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! 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!