Monthly Archives: October 2015

Strings Attached


By Joanne Lipman and Melanie Kupchynsky

I don’t know if I have a particular propensity to cry while reading books on planes, but I seem to recall doing it on numerous occasions. I don’t know what other people make of it if they notice, but I don’t really care. I may have mentioned before but I do love a book that makes me cry.

This one I had put in my bag several times but always ended up reading something else. I took it for our trip to Birmingham and finally got stuck into it. I was never more than a mediocre piano player, but I still understand to some extent the feelings that are evoked by the playing, how it brings people together, how it helps to heal.

This evening I got to see a fantastic concert with the Mornington Singers and a visiting choir from Slovenia, Saint Nicholas Choir. The Slovenian choir sang joyful songs, full of life and then we were brought to the other extreme with songs of mourning. And during it I had a sneaky read of some of my next book club choice ‘Night Film’ by Marisha Pessl which features some manic and beautiful piano playing. We decided to go with something in suitable to the season and it’s proving quite addictive. In some ways it reminds me of Shadow of the Wind, though I don’t think it’s quite as well written (so far).

Strings Attached made me feel nostalgic for the time when I was young and believed my mother when she would point out somebody playing piano on the television and tell me it would be me one day. It made me think about other teachers in school and how much they did for me and how I never made any effort to contact them to thank them in all of the years since then. And I’d like to say I’d change that now, but most likely I won’t. And from the other side, I look at the photos I have of my classes from my year in Minsk and wonder if any of my students ever think of me.

So, I did well to read a book which had been sitting around for a while. I avoided buying any books in the airport and I had good intentions about not buying others. The only one on my list was the book club choice. Right beside our hotel I found the most gorgeous Waterstones. I wandered in and when an employee asked me if I needed help he also asked if I knew the shop was closing in ten days.


Well, they were moving location.

What a pity, it was such a beautiful store…

Yes, it was going to become an Apple Store.


So what could I do? I was straight back into the mode where I feel like I’m the only person keeping bookshops and physical books alive. So I had to buy some books. But I’ll do better, really I will. And all of the books I bought are ones I will actually read, not ones that will just look good on my shelf., In keeping with the eerie theme I’m particularly looking forward to reading Elizabeth Gaskell’s ‘Gothic Tales’. I thought I had read all of her work, but apparently there are a few more volumes to go. I don’t expect to come across any more ‘North and South’s but I’m sure I’ll enjoy them.


The UnAmericans

Love Belarus

by Molly Antopol

So I am half way through this book of short stories and finding them fantastic. I half-heartedly suggested this to my bookclub but they weren’t too pushed and as I didn’t know if it would be any good I didn’t pursue it and suggested Sofi Oksanen’s ‘When the Doves Disappeared’ instead (and it went down well). I do wish we’d gone with it now. One story in particular impressed me. ‘My Grandmother tells me this Story’ and not just because it was set in Belarus.

You can read the full story here:

It’s about a Jewish kid hiding in the forests in Belarus during the second world war. It reminded me of ‘City of Thieves’ by David Benioff (where is the petition for that movie to be made, will it be after Game of Thrones is finished?) and also the movie Defiance, which I somehow managed never to hear about before this summer.

Keeping this short, as otherwise I won’t post.  I was in Hodges Figgis a few weeks ago and overheard a conversation between a couple about how she couldn’t buy any more books until she started reading all the ones she already had. And I though, hey, didn’t I have some resolution about that at some stage, should I start again?

So, I was making a new resolution about not buying new books (not even for my husband) but when I was buying some for my niece’s birthday present I saw that in Hodges Figgis they were selling books where 100% of the proceeds go to the Syrian Crisis Appeal. How could I say no?