Hello from Buderim.
Good news for those readers who have asked for a hard copy of Searching for Family. It is now available through Amazon as a paperback. If you are a fan of family stories, this one is for you. With love, drama, tragedy, and loss this is a very personal and heart-warming story spanning two continents and seventy years. Check out the details on the front page of my website.
The month of May is certainly aptly named – for My Sunshine Coast, I mean. It’s a matter of it may get published or it may not. I was pleased with the feedback I received from the manuscript assessor, but rather less pleased with the quotes to publish it as a quality book. I know my standards were high, and I expected to pay for them, but perhaps not quite as much as I was told. Some serious thinking had to be done. Thoughts of assistance in the way of a grant began to form in my mind. With a final edit still to be done plus the formatting and design, there were some possibilities of assistance there. The next round of grant submissions is not until September so there will be a slight pause in progress. Until then, my second project gets underway to try and raise some extra cash to get it into print. More of that next month, but keep your fingers crossed for me.
Meantime, not to abandon working on the book completely, our travelling this month has been around Noosa and Eumundi – the northern section of the Sunny Coast. Again, our gorgeous sunny weather has made it ideal for enjoying days out - though not so great for photographs. It makes for very contrasting pictures, especially if, like me, you don’t have an in depth knowledge of photography nor a super-expensive camera. It does make you think twice before you point and click.
I have written about the Classic book club I joined at the beginning of this year and so far the books we have read have been extremely varied. This month it was Cold Comfort Farm, that comic novel by Stella Gibbons. Once I was got my head around the fact that it was not meant to be taken seriously, I enjoyed it immensely, especially the wonderful characters that make up the Starkadder family. Even the cows’ names caused a laugh – Graceless, Pointless, Feckless and Aimless – and when reading that while walking along ‘Graceless’s leg had come off and she was managing as best she could with three’ then one abandons all hope of trying to take this book seriously. It was time to just sit back and enjoy the journey.
It was yet another in the wide variety of books we have read since we began this journey and it made me wonder - what it is that makes a book a classic? We have had Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Far from the Madding Crowd, Harp in the South and now Cold Comfort Farm. What is it about these books that make them favourites for generations? They have nothing in common, other than the fact they keep on selling. So, turning to Google and asking ‘what makes a book a classic?’ I found the following.
A classic is a book which, even when we read it for the first time, gives the sense of rereading something we have read before.
A classic is a book which has never exhausted all it has to say to its readers.
I quite like the second statement and with that in mind I’ll share with you my personal classic, though not a classic in any accepted literary lists. Only a short book, I find it a joy to read and it is one I return to from time to time.
In 1987 I discovered 84 Charing Cross Road when I had a few hours to fill one rainy Saturday morning in Sydney and decided to see a movie. It starred Anne Bancroft as Helene Hanff, a New York writer with a passion for English literature, and Anthony Hopkins as Frank Doel, a dealer in antiquarian books. Perhaps the rapport between the two influenced me as much as the post war English scenery and the fact that I was, at that time, a prolific letter writer (prior to emails). Whatever it was I went straight out to buy the book and it has been a favourite ever since. The story is told through a series of letters between the pair as Hanff seeks the literary books she cannot find in New York and Doel tracks them down and sends them to her through the post. Although it is never outwardly spoken, a long distance romance develops between the two. With Hanff’s flirtatious letters and Doel’s very formal responses, the reader waits for the two to meet, anxious to discover where the relationship will lead.
Last time we were in London we went searching for 84 Charing Cross Road. The building was still there and at that time housed a retail outlet – of what I cannot recall. Today it houses, of all things, a MacDonald’s restaurant.
So do you have your own classic? Let me know, I’d love to hear from you.
Back next month.