Last month we introduced a new service: the Reading Doctor. Read more about Dr Louise here. And do feel free to request further prescriptions, as needed!
Prescription #5: something cosy
What do you recommend for these days of ''bubble'' life?
As we all stay local and stay home in our bubbles, let’s take a moment to appreciate the often overlooked virtues of the domestic life in which we are currently and involuntarily immersed: think Elinor Dashwood, the steady, quiet heroine of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, rather than her sister, the more dramatically passionate Marianne.
For the tasks and chores which form the foundation of daily life, making our more glamorous lives outside the home possible, don’t need to be thought of as mundane, repetitive acts of unseen drudgery. These books elevate the ordinary to the extraordinary, they value a quiet moment and the domestic sphere, they find enough drama in the everyday. May they inspire you to think of washing the dishes as an act of love, of cooking as an act of nurturing, and of folding the socks as an act of kindness, whether you’re the one giving or receiving.
- For younger readers or nostalgic adults, Anne of Green Gables by L M Montgomery, Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder, and Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, are all books in which the chores of daily domestic life involve every member of the family and take all day, and in which each act and member is equally vital and valued.
- Elizabeth Smither reveals the complexities and oddnesses which lie behind the apparently ordinary and everyday in her collection of short stories, Listening to the Everly Brothers and Other Stories.
- Richard Russo writes with enormous humanity about the people in the small Maine town of Empire Falls.
- An omniscient narrator walks through a small Welsh fishing village, in Dylan Thomas’ radio drama Under Milk Wood, listening to the innermost thoughts of its inhabitants before watching them go about their daily tasks, now illuminated with additional meaning.
- As The Pedant in the Kitchen, it’s possible that Julian Barnes takes his domestic duties a little too seriously, with hilarious effects.
- In A Spool of Blue Thread, Anne Tyler takes family life as her subject, detailing the subtelties of tensions, rivalries and connections over three generations of Whitshanks.
- Emily Perkins’ follows a family as it develops, evolves and changes over time in The Forrests, picking out significant moments – both small and large – which together form full and rich lives.
- Richard Ford writes about men who are fully conscious of their own ordinariness: in Lay of the Land it’s 55-year-old Frank Bascombe, who has settled into “a state of optimistic pragmatism that he calls the Permanent Period of life”.
- After returning from the big, wide world, Langston Braverman has to readjust to the delicate rhythms of the small town she once fled, in Haven Kimmel’s The Solace of Leaving Early.