Friday, 10 January 2020

My Christmas Reading

I only managed three books over the festive season - a cookbook, a crime thriller and an autobiography. All 'borrowed' - and all enjoyable in their way.
A Library Book -Scandinavian Comfort Food [Embracing the art of hygge] by Trine Hahnemann was quite a fun read. 
Almost 300 pages, packed not only with recipes [clear instructions and good illustrations] but lots of anecdotes about her home life, and how family members have tweaked traditional recipes to become favourites for the different seasons.
I was particularly taken with the rye breads - rolls and loaves [and the bizarre idea of using left over rye bread to make a porridge involving golden syrup and lemons] I have copied a few of the recipes, and hoped to renew the loan- but another member of the library requested it so it has gone back. Trine is known as "The Danish Delia" - which sums her up beautifully.*****
The crime thriller was Crisis by Felix Francis. Retired Jockey Dick Francis wrote 39 thrillers set in the world of horse-racing, and his son Felix took on the mantle- this is his 13th.
No spoilers - this one is written in the first person, by a professional chap in his mid thirties. At the beginning, it is apparent he is a clever guy, with no romantic attachments, and minimal knowledge of "The Turf". But he is thrust into a scenario of crime, horses, and elegant and beautiful women, mostly based in and around Newmarket. And 34 chapters later, they all live happily ever after [apart from the baddies who get sent down]
I say no spoilers because this is the plot of every Francis novel, pére or fils, [although the setting is sometimes Ascot, Lambourn, or another horse-related location]
Usual stuff, predictable send-me-off-to-sleep, reading. That one has gone back to the CS whence it came. ****
Liz gave this to Steph for Christmas 2018. Becoming, by former FLOTUS Michelle Obama I really enjoyed this one. It is an honest story of the first 50 years of a woman's life. In three sections - Becoming Me, Becoming Us, Becoming More - Michelle tells first of her early life and education, then meeting Obama and marriage, children, shared faith and  ideals, and finally, what it meant to enter the White House.
The book is full of joy, anger, sadness, and above all hope. It is the challenging story of how a young black woman who grew up in a poor home, in South Side Chicago ended up married to the most powerful man in the free world [whose net worth is now in excess of $14M] A few sections stuck with me

  • her visit to a school in London, where over 200 girls ["skin every shade of brown", some with English as their second language, many in hijabs] gathered to hear her speak. She related to their backgrounds, their struggle to achieve in a world dominated by white men. She told them they were precious, every single one of them "Are you good enough? yes you are, all of you"  she told them, and then she hugged them.
  • oft repeated, her parents' faith in her as she grew up, and their sacrifices which enabled her, and her brother Craig, to achieve great things. You belong. You matter. I think highly of you.
  • and the importance of enduring friendships. Those people who had become very precious over the years - the ones, she said "who held me together", supporting her when she needed it most. She describes simple, helpful deeds and kind words which sustained her in hard moments.  "Friendships between women, as any women will tell you, are built of a thousand small kindnesses like these, swapped back and forth and over again"

This book was challenging and inspiring ***** - thank you Steph [and Liz] Like Mrs O, I'm blessed with a great man, and two fantastic daughters. But also some truly good friends. 
This Christmas I gave a 'Willow Tree Figurine' to Christine, my oldest and dearest friend in Norfolk. It is simply entitled "Friendship". For almost half a century, Chris has been there - in person, or at the other end of a phone, whenever I've needed her. My confidante, my comforter, always ready to listen and to care. Thanks Chris.
I saw this figure in a shop and really felt it was the right thing.  I wondered if such a gift was a bit 'cheesey' - but when I opened her gift to me, it was a plaque celebrating our friendship. We live 200 miles apart, but we still remain close. Clearly we were both thinking along the same lines!


  1. An enduring friendship is so very special and how nise that you both felt the same with your gifts.
    I want to read Michelle Obama's book but havent yet found it in a CS! I had not realised that DF's son had taken on the mantle. I think I read every one of his father's books!

  2. Yes, friendship is very precious [and I value yours too!] Do look out for FF's books in your CS. If you like the originals, I am sure you will enjoy these ones too.

  3. How nice that you and your friend both thought along the same lines for gifts to each other! I like that saying on the plaque.


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