A change is as good as a rest, they say, and in my case the rest and the change coincided. Eurostar took us all the way to Marseille, and a week exploring the historic and cultural heart of Aix-en-Provence — when we weren’t swimming in an hotel spa pool in the late summer sunshine — has recharged mental and physical batteries in just the way we hoped.
And now it’s back to more mental stimulation as the third Crickhowell Literary Festival kicks off. Details of what’s on offer this week is on the website here and I’ll no doubt summarise in time what I will have attended in my capacity as steward or as punter. As I look back at the month I see that I’ve been more busy on the literary front than I thought.
First off, I completed a gripping manuscript that Lynn of Word Shamble asked me to read and comment on — final comments being shaped up at present. Then I finished and reviewed four published works, Nick Yapp’s spoof guide Bluff Your Way in Teaching, Tove Jansson’s short story collection Art in Nature, Joan Aiken’s alternate history fantasy Limbo Lodge (with a load of associated posts) and Kate Hamer’s thriller The Girl in the Red Coat.
September’s bedside and poolside reading has found me completing or partway through a number of volumes by the month’s end: Patricia McKillop’s fantasy trilogy The Riddle Master’s Game, Katsuo Ishiguro’s Arthurian-tinged The Buried Giant, Dodie Smith’s intriguing novel It Ends with Revelations, a varied collection called Malaysian Tales edited by Daphne Lee, and Kathryn Ramage’s alternate history fantasy Sonnedragon. Completed novels will of course be reviewed … in due course.
Is there a pattern to all this reading? Darned if I can see one: yes, there is some fantasy but also themed short stories, a tale of suspense, a pseudohistorical odyssey, an unconventional romance from the sixties and some humorous cynicism. If there is an inherent mood I’d perhaps call it bittersweet. All very fitting as summer gives way to autumn.
* Antipodeans, please substitute ‘winter’ . . .