Emoting over Books

1f972Nicola here. I’m in deadline territory so I’ve dusted down and added to a blog piece from 9 years ago on a topic that really interests me – books that make us cry. This is intended to be a cheerful blog, not a miserable one. It’s not about the latest craze in what has been dubbed “sad girl books” which are apparently about millennial women who are unhappy in their lives. I haven’t read any and the present time isn’t the right moment for me to start. No, it’s about authentic emotion and the way that can touch us.

A while ago I spent a day on writing retreat with a very good friend of mine, also a romance writer. Over lunch, we got chatting about the books that make us cry. We weren’t talking about those books that drive us to tears of frustration as we’re writing them although there are plenty of those. Nor were we discussing “misery lit”. We were talking as readers about the scenes that can make us cry every time we read them, even though we know them back to front and word for word. Not all of our favourites were romance books although some of them were. Others were thrillers, crime stories, even biographies.

Read more

Reasons to Like January

JanuaryNicola here. Sometimes I’ve been inclined to think of January as a long, dark, cold month without a lot going for it, but I was talking to a friend the other day and she saw the month in quite a different light.  “I love January,” she said. “I don’t spend much money and I get myself organised for the months ahead.” So as we approach Twelfth Night and the end of the traditional Christmastide, I thought I would muse on all the reasons there are to like January.

According to my Chambers Book of Days, the gemstone for January is the garnet and the birth flower is either the Feb 11th 2012 (48) snowdrop or the carnation. At Ashdown Woods the first green shoots of the wild snowdrops are already pushing through the ground. By the end of the month they will be starting to flower. The snowdrop’s Latin name is Galanthus, from the Greek for “milk flower”. In French the snowdrop is known as the “perce-neige” because it pierces the snow, and the Germans call it Schneeglöckchen, little snowbell, which are all such pretty names suiting its delicate beauty. It’s real reminder of spring on the way.

RainbowThis brings me to the weather. You may know the saying: “There’s no bad weather only bad clothing choices.” In my part of Northern Hemisphere it’s a time for scarves, gloves and hats and also waterproof layers. The rain may feel cold and raw but it’s also refreshing. And I love the sound the wind makes blowing through the bare branches of the trees. Darkness still arrives during the afternoon but the light lasts a little longer each day. My morning and evening walks give stormy skies and great views of the weather blowing across the Vale of the White Horse.

An old Celtic name for January was “the dead month” whilst the Anglo Saxons called it “Wolfmonath” which does send a Stencil.facebook-cover (3) shiver down the spine. It’s easy to see how January got its bad reputation. But there is so much pleasure in returning from a cold walk to a hot cup of tea, sitting down with a book whilst darkness falls outside, and enjoying the sense of new beginnings whether they are eagerly-anticipated TV shows or films, or a new course to join or a new interest to pursue.

What do you like – or even love – about January?

Costume Dramas: They don’t make them like they used to do. Or do they?

Canva - Close Up Of Tickets UnrolledNicola here. One of our lockdown activities during this period of self-isolation has been to have a weekly film night (or sometimes a double bill!) it’s been great to catch up with some of the new movies that are out, some TV series I hadn’t yet seen, and some old favourites too. My viewing has included Knives Out, a sort of post-modern Agatha Christie style whodunnit with more twists than a roller coaster and Daniel Craig doing a bizarre accent, and Yesterday, a sweet and funny time -travel romance that I loved.

Costume drama has always been my catnip though, so the first film I streamed was the new Emmaversion of Jane Austen’s Emma. Wench Andrea has already blogged about the film here so I’m not going to give my own take on it, especially as I agree with practically everything she said! New versions of Jane Austen’s books seem to come along more regularly than trains these days and it’s always interesting to see what new angle can possibly be taken. In the case of Emma, it really did feel like a film for the Instagram generation with every shot so beautifully curated. Unlike some viewers I did enjoy the fact that there wasn’t such an age disparity between Emma and Mr Knightley as there was in the book, and the sexual tension between the two of them was hot enough to burn down a Regency stately home!

Read more

What We’re Reading in September

Together

Nicola here, introducing the Wenches' monthly "What We're Reading" feature, which, this month is a "What We're Watching" as well! 

Anne: I've had a pretty busy time in the last month and, apart from some rereads of old favorites, the only book of any note I've read recently is Together by Julie Cohen. A friend told me about this book, saying that it was about a romance, but was written backwards, starting at the end of a couple's life and gradually working backwards to when they first met. I was intrigued, so I bought it.

In the working backwards, the reader begins to put clues together —it's not a murder mystery, but there is a big secret to be discovered. As the cover blurb says, "Their love was unstoppable . . . Their life was a lie."

It's been a big bestseller, and I found it quite a compelling read, but in the end I'm still not sure what I think. But certainly worth a read.

Read more