This is the afternoon that I forget to pick up the Lovely Daughters from school.
Having been so busy at the weekend, I realise I am running short on food. On the way home, I wander round the Co-op and pick up some cut price chilled foods for tomorrow’s lunch boxes. Then I pass the village shop, and nonchalantly pick up some chicken thighs, so we won’t have to eat eggs and noodles yet again, and a discounted bag of compressed sawdust pellets for the fire, sales of which are struggling reedily in the muscular face of the HUGE MANLY LOGS that are available by the dumper truck load from the local muscular log man.
Get home to unpack my chicken thighs and tell the Lovely Daughters about the prized chilled goods and find… No Lovely Daughters in the house! I remember that Lovely Daughter #2 is doing rugby club and Lovely Daughter #1 is at Astronomy. Hare out again. Both Lovely Daughters in a tolerant mood, although I am half an hour late. I feed them Co-op cereal bars.
Further on the food front, when we get home, Lovely Daughter #2 remembers that it is Chicken Pie in DT Food tomorrow. Usually DT Food is full of weird and wonderful ingredients that I have to go shopping for at the weekend, but guess what? Blow me down if there aren’t four chicken thighs in the fridge. And since (as you may remember from my previous pie posts) I am an enthusiastic pastry maker, this poses no problem.
It does mean that we are reduced to eggs and noodles, again. But they are good noodles. Now for the Chinese among you, I am sure you will agree that Lion Brand noodles are the best. Luckily for those of us who don’t live near a Chinese supermarket, Waitrose fine cut noodles are an almost identical Lion substitute.
On the drink front, as I am cooking the Waitrose/Lion substitute noodles, Lovely Daughter #2 asks me “Why are you doing that?” with my rum and coca cola mix. I say, would you like to try some? She does and says Yuck. I don’t offer alcohol often, mainly because I know they don’t like it much. Lovely Daughter #1 says that the rum and coke is OK, which means she likes it and then hands me a reading list.
Her reading list consists of the following:
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
The Woman in Black by Susan Hill
Coraline by Neil Gaiman
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
The Tea Rose/The Winter Rose by Jennifer Donnelly
West Side Story by Is This a Book?? This isn’t a Book? What’s going on?
Brick Lane by Monica Ali
The idea is that they have choose one to compare with Romeo and Juliet, which they are studying in class. (Every single secondary school I have had associations with seems to do Romeo and Juliet in Year 10.)
So discounting West Side Story, my immediate recommendation to Lovely Daughter is Wuthering Heights, because I read it when I was her age and it blew me away. I articulately describe it to her thus: “You know how old books are kind of a certain way? Well, Wuthering Heights is old, but it’s completely different from normal old books. It’s just like, Wow. And it should be pretty easy to compare with Romeo and Juliet.”
Also, “Brick Lane is good too. I just don’t know how you’d compare it to Romeo and Juliet. But I’ll buy it for you anyway.” I also tell LD the same thing about The Woman in Black, which is that it’s good but not exactly easy to compare to Romeo and Juliet. I don’t offer to buy it for her, because I remember reading it at her age, and not being that taken by it. It didn’t scare me at all. I’ve always found Susan Hill’s writing admirable, but a little too restrained for my taste. I like it, but I don’t love it. My favourite Susan Hill read was In The Springtime of the Year when I was sixteen, a beautiful novel about a young widowed woman in the countryside. Weird to think that just ten years later I would be in the same situation. Although I have to say that my widowhood was much more fraught and less decorous than that depicted in Springtime.
Maybe unfair of me, but I couldn’t recommend A Thousand Splendid Suns at all, on the basis that I had been expecting great things from Hosseini’s The Kite Runner, and was so disappointed when I read it. I found it sentimental and didn’t sympathise at all with the poor boy Hassan’s devotion to the rich, spoilt Amir. I also thought that the plot “twist” towards the end was so clearly telegraphed all the way through the book that it was inevitable rather than a surprise.
I do decide though that it’s about time I read Anna Karenina.
If you’ve read any of the above, which would you recommend?