Last of the summer.* Sigh.

Looking up from square in Aix en Provence

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’ . . .

14 thoughts on “Last of the summer.* Sigh.

  1. Will we be seeing some photos of Aix-en-Provence. I ask, as our second week in France was to explore the same region, but one of our dogs became very ill, so we had to come home. Sounds like you had a lovely time and got some sunshine, we did and it made all the difference 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes indeed, Lynne, I shall be posting some shots of Aix, though not here — I’m hoping to revitalise my photoblog MyNewShy very soon and those photos will feature there.

      In the meantime, you could head over to my Instagram account where I post pics taken on my diddy little Samsung Galaxy Young phone (the just-adequate quality of which is attested by the image at the top of this post).

      Yes, Aix for us was sunny and warm (daily average 25C) — though I gather there’s the odd possibility of rain at the moment — and perfect as a late summer getaway, our first ‘proper’ holiday for seven years!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Looking forward to seeing them on MyNewShy, Chris, and I did have a quick look at Instagram 🙂 A lovely place to spend a proper holiday, we were there for only a week and I took 3,500 photos and in a way I’m glad I only have them to sort out, but when, is another story 🙂 Lynne

        Liked by 1 person

          1. Now that will be interesting, I always wonder how other people see things and often wonder what they photograph and why. As to the 3.500, I’m just trigger happy, just shot everything and anything 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for the kind mention, Chris! Sounds as if you had a lovely time and 25 degrees is just perfect. In a pool one minute, wandering golden lanes the next? Glorious. Hope the festival goes well – enjoy your stewardship 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Spot on, Lynn, about the pool and the golden lanes! Tonight it’s Chris Riddell, former Children’s Laureate, and I see I’m down for another nine sessions before the week is out . . . Yay!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. MrsB_inthehills

    If France wasn’t there we really would have to invent it. Hope you had a wonderful break, I’m very envious.

    I’ve just finished reading The Buried Giant – it left me feeling slightly unsatisfied somehow, but it’s probably something lacking in me rather than in the book!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Helen, we had a fantastic time,, with travel, gentle exercise, culture and foreign climes — what’s not to like!?

      I know what you mean about the Ishiguro; I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it at the time but I find myself returning to it from time to time, so it ckearly has a certain something. I’m hoping that by collecting my thoughts for the review that certain something will no longer elude me!


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