recent addition to my life’s soundtrack


R is for RHODODENDRON PIE. I couldn’t be happier that this and other rare early Margery Sharp novels are to be reissued early next year.

S is for SECRET SANTA. This year’s LibraryThing Virago Secret Santa is open for business.

T is for TELL US OF BATTLES, KINGS AND ELEPHANTS by Matthias Énard. I had thought that my next journey to the Ottoman Empire would by in the company of Dorothy Dunnett, but no. This book has transported me there, in the company of Michelangelo.

U is for UPSTAIRS, We still have books in boxes but our shelves are being built and it shouldn’t be long now until they are installed.


V is for VOYAGING OUT: British Women Artists from Suffrage to the Sixties by Carolyn Trant. Darlene wrote about it, I asked my library to buy a copy, and they did!

W is for WALKING ON THE WALL. The promenade is still fenced off but work is nearly complete, so I hope it won’t be too long before Briar can walk on the wall again.

X is for EX LIBRIS: Confessions of a Common Reader by Ann Fadiman. We don’t often read the same books, but the Man of the House picked up my copy and he is very taken with it.

Y is for YOU CAN HELP YOURSELF. As our local charity shops don’t want books at the moment we have been putting out cast-offs in a box on the gate-post at the weekend when the weather was good. They were picked up at a steady rate and I think we will do it again next summer.

Z is for ZULEIKHA by Guzel Yakhina. This was an impluse purchase, and it looks very promising ….

28 thoughts on “An A to Z to pick up the threads

  1. Dear Jane,

    Take the best care in the world, you’re thoughtfulness displayed in your posts to be returned to you a thousand fold.

    Standing with you,

    Thera, Amsterdam, The Netherlands


  2. All the best for the future months, challenging for us all, but especially if you are not feeling brilliant. You have some wonderful books to read – The Other Bennet Sister is worth the investment of time, and Bewildering Cares is one of my all time favourite. Best Birthday Wishes to Briar as well x


  3. Take good care Jane. Sending you lots of light.

    Ex Libris is one of my favourite books. I try to reread every year. I sadly lost my copy while moving and this reminds me to hunt another one down on Ebay.

    Rhododendron Pie has been on my list since you reviewed it. I had no idea how I’d find a copy. So happy to hear it is being republished.


  4. Much love and good thoughts sent your way Jane. And continuing prayers for you and the dear ones in your household. I often think of you and of Cornwall. Hope Briar gets out to run along the beach often!


  5. Sending you best wishes for an easier time of it in the coming months and wonderful books and art to help. I thoroughly enjoyed both Zuleikha and Tell Them of Battles, Kings, and Elephants. Love Dunnett’s Lymond books, but am torn about starting her Niccolò series.


  6. Sorry to hear the reason for your absence, Jane. Best wishes for the months ahead and Happy Birthday to Briar too. I’m glad you’re enjoying Niccolo!


  7. Wishing you all the very best in the months ahead, Jane. I’ll be thinking of you…

    Lovely to see Helene Schjefbeck on your list. I stumbled upon a exhibition of her work at the Royal Academy last year and was mesmerised by it. The paintings were luminous…


  8. Wishing you all the best Jane. I have the Luminous Isle tbr, but was put off by some unfortunate racial language in the opening pages. The other book by Eliot Bliss I read showed how good her writing is though.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. I accepted the unfortunate language as it came from characters and not the author, but I am finding the latter chapters less engaging than the early ones and there is less plot than there was in ‘Saraband’.


  9. Sending you love, prayers and blessing, Jane – I pray you will make a full recovery and that we’ll get to enjoy more of your lovely company and posts soon. 🙏❤🙂

    I love that you’ve still been able to use your local library during these difficult times, enjoying some great viewing and listening, and I hope you’re able to make yourself that gorgeous beret! 😃


  10. A lovely post. Standing with you in the next few months and what a wonderful host of commenters will be surrounding you with thoughts and love.

    Regarding “I” – we very purposely did not come down your way this year, and were so sad not to, but wanted to look after our lovely friends down by the sea. And then deeply saddened to hear about all the worst behaviour than normal. Have a good tramp down the prom for me when you can!


  11. Thank you for taking the trouble to write this lovely post, Jane. Sending all the love and many virtual hugs for the months ahead xxx


  12. Jane, I shall be thinking of you in the coming months and sending many warm thoughts your way. I echo your thoughts for ‘I’ and also for our local libraries – great service under these circumstances. I’m drinking in all those wonderful things you have told us about. And Happy Birthday Briar! Take good care, Jane ♥️️


  13. I am thankful to hear the prognosis is good, and hope the time of healing isn’t too awful to go through. And I hope you will be completely recovered.
    Such a nice idea for a post.
    We are in a tourist area, and this summer was the worst it has ever been. I suspect this is a result of the virus and people coming to the country who haven’t come before, but still there have been awful stories of what people have left on our mountains and in the woods.


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