Sunday Salon – Today’s Books

Today’s Sunday Salon post is a bit brief. We’ve been away for the last two days, travelling to Scotland and back and I’m rather tired, and have only read for a short time today. I began reading The Shipping News a while back and picked that up again this morning. It’s one of the books that I’d put to one side after watching Atonement and deciding to re-read that book.

I need to refresh my memory of what I’d already read – I’m up to chapter 8. Quoyle, a journalist has taken his two daughters and aunt back to Newfoundland, where he was born, to pick up his life again after the death of his wife in a road accident. He has a job on the local newspaper reporting on car accidents and the shipping news and so far into my reading not much more has happened.

Quoyle who is not the most dynamic character, is a simple soul, easily manipulated by others. A “quoyle” is a coil of rope. The quotation heading chapter 1 adds “A Flemish flake is a spiral coil of one layer only. It is made on deck, so that it may be walked on if necessary”, which seems to describe Quoyle. The book won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1994 and it’s described on the back cover as “an irresistible comedy of hunan life and possibility.” I’m looking forward to reading more.

But I just had to carry on reading Toast, which I started on Friday, so The Shipping News has lost out again. I’m now over half-way through Toast, which is so good. Nigel Slater has a way of describing food, so that you can almost taste it and there is the additional pleasure of remembering all sorts of food and treats from my childhood – sweets like Refreshers, Love Hearts and Sherbet Fountains, crisps with salt in the separate little blue twist of waxed paper, drinks such as cream soda, pudding like rice pudding, and Heinz Sponge Puddings that you steamed in the tin – I could go on and on. Interspersed with his descriptions of food are his memories of his childhood, becoming increasingly poignant as I read further on. I’m sure I’ll be sad when I’ve finished this book.

10 thoughts on “Sunday Salon – Today’s Books

  1. I read The Shipping News and thought it was… okay. Then I saw the movie, which I liked so much that I went and reread the book — and loved it! I believe that’s the only time in my life I’ve ever known a movie to improve a book.


  2. “Toast” sounds like a fun read – although I’ve never heard of any of those foods, so it’s obviously for residents of the UK and not the States!


  3. Toast sound s a trip down memory lane . I remember Sherbert fountains and refreshers. Do you remember the Fry’s bars with 5 little boys faces? I can’t remember what it was called. I loved those.


  4. Julie and J Kaye, maybe I should watch film – The Shipping News? I’m not sure because so far I’m finding the book OK. It’s just that other books keep getting in the way and as I’ve written before I’m often disappointed with a film of a book I’ve enjoyed.

    Ravenous Reader, Toast is fun, but also a moving account of Nigel Slater’s childhood and adolescense and it is very British.

    Mog, it is a trip down memory lane, but I don’t remember the Fry’s bars with boys’ faces – there was a lovely bar – very slim with dark choclate on the outside with a lovely minty creamy filling, was that it? I don’t remember what that was called either.

    D – I hope you enjoy it too.


  5. Just the names Refreshers, Love Hearts and Sherbet Fountains bring back schooldays and sticky fingers … !

    PS: Your blog is looking very spruced-up and smart.


  6. Angela, I’d forgotten all about these sweets and reading the book took me right back to my schooldays too!

    The blog is thanks to my son’s help!


  7. I rather liked The Shipping News. Generally I’m not a fan of books that aren’t much more than character studies, but I ended up really liking Quoyle. At the beginning of the book though, I hated him. Though I kind of wonder about the blurb “picking up his life again” that was pasted in the back page. He seemed pretty worthless and so it wasn’t so much picking up his life again as doing the things he should have done in the first place.


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