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.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

I have finally got to grips with the problems of downloading my pictures. Here is my new writing home which, once the inn-style sign has been painted, will be known as the "Snap & Scribble". We're working on the design. For now, you're just going to have to imagine the potted bamboo, fuchsias and trailing petunias and me with my feet up in an Adirondack chair, a glass of something bubbly to hand, enjoying the sun.

And here are two curious visitors. Actually, I think they were hoping for a chunk of wholemeal bread, or a bin load of fresh juicy grass clippings. I offered them a "reading", but they didn't seem that keen.

Friday, October 28, 2005

It’s been a bit of a steep learning curve but with a little help from my friends, especially Wendy Wootton and Anne Weale, I’ve made it and this is the first of what (with luck and a following wind) will be regular Friday morning posts.

Some of you will know that I’ve spent the summer watching while beefy men built a log cabin in the woods – now known as the Snap & Scribble -- to be shared by me (tiny office in the corner) and the dh (huge photo studio), and years of, ahem, research material (in the loft).

It’s not entirely finished. I’m still missing “the wood” bit. The primroses, lords and ladies and ferns are all in pots waiting to underplant the first wave of trees -- silver birches – which will be arriving next month. Golly, I’m soooo looking forward to that. When it’s stopped raining I’ll take a photograph. (I do have a photograph of some early visitors, but I can't get the picture to upload so that'll have to wait until next week, too!)

The Books (I’ve finished)

In the US, STRICTLY BUSINESS, a 2-in-1 with Hannah Bernard should be on sale now. My contribution is The Temp & the Tycoon -- take one workaholic tycoon who has lost the “wonder”, one dizzy temp who is determined to rescue him, then put them together in New York, a city so vibrant that it becomes a character in its own right.

The Books (I’m writing)

I’ve just finished The Sheikh’s Guarded Heart, my first book for the new Harlequin “Romance” line which is being launched next September – send me an email for a sneak peak – and now I’m working on the eighth (and final) book in a continuity series set around three luscious Italian restaurants.

The Books (I’m reading)

I have just indulged myself in a splurge of book buying. Jamie’s Italy arrived yesterday. (Purely for research purposes of course!) What a beautiful book! Lovely paper, stunning illustrations and the recipes…

And then today the post brought me Sophie’s Bakery for the Broken Hearted by Lolly Winston. I immediately plunged in and was swept away. Confusingly, this has been retitled "Good Grief" and has a different cover on her webpage. Why would a publisher do that? Or was it retitled for the UK market? Enquiring minds want to know.

Next week

I’ll tell you about how I came to write The Marriage Miracle and tell you more about the Lolly Winston book.