Monday 31 December 2018

Four Fields

Finished December 31
Four Fields by Tim Dee

This book has the author look at four vastly different fields, noting their features, the creatures that inhabit them, and their history.
The first field, and one he returns to in different seasons later in the book is his home field, the fens near Cambridge. Dee lives very close, and often ventures into the fields, birdwatching, walking or bicycling, and noting the changes that have taken place since his last visit.
His second field is a field in Zambia, near the country his wife comes from, and where he went with a local man to follow honeyguides to wild bees.
His third field is one in Montana, where George Custer lost his life, a field rich in history, and in life. The last field is the Exclusion Zone around Chernobyl where he goes with researchers who annually take samples of local wildlife for testing. His job is to collect grasshoppers at each stop. This means that he pays attention to the noise of the life around him, to the activity on the ground, to the birds overhead.
This is a book of nature, of birds, of life going on, and life dying, and of history and the changes wrought over time, by both nature and man. A fascinating read.

Sunday 30 December 2018

The Fire Next Time

Finished December 27
The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin

This short book was originally published in 1963, and yet so little has changed. The book contains two pieces. The first My Dungeon Shook is a letter to his teenage nephew on the one hundredth anniversary of the emancipation. It talks about the state of racial equality, and how little has improved in that one hundred years. It is a combination of history, social culture, and advice.
The second piece Down at the Cross is a "letter from a region in my mind" as the subtitle says. It includes his own experiences of prejudice, of the rise of black Islam, of the hypocrisy of many white Christians, It has so many sentences that resonate today.
It is this individual uncertainty on the part of white American men and women, this inability to renew themselves at the fountain of their own lives, that makes the discussion, let alone elucidation, of any conundrum - that is, any reality - so supremely difficult
From my own point of view, the fact of the Third Reich alone makes obsolete for ever any question of Christian superiority, except in technological terms.
We human beings now have the power to exterminate ourselves; this seems to be the entire sum of our achievement
It is sad that more than fifty years after this was written we still see these as relevant in our world. Very little real progress has been made for blacks in America.
As he says,
America, of all the Western nations, has been best placed to prove the uselessness and the obsolescence of the concept of colour. But it has not dared to accept this opportunity, or even to conceive of it as an opportunity. White Americans have thought of it as their shame, and have envied the more civilized and elegant European nations that were untroubled by the presence of black men on their shores. This is because white Americans have supposed 'Europe' and 'civilization' to be synonyms - which they are not - and have been distrustful of other standards and other sources of vitality, especially those produced in America itself, and have attempted to behave in all matters as though what was east for Europe was also East for them. What it comes to is that if we, who can scarcely be considered a white nation, persist in thinking of ourselves as one, we condemn ourselves, with the truly white nations, to sterility and decay, whereas if we could accept ourselves as we are, we might bring new life to the Western achievements, and transform them.
Essential reading.

I Know My Name

Finished December 26
I Know My Name by C.J. Cooke

I borrowed this book from my mom, who had borrowed it from a friend. A twist on your typical thriller. Set mostly in London, this book starts with Lochlan Shelley being called from his wife's cellphone by a neighbour. His wife appears to be missing, with only their four-year-old son Max, and twelve-week old daughter Cressida alone in the house. The neighbour, Mrs. Shahjalal, had come over after accepting a delivery for the house by a man who said no one answered. She'd seen Max at the window and wondered whether there was something wrong. Lochlan works for a corporate finance company, and spends part of every week in Edinburgh, where he was when called.
His company is not one for being understanding of their staff's personal lives, but he knows that his family must come first. He doesn't see his wife Eloise as one for taking off like this. While they had got more distant with each other lately due to his heavy workload, she was close to her children, and still breast-feeding their baby.
El had an unusual childhood, taken to England by her irresponsible mother Jude when she was only four, and being raised after the age of twelve and her mother's death in Switzerland by her grandparents, Gerda and Magnus Bachmann. The Bachmann's now live in England, and arrive shortly after Lochlan contacts them. He's already contacted the police, and there are a few paths of investigation being followed, one involving the four nanny cams the Shelley's installed in the house after Max was born.
Before having children, El ran a charity for refugee children, but she stepped down as leader to spend more time with the children.
There is a separate storyline of El's viewpoint, as she finds herself washed up with a boat on a remote Greek island. There are four people on the island, having a writers' retreat. Two women, Hazel and Sariah, and two men, George and Joe. Joe knows enough first aid to patch her up, and George is a take charge kind of guy, but not always in a good way.
I found myself fascinated as the two storylines progressed, worrying about El, and concerned for Lochlan's actions. A fascinating read.

The Perfect Summer

Finished December 20
The Perfect Summer: Dancing into Shadow in 1911 by Juliet Nicolson

This book looks at one summer, often dubbed in retrospect The Perfect Summer, but actually far from perfect, with German aggression towards France, labour unrest in Britain, a wicked heatwave doing damage to crops, and other issues.
The book covers the months from May to September, following a number of people's experiences through the use of news, letters, and diaries. We see the end of the year-long official mourning of the death of King Edward VII, and the coronation of King George and Queen Mary, a very different set of royals with different social lives and expectations. We see the social life of the upper class, such as Mrs. Hwfa Williams, wife of the manager of Sandown racecourse; Ladu Ripon, who introduced Russian ballet dancers such as Nijinsky, and the producer Diaghilev, to England; Lady Cunard being caught in flagrante with a man other than her husband; and Lady Diana Manners, making her debut at Court. winning prize money at costume balls that she put towards books.
We see the fight for women's rights by those such as Mrs. Pankhurst.
Home Secretary, the young Winston Churchill found himself busy with labour issues and Irish moves toward independence, but still able to launch a unique social club with his friend F.E. Smith, as he awaited the birth of his second child.
We see young people such as Edith Sitwell wanting a life different from that of their parents.
Current fashion such as the French sheer evening gowns, and the introduction of the brassiere also played their part. Weekends in the country, where it was common to ring a bell before the usual hour of rising so everyone could return to their own rooms.
Books such as Zuleika Dobson introduced a new idea of romance. Leonard Woolf met Virginia Stephen in the literary circles including Rupert Brooke, Vanessa Bell, and Byron. Vita Sackville-West drove her elegant car at speed down the high street. Rolls-Royce launched their new hood mascot, The Spirit of Ecstasy. Cornflakes and teabags were available to make breakfasts more streamlined. The post office offered special headphones that provided live audio from many West End theatres. T.W. Burgess was successful in his sixteenth attempt to swim the English Channel, this time naked but for his hat and motor googles. Roger Fry mounted an exhibition that included Paul Gaugin, Paul Cezanne, and Vincent van Gogh that had old ladies fainting in shock.
I enjoyed the details here, looking into the lives of a variety of characters, from a variety of walks of life.

Past Tense

Finished December 17
Past Tense by Lee Child, Read by Scott Brick

I always enjoy the Jack Reacher novels. This one has Reacher deciding to go diagonally from Maine, to San Diego. His first ride takes back roads to make better time, but runs into an issue back home, and he leaves Reacher to find another ride. Reacher walks for a ways, until he comes to a crossroads that has two sign posts. One of them triggers a memory, a town that his father said he was from, and that Reacher and his brother always said they'd go see one day. A town in New Hampshire called Laconia. He decides to go there and see if the house his dad grew up in was still there. Another ride comes along in a bit and he gets dropped off in town. He does his usual scouting of the town to make note of potential places to eat, and other places he needs to go, such as the town office. He finds a place to stay, and makes a simple plan.
Reacher gets help at the town office from a woman in the records department and then from the town attorney, a census buff. He also gets some help from the local police, in particular a woman who was an MP before she became a police officer. But, due to a noise he hears in the night, he also becomes involves in a more dangerous situation. A situation that also echoes the past.
His longer than expected search for the family home also brings him into an unexpected danger, one where he encounters someone who is a real challenge to him.
This novel also has a parallel storyline, one of two young Canadians, Patty and Shorty, who are planning to go to New York City to sell something that will give them a new start. Patty works in a sawmill, and Shorty works as a potato farmer, and they are both yearning for the beaches of Florida. But the old Honda that they are driving has a mind of its own and begins to overheat on a backroad. They find themselves able to make it into a motel set back a ways from the road, a motel that has twelve rooms, and no other occupants at present. There are four young men who own the place, and they seem hospitable and helpful, but Patty and Shorty each have reservations about them at different times. As their situation gradually grows more untenable and the anxiety over their future increases, the presence of Reacher nearby becomes a tease. But Patty and Shorty are more resourceful than they seem to the motel owners (go Canada!) and I was impressed by their own handling of their desperate situation.
There is a lot going on here, from entitled males to entitled wealth that is definitely of our time. I like the echoes of different stories here, and the ties to the current world.


Finished December 16
Beartown by Frederik Backman, translated by Neil Smith

I read this for my December bookclub meeting. I really enjoyed it, but it took me a while to get into it. I like hockey and live in a country where it is very popular, but it was the characters and the relationship dynamics that really made this book for me.
The story takes place in a small remote town in Sweden, Beartown. The town has been gradually declining, with businesses closing and people moving away. One hope for revitalization is to be the location for a new hockey school being built. The decision on where to build it will take place soon.
The town is split geographically by class and wealth. The richest people live in the Heights, a part of town uphill from the center. The poorest live in the Hollow, downhill from the center.
Peter Andersson is a hometown boy made good. He had a short NHL career and then came back to be the hockey club general manager in town. His wife Kira, is a successful lawyer, and works in another town nearby. They have two kids, Maya who is fifteen, plays guitar, and Leo, twelve. Maya's best friend Ana often stays at their house as well.
Sune is the coach for the A-team, and the one who convinced Peter to return to town. David is coach of the junior team and has a very different style from Sune. The two have grown apart, partly due to pressure from the club board and from David to move the star player from the junior team, Kevin Erdahl, up to the A team. Sune doesn't think he has the maturity.
Fatima is the cleaner at the club, a single mother, whose son Amat has been allowed to practice on the ice early in the morning in exchange for helping the caretaker. He is a good and fast player, although not that big, and currently plays on the team below the juniors, as he is only fifteen. Amat's best friends are Lifa and Zacharias, boys who, like Amat weren't like everyone else. Lars is the coach of the boys' team that Amat plays on.
Other players on the junior team are also important to the plot. One is Benji, Kevin's best friend, a good player himself, more mature than normal for his age. He grounds Kevin to a certain extent, but he also has his own secrets. Another is Bobo, a bully who throws his weight around, but also has a moral centre. William Lyt lives next door to Kevin and wants to be his best friend, but stands no chance with Benji around.
Other people in town that play important roles are Robbie Holts, a middle aged man who was once a hockey star, but wasn't mature enough to take the bad times with the good in stride, and is now down on his luck. Ramona owns the local pub, the Bearskin, just like her mother and her grandfather. She went to every game until her partner Holger died eleven years ago. Now she never leaves the pub. Her "boys" bring her what she needs.
As the author says, "hockey tells stories" and it definitely does here.
As the team works up for their big game, and then for the game after that, we see the various characters interact, make good choices and bad choices, and see lives get changed.
This is a book about hockey, about small towns, about families and friendships. about sexism and class. It is a microcosm of life.

Saturday 22 December 2018

The House at the End of Hope Street

Finished December 12
The House at the End of Hope Street by Menna Van Praag

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Alba Ashby has found herself in the situation where she has lost her advisor for her postgraduate degree and has been made to feel a fool. The reader doesn't actually know what has happened to her until much later in the book, but we definitely know that she feels lost and uncertain of her future. As she runs from her life, she finds herself at the door of a house that she has never noticed before. It is a large and unusual looking house on a quiet street. She is welcomed into the house by an older woman named Peggy, and to stay, with certain conditions: she can stay no more than ninety-nine nights, and she must follow advice to turn her life around.
Alma is a young woman, the youngest PhD candidate at the university. Her father left home when she was quite young, and her mother has had mental health issues. She doesn't really get along with her other three siblings, particularly the two eldest, and she has no real friends.
As Alma learns the secrets of the house, and determines her direction for the future, she learns several things about her family, herself, and others. She learns about past residents of the house, whose portraits are hanging there, and she is able to converse with them. She learns about the current residents of the house, Greer and Carmen, and what their stories are. And we also follow Greer and Carmen and Peggy herself as we see how they come to terms with their pasts that led them here, and move forward in new directions.
As one guesses from the title, this is a book of hope, of humour and friendship. It is a feel-good read that will have you smiling. I loved the premise and the stories of the various women.

Pieces of My Mind

Finished December 9
Pieces of My Mind: Essays and Criticism 1958-2002 by Frank Kermode

This collection of essays and criticism turned out to be a lot more academic than I expected, causing me to keep a dictionary nearby to look up various words, and to read it slowly over many months.
Included here are a number of essays, most around books, authors, and artists. Some of them are from presentations given at conferences and other academic events.
There are nineteen long essays on subjects such as Diaghilev; Time and Eternity; Solitary Confinement; The English Novel; Hawthorne; Wuthering Heights; The Man in the Macintosh; Wallace Stevens; Secrets and Narrative Sequence; Botticelli; Cornelius and Voltemand; The Plain Sense of Things; Mixed Feelings; Eros; Memory; Forgetting; Cambridge; Literary Criticism; and Shakespeare and Boito.
There is a section of shorter essays about various people: Raymond Carver; James Lees-Milne; Auden on Shakespeare; Don DeLillo; Martin Amis; Ian McEwan; and Tom Paulin.
All in all it was a very interesting read, but definitely a stretch for me.

So You Created a Wormhole

Finished December 7
So You Created a Wormhole: The Time Traveler's Guide to Time Travel by Phil Hornshaw & Nick Hurwitch

This guide is for a situation that doesn't actually exist, but is supposed to occur in the near future. The possibility of time travel has come true, and many people are doing it for many reasons. This guide offers some advice for those who plan to engage in this activity.
The book begins with warnings against reading the book. The authors purport to be representatives of the Qualified Users and Negotiators of Time Travel Universal Ministry (QUAN+UM). They discourage the increase in the number of people engaged in time travel, especially by those unprepared, and they are worried about ill-prepared time travellers making serious mistakes that will affect the present and future, not to mention the past.
Once they've assumed that you are reading it anyway, it continues with a welcome and introduction to the details of time travel. They go on to show that the ideas that you may have about time travel may not be realistic.
The third chapter is on time machines, how to build them and destroy them. The fourth chapter talks about potential paradoxes and what they could mean for you. The fifth chapter deals with the complexities of existing in different times, engaging with other time travellers, or even yourself.
They go on to discuss the necessity of fixing a timeline if you have screwed it up, something that is expected to be done. Included here is a timeline of time travel events.
The next section of the book deals with survival in different times. It begins with an overall introduction and then is split into sections of time: Prehistory; Dawn of Man; Empires; Middle Ages; Industry; Computers; Robots; Space Travel; and the End of Time.
Each of this has sections that help you identify the time from your surroundings, things to bring, things that happen during this time; creatures and people you might encounter and how to best deal with them, how to repair your time machine should that be necessary, and how to blend in.
The book ends with some information about the Ministry.
I found it an amusing read, with references to various books, movies, and TV shows that have had elements of time travel in them.

The Five People You Meet in Heaven

Finished December 5
The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom

This has been sitting on my bedroom bookshelf for a while, and I finally pulled it off, and quite enjoyed it. The central character, Eddie, works as the lead mechanic at a coastal theme park. He's had a long life, and on his 83rd birthday we see him go about his day as normal, getting ready for work, making the rounds at the park checking on everything, and interacting with his co-workers and the public. Then, an unfortunate accident causes Eddie to react in a selfless way, and he is killed.
From here on the book takes Eddie through meetings with five people that influenced his life in some way. Some of them he recognizes right away, but others have to explain themselves.
As he hears the stories of these five people, he learns of their influence on his life, and his influence on their lives.
This is a story of a man looking back on his life with mixed feelings, regret, fond remembrance, guilt, and love. It is of a man who hopes that he has done well, but is afraid that he is not.
The view of his afterlife is a unique one, and one that brings comfort.

Tuesday 11 December 2018

White Rabbit

Finished December 3
White Rabbit by Kate Phillips

This is a story of Ruth, a woman in her old age. She has been married to her second husband for many years, but still looks back with longing at her first marriage. She was widowed young, and subsequently fell in love with a man who didn't live up to her ideals, and thus came to marry her current husband.
We are placed in Ruth's life over a day, and see all her regular habits from her sleeping arrangements, to her determinedly planned outings, to her predetermined meals. We see her relationship with her granddaughter Karen, her husband Henry, her cleaner Luzma and her young son Luis, neighbours, acquaintances, and random strangers she meets.
The book often ventures into the past, looking at Ruth's younger life, her mother Elizabeth, her first husband Hale, and her early friendships.
This is a book of relationships, of the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves, and about growing old. A very interesting read.
The white rabbit of the title is a family game Ruth plays, with everyone she knows trying to say the phrase before Ruth does. It also comes up again in other ways as the book progresses.

Like Death

Finished December 1
Like Death by Guy de Maupassant, translated by Richard Howard

This book takes us to Paris in the late 1800s. Olivier Bertin is a well-known, and well-liked painter, a man in middle age, never married. Years ago, at a party he saw a young woman of society, the Countess de Guilleroy, Anne, and expressed an interest in painting her. He was already well-known for his portraits, and, hearing of his interest, she approached him.
The two became lovers, a secret known only to them. Olivier constantly wishes that they were able to marry. They have been in a relationship for years, and Olivier often attends gatherings at the Countess' home. When they first met, the Countess had a young daughter, Annette, and for recentl years Annette has been in the country at her grandmother's, spending time with the ailing woman. Now she is ready to debut in society, and returns to Paris, and Olivier is struck by how much she looks like her mother. Her parents have already planned a match for her, and she proves herself to be quite charming in her society appearances.
But Olivier can't take his eyes off her, finding his love for her mother renewed by her youthful beauty, and Anne begins to realize that he is falling in love with her daughter, despite his love for her.
This is a story of love, of the world of salons, opera, and public walks through the parks. It is a story told with an understanding of the innermost feelings of the characters.
Maupassant is, as always, a master.

Friday 7 December 2018

The Confidant

Finished November 30
The Confidant by Hélène Grémillon, translated by Alison Anderson
This novel takes place in France in 1975. Camille is a middle-aged French woman, working in publishing, who has recently lost her mother in an accident. As she goes through the condolence letters, she finds a long letter from someone who hasn't signed their name. The letter seems to be telling a story, and Camille works her way through various thoughts surrounding the letter, and the ones that follow, continuing the story.
At first, she thinks it must be a mistake. Then she thinks that the letters are by one of her authors, trying a new way to get her attention. Then she begins to both hope and fear that the letters are about her own story, one she never knew.
The stories appear to be by a man called Louis, who was a teenager when the war began, and he was separated from a girl from his village that he'd fallen in love with. The young girl, Annie, was an amateur artist, and when a young couple moves into the grand estate near the village, she is drawn into a friendship with the woman, and gradually into a plot to assist them in having a child. As Annie is separated from her friends and family, the impressionable young girl dreams of freedom, of escaping her situation, and of a life beyond her current state.
When Annie and Louis are reunited again in 1942, Annie confides in him, and looks for assistance but the story is one with many tragedies, and as Camille sorts her way through the story to find the truth, she discovers how these events are reflected in her own life.
This is a story of longing, of loss, of revenge, and of a past that returns.

Sapphire the Great and the Meaning of Life

Finished November 29
Sapphire the Great and the Meaning of Life by Beverley Brenna, illustrated by Tara Anderson

This children's novel is told from two points of view. One is that of nine-year-old Jeannie. Jeannie's dad has recently moved out as her parents separated, and Jeannie has a lot of emotions around this: frustration, anger, guilt, sadness. She has wanted a hamster for quite a while and her parents finally agreed to let her get one. She's saved money for it, and for the supplies she'll need for keeping a hamster and looking after one.
The other point of view is that of Sapphire, the hamster that Jeannie gets. Sapphire isn't the name that Jeannie originally picks for it, but one that it is more thoughtful later decision. We see Sapphire's experience in the pet store before she gets chosen, as well as on the trip home, at Jeannie's place, and on various adventures. Sapphire is a bit of a philosopher, and has a goal of freedom, but gradually changes what she defines that as.
We watch how Jeannie struggles with her own feelings, sometimes erupting in frustration, anger, or sadness. And we watch how spending time with Sapphire calms her, and others in her household.
The idea of freedom extends beyond Sapphire into others in the story, who are struggling with the freedom to be who they really are, despite how others may react to them. It's about being able to have that freedom to be comfortable in your own skin, to be happy with your life, and to see that life in a positive way. This extends not only to Jeannie's parents, but also to her neighbour, and gradually friend Anna Conda. Jeannie accepts Anna for who she is, and defends her as well, looking for ways to help others find acceptance too.
This book exposes children to a variety of family types, and opens the door to discussion in a positive way of these differences.
A great addition to any library.

If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face?

Finished November 28
If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face? My Adventures in the Art and Science of Relating and Communicating by Alan Alda, read by the author

This book was eye-opening. Working with the public, and being a manager, communication is something I'm very interested in, so learning how to be better at it was a big draw for me. I also loved both of Alda's previous books that I've read, so was glad to find this one enjoyable as well.
I learned a lot about communication, and about the author.
For instance, I didn't know about the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science before.
Alda takes us through his own journey in learning about communication, and about things he learned while working with science professionals in improving the communication skills of scientists. He gives his take on direct experiences of personal interactions, of workshops with adults and children, and of research that he's either been involved in, or that he's learned about and talked to the researchers about.
One key takeaway was the benefit of teaching improv in terms of improving communication. This isn't about comedy, but about paying attention to the person in front of you, to their facial expression, to their body language, to their gaze, and learning how to respond to those things in ways that improve not only your own communication, but also that of the person you're interacting with. It makes so much sense, but I'd never connected it before. He speaks about a variety of improv games that were used in communication workshops with people of all ages, and the effects that these had on the people involved.
He touches on the power of storytelling, the barriers of jargon, the role of empathy, and ways to get "in sync" with another person.
He also talks about his own personal experiments in changing his behaviour to see what would happen, and how he learned more about himself, as well as generating ideas for further research in this field. He includes his own mistakes and missteps, and what he learned from them.
This is an amazing read, and I highly recommend it to everyone. After all, we all communicate.

Let's Take the Long Way Home

Finished November 25
Let's Take the Long Way Home: a Memoir of Friendship by Gail Caldwell

This memoir is about the friendship between Gail and fellow writer Caroline Knapp. The two women shared many things: a love of writing and books, struggles with alcohol, difficult relationships with men, and the love they had for their dogs.
They bonded quickly, and Carolyn taught Gail how to row in exchange for swimming lessons. In this way, they shared sports as well. They took long walks with their dogs, talking about many things, they encouraged each other professionally. They sometimes took vacations together, and were completely comfortable in each other's presence. They found a friendship that was close and special. And then Carolyn was diagnosed with cancer, And their relationship only grew deeper.
As Gail struggled with the decline of her friend, the loss, and the life beyond, she grew as a person and found a way forward.
This is a story of friendship, intimacy, and growth, that is inspiring.

Wednesday 5 December 2018

His Whole Life

Finished November 18
His Whole Life by Elizabeth Hay

I read this for my book club, and enjoyed it more than most of the club members. It was a bit of a slower read than others of her books that I've enjoyed.
The book centers around a boy, Jim over a period of several years. It begins when he is ten years old. Jim's mother Nan is Canadian, and takes him to Canada for part of every summer to the house on a lake where his uncle and aunt and their dog Duke live. Jim asks a question on this trip, "What's the worst thing you've ever done?" and that question comes up several times throughout the book, as does the idea of forgiveness.
Jim's father George is a man given to resentment. He doesn't seem to enjoy being at the lake, which is something that feels good to Nan and Jim. By the following spring, even Jim can see that his parent's marriage is in trouble, and he and his mother spend extended time at the lake, and his mother is reunited with her childhood best friend Lulu. Lulu has her own issues, with family and with alcohol, and yet she and Jim grow to be friends as well. As we follow Jim over the next few years, we see more closely the relationship between his parents, between his mother and Lulu, and between his older half-brother Blake, from his mother's first marriage and the rest of his family.
Jim, as effectively an only child, despite having older half-siblings on both sides, lives in the adult world more than most kids, and we eventually find out the action that led to that question in the car trip at the beginning of the book. He has become a boy with few friends, a boy who is comfortable in surroundings that his classmates are not. He lives a bit apart from others.
There are lots of themes here: motherhood, forgiveness, our relationship to nature, and I found myself stopping more often to think about what I was reading.

Stitches to Savor

Finished November 16
Stitches to Savor: a Celebration of Designs by Sue Spargo

This book is a delight of ideas, featuring Spargo's folk art quilts, full of colour, embellishments, textures, and fun details.
There are not a lot of words here, as the pictures speak for themselves, The book includes twelve quilts, with multiple pictures for each, including close-ups of different areas of the quilt and one of each quilt in its entirety. The quilts included here are as follows.
* African Days: a house surrounded by animals, plants, and proverbes
* Imperial Blooms: three rows of three flowers, all different and colourful
* Circle Play 2: a creamy textured background with ten rows of seven circles, all different
* Magnolia: a house, surrounded by birds and flowers
* Travel Journal: A tree on a circle, surrounded by a ring of living creatures and country names
* Coffee Cups: a multi-textured background with four rows of three cups, some with saucers.
* Flower Pot: a vase with many different flowers and greenery surrounded by a border of coloured rectangles
* Bird Dance: six rows of five birds, all different, on subtly different squares, bordered by a vine with round fruits
* Earth 'n Twig: a stylized tree with six blooming branches, ringed by a flowering vine, birds, and rabbits
* Silk Road: A colourful flower with four flowering shoots, bordered by a green flowering vine
* Leaf Play: seven rows of eight teardrop-shaped leaves, each different, all on a nubby background
* My Tree of Life: a multi-branched tree, covered with leaves, berries, and birds, with dogs below, a stream with fish below that, all bordered by brown, then an outer border of green with a flowering vine with butterflies.
The quilts are sewn by a variety of stitchers, credited at the back of the book, some of which have patterns available for them.
A perfect book for curling up with a cup of tea.