In the months running up to my recent move I had dreams of what it would mean for the time I would have for reading and for study: far less travelling, no more garden to worry about, a much smaller property to take care of, and even my cleaning done for me. In my fantasy world (note the choice of words, please) I saw myself studying every morning, taking a leisurely stroll before lunch, followed by an afternoon spent reading and writing here before enjoying the evening either listening to music, reading some more, or out with friends at the local arts centre.
Well, dream on is all I can say.
Most of the last two months has been spent waiting in for delivery men to arrive (never at the time they said they would and often not even on the promised day), trying desperately to persuade the powers that be that I am who I say I am and that I now live where I say I do, frantically attempting to sort out the terrible mess the previous owner left the gas and electricity services in (still not resolved despite three hours on the phone the other day) and perhaps most worryingly of all having to insist to my new doctor that I know more about the way my body works after having lived with it all my life than she does after a ten minute conversation on the phone.
However, (and I may live to regret saying this) apart from the electricity, which Ofgem are now sorting out, and finding myself a new dentist, I think everything is pretty much settled and next week has nothing more exciting in the diary than a hair appointment, a pilates class and a visit to the theatre. Perhaps I might finally be able to get down to some studying and read something a little more demanding than the detective novels I have been relying on to distract myself over the past nine weeks.
In fact, I have to get down to some reading, and quickly too, as Summer School is only a fortnight away. We have more participants than ever this year and I did at one point think about running it twice. Like any book group, if it gets too big, discussion becomes impossible. The group have chosen to read the three books linked by the fact that they are all set in bookshops so I have a fortnight to re-read and prepare Penelope Fitzgerald’s The Bookshop, Robin Sloan’s Mr Penumbria’s 24-Hour Bookstore and Sheridan Hay’s The Secret of Lost Things. I have to say that I was surprised by the group’s choice and it wouldn’t have been my own, but democracy rules and after all I was the one who offered it in the first place.
One detective novel that I have been pleased to read over the past couple of days is James Oswald’s new offering No Time To Cry. I have a feeling that this has only been published as an ebook at the moment with a hard copy coming later in the year. It isn’t a new Tony McLean story, but features an undercover Met DC, Constance Fairchild, who is falsely accused of selling out the investigation of which she is a part and of killing her boss, DI Pete Copperthwaite. On the run from the corrupt cops who were in fact responsible for the disaster, she finds herself caught up in a search for a teenager from her home village, escaping from a home life that ought to provide all she could possibly want (billionaire father) but which, as Con soon discovers, is actually far from ideal.
At first I wasn’t certain how I would fair with a new set of characters; I am more than fond of Oswald’s Edinburgh set-up. But I warmed to Con very quickly and as the novel progressed I realised (far later than I should) that it shared at least one character with the McLean series. (Probably only one, it is perhaps a little far fetched to think that Mrs McCutcheon’s cat made her way down to London just to offer the same rather stand-offish support to Con as she does to Tony McLean, although I wouldn’t mind betting that there was some sort of feline grapevine in operation there). I don’t know whether this is intended to be a one-off or the start of a new series. Given the way in which it ends I rather think the latter. If that is the case then I will certainly look forward to any future episodes.