Julia has been staying in St Ives (the Cornish one) living among locals not emmets (the locals' not altogether insulting- indeed rather pretty- word for incomers and holiday makers.) The estate where her friend lives has a community garden with fruit trees and a skate park in the process of being built and places to sit out and look at the sea; also a big sort of cupboardy thing, well-roofed (I'm not sure if I'm visualising it correctly) with drawers- where you can deposit items you no longer need- like books and clothes and school uniforms- and help yourself to anything you want- and all without money coming into the equation. If we were the horrible creatures the media says we are this would be abused but we're not so it isn't. I call it a vision of the future.
I sometimes ask myself who my favourite living author is. There are several contenders. Ali Smith? David Mitchell? And I always forget about Susannah Clarke because she keeps a low profile and has only one enormous novel and a collection of short stories to her name- but now she has a new novel out and it sounds different and fascinating- and I'm putting in an order with Amazon. My favourite living author? Susannah Clarke. Absolutely. Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell is the only book by a living author I've read more than once. It may also be the only novel by a living author I unreservedly love.
I thought I loved Nicholas Nickleby too but I'm finding it hard to get through on the re-read. It has a wonderful cast of characters- but they're dependent on a central story that's hard to get worked up about. Nick and Kate and their deliciously scatty mother have been defrauded by their wicked uncle- but Nick is a smart lad, clever, talented, successful with women- so any set-back is only going to be temporary and I can't see why we're making such a fuss about it. Besides which he's not terribly interesting and neither is Ralph and Kate is a frightful drip who spends her time suffering nobly and weeping in corners. I care about Newman Noggs and I care about the Mantalinis and I care about Miss La Creevy and I care about Mr Crummles and his touring company (How Dickens loved the theatre!) but Nick and Kate and Uncle Ralph? Meh!