I am thoroughly engaged in planning and executing mouth watering comeuppances via my literary detective agency. I am not deterred that the first assignment went awry, was a disaster in fact but the Boss is determined not to loose heart, she will stick to her original plans and try again.
The six women sleuth books I took from the library, to see if one matched mine in pace, tension or touches of humour and to which I may refer in my letter to an agent – don’t. I shall have to look further. (Does that mean I’m a one-off?)
P.D.James, erratic pace, sometimes dead boring, writes of wisteria in a hot summer sun, (wisteria blossoms in spring), BUT I do connect to the protagonist and wonder if mine is also accessible? Time to call upon my ‘reader’.
D.L.Sayers – NO, Susan Hill – no – M.C.Beaton, can’t face it.
However, two unexpected bonuses –
1. P.D.James describes a painting by Antonello, to which I was attracted. I found the painting on the internet, ‘St Jerome in his Study’, 1480.
The author has changed St Jerome to a ‘young, tonsured monk’, and there are no frivolities or oxen seen in the tiny but delightful landscape through the window, but P.D.James captures the feeling, perfectly.
The feeling of the painting, one of a man ‘in the spirit’, alone, in a mood of contemplation, connects me with my own, unfinished ‘murder’ painting of an author whose imaginative images come to life in her sitting room.
2. Susan Hill’s ‘Shadow in the Street’, names a book, ‘Learning to Dance’, by Michael Mayne. For some reason, I liked the title and looked it up on Amazon. Michael Mayne was Dean of Westminster Abbey and head of BBC radio religious programmes.
On browsing further, I discovered that Michael Mayne suffered with ME. A condition which I live with. I have ordered the book in which he describes himself and ME, ‘A Year Lost and Found’.
I also like the painting on the book’s cover which uses complementary colours – ie mauve/yellow – turquoise/gold, colours which make each other sing out loud.
The post-script to Michael Mayne’s last book, ‘The Enduring Melody’, written when he had terminal cancer, seems to me to be important –
‘However mixed our motives in writing (or reading) books, in the end they are about the desire to share (or learn more) what it means to be human and what matters to us most, to speak what we feel not what we ought to say. For those who write such books and launch them into a critical world, they aim to be, in short, a small – and sometimes quite risky – act of love.’ Michael Mayne, ‘The Enduring Melody’.
And this quote, used by Michael Mayne, expands and speaks to thoughts contained in my post ‘Positive Thinking’, January 2013, though spoken in a quite different way –
‘All is well. Not by facile optimism, not in blinkered evasions, but in the richest and most active dimensions of our humanity. It is the illumination we must and ever seek on the other side of the dark.’ Dennis Potter.