October 17th, 2008


Raffaella Saves the Day

It’s been a miserable reading week as two books turned out to be sadly disappointing. One of them was Still Here by Linda Grant. It looked so promising: more back stories of a Jewish family. Whereas The Clothes on their Backs left me greedy for more, this one had me crying, ‘Enough, already! You don’t have to tell me every single thing you know about your characters!’ It’s full of good stuff but just too long and I abandoned it before finding out whether or not the potential lovers got together.

I was in the mood for something light and amusing that I would want to finish and picked Summertime by Raffaella Barker. I must ‘fess up here to a long resistance to reading anything she’s written, due to a mean, carping prejudice against anyone who features in the glossy lifestyle sections of the Sunday papers. I was completely wrong and I love the book to bits. It’s well written on the whole (she writes ‘bored of’, Tsk!) and it’s very funny. Venetia lives in the country with three bossy children and an assortment of animals but minus her boyfriend, who is in the Brazilian rain forest. The book is written in diary form and like many such books, owes a lot to The Diary of a Provincial Lady. I’m not much interested in Venetia’s love life but enjoy the descriptions of the countryside and its population of eccentrics. How could you not love an author who writes this: ‘Surface again at midday, flushed with the sense of achievement which comes from having read a whole Georgette Heyer at one sitting, and spurred by the merry dance of true love in Cotillion to a more cheerful level of existence.’?
Barker’s book has had the same effect on me that Heyer’s did on Venetia.