Monday, May 24, 2010

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Why It's Important To Read To Your Children, Even When They Can Read

Garden of the New Year: Genevieve Freedman aged 9

My seven year old son can now read fluently, which prompted a suggestion by my husband that, instead of me reading to him every night, he start reading to me.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Tragic Magic: The Silver Potato Heads of Paris...

... Are sadly not there any more. But what could be more magical than eight feet tall silver potato heads with teeth?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

'Possession' and obsession

The first time I read "Possession" by A.S. Byatt, I was entranced. Narrated by English literature student Roland Michell, the book unravels the secret romance and mutual obsession between two Victorian poets, Randolph Ash and Christabel LaMotte, the first thread of which is discovered by Roland as a draft of a love letter from Ash to an unknown woman tucked into the jacket of one of Ash's notebooks.

Christabel is a fascinating character. Although a minor poet, she is championed by feminists such as Maude Bailey for her work, which focuses on legends and fairies, popular in Victorian times, and for her proud refusal to marry. However as Roland pieces together clues from Ash's and LaMotte's poetry, a different picture emerges. LaMotte's most celebrated poem is about the fairy Melusine, who is cursed when her curious husband spies on her as she takes her bath, and sees that she is not human as she appears, but a mermaid, with a writhing serpent's tail. Through Roland's sleuthing, we discover that LaMotte herself, fairy-like in appearance, with silver-blonde hair, pale skin and green eyes, is also not what she seems, and as Blanche, her domestic companion discovers through spying on LaMotte's letters, she has a passionate affair with Ash, who is married.

The affair is consummated when Ash travels to the Yorkshire coast for a month's expedition to study the natural history and sea creatures of the region. Since his wife Ellen is indisposed and Christabel, after being confronted by Blanche, has left their home, she joins him for the trip, wearing a ring for appearance's sake. Ash's detailed study and dissection of anemones and other sea creatures symbolizes the union of his passion for science and Christabel's fascination with mythical creatures, and is reflected at that point in their lives, in each achieving their finest poetry, influenced and inspired by one another.

Christabel conceives a child, Maia, as a result of the affair, who is raised as her niece by her sister, and thus Maude discovers that she is the direct descendant of both LaMotte and Ash. Despite Maia's poetic origins and the ash-blonde hair that she inherits from her mother, she turns out to be a very prosaic little girl who is not the least part fanciful and prefers to be known as May.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

A Small Town in Germany

Like all great titles, is from somewhere else, in this case John Le Carre's book of that name, part of his famous spy series. I turned my nose up when my Dad read these, back when I knew more than he did, but later enjoyed them myself. If you like your espionage  with Cold War ambiance and a mouth full of old school marbles, these are for you. They do require some concentration to stay abreast of the plot, and what you read in the hinterland before sleep gobbles you up, you may have to read over again - although I read them whilst still nursing my second child, early in the upswing after my thrilling descent from Quality Lit through Hard-Boiled Detective Lit, Soft-Boiled Chick Lit, Airport Novels, Glossy Magazines, and finally Department Store Catalogs (still the best bang for my buck) - so perhaps I am overestimating the difficulty.

Monday, April 5, 2010


Colmar, France, which is about an hour by car or train from where we live, is situated along the Alsatian wine route. It is the city of Frederic Bartholdi (1834 - 1904) who designed the Statue of Liberty, and there are many fine museums and places of interest.
In another post I'll do the beautiful buildings justice. In the meantime, here are some of the other sights.

A hat shop

Sunday, March 21, 2010

What's Magical in My Life Right Now: Betty Freedman

Here is the first in a series of invited blogs on the subject: "What is magical in my life right now?" from Mrs Betty Freedman, Age 88.

For me that's a no-brainer. MY FAMILY. My husband of 63 years, our 
two children, their spouses, and our eight grandchildren -- living their lives
with them makes my life magical.