So it’s been exactly a week since my last blog and I’ve managed to stay on the diet pretty much for the whole seven days. I allowed myself a drink last night while watching Germany win the World Cup. I mean how can you watch football without drink? I also had a ice-cream on Friday night but that’s about it!
How has it been going back after a bit of a break? A lot easier than I thought. I just slipped back into it. Really it’s not a difficult diet to follow. Very few rules and even those can be broken from time to time. It’s bit like a 60s diet – cut out all starches and that’s it! This was before the days of low fat is king, based we now know on very dubious research.
So that’s the diet bit out the way. Here’s another book review. I’m not promising – threatening? – to do one every week but I am rather pleased that I’m reading again. My next book I haven’t quite decided whether to go for another Maggie O’Farrell, the new J.K. Rowling or something from my archive.
I heard about Alys, Always by Harriet Lane on Radio 4’s A Good Read which although it was first broadcast back in March is still available on iplayer. In this programme Julie Burchill refers to The Catcher in the Rye as, “the longest fake Facebook profile ever.” Which I found most amusing. As well as true. Rye is a book best enjoyed when you’re as young as the protagonist. These days I’d just want to shake Holden Caulfield and tell him to get over himself.
Sleep with me
Alys, Always reminded me a bit of Sleep With Me by Joanna Briscoe. Both are based around the London literary scene – does this scene exist? If so, how do I join? Ah well that’s the thing you see. You can’t join it. You have to pretty much be born into it and that’s the whole focus of Alys, as well as Sleep With Me both books containing seemingly mice-like women who ingratiate themselves into a world way above them in the social strata.
If you had any doubts that the English class system, especially the one focused on London, is thriving, these books show it very much does still exist. I adored Alys, Always because it’s about an outsider longing to join in. Feeling shut out but finding, by sheer chance, a way to jump into their world. Because in the end, many of the privileged people in the world painted by Harriet Lane (one she knows very well as she’s worked a literary journalist) aren’t very bright. That’s what happens when you have a system that rewards birth above talent.
Talent will out
It’s a nice message for the rest of us not born into the world of entitlement. A world where confidence is a given and you just know everything will be given to you on a plate because it always has. Alys, Always is a truly terrific read. A gripping page turner with a sense of menace and dread. In fact though I’m a huge football fan I missed the opening minutes of last night’s game because I just had to race to the end to see what happened.
Harriet Lane has a new book out, Her, which I believe covers similar territory to Alys. So I’m off out right now to my local independent bookshop to buy it. I may adore technology but for me, there’s only ever one way to read a book. And while publishers keep bringing out print versions, I’ll buy them and read them. After spending all day at a screen for me it’s a true treat to return to print.
Have a good Monday and a great week.