Wednesday, 17 December 2008


Hungry little beaks anxious for food. An injured blackbird arrived in our garden a with limp and a dragging wing, unable to fly, about ten days ago, right at the start of the coldest December in the UK for thirty years. I doubted he would survive, but he has. I hope my offerings of brown bread, sultanas and raw bacon helped. He certainly snapped them up.

No word from the Newcastle Journal as yet, but I've received a request from Historical Novel Review to be reviewed and do an interview around the time of publication. Of course I'll do it! No doubt about it. The site is newish still, but doing very well, and I'm delighted to be asked. If you don't know it, pop over and have a peek.

Shopped till I dropped yesterday with a best friend (mates since we were about twelve!) and finally got dh's pressy sorted. Today he is out on a retired-colleagues-reunion-Christmas-drink-thingy, so I got rushed up the street and bought the wrapping paper (we used the last to send stuff to Oz), wrapped it

and now it sits smugly in its tartan wrapping paper with the gold and white flowers for decoration. He's bound to see it next time he walks into my study and I can't decide if I'm going to tease him and make him wait until Christmas or give it him today.

Back to my reading list. I finished The Queen of Sorrow by Suzannah Dunn. Mary Tudor is at the centre of the story, but the tale is told by a Spaniard who arrives with Philip's entourage, supposedly to build a sun-dial for the Queen's pleasure. He is unpaid and unhappy, anxious to return home, but meets the Queen by accident and they like each other for the ten minutes they converse. The story moves along slowly, with lots of small incidents, lots of historically accurate detail of life at the time, but I must admit that from half-way through I wished the tale would hurry up and arrive somewhere. In the last few pages it did, and it makes me shudder every time I think of it.
Since then I've finished my first Tracy Chevalier story - The Lady and the Unicorn. Set in Brussels in the later 1400s it weaves (yes, I know!) a story around the Unicorn tapestries now in the Musee National du Moyen Age in Paris. Each chapter is told from a different character's perspective and it certainly makes for a closely woven (!) and intricate tale that held my interst all the way through. The brief epilogue suggests that all the characters once lived - even Alienor the blind girl, whose tale engaged my sympathy far more than Claude, daughter of the rich man who commissions the tapestries. It is an intriguing thought that the artist drew portraits of Claude, Alienor and their mothers and put them into the tapestries. I enjoyed the story very much.

Now I've begun Robert Harris's The Ghost on my friend's recomendation. Up to page 95 and it's looking good. More on this one later.


Linda Banche said...

Poor blackbird. I hope he survives. What are the birds in the picture?

Jen Black said...

One of the finch family, Linda. Chaffinch, perhaps? I'm no expert on names. They're very small birds, about the size of sparrows and they move very fast. In and out at the feeder like a professional bombing raid. The blackbird is still around. He can fly a little and he's very clever at hopping from level to level via the shrubs and fences. Jen

Linda Banche said...

Congratulations on the Historical Novel Review interview. Let us know when they have it, and also the Newcastle Journal article. Is the Newcastle Journal on the web?

Jen Black said...

The HN review is et for the week 1-7th February, right after the book comes out. As for the Newcastle Journal...well that's another story. should give you the newspaper.