It isn’t unusual for me to have two or three books “on the go” at a time. Usually, however, I know where I am with each or all of them. At the moment, I have to tell you, I have got myself into what my
dear Mum would describe as “a bit of a pickle.” Let me explain.
Leaving aside the book which Mr B and I are reading together (of which, more later)
I am reading one book upstairs and one book downstairs. Upstairs I am reading Kate Atkinson’s latest novel, Transcription, a most welcome Christmas present from my Little Sister and her fella. Downstairs I am reading Dear Mrs Bird, by A J Pearce, on
the recommendation of my friend Eleanor who tells me it reminds her of the Daily Blog. The Youngest of the Darling Daughters ordered it for me from the Amazon Jungle and I am hooked already.
So what’s the problem, I hear you say - though one or two of you are doubtless querying why I am apparently too lazy to carry a book upstairs and downstairs, so dispensing with the need for two books on the go at the same time.
To which I can only say that, like many things in my life, it just happened. As in, there I was happily reading Kate in bed and doubtless would have stayed loyal to her to the end - except that then Mrs Bird turned up, courtesy of Loyd the postman, and I thought
I would just read the first page or two. Which inevitably turned into a chapter or two. Or three or four...
The trouble is this: both books are set during the
Second World War, both feature feisty young women with ambitions to make something of their lives. Both find themselves employed as glorified typists. One finds herself transcribing conversations of Fascist sympathisers captured for MI5 in a neighbouring room
by the mysterious Godfrey Toby while the other has to type up the answers to readers’ problems written by Mrs Bird, a very selective agony aunt who refuses to answer any letters which deal with, shall we say, personal issues.
Small wonder I am becoming confused between Emmy’s desire to respond to the problems of Mrs Bird’s correspondents and Juliet grappling with strange conversations through
a wall. I am, of course, only a short way through both books - if I had only concentrated on just one book, I would be so much the wiser. I’m sure it will all work out alright in the end and, quite possibly, I will benefit from comparing the way Emmy
and Juliet face their futures. Whatever, I will enjoy myself upstairs and downstairs.
Added to this enjoyable but somewhat discombobulating situation (isn’t
that a quite splendid word, discombobulating? I must try to use it more often) Mr B is keen that we start to read through the many books he was given for Christmas. I remind him that we haven’t finished the biography of cricketer Marcus Trescothik as
yet - but Mr B wants me to get a move on. Eric Idle? Tim Peake? Or, Mr B suggests, the gift of the Eldest of the Darling Daughters, a weighty tome on the History of English Cricket? She did, to be fair, apologise to me in advance...
So many books to read, so little time!
That’s why it’s Upstairs Downstairs for me...