The end of January was one of those weeks when all you want to do is hide under the duvet. After the relief on Monday of learning that I wasn’t going to be out of a job, came the shock of learning which of my colleagues would not be so lucky. There isn’t any good way to tell someone they are being made redundant. It doesn’t matter how rationale the explanation, there’s still that feeling of ‘why me?’. And for the ones left behind, a touch of guilt that they somehow survived, and their friend didn’t.
With all of that going on, I really couldn’t summon up a load of enthusiasm for reading or blogging. It didn’t help that one of the books I’m reading has turned out to be a disappointment. I chose Peter Ackroyd’s Clerkenwell Tales to represent England in my Reading along the Prime Meridian challenge on the basis that it’s set in London which is where the Prime Meridian is deemed to begin. I also knew from reading Hawskmoor many years ago that Ackroyd is very skilled at conveying the spirit and history of the city.
But it’s turned out to be not as riveting as I’d hoped. It’s great at conjuring up the smells and atmosphere of the place towards the end of the fourteenth century and conveying details about the attitudes of its citizens. It’s meant to be about a plot to destabilise the country which is already in crisis with the threat of civil war, a story told in fragments by multiple participants. The character list is the same as that found in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales except that Ackroyd’s figures never really go anywhere. Problem is that this device means we don’t really get to know any character in depth so its hard to feel engaged with them. I’ll finish it (it’s not a very long book) and hope that the other Ackroyd I plan to read – English Voices – is a more rewarding experience.
In other news……
I did manage to finish A S Byatt’s Possession well ahead of the Book Club meeting middle of this month so that gives me plenty of time to think of some discussion topics. I’m confident we’re going to get some very mixed reactions to the book. You can find my thoughts in the review I posted.