I’m recently returned from Dorset. A ten day break over the Easter hols, staying in a glorious cottage done up in impeccable taste. (Ahem, for which read, done up in my exact taste…)
I have a no-TV-on-holidays rule that I tend to adhere to. In our normal life, we watch an insane amount of television. Rare is the evening that I don’t collapse, exhausted, in front of a Netflix boxset with a big glass of wine, desperate for a bit of a break from the relentlessness of raising three small people.
But there must be something slightly puritanical in my upbringing for I always feel that somehow I shouldn’t watch much TV in the evenings and that it is certainly not a suitable activity for a holiday.
Instead, I read.
I catch up on magazines subscriptions, read the weekend papers cover to cover and, of course, enjoy some books.
I had put aside a rather large pile of gardening magazines, a book on child-rearing (you know the kind: how not to turn out little shitheads by improving your terrible parenting skills) and a couple of books from the library. I was really looking forward to devouring them all. Only to arrive on holiday and realise the whole pile had been left behind.
But (and since this is a ‘currently reading’ post, there had to be a but…) luckily enough there was a small selection of rather excellent books at the cottage. Given that we were staying a stone’s throw from Lyme Regis, I was pleased to see The French Lieutenant’s Woman on the bookshelf. There was also an Alan Hollinghurst (The Stranger’s Child, which I have already read (and reviewed briefly here)). So I felt the collection had been left by someone with good taste (ahem, again, by which I mean similar taste to me) and I happily delved into a book I found that I’d neither read nor heard of before.
The other side of the bridge is written by Mary Lawson and (I’ve just discovered) was Booker longlisted in 2006. I found it to be a stunningly beautiful book; sparsely written, with deft, light descriptions and a wonderful evocation of place. It’s the kind of book that makes me want to book a plane ticket to go and experience a way of life hugely removed from mine.
It’s set in a small town the Canadian north, a land of hard cold winters, where everybody knows everybody’s business. The story emerges of Arthur Dunn, a local farmer, and the doctor’s son, Ian, who rebels against the expectation that he, too, must join the family doctor line and instead helps out Arthur in the fields. There book contains loss, heartache, jealousy, teenage angst and existential questions about the choices we make that decide who we become.
As you can probably already tell, I heartily recommend it.
And as for my Dorset holiday – expect a long picture-packed post coming in the next few days! (Followers on Instagram may have noticed how incredibly taken I was with the whole area…)