Mslexia, the magazine for women who write | www.mslexia.co.uk
From Issue 34 ◊ Jul/Aug/Sep 2007
Reading at the moment
I’ve just finished The Idea of Perfection by Kate Grenville. I’ve just re-read it, in fact. There’s a film being made of it and I’ve been asked to be in it which is quite wonderful. The book is an absolutely charming love story set in a small town in Australia. She’s all for preservation, he’s there to knock a bridge down and build a new one. The characters are so flawed, not a typical heroine and hero. They are middle-aged people who probably think any kind of romance is past them, and here they fall in love, the two most unlikely characters. So it defies expectation. All the other characters are wonderful too. They all go against type and I just loved it.
I also loved A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby. I haven't read his others, but I will now.
Couldn’t put down
English Passengers by Matthew Kneale – it’s one of my favourite books ever. I’ve recommended it to so many people; it’s wonderful on so many levels. I’m going to take that with me and read it again: it’s appropriate since they are setting sail for Australia in the book, and that’s where I’m going. Also, I’m in love with Captain Illiam Quillian Kewley. It was Captain Corelli before him, but Illiam Quillian has taken over from him. You get this argument about the history of the world – the botanist’s view and the church’s view – and this idea that the Garden of Eden is in Tasmania, which in the 19th Century could not be further from reality, when it was actually a penal colony. It’s all a bit far-fetched but a wonderful journey. And each chapter is told from someone else’s point of view, so often the reader is in the know ahead of the characters.
I also love Dickens and William Boyd: Blue Afternoon, Armadillo, Brazzaville Beach, An Ice Cream War, A Good Man in Africa – oh, my goodness, it made me laugh out loud that book, absolutely wonderful!
Covered with dust
There’s nothing I can think of that I haven’t finished recently. There was something I found a bit difficult to get into – what was the name of it? I can’t think of ones I haven’t finished: if they were that boring, I’ve forgotten them. Thing is, I did hardly any reading when I was young, until a friend’s sister sent me off with an Enid Blyton. I’ve been hooked from that day. Reading is such a wonderful gift to give somebody.
I suppose some of the more light-hearted books. I just read Skinny Dip by Carl Hiaasen, about a detective and drug- smuggling in Florida. It was a light mystery, very amusing.
BRENDA BLETHYN was born in Ramsgate in1946, the youngest of nine siblings. At the age of 27, after working as a British Rail secretary, she enrolled at Guildford Drama School. Her accolades include an OBE, a Golden Globe and Oscar noms for roles in Secrets & Lies and Little Voice. She remains a consistent presence on stage, screen and TV. Her memoir, Mixed Fancies, is now out in paperback (Simon & Schuster, £7.99).
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My bedside table has a lamp and a pile of books – I’m about to go on a publicity tour so they are all coming – and, my goodness! – a huge pile of cryptic crossword puzzles. I try to do The Times one every day. I’m also a member of The Times online crossword club; you get into a particular mindset. There’s a copy of Small Island by Andrea Levy that I haven’t started. I haven’t read any of her work yet, so I’m looking forward to starting that. Also Anybody Out There? by Marian Keyes, and William Boyd’s Restless.
I’ve got big cushions to put between me and my partner Michael when I’m reading so that the light doesn’t disturb him late at night. Huge cushions. I tend to read in bed, or do a puzzle before I go to sleep, but I need to be really relaxed when I’m reading – if there’s something niggling that I have to get up and do, I just feel irritated and I don’t enjoy it as much. I really like to read when I don’t have any other work to do so that I can just keep reading if I want. I can’t always do that if I have to get up early.