The sky today has been promising snow all day but it isn’t forecast until next Friday. It’s early December now and a blast of freezing fog and icy wind has been diminishing our spirits as the nation struggles with the cost of living crisis. As ever, it is my fluffy companion Mr Dawsey Adams, that sits by my side and takes me for long walks, that brings me gratitude. Log fires burning, twinkle lights sparkling and the hope of goodwill and Christmas magic, lead me to my copy of the December issue of Slightly Foxed. Certainty in an uncertain world. Pause. Breathe in. Hold. Breathe out. Read.
The Slightly Foxed podcast is delivering comforting book talk and the most recent edition is Dinner with Joseph Johnson. Daisy Hay is the author of Dinner with Joseph Johnson: Books and Friendship in a Revolutionary Age and Associate Professor of English Literature at the University of Exeter, and Kathryn Sutherland is the author of Why Modern Manuscript Matters and Senior Research Fellow in English at the University of Oxford. Together they join the Slightly Foxed editors to discuss Joseph Johnson’s life and work at St Paul’s Churchyard, the heart of England’s book trade since medieval times (Source; from the website).
I start my review with String is my foible, by Felicity James on Elizabeth Gaskell’s Cranford, and for this, make sure you have a “teapot standing by.” What I love about this review is it’s connection to the emotions of the book – James doesn’t just tell us it’s a “novel about the pleasures, and pain, of nostalgia” and that she loves the book for its portrayal of mothers, she also tells us about Gaskell; that “she was as keen a social observer as Dickens”. This novel sounds perfect for an afternoon of self-care curled up with indeed, a pot of tea and my loyal furry companion.
Shall I be me? by Derek Parker, on Colin Clark’s The Prince, the Showgirl and Me is a review on the questionable credibility of the young man’s observations on the set of the movie in 1956. Starring that most incandescent of all Hollywood stars, Marilyn Monroe, Parker writes on Clark’ s diary where he notes her amateurism, need for attention and sympathy, her ability to flip personalities and how everyone fell in love with her for it. In the end Parker decides it is a “believable portrait of the creature who could provoke that reaction.”
Alastair Gregg writes about fairy takes for grown ups in Twice Upon a Time. Opening with how the Brothers Grimm wrote them with a moral to every story, and Hans Christian Anderson’s unhappy endings reminded me of gothic stories and fables of wicked fae. This is a little piece on how authors have attempted to write fairy tales, trying to follow patterns and unwritten ‘rules’, to varying degrees of success. In the end Gregg concludes that these stories are more for the adults who read and re-read them to children across time.
There are more reviews in the winter edition which you can find here.
Finally a little thought from Dr Seuss~