Monday, 12 August 2013

Knitting, Coffee, Norwich & A Novel

This novel, Margaret Forster's The Unknown Bridesmaid, has been my holiday reading. I often ended up reading it at 5am, too hot to sleep.

This is a bleak but brilliant book. Forster's writing is nuanced and precise; she has a gift for portraying all the shades and subtleties of the character of Julia, her protagonist, as Forster charts Julia's life from childhood to adulthood. The novel alternates between these stages of Julia's life so that the reader is invited to see the effect that Julia's childhood has on her adult life, and Julia's adult profession as a child psychologist serves to reinforce these links between past and present. Forster's gift is also clear, I think, in her ability to create a protagonist who is ordinary yet interesting; not quite likeable - not admirable, nor warm - but whose actions and character are engaging nonetheless. Julia's character drives this novel, though her mother and aunt Maureen, her cousin Iris and school friend Caroline, are also beautifully drawn. There are some peculiarities to the novel: for example some major events in Julia's life are only alluded to, rather than depicted. Still, I read this avidly, though uneasily, until the final paragraph, which seems to offer a resolution.

In between bouts of reading this, I went to Norwich, a city which I love because of its gorgeous medieval buildings and tiny bars and cafes. I've mentioned its wool shops, too, before: lots of lovely yarn to be seen in Jarrolds and Crafty Ewe. I didn't buy anything, though - which sounds virtuous until I admit that I have the yarn for two adult projects and a baby project in my wardrobe... Anyway! We hunted for a house which has (supposedly) beams in it from the Spanish Armada. You can just see one, I think, on the left by the door at the bottom in this photo:

I loved these great posters. I have also been busy knitting my vintage-style cardigan in a colour called, er, Marmalade - it is rather mustardy and bright, but I am hoping I'll like the finished colour when it's done. It's Sublime yarn, and it's lovely - it doesn't split, and the stitches show up really nicely. I seem to have an awful lot of it, though, as I looked at the yardage (which I don't usually do) of the yarn Sirdar suggested first and made sure I had the equivalent - but there are just balls of it everywhere I look! Cardigans are dicey because the sizing always seems a bit unsatisfactory somehow - but we shall see! Fingers crossed!


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