Monday, October 31, 2005


Coincidence. It’s such a lovely word, don’t you think? And this weekend it happened in the shape of Judy Blume.

I’d been talking to my daughter about the author, Jacqueline Wilson. The conversation moved on to Judy Blume, who had been her favourite author when she was a pre-teen. The dd had been amazed to discover that friends only a year or two younger than her had never even heard of Judy, let alone read her. She also told me that “Forever” had been removed from the primary school library after the teachers discovered exactly why it was so popular.


Then, this weekend, I read an article about Judy in the Telegraph supplement; apparently a librarian in Texas is campaigning to have “Forever” banned from libraries across America. (She already has the distinction of being the most banned author in America.) Apparently she wrote the book after her own teenaged daughter had wanted to know why there were no books with teenage sex in them in which nothing bad happened to the protagonists; disease, pregnancy, a terrible abortion. It’s that old puritan ethic, I guess – we have fun, we must pay. Judy broke that rule and now I discover that back in the 80s there was censorship in our local “home counties” primary school, too. But you can’t keep a good book down. “ Forever” has just been republished in the UK.


I’ve finished reading Sophie’s Bakery for the Broken-Hearted (or Good Grief) by Lolly Winston on Sunday and I cannot remember the last time a book gave me such pleasure.

The story is told from the viewpoint of Sophie, a 36-year-old woman whose husband has very recently died from cancer. It charts her breakdown with warmth, humour and heartbreaking truthfulness and without any simplistic with-one-bound-she-was-free leap to a happy ending. Over the course of a year, with the help of family, friends, her grief group -- and a painfully funny incident when she takes too many tranquillisers after a panic attack -- Sophie makes a slow, painful return to a different life from the one she had envisaged. And the ending is positive and uplifting. I hated leaving the characters.

And it made me cry.


I’m rationing my reading at the moment, because I’m at that early stage of a new book where the deadline is far enough away to make distraction just too darned attractive. There are so many things to do. I could visit the Chocolate Farm, or take a walk on the beach while it’s still warm enough to be a pleasure. But I have to write a whole chapter of the wip before my dd and her partner arrive for the weekend . Dusting. Cooking. Serious vacuuming. No reading! Well, no reading apart from Kate Hardy’s new book, The Consultant’s Christmas Proposal.

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