Tuesday, 30 September 2008


I seem to be travelling up to London on an almost weekly basis at the moment, usually there and back in one day, rising at 6am and falling back with a crash around 11pm. I come through the door surrounded by capering dogs and excitable kittens, head for the loo, squint at the red-eyed travel weary face in the mirror and fall on the pillows.
In the train on the way up I prepare for the day ahead, making notes, reading papers, gathering thoughts. But on the way back I'm desperate to concertina the hours of travelling into a moment, and ferret in my bag for the book of the day.
I seem to be in a world of Eastern European immigration; first with Lewycka's Two Caravans, which I warmed to (loved that Dog), and then Rose Tremain's The Road Home, which is fantastic.
As a novel moves its way into the final trimester, you don't necessarily expect new moments. Mostly you get more of the same, whether it be beauty, brutality, murder or machinations, but those last chapters of Tremain's both made me laugh out loud in the quiet carriage, and spout tears.
It may be predictable to enjoy plot quite so much, but I want a story, the revelation and development of character, pain and pleasure, hurt and happiness. I WANT the predictable AND the ridiculous, and I got both with Tremain; the old lady leaves a righteous legacy, and the Chinese asparagus pickers carry out an unexpected service.
There are many moments of recognition between the two novels, as if little windows of a shared world collide and then drift: the twinned Chinese characters; the hopes and dreams of the immigrant; the dodgy employment opportunities; the brotherhood of nations in a foreign space; the ineffectiveness of bureaucracy; the realism of old peoples' homes. Such different books, so many mutual presences.
I stroked the cover of Tremain's book after I'd finished the last sentence. I wanted to absorb her talent, share her gift. It was a feast.


Far Side of Fifty said...

Sound like a great book, I will put the Rose Tremain one on my wish list!:)

paula said...

I've looked at the Rose Tremain book lots - picked it up, put it down, picked it up again...and now I know what to take away!

Ian said...

Sorry to be off-topic here - I would email you but couldn't find an address - but the reason I am writing to you from deepest rural France is because at the blog I run, Farm Blogs from Around the World (it's not a business, it's a hobby based on my passionate interest in farming) I am trying to gather in one place the very best of global blogging about farms, farming and rural life. It started out as a place for me to easily follow my global interest in farming, and has grown organically from there.

I have looked at your blog several times, not least of all because more than one of the bloggers on Farm Blogs from Around the World has recommended you to me before, so forgive me if I repeat myself.

Your blog was recommended to me most recently by the Arcadian Advocate in England (you can find my posts about http://arcadianadvocate.wordpress.com/ at http://farmblogs.blogspot.com/2008/10/arcadian-advocate-wiltshire-1500-acres.html and a post about their recommendation of you and other farm blogs at http://farmblogs.blogspot.com/2008/10/arcadian-advocate-uk-recommends.html ).

As a result I have added you to the Farm Blogs from Around the World blog roll which I think is rapidly growing into the single best resource for quality farming blogs on the Internet.

You can find the blog roll, sorted by country, in the right hand column of the blog - there are recommended blogs from Australia, Africa, Canada, France, Germany, the UK and the USA and it's growing organically all the time.

My posts are made up of postings about recommended bloggers, postings about their recommendations and I also post regular stories about world farming and food issues.

All blogs have been recommended to me by other bloggers or have been identified by me during my occasional browsing.

I have a pretty broad definition of farming - if someone is producing food or natural fibre you're a farmer, to my mind at least - and I also include general resource blogs for and about farmers.

So blogs range from ranchers to part-time smallholders, and resources for them.

Once recommended, I add them to the blogroll and then contact the bloggers (as I am contacting you) asking them to send me a few words about their farm/small-holding/resource blog and their blog and,critically, to recommend their favourite farm/farming blogs.

(I also ask that they consider doing a posting about Farm Blogs From Around the World, how they came to be involved and add a link to farmblogs.blogspot.com)

And so it goes and grows.

I would very much appreciate it if you could please consider doing the following quick and easy steps:

a) write to me with your Top 5 farm recommendations - not currently listed on my blog; particularly from countries not yet represented or under represented. I am particularly interested in blogs from the UK, New Zealand, South America, Asia and Africa at the moment. The proper name of the blog, the exact url, the location and one sentence on why you like it is perfect, but if pressed for time, just the links.

b) send me a brief description of your farm and blog, (specifically your - approximate - location, your acreage and what stock, crops or natural fibres you raise) as well as permission to use up to 5 photos from your site for a one off usage so that with your text I can make a posting about you;

b) add a link on your website, if that's possible, to www.farmblogs.blogspot.com; and if you can find a moment even make a posting about www.farmblogs.blogspot.com and how this blog is growing organically across the world from other farming bloggers.

I know this is a drag but a lot of people are finding that my blog is driving traffic to them and are finding it a great source of quality blogs about farming, so I hope you can find a moment to drop me a line.

I very much hope to hear from you, and thanks for taking the time to read and respond to this.

I can be reached at info AT ianwalthew.com

With kind regards,



Mopsa said...

Ian - you sent a similar email in the past - so I think you've already linked me. Thanks.

Mossie said...

Mad-But-Not-Actually-Dangerous-Woman loved the Rose Tremain book. Me, I just like her reading because she sits quietly and strokes my ears. Her favourite Georgette Heyer is "These Old Shades"...

Tami said...

I'm going to pick up a copy of the Rose Tremain book this weekend. Thanks

Flowerpot said...

thanks for that Mopsa I will add that to my TBR list - always like good recommendations!