For the first time ever, I made Hot Cross Buns for Good Friday.
The first few paragraphs of this review in the TLS tell you the idea behind of the book. Even though it's behind a paywall. I've linked to it because of the striking photograph. Thank God those prams are not all full of babies.
The story tells of the might-have-been lives of five people who were killed as infants in an air raid during the second world war. The air raid was real, but Spufford's characters are not based on any of those who passed away. He has created them entirely from his head, and also created the premise that the raid did not, in fact happen. And yet the book is so convincingly written and so true to life, that I ended up believing these five people simply must have existed, and also mourning the death of those tragic real children who never had a chance to live.
His earlier book, "Golden Hill" about pre-Revolutionary New York, had this quality of almost painful realism, all the little details about daily life seemed to transport the reader right back to that unfamiliar (for me) time and place. This is the cover of "Golden Hill", and if you spot it, I can only suggest you take a look and see what you think.
He is a non-preachy Christian, so obviously he looks towards the light after death rather than the darkness, even though there is no explicit religious message in the books and even though his characters suffer terribly at times. After the stress and strain of the last year, I'm glad to have an engaging, positive book to read, and I'd love to hear your views if you have read it too.
Last week, England's lockdown relaxed just a bit, and we're now allowed to meet up to six people who aren't in the same household, so long as we are outside. So we went for a walk with S. who is in his first year of university studies ... except that he's at home doing university on Zoom when he ought to be 400 miles away at a real place with real people. There's nothing he or any of his friends can do about it but I know it is a bit hard on them all.
Anyway, we began on the South bank of the Thames, and he took T and me northwards for a mile or two to see the London home of the famous Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot, perhaps Agatha Christie's most famous creation.
Poirot is one of S's favourite fictional characters, and he is one of mine too. David Suchet seems synonymous with Poirot, and I love everything about his long-running BBC series, from the brilliant 1930s style titles, to the acting, the settings, the wonderful costumes, and ... well just everything.
In the BBC series, Poirot lives in an art deco block of flats which would have been the latest thing in the 1930s. You can see the block at about 2.20 on this episode.... I found myself watching the rest of the episode, too!