The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

Book reviews: Escape with two great books

A Winter BookA Gleaming LandscapeI am in Cambridge for the next month. Only half an hour away if I journey out of rush hour. There is no question of coming back for lunch.

So every day is an expedition food wise. There is a kettle in the empty house – after four months of stewed Thermos tea I can enjoy a fresh mug whenever I can drag myself away from the job in hand. Just have to remember to take tea bags, sugar, fresh milk, lunch and a little something to pep me up at around four o’clock when I long to curl up into a ball and zzzzz for half an hour.

Even though the house is empty and unoccupied I do the tradesman thing and sit in Jalopy to eat my lunch. During this 20 minute sojourn I read. I have two books on the go at the moment

A Gleaming Landscape A hundred Years of the Guardian’s Country Diary edited by Martin Wainwright.

I picked this little book up in WH Smith’s last January. The size attracted me, small enough to fit into a decent sized pocket and opened if one needed to while away a few minutes or hours. I accompanied my sister to hospital on Monday for the afternoon and couldn’t put this book down.

A Winter Book selected stories by Tove Jansson.

Tove Jansson’s stories for adults are not as well known as her children’s books (do you remember Moomintroll?). This little book has been sitting untouched beside our bed for months. A wonderful collection of stories transports me within seconds to a world of islands and sea and thoughts as clear and smooth as glass.

It is a quiet a shock when I close the book and hear the roar of traffic and wail of city sirens again.

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  1. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Sara,

    The Tove Jansson is a superb book. I am reading it very slowly at lunchtime at work each day.

  2. farmingfriends

    I shall be adding these to my Christmas list. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Sara from farmingfriends

  3. Fiona Nevile

    Hi nà,

    Both great books. The Guardian one is a super book to dip into the Tove Jansson is amazing. I keep it at work otherwise I would forget everything else and you wouldn’t be reading this comment now.

    We cook a lot. We are greedy and fascinated by food.

    The handmade surprises are such fun. It’s a great idea!

  4. wow, these books sound very interesting indeed! and very seasonal too! am especially curious about the guardian country one. you’ve been cooking a lot of late! wow, wish i was in your kitchen, it all sounds so good! by the way, i have begun the ‘handmade surprise’! 🙂

  5. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Celia,

    I loved the Moomintroll books. I’ve read them as an adult a few times.

    The Winter Book has been rationed (only lunch times in Cambridge) to extend the pleasure.

    Hi Amanda,

    Jalopy is like a travelling (compressed) caravan. Comfortable and my space. Changing environment is good too.

    Hi Joanna,

    I have The Summer Book! Unread and lost somewhere in the cottage. A great excuse for a tidy up! I think that I heard Juliet Barker’s biography of Wordsworth on Oneword. Excellent.

    I love reading and being read to. Just wish I had a bit more time to indulge my passion.

  6. Her Summer Book is one of my all-time favourite books – so full of gentle wisdom. I must read this, and the Guardian book looks good, too. I’m reading Juliet Barker’s biography of Wordsworth, which is not as heavy as it sounds, in fact, hard to put down, and full of lovely ideas for places to visit in the Lake District (also France, but that’ s less likely!)

    Thanks for sharing

  7. I’m going to order the Tove Jansson book as soon as I’ve finished leaving this comment.

    Lovely post Fiona, I love becoming immersed in a book so much you don’t hear when people talk to you. Can’t be done so often now but I do sometimes still get the chance.

    Why is it that you retire to the car for your breaks? Is it the feeling of being on your turf I wonder. Especially if the house is empty. Just curious.

  8. The Tove Jansson stories sound tempting – Moomintroll 🙂 aaaaahhh lovely memories!

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