Hello! Welcome to the first of my book reviews! I can’t promise you that these will be regular posts because, despite my best intentions, my ability to get through books promptly depends upon the demands of family and life.
On our recent holiday to Port Douglas, I bought Guilt by Matt Nable at the lovely Whileaway Bookstore, our regular spot for holiday morning coffees. I picked it up because it looked pretty readable – perfect for a holiday – and I’m a bit fascinated by Matt Nable. I love that a former elite rugby player – not that I’m a fan of rugby! – can also be a fab actor and writer. I know – I have to let go of stereotypes! Despite my holiday speed reading, I didn’t manage to get to it whilst we were away. Fortunately, my first impressions of its readability proved correct and I managed to I knock it over within a week, which is pretty good for me when in non-holiday mode!
The novel explores the lives of five teens, Tommy, Paul, Chris, Lani and Julia, and their parents. We see these characters as they were in 1989 and then twenty years later in 2009 by way of alternating chapters. We learn at the start of the novel that Tommy has been in prison but it is not until the last chapter of the book, the last page, that we understand why. This is one aspect of the ‘guilt’ that gives the novel its title but the other characters, too, are all burdened by guilt in aspects of their lives – not the prison worthy guilt of Tommy but the bad behaviour, betrayal, shameful type of guilt. The novel also explores poor decision making, the surrounding circumstances which may give rise to this and how these ill-thought out decisions can continue to have an impact upon us throughout our lives.
It took me a little while to keep track of ‘who was who’ as each chapter is told from the perspective of one of the ten or so significant characters in the book and because of the shifting time frame. I felt that the characters were well drawn and believable, and the writing spare and simple but evocative. Nable captures well the emotional turmoil of teenagers on the cusp of adulthood and their relationships with their parents. I’m not sure of your sensibilities as a reader but there is a bit of descriptive sex-y stuff in the novel which you may not bat an eyelid at, or you may be like my mum who declares herself ‘not a prude’ but really is a bit confronted by anything that is more than suggestive! And that’s fine! Just thought I’d let you know!
The Iris and Edie recommendation for Guilt is a thumbs up! I’d pop it in the 3.5-4 out of 5 category. Have you read it? Do you think you’d like to give it a go? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
The sparkly afterglow of meeting up with my Inspo buddies deserted me by the end the week! The moments of quiet time I try to carve out for myself during the normal daily routines were consumed by a training course and commitments at P’s school – canteen duty, school interviews, discussions about subject choices for year 12 and consecutive nights at the theatre – Hamlet and Sweeney Todd – to support her English and Theatre Studies classes. Both productions were fabulous, particularly Hamlet, but I did miss spending those chilly Melbourne nights at home in front of the TV with my knitting! And so, by Sunday, a grumpiness had descended upon me. I felt a bit resentful that I hadn’t had the space to have a quiet read, to play in my visual diary or to add as many rows to my knitting as I would have liked. I was mooching around the house bereft of creative inspiration. But the ‘hrumph’ mood is not a pleasant one – for myself or my loved ones! – so I had to give myself a kick up the bum to spark the positive vibes. As is my custom at times like these, I turned to…the ironing! Does that make me weird? I find that I can get a quick sense of achievement out of a 30 minute iron! Fresh, crispy clothes hanging up; a task performed for others; housewifely duties fulfilled! It makes me feel, well, maybe not inspired, but at least satisfied that I have created something, if only space in my ironing basket! And in my newly satisfied state, I jumped into the kitchen to make soup and bake Anzacs, and with every stir, and shaping of a biscuit, the ‘hrumph’ dissipated. As the weekend drew to a close, my mojo was returning. I pulled out the knitting, started thinking about which book to read next (nearly finished Guilt) and had a squiz at the Melbourne Writers Festival program (I like the look of the French Illustration Exhibition and Illustrator in Residence program). And now I can look forward to this week, all sparkly and shiny again! There will be coffee with a crochet-y, book-y friend, some quiet time to read about interesting people, a watercolour class and tomorrow my Blog with Pip course starts! Yay!
I hope your own week is filled with mojo, but if it deserts you, how will you get it back?
Today I am feeling blessed. Well, I always feel blessed – I have a loving family, both the one I have created and the one I was born into, and lovely friends – but today I am feeling just a little more ‘sparkly’ to use a Pip Lincolne term from her inspiring book Craft for the Soul. A year ago I joined Pip’s online Inspiration Information class and I fell into the embrace of a wonderful group of online buddies. Yesterday we joined together at the NGV for a face to face meet up over coffee, tea and sweet treats and I left with a shower of glitter sprinkled over me. For a long time I found it tricky to connect with others who shared my love of crafty, arty things. I’m not an artist or artisan so wasn’t mixing with those in the creative professions. I just liked to dabble and have some fun. I felt better when I was looking at colour, feeling wool, creating something, learning new arty, crafty skills. But I also wished I could find some friends to swap crafty tales with. Inspiration Information was the flame which brought all us little moths together and I am so thankful. I have found the tribe that supports this aspect of me. Social media gets a bum rap a lot of the time about how it can make us disconnected from ‘real’ relationships. Maybe that is true for some people. But it is also a great way to meet people whose paths you would have never crossed otherwise. These online buddies can provide you with support and encouragement. They can keep you accountable to your goals. They can open your eyes to new ideas. Is that any less ‘real’ than any other friendship? And then if you are super lucky, you do get the chance to meet face-to-face for a hug and that sparkly shower of glitter!
So to Emily, Karen, Deanna, and Annette, thank you for yesterday. To Karen, Deb and Shani, thank you, too, for encouragement and inspiration! And to Pip, for lighting the flame. Without this, I never would have met such a wonderful group of gals!
Last week saw our return from sunny Port Douglas to chilly Melbourne. I neglected to take any knitting or crocheting away with me, fearing it would be too warm to work with wool, but is this ever really the case? I did miss it! Having finished my blanket for Knit One Give One (kogo), a trip to Spotlight was required to source wool for my next project – a scarf using this pattern. I found kogo a few years ago and it is perfect for me. I really like knitting and I hate to think of people being cold but there are so many different charities out there who would I knit for? Kogo distributes our knitted goodies to various organisations – refuges, hospitals, women’s centres – wherever the need is greatest and so whatever I knit I know is being received and used by someone in need.
I started reading The Mothers by Rod Jones on the plane on our flight back from Cairns. This is a great book! Its exploration of the changing attitudes of society to unwed mothers pulls at the heartstrings. And, of course, where there are mothers, there are also children and this book looks at their lives as well. An added bonus for me is that the novel is set in Melbourne so it was fabulous to be able to picture the local references and to learn a little of what Melbourne was like in the early and mid twentieth century. I saw the streets of Footscray in the 1920s, drove through Brunswick in the days my mum was living there and visited Gertrude Street before it was gentrified. The fact that the book is semi-autobiographical gives it authenticity in its examination of a highly emotional issue.
And in between knitting and reading there has been helping H with job applications – such a laborious task! – and P with swotting up for her learner’s test – which she passed, yay!, meals have been cooked, treats have been baked, and ironing has been ploughed through! Because life is full of ordinary stuff!
For months I have been ruminating over whether or not to write a blog. What would I say? What could I possibly impart to others that is of any significance, that is anything ‘readworthy’? I’m a stay-at-home mum, and have been for 19 years, and for those 19 years life has pretty much revolved around caring for a husband and two children, kinder and school, ferrying them to and from activities, ensuring homework is completed, attending school meetings and concerts, and being a contributor to school committees. I have endeavoured to create interests for myself – I have practised yoga for 15 years, attended French classes and drawing classes and undertaken volunteer work. Last year I enrolled in the Inspiration Information class created by Pip Lincolne of Meet Me at Mikes fame. What a wonderful bunch of supportive ladies! They keep me inspired with their words and images and keep me encouraged in my aim to incorporate creative activities into my daily life. They have given me a push to refine and transform my routines! And that is what started my ruminating! Would a blog be another way to nourish creativity? But what to say? And so, the template sat there. Getting my fingers to the keyboard was the thought that if I didn’t start writing where would there be a record of how I filled my days? How I thought? What do people know about us? Even our nearest and dearest? Sometimes we don’t want to share every aspect of our lives, but if we don’t share a little of ourselves then others will never understand who we are, where we came from. And when they come to explain our lives, what can they share? With that at the forefront of my mind, I thought I should just start writing. Record what is my life. I don’t have to be extraordinary. I can just be me. And so this is what I will write. I will simply share my life and my experiences. Maybe one day, it might be of interest to others. And if you happen to have fluked by this page, thanks for stopping by and taking the time to read it.