Me: Can you get the thingy.
Her: It’s all the way over there.
Me: But you’re standing up.
Her: Yes, but I’m too lazy to get it.
B is for Bryson, Benson, Boyd, Binchy and Blyton
Bill Bryson: well-written, funny, informative, what’s not to like as our American cousins say. I promptly buy each new volume on publication.
B is also for Benson, E.F. Benson to be precise. The son of an Archbishop whose wife ran off with a woman, Benson and all of his siblings were allegedly gay or lesbian. Says something, for nature over nurture, doesn’t it? All the same, you have to admire the panache of those Anglicans. He wrote the Mapp and Lucia books and they are superb social comedies that bear repeated rereadings. I love them; they are comfort reading for when I am fed up and the world seems a miserable place. Unfortunately, I am not half so well able to convey my affection and the novels’ brilliance as this article to which I selflessly refer you. Mr. Benson was mayor of Rye on which Tilling is based and I am desperate to get there on my holidays, even if it is in Sussex.
William Boyd is excellent. I have only tried two of his offerings “Any Human Heart” which was absolutely superb (recommended to me by the Glam Potter to whom I am extremely grateful) and “Restless” which is less good but still very good. He has a huge back catalogue too – oh happiness – and I am going to read them all. Jeremy Paxman is quoted on the back of my copy of “Restless” as saying that he would read anything by William Boyd, let’s not hold that against Mr. Boyd.
I like Maeve Binchy. She does not write particularly well (though I think the critics’ favourite term ‘workmanlike’ could fairly be applied to her prose), her plots are predictable and her characters, no matter what age they purport to be all act like men and women in their 60s. Let me put it this way, I don’t think anyone has ever sent a text in a Maeve Binchy novel. Yet, her endings are always happy and her characters are always nice and never, ever have graphic sex. This is endearing. And she tells a good story. Apparently, when she used to get the last bus home from UCD in the 1960s, everyone wanted to travel with her because she was so entertaining. I imagine also that she is a lovely person and this comes across in her novels. Everything is for the best in the best possible world. I see that on her website, she puts up the odd short story, so you can try her out for yourself.
Enid Blyton was my first love and though I have moved on, I can never forget her. Especially the Famous Five, despite Anne’s role as scared drudge and the St. Clare’s books (in new covers for a new millenium, I note), far better than the Chalet school.