HISTORY OF THE RAIN

‘When it comes to Clare, when it passes our house, the river knows it is nearly free. I am plain Ruth Swain. See me, nineteen, narrow face, MacCarroll eyes, thin lips, dull hazelnut hair, gleamy Swain skin, pale untanable oddment, bony, book-lover, reader of so many nineteenth-century novels before the age of fifteen that I became exactly too clever by half, sufferer of Smart Girl Syndrome, possessor of opinions and good marks, student of pure English, Fresher, Trinity College Dublin, the poet’s daughter.’ My friend Kate recommended Niall Williams’ History of the Rain a while ago and I have been listening to it on audiobook. The first part is called ‘The Salmon in Ireland’ and the narration is very much an experience of meandering down river with a fellow poet, a fellow sufferer of the mystery of illness. I love Ireland, as anyone who follows me on Twitter knows because I have made so many friends though our mutual love affair with Marian Keyes – and listening to the Clare accent unfold the story of Ruth Swain is a perfect accompaniment to a tired, bruised soul. IMAG0107 ‘We are our stories. We tell them to stay alive or keep alive those who only live now in the telling. That’s how it seems to me, being alive for a little while, the teller and the told.’ Niall Williams has written a beautiful book – get it out on audio if you can for the truly Irish experience – the narrator is Jennifer McGrath – or read it, because you love attic rooms with skylights, leaping salmon, poetry and the possibility of reading three thousand, nine hundred and fifty-eight books before you die… 27.Niall Williams-History Of The Rain-jacket

OH YOU ANNE GIRL!

anne-of-green-gables

Although he watched the Canadian televised series of L. M. Montgomery’s  Anne of Green Gables at the height of his daughter’s obsession with the books, my father is only just reading the books. He is enchanted, of course. It is never too late or too early for Anne Shirley. It is always the perfect time. And isn’t it the perfect love story? Not Matthew and Anne – that part was easy. It was love at first train station. But Anne and Marilla – that’s the real exploration of love. Because Marilla never knew she needed Anne. Until she did.

Has there ever been a literary character quite like Anne? And isn’t it wonderful that we all became so familiar with Tennyson’s The Lady of Shalott and Noyes’ The Higwayman? Two Alfreds made more beloved by one red-haired orphan.