It's quite warm here in the UK at the moment. When I say 'quite warm' I mean 25 to 27C - high 70s Fahrenheit - kind of warm, not Aussie, Middle-Eastern, Saharan heat... those people would laugh at us saying we're too hot and where's the rain now please? That said, it did get much hotter than this last July, 35 to 40C... and that 'is' hot for the UK. I'm just really hoping it doesn't do that again this year but the signs are not good and we've already had warnings of Saharan waves of heat wafting our way this summer. Ugh.
My solution to it all is to get the garden work done in the early morning and then spend the day quietly with lots of refeshment and lots of books. It's not a bad plan...
So, I finished three books over the last few days.
How to Fail: Everything I've Ever Learned From Things Going Wrong by Elizabeth Day.
I'm not actually sure what this was doing on my Kindle (please don't judge. :-D). Day co-presents the Sky Arts Book Club on Sky Arts so I'm familiar with her from that, so that could be why I grabbed it, possibly it was just cheap and I was intrigued. Anyway, this is very autobiographical and the author talks a lot about how her failures actually taught her more than her successes. Failure at friendships, failure at marriage, failure to be able to conceive, failure at sport and so on. I found it interesting in that I'm always curious about other people, how they live their lives (I think that means I'm nosy...), the decisions they make, their relationship to the people around them. I suspect Elizabeth Day is a delightful person - she seems to be on TV - but I did find this a bit hard-going in places as it is bit relentless as regards her feelings of inadequacy, but it was always very readable.
Next, The Hunt for Mount Everest by Craig Storti.
It might seem mad but we haven't always known that Everest existed. The Tibetans knew it was there of course, or some of them did, but none of them had any idea of climbing it until a load of mad Europeans turned up fresh from climbing in The Alps and looking for something else to get their teeth into. But the first attempt didn't happen until 1921, the Tibetans in the shape of the Dalai Lama kept us out until then despite some questionable machinations from the British in India. This book tells us all about it and quite interesting it is too, lots of history, politics, and information about the main people in alpine climbing in those days. Everyone knows about George Mallory but there were others who were just as fascinating whose names have been lost in the mists of time. My only complaint is that although all the politics was quite interesting it took a while to get around to really talking about the mountain, which is why I was reading it in the first place. But overall... a good read and what about that gorgeous cover?
Lastly, something fictional, The Bird in the Tree by Elizabeth Goudge. This was first published in 1940, the author being a contemporary of authors such as D.E. Stevenson, Molly Clavering, Dorothy Whipple, Angela Thirkell etc.
So the story is set in 1938 (a date like that always makes me shudder) in a beautiful old house in Hampshire, Damerosehay. It's owned by Lucilla Eliot, widow, 78 year old grandmother and head of the family in every way. Mother to six adult children, she has living with her three small grandchildren whose parents have split up. Their mother, Nadine, (Lucilla's daughter-in-law) has started an affair with David who is the beloved adult grandson of Lucilla. David is on his way to visit and try to explain to Lucilla who will not be happy as she's never liked Nadine. And how will the children react too? The relationships are slightly complicated in this novel but I quickly got a handle on who was who and how they connected to the others. The house is absolutely centre stage, its history, the beauty of it and its wonderful gardens which are haunted. Goudge was fantastic at atmosphere, I'm not sure which part of the Hampshire coast it's supposed to be but it absolutely jumps off the page at you. I found it ever so slightly hard going with 'quite' so much description I must admit, I was more interested in the family dynamics and in that I wasn't disappointed. Every character was different with their own quirks, Lucilla and her elderly maid, Ellen, were brilliant, the single daughter who lived in, Margaret, only alive when gardening, didn't get a lot of air-time but her situation was rather poignant and I liked her, Hilary the bachelor vicar son was delightful and likewise the three small kiddies, all different with distinct personalities. I won't talk about the ending, only to say these were different times and long discussions could definitely be had. Overall, I liked this a lot and as it's part one of a trilogy I will read on.
So now I'm not reading anything at all and am at that tricky 'choose a new book' or rather 'books' stage. I'm in a mountainy mood and fancy more reading about Everest, so I have this that I might start.
We'll see. But as for fiction, I've no idea. I'm mood reading this summer and it's rather nice.