Today is a public holiday here, we have feasts celebrating St. Peter and St. Paul but also rural life. I love it when a public holiday falls on Wednesdays, it gives you that perfect break during the draining week. Speaking of feasts, I am currently reading a book, I mean most probably THE book of the year for me, considering what it’s giving me. The Alexandria Quartet by Durrell. It is a feast. Like this picture. It uncovers once unknown places. It wakes once dormant truths. It takes you to dark places but also enlightens you. Shadows. Texture. Beauty. Air and food for the brain. Fireworks. Chopin and Rachmaninoff and Mozart. Inspiration…. Now, where’s the paintbrush.
Nell’s life changes on her 21st birthday when her supposed father reveals the truth. Found abandoned at an Australian quay with nothing but a small suitcase, he takes her home to be taken care of until her family comes for her, but no one does, and so he and his wife decide to raise 4 year-old Nell as their own. Shocked & now with a suitcase containing fragments of her past, Nell shuns everything and everyone & embarks on a journey to find out her real identity. But there was much more behind her story than she imagined, a dark mystery involving a woman named Eliza known as The Authoress, which was hindering Nell from finding out who her parents were. In the meantime she marries the wrong person, becomes a reluctant mother & a downright cynical. She spends years trying to solve the mystery, & just when she starts seeing some light, her estranged daughter comes & asks her to temporarily take care of Cassandra (Nell’s grandchild). Cassandra’s mother never returns & Nell puts solving the mystery aside & concentrates on raising her granddaughter. Through the years they become close, Nell being Cassandra’s rock during a tragic life-changing event, but not close enough for Nell to tell her about her past. That is, until she dies. Cassandra inherits the suitcase, a cottage in Cornwall and soon she finds out, the mystery. Can Cassandra solve it? She feels she owes it to her grandmother and so she travels to Cornwall. There was something strange about the cottage but what made it intriguing was the discovery of a hidden garden, locked and forgotten for many years… Most of the book was inspired by Morton’s personal life, her grandmother learned she was adopted on her 21st birthday and only told her three daughters about it when they grew up. I like Morton’s grown-up fairy tale style. Time-travelling, this one going back to the 1900s with their gothic vibes, & of course some garden magic similar to The Secret Garden. The plot, the great descriptions (which prove that she did some very good research, including medical) and reading about idyllic Cornwall made this book of 645 pages with small text still worthwhile.
Some of my beloved reds. Had to include Donne, one of the favourite poets. A lot of depth in his poems, you can tell he went through a lot… I read the rest years ago apart from Quo Vadis and I think all of them are worth a re-read. Black Beauty was one of my childhood favourites. Pity it’s the only book published by Sewell. She came from a poor family and it took her six years to write this gem, but perseverance paid off, an instant success when published… Most probably this book is behind the reason why I love black horses the most. I love horse-riding, for me it’s one of those things that accentuates life. When I crave it I cross the island and go to a family owned business in the north. The hour ride is like a dream, a path by the cliffs and before you scenery of nothing but wild, untouched landscape and the sea. I always end up speechless and can’t speak for some time afterwards… Hope you are having a lovely Saturday🌷
What I posted yesterday on instagram, feel free to follow if you like :)…
Today was a very strange day. We had a thunderstorm and it was raining heavily, something quite rare for us here in late June. We knew it was coming thanks to the forecast but still everyone was astounded. It is so rare, many still planned to attend outdoor events, despite the warning, you can imagine the disappointment. I think I was the only one at work who had a huge smile. I couldn’t think of anything but books! What is it with books and rain? It’s still raining but I am finally home ready to give in to the longing. I long to be surrounded by all of this constantly really but rain makes me long for it even more. I’m in the last part of The Forgotten Garden and this weather is just perfect for this book. It’s been a slow read but only because I had much to do and had to take breaks because of the small text… The garden mentioned in the book made me think of one of the most beautiful gardens in impressionism – The Garden At Bougival as painted by one of the best – Berthe Morisot. She was one of the ‘rejected impressionists’ who held their own exhibitions, along with Pissarro, Degas, Monet, Sisley, Cézanne & Renoir. This particular garden inspired her to paint 40 paintings (this one 1884).
Mr. Stevens is a professional butler working at Darlington. He receives a letter from Miss Kenton, the former housekeeper, and by the tone of her letter he feels that Miss Kenton is not happy with her marriage and that therefore she might consider coming back to Darlington. Encouraged by his new employer to take a break, Mr. Stevens decides to go on a trip to meet her and hopefully bring her back. But is this call solely on professional basis or is there something more? And so he takes us with him on this journey, and whilst driving and lodging in different places he reminisces about the past, telling us in a beautifully melancholic way what his work meant to him. What made him a professional. What dignity is all about. He also tells us about the harmless yet meaningful bickering between him and Miss Kenton especially in the beginning of her employment. He gives us a hint that there may have been something more between them but as always Mr. Stevens is so professional he even hides his feelings from his own self. Analytic, sometimes as cold as fish and callous even, yet you can’t help admiring him for staying calm and in control even in very difficult situations. He was used to putting his feelings aside. A butler yet more of a gentleman than many, including some who were considered to be so because of a title. Is it not, in the end, a noble heart that makes a real gentleman? That gives you that kind of dignity and allows you to remain calm even when someone snaps his fingers at you? A noble heart that drives you to be, at all costs, that professional and disciplined; the utmost refusal, under any circumstance, to lose control or be vulgar. Many regard this level of servitude as weakness. I think it’s a sign of real strength. Only a strong person can be that disciplined and that gentle at the same time. That selfless… This book went down like a glass of cognac after a long day. Whenever I read from it my mind relaxed, absorbed its elegance and made me forget all the rest. I can’t remember the last time a book made me love both the story and the language itself that much. Beautiful in many ways. 5 stars.
These are some of my Puffins. Children on the Oregon Trail was one of my favourites. This one is a 1963 edition. The others are early seventies. Do you collect Puffins too? Their covers are so lovely! I even love the word and that’s what I call my son, that is, until he lets me. Here we are already experiencing some high temperatures but what makes it worse is the high level of humidity. Being a small island here it can get breathtakingly humid (that includes Lion King hairstyle too). So, to cool off I’ve made some natural, easy ice-cream. We call it the CCB. Here’s how if you want to try. If you’re allergic to nuts simply omit and if you have an ingredient missing no problem, it still comes out good, just make sure you have bananas 😉
Chocolatey Coconut Banana Ice-cream (per person)
1 tbsp almond butter
1 tbsp raw cocoa powder
Desiccated coconut (as much as you like, we are fans)
1 tsp Pure Maple Syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
Mixed everything together in a blender and freeze until ready to eat. If you want you can drizzle some raw chocolate (as per previous recipe post). Optional: Sprinkle with some nuts and more coconut. Have a nice weekend!