Monday, 26 November 2007

A big book, a big walk

Wow. I walked round the block twice this weekend. And I went out to a fabric shop with Friend M, who came to pick me up in the manner of a volunteer worker taking an elderly lady out for a ride. I stood up for a good 10 minutes (though I was holding on to a roll of fabric for dear life - I am getting very adept at leaning on things nonchalantly to stop myself falling over) - see how I throb with health and energy!

I spent this weekend reading Carol Birch, Scapegallows. What a read! Based on a true story, it follows the life of Margaret Catchpole, and how her life is defined by the presence and lengthy absences of the smuggler Will Laud. Her charm, intelligence and hard working character constantly finds her favour, which her obsession with sailors and Will in particular constantly take away.

The book starts as she faces death for the third time as the flood waters rise in Australia, where she was sent as a convict, and she looks back over her life. This is a real page-turner, and though I've never at all much been drawn to historical fiction, I found it fascinating.

The writing was beautiful, the descriptions, particularly of night, were so evocative and hypnotic, that the only problem I found when reading the book was trying not to whizz through it so fast that I missed the language. It seemed like such a big book (I have it in hardback) that I was amazed to have finished it so quickly, which I put firmly down to impatience on my part.

The only niggle I have with it is that the front flap gave you the whole plot - not so good. But the character was both flawed and sympathetic. The perfect bridge between the ratty 'bad' literature I was reading when I was very ill, to get me back to the good stuff - stuffed full of plot, big bags of language, truckloads of adventure and beauty, just a very, very Big Book.

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