Saturday, March 12, 2011

taking comfort in chairs

My mother crocheted this cotton cushion-cover for me. It's lovely. You were just about to say so, weren't you? And on such a handsome chair! I hope I haven't blocked off a commenting avenue for you there.

[crochet cushion, ivory, pink border, lovely]

And Julie inspired me to make this semi-slip-cover, suitable for a craftswoman with a short attention span. It looks as though I put in some minor effort but is achieved by sewing a tea-towel onto a plain white pillowcase for an instant French country look, non?

[guestroom chair with slip-cover]

It rains here, away from home, and I need the distraction of fiction. Can you recommend anything, or indeed have you had something suitable published yourself in your go-getting way?

[made using the Catalog Card Generator]

There undoubtedly exist novels that are very readable despite falling into some of these fusspot exclusion categories, but morale is low and I have made so many mistakes with book-buying online that I need to be CERTAIN. I just want something self-assured, intricate and ineffable, preferably with a foreword. Something that fends off dampness and the suspicion that one has packed the wrong shoes.


  1. Such a lovely cushion! And on such a handsome chair!

  2. your mother is a genius as is her daughter....
    you've been gone long, I've spent manys the damp day glumly looking at "pretty far west has no unread items" just waiting for your return , no book would suffice but seeing as your asking.....
    i remember really liking 'barneys version' by mordechai richler the film is out soon so it's best you read it before then....i've read such little fiction of late, it's always dissapointed and i never seem to get further that the first chapter....but I can tell you that to date the best book i've ever read is the torilla curtain by T. Coraghessan Boyle, have you read these?
    ps where are you if you are not at home?

  3. How about some Canadian novels.

    Larry's Party..Carol Shields

    The Way the Crow Flies..Ann Marie MacDonald

    Late Nights on Air...Elizabeth Hay.

    In a Far Country..Linda Holeman (my brothers ex-girlfriend. Boy was I disappointed when they broke up...she was amazing)

  4. May I recommend Barbara Cartland, Mise? She would also go with the cushion covers! Job done.

  5. Such a lovely cushion! And on such a handsome chair!

    I'm reading Toss Of A Lemon at the moment, but its very generational. actually its an over-achiever on that dept, so maybe not for you. oh, you said no to romance too, so perhaps austen and cartland are out as well. bummer.

    I'm not so good at the book suggestions, my idea of a pick me up and take me away is the new editions of every home magazine on earth stacked up in a pile to the left of me and a big glass of something 18+ to the right of me. Might be worth a try, really does work a treat.

  6. oh my flipping giddy aunt, that card thing is brilliant. just been playing with it. coolness

  7. Lovely cushion, handsome chair. Or to be slightly different handsome cushion, lovely chair. Does your Mum have an etsy store?
    I am about to start reading Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones. I don't know what to expect or whether it is any good...but I have a warm feeling about it.

  8. Such a lovely cushion.

    And such a beautiful chair!

    There, got that out of the way.

    Why doesn't your list also say 'No Vampires'.

    Read some Tim Winton. Dirt Music and Breathe. Seriously good . And for something more petticoaty, Kate Morton, also Australian although mostly set in UK.

    I am reading a bit of Lee Child at the moment mostly because what that Jack Reacher guy goes through is really bad and violent and makes me feel better about my life! It is funny the way one goes through phases.


  9. Ah Mise, you're so so lovely and handsome too in a totally unchair like way... and not at all cushiony...

  10. i love the colors in your home- although in a house of boys I don't stand a chance.

  11. Such a lovely cushion/ blanket/ chair/ rug/ thing you made!

    Are there no bookshops where you've gone? They're designed for damp days and wrong shoes. Your amazing card would fit in perfectly.

    I read lots of the forbidden sorts of books, interspersed with other forbidden ones for light relief and variety.

    Recently I've enjoyed Room, Skippy Dies and Brooklyn- all have parents in them, but aren't 'generational'. Wolf Hall is brilliant.

    Maggie O'Farrell's stuff is grand and might avoid the issues.

    *may need to come back after a thorough examination of the bookcases, weeding out crime and humour*

    Of course, To Kill a Mockingbird and I Capture the Castle are always worth a reread. And Anne of Green Gables if you need a comfortable, cosy cry.

  12. I would like to (ahem) consider myself something of an expert in the French Country Charm Dept being as I live in France, in the country and ooze charm personally.

    Bookwise, I recommend Visits From The Drowned Girl by Stephen Sherrill. Has nothing off your list, and is one of my all time faves.

    Oh yes, I have something very interesting I keep meaning to show you involving Bon Maman jars too…..

  13. The Year of Wonders. Uplifting without being in any way saccharine and annoying. Loved the heroine.

  14. I read as I breathe so I barely have time to tell if I like a book or not. There's always another to be read.

    Kind of like my marriage history....

    To my left is a battered copy of Good Family by Terry Gamble. On the radiator is a new book Blood, Bones and Butter ( The Inadvertent Education Of A Reluctant Chef) by Gabrielle Hamilton, and i just finished rereading Beginners Greek by James Collins. Still don't know why it got such fab reviews.

    Will you be sitting on your chair while reading?

    xo jane

  15. Thanks, everyone, for all those good suggestions; I have the makings of a bedside table piled happily high there.

    Speccy, your comment reminded me of India Knight's fine booklist - And as for Anne of GG, it's a wonder that every blogger out there doesn't have a child called Gilbert.

    Suzie, what a dear you are to ooze some of your charm over here. May we see the jars now?

  16. I love crocheted cushions. They are so cosy and comforting. Looks great on the chair too!

  17. Mise! That cushion cover is so... and the chair is very... darn it, have gone down the very comment cul-de-sac that you warned us about!

    (Comment cul-de-sacs are de rigour down my way. Look at that - two bits of French in one sentence. I'm so going up in the world.)

    As for a book rec - I recently (way after everyone else) read Her Fearful Symmetry and liked it very much. And this one might be a re-read but what about Cold Comfort Farm? Everyone needs to channel Flora Poste sometimes.

    And thank you so much for your lovely comment on my new blogging venture. Thrilled I was to see you there! Oh dear, have turned into Yoda.

  18. Although your mother's artless cushion is truly lovely - I can't single anything in the whole creamy, rosy arrangement for particular praise, because they all sit together with such harmony. Kind of like a delicious, textile, ice-cream sundae....

    (gushy enough for ya?)

    I would recommend 'The Book Thief' by Marcus Zusak. I checked your list, and although it is quite poetic, I don't think it is offensively so. It passes on all other counts.

    It has the kind of descriptive writing that is arresting because you've never quite heard anything described that way before.

    Quite tearjerking at the end, but I like to feel something when I read - although not irritation obviously. Reminded me of myself as a child.

    x x x

  19. I had a phase of Mary Wesley, Nancy Mitford et al as a direct response to India Knight's list! I tried to get our book club to work through it, but they made me read The Slap instead. Don't even try that one.

    I fought hard to ensure that my daughters weren't named after footballers from the 1970s and 80s- I don't think I'd have been able to get away with Gilbert :)

  20. I see that Tom Stephenson recommended Barbara Cartland. He is a Very Bad Man to do that. I read a BC novel once when I was babysitting and it was the only book in the house. I can remember the outrageous plot to this day, 40 years later. This is not a good thing.....

  21. I have a bedding set in the same pattern as the upholstery on that handsome chair. It (the bedding set) is neatly packed into one of its own pillow cases, naturally. Sadly I don't have a lovely cushion to complete the set.

    I only read overtly comedic romantic generational kooky mystical redemptive books with killer fantastical creatures on the loose within a suburban setting that begin with snappy poetic opening sentences which provoke unwarranted emotion, so I don't think I can help you, sorry.

  22. wow I love the chair and the cushion is so lovely, seeing pretty things like these give me so much inspiration and the want to be creative! Thanks!

  23. Well, I'm about to go to bed with Gulliver's Travels because the recent Radio 4 modernisation nmakes me realise I've never read the original all the way through and a colleague told me this week that I wouldn't understand all of it anyway- INDEED! So here goes, and your criteria aren't very good if you reject this suggestion because it patently ticks all your boxes. Or maybe I've misunderstood what it's all about.....

  24. Perhaps you'd enjoy a little “processual poetry”. How about Soap by Francis Ponge ?

  25. Gilbert - now there's a name I'd forgotten. I'm with Jules. My reading material spans way too many of your forbidden list, but a huge pile of magazines and a glass or two of wine. Et voilĂ  (my French is good too, non?) you can wile away many a wet day quite contentedly.
    And Milly would recommend Diary of a Wimpy Kid, which actually I think might not disagree with anything on your list. Xx

  26. I cant concentrate on the cushion or the chair or anything else. The library card has thrown me - wow what a geek I am?!!! Sinead

  27. A yellow croched tablecloth shows up in Dezso Kostolany's "Skylark." Beautiful translation out of the Hungarian, as is "Embers" by Sandor Marai. All the emotion is warranted, the romance killed by darker passions.

  28. What a handsome cushion cover on a lovely chair. And such an original comment.

  29. Thank you, thank you, kind people. I'm very grateful for the suggestions and compiling them all so as to be marvellously entertained and diverted. I might learn Hungarian as well, such is my enthusiasm, so as to evaluate the translations.

  30. Well just this once Mise I have to say I prefer my crocheted goodness this time (and if anyone else reads this just click on me to see why!) and as for reading Margaret Atwood and Grahm Swofy do ti for me. must dash to try the index card thingy - just the thing for a "should have been a librarian"

  31. Mise, it would seem the apple does not fall too far from the tree in the crafty minx department.

    I'm going through a very flat stage with fiction at the moment also. Am itching to see "just the thing" that you've recommended:)

    I'm with Speccy...Year of Wonders is one of my all time favourite books. Also agree with her re The Slap...don't waste your money. Can't stand a book where there is not even one likeable character. Can't figure out why it was so popular.

    I'm afraid I'm not much use to you, I'm obsessed with travel memoirs, cookbooks and writings on Apologetics at present. Love to you and your chair and cushion emporium. Meredy xo

  32. Lovely, gracious chair you have, and how fortunate that you have an item that was made by your mother.

    I do not know how well it fits your descriptions, but I enjoy Alexander McCall Smith's "44 Scotland Street SERIES." Interesting characters that are probably like some people we know -well, maybe to the extreme, locale is Edinburgh, and is easy to read.

  33. Hi dear Mise
    Thought it must have been a different Julie.. Glad to have inspired you... to have inspired anyway actually. haha In fact you've made even more effort than me by actually sewing!! Looks fab..

    And the chair is wonderful and your mum certainly is clever with the hook!!!

    Can't suggest any books unless you'd like the whole bin full i just had to chuck due to damp in the garage!!! No.. that's no good.. won't get your mind of the damp..

    Okey dokey.. Have a lovely weekend.. ciao xxxx Julie

  34. i should have thought of that !!... specific reading to ward off the chilly and distractions from having packed the wrong winter coats....
    ahh hindsight. you teach me well

  35. o and i recommend - a jest of god - margaret atwood - canadian

  36. hey Mise, have a great time at the blog awards if you're going. x

  37. Beautiful cushions AND chairs! cx

  38. MIse, i wish I could read a book you have written. You and your commenters are so bright and witty and I always so enjoy a visit here. Lifts my spirits no end. I am going to go through and copy everybook mentioned here and then perhaps I can become bright and witty as well. Lovve you are a rare and special woman.

  39. I know I'm late to the fair but
    it's Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness for you, Mise. Or Iain Sinclair's White Chapel Scarlet Tracings.

  40. I would suggest something from Catherine Coulter's FBI series,

    I wish I could meet people with such snappy repartee as the two characters Savich and Sherlock who weave their way throughout this series. "The Cove" is the first, but feel free to jump right in anywhere.


You're looking particularly well.

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