Park Notes

Life chez Emilybooks has been terribly busy over the past week, and I’m sorry for the delayed post. Some friends came to stay, prompting a jolly few days of chatting, wandering and lazing, rather than concentrated reading, So I’m afraid thoughts on A Portrait of a Lady won’t appear until Monday.

I thought, however, that I better reveal our secret little hop back over to London. The husband and I spent Tuesday and Wednesday back in the big (VERY BIG after tiny Lucca) smoke, feeling a little like we were skiving school. London was lovely and cool after the heat of Italy, and looked especially beautiful in the sunshine, with everyone out on the pavements and so sunny tempered. I loved having a proper strong cup of tea in a caff, accompanied by toast and Marmite. It was such a joy to be able to chat so easily to the waiter about a mutual love of Marmite and the weather (of course) after so many weeks of suffering the painful embarrassment of being able to say little other than ‘Grazie’ several times.

Park Notes launchThere were a couple of reasons for this little jaunt. Firstly, it was the book launch for Park Notes – a beautiful collection of writings and pictures inspired by Regent’s Park and curated by Sarah Pickstone, whose striking paintings I wrote about here. Very excitingly, the book includes an essay on George Eliot by me!

What makes it particularly thrilling is that I am giddy with admiration for so many of the other contributors. Of course there are all the dead ones – Sylvia Plath, Virginia Woolf, Elizabeth Bowen, Katherine Mansfield to name a few – but among the living are the formidably intelligent Marina Warner, Olivia Laing – one of the most elegant writers of place, insightful Lara Feigel, brilliant Iain Sinclair and the mighty Ali Smith. And all this interspersed with Sarah Pickstone’s gorgeous work.

I could go on, but feel it’s in rather bad taste to review one’s own work … So I will leave you with one of my favourite quotations from the book, which comes from Ali Smith’s reliably inspiring short story ‘The Definite Article’:

I stepped out of myself and into the park, I stepped off the pavement and into a place where there’s never a conclusion, where regardless of wars, tragedies, losses, finds, the sting of the sweetness of what’s gone in a life, or the preoccupations of any single time, any single being, on it goes, the open-air theatre of flowers, trees, birds, bees, the open vision at the heart of the old city.

Of course there’s nothing I’d love more than to know what you make of the book. You can buy a copy from Daunt’s here, or please do go and support your local independent bookshop.

There was another reason for our brief return… It was time for the twenty-week scan for baby Emilybooks! I know I’ve been rather secretive about it here, but it’s the sort of news that is quite hard to slip into a post about EM Forster.

All was looking very well, and it was wonderful to see the little person wriggling around, even giving us a little wave. Might I also add this to my defence of such excessive ice cream consumption in recent weeks? Calcium, you see, is vital to help build all those little bones.

Ice cream time in Lucca

Henry James is coming on Monday. Have a lovely sunny weekend!

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8 Responses to “Park Notes”

  1. Alice Says:

    Congratulations, Emily! Marvellous news!

    You’ve probably heard this a lot from people already, and you will still, but… Alice is a wonderful name, boy or girl really. They grow up to be such brilliant people. And so modest…. ha!

    I shall have to get Park Notes next time I travel around London book shopping. It is the type of book I don’t think I would normally read, which makes it all the more appealing.

    P.s. Marmite is amazing.

    • emilybooks Says:

      Thanks Alice! And yes, Alice is indeed a lovely name, guaranteed to make someone grow up in their very own Wonderland. I hope you enjoy the book! Perhaps best enjoyed accompanied by a piece of toast with the good stuff spread on it.

  2. genusrosa Says:

    Well I would call this the most wonderfully newsy, action packed blog ever! Congratulations on both big events!!

  3. Jo Says:

    What wonderful news, congratulations, I am thrilled for you, and your husband. I hope you continue to be well and enjoy your pregnancy, we look forward to you having even more to share with us. Do take care x

    • emilybooks Says:

      Thanks Jo! I am really looking forward to the chance to revisit some favourite children’s books!

  4. Jane Says:

    Congratulations, Emily! This is lovely news. A very good reason to put your feet up and read good books for a few months, .

    • emilybooks Says:

      Thanks Jane! I also hope to do rather a lot of swimming, and might just attempt to knit my own pair of very fetching lido socks.

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