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I tend to read more non-fiction when I'm in mid-novel, so here's what's been up and running recently:

- the exception has been Graham Joyce's THE LIMITS OF ENCHANTMENT - I picked this up from Graham last week and have been meaning to read it ever since he read part of it out at a Borders evening. The protagonists are what used to be called cunning-women, and are now simply called witches, although they wouldn't use either term for themselves. It's set in the 60s, near Leicester. A very engaging and very funny read, though it's a dark novel in many ways.

- Ronald Hutton: THE DRUIDS. This is an overview of how Druidry has been perceived through the ages - demonic druids (they burn folk alive in wicker figures!), green druids (they preserve the woodland!), rebel druids (they're all mad bikers!) and so forth. It is curious to read a historical text containing people you actually know. The Druids who interest me most - since we know so little about the ancient Celts - are the people from the 16th century onwards, like the appropriately named John Wood (pere et fils) who built so much of Bath. The Circus was supposed to be a druidic temple and the Royal Crescent was, according to some authorities, intended to be a temple to the moon.

T is related to the Woods (the family name used to be Wood-Jones before someone decided it was too pretentious and shortened it) and architecture runs in his family. So he really does have an ancient(ish) druid heritage! But very probably, so do many of us - the quasi-Masonic societies of the 19th century had thousands of members.

Patricia Monaghan - THE RED HAIRED GIRL FROM THE BOG: PM is Irish-American, originally from Alaska. This is an account of her return to Ireland to find her relatives (which she did without much difficulty) and is an account of the landscape of Ireland and its myths. It's very well written - one of the best travel accounts I've read in recent years and if you're interested in Irish paganism, she goes quite deeply into some of the legends from a feminist perspective. It's also funny.
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I've been reading several things lately: at present, Kim Harrison's DEAD WITCH WALKING, which is good fun - in case of spoilers Read more... )
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I'm not up for anything very intense at the moment (probably killed too many brain cells over the festering period) and so I am reading a mainstream novel at the moment. Its charming but flighty heroine marries for wealth rather than love, cares more about horse-riding, seeing her (male) friends and dancing than her marital duties, and has a child whom she feels very little for and can't mourn when it dies. The supporting cast include feminist composers ('I'll never get married. I fall in love with people about 3 times a week'), Eurotrashy aristocrats, several gay characters, and a couple of divorcees.

The most old-fashioned thing about it is that all the women smoke cigs. And yet it was written in 1893 - it's EF Benson's 'Dodo' trilogy, written some considerable time before his Lucia novels. Reading it, you realise how stuffy the late Victorians weren't.


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April 2017

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