Happy New Year to you all.
I hope you spent it doing whatever brought you most happiness.
The party we went to was splendid, marred only by the failure of my sinuses to behave (I had been in pain for most of the day but dosed myself up accordingly), and Jason having to take me home a quarter of an hour before midnight. On the plus side, I thoroughly enjoyed the party, the pain only really getting unmanageable for about ten minutes before I had to bow out, and I also managed nearly all the party. Plus, as we were only a few minutes away from home, Jason was able to take me back and then return with the children for fireworks and triumph.
I spent most of the night in misery, and large parts of today in pain, but am perking up now. I am still slightly deaf, and rather sore, but it is nothing compared to earlier, so I am taking it as a win.
Now, let us get down to the serious business of my top ten reads of 2014. I note, from looking up last year’s crop, that it was a corker of a year last year. This year not quite so much, but there have still been some treasures.
In no particular order:
The Camomile Lawn by Mary Wesley – I absolutely loved this. It’s like Elizabeth Jane Howard’s Cazalet chronicles in condensed form. It tells the story of a bunch of cousins from the eve of the second world war, when they are all bright young things, to their old age about forty years later. It’s wonderfully written and utterly compelling.
Foxglove Summer by Ben Aaranovitch – The eagerly awaited next book in the Peter Grant/Rivers of London series. Some people were disappointed with this book, claiming it is just filler, as it isn’t set in London like the rest of the books. I think it is just as good as the others. It is funny and compelling and there is that lovely edge of darkness which makes them such a joy to read.
The Blazing World by Siri Hustvedt – I need to read more of Hustvedt’s work. Every time I read one of her novels I am blown away by how brilliant a writer she is. This is probably my favourite so far. It is strange and unnerving and has such a clever narrative. I couldn’t put it down, and I actually cried, properly cried when I finished it.
Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway – This is fabulous. A kind of steam punk espionage romp which embraces killer mechanical bees, Jules Verne style submarines and mad monks to name but a few.
Bring up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel – The sequel to Wolf Hall. I enjoyed this much more than Wolf Hall. I’m not sure why. Maybe it is because I was more au fait with the historical territory of this one, maybe it’s because Mantel had done such superb groundwork with Wolf Hall that this volume felt much more assured and comfortable to me. I cannot wait for volume three.
Love Nina: Despatches from Family Life by Nina Stibbe – Oh, how I enjoyed this. I laughed and laughed, and then laughed some more. The whole book was a pure joy from beginning to end.
The Return of the Soldier by Rebecca West – This is such a hauntingly beautiful, quiet, elegiac novella. It was painful to read because it was so brilliant.
The Diary of a Provincial Lady by E.M. Delafield – This was gloriously funny. It is an absolute treat to read.
The Tight Rope Walkers by David Almond – It was so difficult to choose which David Almond book I would include on this list. He is a master of story telling and everything he writes is exquisite. This is beautiful.
The Time of My Life: Rachel Riley Diaries by Joanna Nadin – I finished this a couple of days ago. I read the whole thing in one sitting, and laughed my socks off.
Honourable mentions go to: