Lexie Conyngham's Blog: writing, history and gardening.

Friday, 13 January 2017

And the year settles down.

The book launch is over, and though the promotion goes on (and the sales and reviews, thank you all very much!) I'm now already in the depths of the next Murray book (set in St. Andrews), the New Year's resolution to read all the stray books I have rather than buying new ones (just yet, anyway, or for the most part, or unless there's a really good offer / cheap second hand book / bookless journey emergency),and  finish knitting all the things for which I have patterns and wool (including some things I'm halfway through knitting).

So what am I reading? Well, I've just finished The City and the City, by China Mieville. I hadn't read one of his before and I really enjoyed it: it's a crime novel though not a proper whodunit, more of a political thriller, but the setting is what makes it interesting. Beszel is a city in eastern Europe, not particularly wealthy or go-ahead, and the body is found there, but it turns out that the case has links with the city next door - and not just next door but wound about Beszel, sometimes sharing space with it, but completely ignored by the inhabitants. It is a punishable offence on either side of the divide to 'see' anything in the other city, which must therefore constantly be 'unseen', a technique the children there are taught from infancy. The cities, divided for centuries, speak different languages and have different cultures, international alliances, attitudes to the world. I found the setting fascinating and would enjoy another book in the same setting, though I think Mieville writes one-offs. Having reviewed the book on Goodreads, I went on to read what others had said about it and was very amused to find the reviews divided - some said 'dire', while others were absolutely saturated with an almost unhealthy enthusiasm for Mieville which, if I'd read them before reading the book, would have put me off completely.

I've just started Now is the Time by Melvin Bragg, a novel set at the time of Wat Tyler's revolt. It's not a period of history with which I'm particularly familiar, so I'm looking forward to learning something, and I think I can trust Bragg to provide me with an accurate historical account. I was more anxious that he would not be able to produce a good enjoyable narrative, but it's been fine so far: the characters are interesting and memorable.

I'm also looking forward to trying another new rime  author (to me), Thelma Hancock: I've managed to find a couple of her paperbacks second hand, but have not yet quite opened them. They have an archaeological aspect, which is always a Brownie point as far as I'm concerned.

What am I knitting? A thick brown jersey, Rowan pattern; an Aran; a Norwegian jersey; a tunic in 4-ply; a guest bed blanket (nearly finished but a lot of sewing up to do), a jacket, and a pink dragon to follow the blue and black one!

The seed catalogues are in, so another question for the year is what am I thinking of growing? The only answer to that so far is 'Not cucamelons!' They were great fun last year but the household consensus is that we'd like a kitchen this year, rather than a jungle.

And what am I writing? The tenth Murray of Letho volume, of which today I finished the fourth chapter. I have to sort out the plot properly, though: at the moment it's simply tying itself in knots, which I shall have to undo carefully. And I'm looking forward to the first Granite Noir festival at the end of February: Stuart McBride, Chris Brookmyre, Gunnar Staalesen, S.G. Maclean, Elly Griffiths (maybe I can persuade her to write in the past tense, which would bring her books up to 5* in my reviews!). It sounds like fun!

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