The Wanderer Returns

I have returned to a cold and dreary England, where Autumn has already arrived. Walking through my mum’s village yesterday, the paths were strewn with leaves, the trees were turning a soft orange brown and the smell of woodsmoke was in the air. The feeling of wool next to my skin is one I had become unfamiliar with, and despite the shock to my system of a good ten degree drop in temperature, I am enjoying being able to burrow underneath a big eiderdown at night rather than lying on top of my sheet, my body slanted diagonally in order to catch the merest hint of any breeze coming through the window during the stale, muggy nights of a New York summer.

I am staying with my mum, who lives in the Kent countryside, and the peace, quiet and quaint village streets are just like the England of the popular American imagination. I had missed it dreadfully and I am glad to be back, though I don’t think it has quite sunk in that I won’t be returning to Manhattan any time soon. I’m not very good at relaxing, so I’ve been on the go ever since I touched down at Heathrow on Tuesday morning. I have fully unpacked, sorted out my stuff that I left behind in the attic, generated huge piles of unwanted books and clothes for charity and rearranged my little bedroom bookshelf to contain only books I want to read again this year/have for comfort reading, so that it’s good to go when I move into London within the next few weeks.

I have also been spending as much time as possible with my nephews (above!), which is wonderful as they have all grown and changed so much since I last saw them. My oldest nephew George has started school; seeing him in his little stripy tie and school jumper is bittersweet, as he’s not our baby any more, but at the same time it’s wonderful to see him go out and learn and have a little life of his own. My middle nephew Freddie couldn’t really speak when I left a year ago and now he is a little chatterbox and delightful company. Plus he loves to dance, so we have been twirling around and jumping up and down and generally exhausting my poor jet lagged body! Baby Albert is now grinning away at every opportunity and is such a sunny little boy; I love it when they are this age and I don’t want him to get any bigger!

Books wise, I am currently flitting between two titles I have received for review; Daphne Du Maurier’s rediscovered early short stories, published by Virago under the title of The Doll, and Peter Ackroyd’s Foundation, the first volume in a planned series charting the history of England. I am going to be writing more about these in due course, especially about Foundation, as it’s going to be a slow and fascinating read that I can’t wait to get really stuck into. So far I have been mesmerised by his depictions of pre-Roman Britain, an era I know very little about, and I can’t wait to see what else I learn by the time I get to the end of this volume, which stops at the death of Henry VII, the first Tudor King. I do have two copies of this available for prizes so keep your eyes peeled for that competition which I will post about in the next week or two. The Doll so far is proving interesting; the stories aren’t overly polished and certainly don’t represent her best work, but they are intriguing from the point of view of seeing Du Maurier’s genesis as a writer and understanding the themes that have haunted her work from the very beginning, namely dysfunctional relationships between men and women, and the darker side of human nature.

I start work tomorrow so I anticipate being rather busy over the next couple of weeks as I learn the ropes and get used to having a responsible job again after a year as an intern, but I’ll check in as often as I can. In the meantime, if you fancy something new to read, check out my bookshop!ย I have updated my stock with a good number of books I have reluctantly weeded from my shelves in my ongoing attempts to downsize my bloated collection; do go and have a browse!

41 comments

  1. That is such a beautiful spot where your mom lives…so the TV shows get English villages right?! I love the thought of wearing a wool sweater while walking those streets and burrowing under a cozy eiderdown at night! Delicious!
    Your newphews are just adorable! George, Freddie and Albert, luv the names. I’m sure they’re thrilled to have their American Aunty visiting (Albert probably doesn’t care much!)

    The Doll and Foundation sound terrific and I look forward to your thoughts.
    Take care! You will be missed here in Manhattan :o)

    1. Well in some cases…but there aren’t many quintessential English villages left, I have to say! Thank you – they are gorgeous and their names are very English indeed – people always say that when I tell them their names!!

      Thank you and I am sorry I have left you behind!

  2. So happy to hear you are safely in England, Rachel. Your picture is lovely, indeed, and looks to be waiting for a few good folks to take a stroll.

    Your nephews are darling and I’m sure excited to have their auntie back. Enjoy them as much as you possibly can.

    As I’m sure all your friends will be commenting and welcoming you back, I’ll keep this uncharacteristically short and look forward to you upcoming posts.

    Oh, love your bookshelf.

    1. Thank you Penny. This part of England is a beautiful spot and I am glad to be back and making the most of it.

      Thank you – I am – we are having lots of fun together. Nothing is better than cuddles with these angels!

      Bless you Penny! Thank you for taking the time to come by and wish me the best.๐Ÿ™‚

  3. It must feel so strange not to be in New York anymore! You certainly made the most of your time there and I’ve enjoyed the vicarious experience! Thank you so much for sharing it with us!

    What sweet wee nephews! And what an interesting looking bookcase! I’m intending to re-read Daphne du Maurier’s ‘Frenchman’s Creek’ after recommending it to one of my pupils as a nice romantic read! I have a book of her short stories, too; an old one. I must dig it out! (And I must stop ending every sentence with an exclamation mark!)

    1. It’s funny actually, it already feels a bit like a dream!! Thank you for coming along for the ride, Penny!

      I need to read more Du Maurier…Simon at Savidge Reads is doing a Daphne read along in October with Polly of Novel Insights so you should join in then!

  4. I’m sure you have mixed feelings about returning, but I’m getting jealous about that Kent village! And those lovely, lovely books. What a wonderful selection. Too many for me to comment on๐Ÿ™‚

    1. It’s mostly good feelings, really. I’m excited about the new job – I just wish I had a bit more time to relax at home but so it goes! Thanks, glad you approve! You’ll see The Love Child is in there!๐Ÿ™‚

  5. I love the beautiful autumn photo and your nephews are so cute! what English names they have. I love it! I’m sure it is wonderful to be home again.

  6. Glad you’re home safe and sound and have a chance to enjoy your nephews.

    Learning your new job should be exciting, and I hope you’ll share the fun experiences.

  7. Those children are the cutest! Sounds like you are settling back in nicely and I can’t wait to hear more about the new job. good luck tomorrow. Also, go to my facebook page to see an adorable picture, which my cousin Jerry posted, of me and my family at my brother’s house. Miss you already.

  8. So glad you are getting resettled – the pictures are wonderful. The boys look so energetic, and the village street looks like a dream to me. Never mind the lovely books! Thanks so much for sharing with us – I pray you will have a good “re-entry” as you start your new job and get reacquainted with home.

  9. Just a note to say welcome home. Does it feel odd to be “at home” now? Having lived in the US for a long time now, whenever i go home I feel a bit like Rip Van Winkle. Everything looks about the same, but people are all talking about pop culture refs so that I have no idea what is going on.

    Hopefully, you’re fitting in better than that. Hope your jet leg is not getting too badly. Have a Jaffa cake for me.๐Ÿ™‚

    liz

    1. Thank you, Liz! It just feels like New York never happened…it’s a very odd feeling! I know what you mean though, I do feel a bit out of the loop.

      I’ll get chomping away on those jaffa cakes for you!!

  10. Enjoy village life. I can now dream, of walking in amongst the autumn leaves all wrapped up and knowing that I can snuggle down with a book under the quilt and the world carries on outside! I try the same thing here but on the seafront not so many leaves!

    Good luck for the new job, hope we get to hear how you are getting on.

    1. Thank you, Jo! That feeling of being all snuggled up inside is so wonderful isn’t it? I’d love to be by the sea, you are lucky!

      Thank you – I will keep you updated!

  11. “but Iโ€™ll check in as often as I can”

    Well that’s just not good enough.

    We, the fans, demand that you do so more than that.

    Welcome back to Blighty, dear R.

    Brrrrrrr, eh?

  12. Glad to know you’re back safe and sound. It’s a relief to hear you haven’t gone all movie starlet America on us and are finding the positives in the drop in temperature (you’ve surely missed the most changeable bits anyway, at least I hope so)๐Ÿ˜‰ Welcome back!

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