Now, before I start to rattle on about the second read of my summer holiday, let me take the opportunity to congratulate Simon and Adam on the third most enjoyable installment of the Bookmarked Literary Salon at Waterstones in Manchester; this time with my most favourite theme of historical fiction at its centre. Carol Birch (whose Booker Prize short-listed Jamrach’s Menagerie I’m reading at the mo) and Jane Harris (author of Gillespie and I, which also sounds fab) were both so charming and it was really interesting to listen to what inspires them and how they organise themselves into writing a novel. Thanks guys! I wait in anticipation for the next one in November!
So, before we went to Delhi, one of my colleagues at work insisted that I pick up City of Djinns by William Dalrymple (I can never spell his name!) and I wasn’t disappointed.
I don’t read enough outside my comfort zone and travel fiction isn’t really something I’m well versed in. The wonderful thing is that this personal account of Dalrymple’s years spent with his Scottish wife living in the Indian capital reads just like a novel; only with a few facts thrown in on the side. During the first couple of days we spent abroad I wasn’t blown away by the book and I felt quite indifferent to the frequent historical digressions, however once we settled in and began to understand the place a little more I thought his depiction of the country and its people was absolutely brilliant. The personal perspective brings a depth of understanding that you simply don’t get from ordinary travel fiction and I appreciated the ‘India through foreign eyes’ perspective. The characters are hilarious and very true to Indian form and the bf, much to his dismay, had to endure night after night of Lucy’s ‘did you know..’ Indian fact of the day…
So, good stuff over all and my parents have discovered an absolute gem of a charity shop outside Derby where I picked up a copy of In Xanadu, where Dalrymple follows Marco Polo’s travels from Jerusalem all the way into the historical city of Xanadu in China. What a find!
Finally, and most importantly, I need some advice from all you bookworms out there – I have £40 worth of book tokens that I received for my birthday last week. What do you think is the best way to spend them? And where should I shop?!! Upon reflection there aren’t too many independent bookstores in Manchester…**sigh** if only…..