Monday, 10 November 2014

Running on coffee...

It was strong coffee for me this morning...

I hope you're all having a great Monday.

Last week I was struck down by a nasty bug, and was at home feeling sorry for myself, but now I'm a lot better and back at work, still feeling a bit tired, so running mainly on strong coffee (which my fellow Finns at the Finn-Guild office have on tap).

I do need to be on top form, because this is going to be a busy week, not least because on Saturday at Finn-Guild we'll be hosting some brave souls who are going to attend our Intensive Finnish Course in Camden. On Sunday (16th November) I'll be the Indie Authors Fair at the Chorleywood Litfest. More details about the Festival here.

Today I'm also over at the Alliance of Independent Authors Self-published Advice blog talking about writing and second careers. You can read my post here. Do leave a comment, whether you agree with me or not. I love a good discussion.

Have a great week, and wish me luck with the Litfest!

Friday, 7 November 2014

Elizabeth Is Missing by Emma Healey

I was immediately gripped by the narrator's voice in this novel. The tragedy of Maud's slow but inevitable descent into dementia is heart-breaking, as is the tale of her post-war youth, which keeps popping up in her scrambled mind.

Maud is most worried about her friend Elizabeth who is missing, but no-one, apart from Maud seems in the least be interested or worried about the disappearance. The question is, how can you find some-one if you keep forgetting the details? Maud tries to work around her forgetfulness by writing little notes for herself, and slowly she begins to get to the bottom of her friend's disappearance. At the same time she remembers another disappearance; one that happened some 70 years ago, when her beautiful sister, Sukey, went missing.

The story is sad, but also incredibly funny in places. Frequently we see the world, and people, afresh through Maud's eyes, while she tries to remember where she is, and who the people around her are. One scene where Maud discusses a young woman who we know is her granddaughter, Katy, with her daughter, Helen, is particularly funny:

'I've been meaning to tell you. That girl you've hired, she doesn't do any work. None. I've watched her.'
'Who are you talking about now? What girl?'
'The girl,' I say. 'She leaves plates by the sink and there are clothes all over the floor of her room.'
Helen grins and bites her lip. 'Pretty good description. Mum, that's Katy.'

As well as an excellent read - this novel is in the category of books that you just cannot put down - Elizabeth Is Missing gives a poignant insight into the mind of a person suffering from memory loss and dementia. It should be compulsory reading for everybody in our ageing society, so that we may gain a better understanding of this, now a far too common, affliction.

If you read one book this Christmas, make it Elizabeth Is Missing by Emma Healey.

Emma Healey is a young author I shall look forward to reading again, and again, in the future.

Elizabeth Is Missing by Emma Healey
£12.99 Hardback
£5.09 Kindle edition

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

'Us' by David Nicholls - a review

I, like everyone who read and enjoyed David Nicholls' international bestseller, One Day, was jumping at the bit to get my hands on this new novel by Mr Nicholls, especially as it was short-listed for this year's Man Booker Prize.

So what did I think?

'Us' is a story of Douglas and Connie, a couple whose only son is about to leave home for college, an event which in turn triggers a crisis in the marriage.

Douglas, a successful scientist, sees a chance to save his marriage to Connie, a failed artist, by taking her and their son on a Grand Tour of Europe. This epic journey, which has been meticulously planned by the obsessively organised Douglas, (laminated maps, hotels and train fares booked well in advance) also serves as a means to regain the respect of Douglas' son, the sullen Albie, whose idea of a good holiday is two weeks in Ibiza with his friends, rather than spending it with his bickering parents.

As you may imagine, the trip doesn't quite go to plan. Already on the train to Paris, Douglas, who has promised himself to be relaxed, becomes annoyed when Albie spends the whole of the journey either taking photos of train tracks, or sleeping, and so missing the whole excitement of the first leg of the Grand Tour. Albie wants to study photography, while Douglas thinks he should take a proper (preferably science) subject and not 'devote his life to a hobby'. It now occurs to Douglas that his son has not once taken a picture of his father, while there are several loving portraits of Connie in Albie's collection.

Soon we realise that it's the relationship between father and son which is the root of the marriage crisis. 

Or is it? 

Opposites attract, they say, and in this honest examination of a modern marrage and parenthood, David Nicholls puts this theory to a test. What if the differences between the couple, which so attracted the pair to each other at the beginning of the relationship, become the bones of constant rowing and dissatisfaction later in life? 

'Us' is written from the point of view of Douglas, so we don't get much of a glimpse into the minds of the artistic, disorganised, lazzer-fair parent, Connie, or the teenager Albie. But what we do get is an almost detached account of the small - and large - tragedies that two decades of marriage have thrown at this couple. And we get a lovely account of a journey around Europe - not perhaps a traditional holiday trip, but there are many beautiful descriptions of classic art pieces. Enough to make me want to take my family on a Grand Tour - or perhaps that's not such a good idea after all...

I enjoyed 'Us', and feel it was properly justified in being nominated for the Booker. Shame it didn't make it beyond the first round.

Published by Hodder Stoughton
£20.00 Hardback
£6.99 Kindle edition


Monday, 3 November 2014

Moomintrolls at Uniqlo

Apologies for another Moomin post, but I thought I'd share with you the new Moomin range from Uniqlo, the Japanese clothing giant.

There are some lovely pieces here, and as a firm Little My fan, I think I'd pick this one.

WOMEN Moomin Long Sleeve Sweat Pullover Hoodie

  • £19.90

Which one do you like?

Friday, 31 October 2014

Moomins on the Riviera to be on general release in the UK

Vertigo takes Moomins for UK

Indie Sales handles rights to Moomins On The Riviera; UK release planned for May 2015.
Vertigo has acquired UK rights to Moomins On The Riviera from Paris-based sales company Indie Sales.
The hand-drawn 2D animation feature, directed by Xavier Picard, recently played at the BFI London Film Festival and is already a huge box-office hit in its local Finland.
The film is adapted from Tove Jansson’s original comic strips, and tells the story of the Moomin clan on a journey to the glamorous Riviera where they meet a world of new people including would-be artists, film stars and playboys.
The creative team behind the movie includes Sophia Jansson, Tove’s niece, along with Finnish producer Hanna Hemila (Le Havre).
The voice cast for the English-language version of the film includes Russell Tovey as Moomin and Nathaniel Parker as Moominpappa.
Vertigo’s Rupert Preston and Nicolas Eschbach of Indie Sales negotiated the deal.
Eschbach said, “Moomins on the Rivera are in good hands. Vertigo are the kings of releasing family films in the UK!”.
Preston said, “We are thrilled to be bringing the Moomins to UK audiences – they have a huge fan base here and both adults and children will love the movie.”

Vertigo’s upcoming slate also includes Susanne Bier’s A Second Chance, Tom Green’s Monsters: Dark Continent,and Jo Nesbo’s Doctor Proctor’s Fart Powder.  

Article first published on Screen Daily, by Wendy Mitchell