Apparently, the author of this short novel, Susan Hill, has recently begun a relationship with another woman, having been married. The subject matter of From The Heart, then, might in some way be pressing for her as a result of her own circumstances. It tells the story of Olive, a young girl in the 1950s (I think), who experiences a kind of awakening in a repressive, intolerant era. Many things happen in a few years for Olive, but she is well drawn and likeable, and the ending is particularly good! Oddly, though, for a novel about awakening sexuality, there is very little actual sex, as though the repression of the era has somehow exerted itself upon Hill’s writing. In fact, she is rather coy about sex altogether, and this surprised me, as the rest of her writing is so acutely observant and true to life. The book itself is rather lovely – a neat, small hardback with a cover rather like the gorgeous Persephone Press novels, based on a 1950s fabric print by designer Ruth Adler Schnee. If you enjoyed Patricia Highsmith’s Carol, then this is broadly similar, though quieter, I feel.
As my gardening post made clear, there’s nothing like a new notebook! And this will be an interesting one. A psychologist friend was extolling the benefits of a gratitude journal to me the other day: though it sounds a bit new-aged, the friend is a sarky cynic like me, so I tend to take her ideas seriously and thought I’d give this a go. You can read about a journalist’s exploration of the gratitude journal phenomenon here: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/womens-health/11706352/Gratitude-the-latest-self-help-trend-that-could-change-your-life.html
The idea is that, at the end of each day, you simply write down three things that you’re thankful for. I’m not promising to do this every day, or to blog about it much, even (other people’s gratitude sounds so smug! The world is in political turmoil!), but I am interested to see if I experience greater contentment and better sleep (both are promised by gratitude advocates). So, we shall see 🙂
To start me off, I am grateful for this simple, lovely near view:
2: I had a lovely coffee with a friend yesterday. We don’t meet often, but we have lots of interests in common and I always feel cheery and invigorated when I’ve seen her. Her blog is here: https://liveworkcoaching.wordpress.com
3: the sun is out!
This was taken a week ago, on a weekend trip to the North Norfolk coast. The view in the distance is of Castle Acre, near Swaffham. The castle is now a ring of stone walls on a small hill, but the priory (an English Heritage site) is fantastic: visitors can go upstairs and look over the fields and to the castle, enjoying a view that can’t have changed much over hundreds of years.
On the way to the coast, I stopped at the Sharrington strawberry stall (on the road from Fakenham to Holt; the A148). I have bought these local strawberries before at other shops, but never stopped at the stall. My arms full of strawberries and the toddler, I didn’t get to take a picture, but the strawberries were FANTASTIC. Oh, and we bought some jam, too, and there were lots of vegetables for sale too, which I didn’t expect as you can’t see them from the road!
Best of all, Cromer beach looked like this:
We had a great break, just doing the old-school things: eating strawberries and ice-cream, digging in the sand and looking for crabs. It seems strange to be writing about this, given the events we’ve had in Manchester and London, but it is perhaps good to remember that life involves these things, still, too.