I’ve just got back from the Ladies Brunch at Caradoc Mission which is not far from Gladstone Dock, Seaforth, which gets a mention in the book I’m writing at the moment - as does the Caradoc pub. I meet my cousin and her daughter at the mission, so once a month we catch up on each other’s news, have a brilliant brunch and listen to how other people are coping with life. Our leader talked about her need to find a hiding place when life got a bit too much. I was reminded of the prophet, Elijah, in the Old Testament, and his trying to hide from God and in a storm he hears a still small voice telling him not to be afraid.
John and I were talking about hiding places on our way to Ormskirk yesterday. I remembered enjoying hiding in the rhododendron bushes in Newsham Park when I was a little girl and believing no one could see me. I loved hiding under the table in our kitchen with the table cloth pulled right down, so my sister and I could pretend we were in a tent. My brother preferred the coal cellar. All time favourite street games were “Hide and Seek” and “Stroke the Bunny”. We’d hide behind gate posts, private hedges, up jiggers (back entries) and neighbour’s front steps and shop doorways. One of my own children used to like nothing better than a large cardboard box with the top firmly closed, while another of them much preferred behind the sofa. My youngest son, Daniel, made his own hiding place at the bottom of the garden and stealthy absconded with a bottle of orange juice, several cushions, a large towel and some biscuits.
In the Fifties, the decade, my latest and last three books are set, there was a television programme called “No Hiding Place” which was a police detective series, staring Raymond Francis as Police Inspector Lockhart. Obviously the theme was that there was no hiding place for thieves when he and his sidekick were on the case. I discovered an episode on You Tube a few weeks ago and it really took me back to my teen years when my life seemed so much more simpler and less stressful.
When I feel the need to escape from everyday life, I like to get away or lose myself in a book. My perfect hiding place is in a book on holiday. I read eight books, each one very, very different whilst staying at the Lindos View on the Island of Rhodes.
They are as follows: ELEGY FOR EDDDIE by Jacqueline Winspear. Our heroine is Maisie Dobbs who is a woman sleuth, out of the norm, and the setting is mainly Thirties London. There is a whole series of Maisie Dobbs books and I’ve enjoyed every one I’ve read so far. PORTRAIT OF A SCANDAL by Annie Burrows, is pure historical romance escapism with a likeable hero and heroine set partly in Paris during the Regency era. THE WYNDHAM CASE by Jill Paton Walsh, is a mystery set in a Cambridge college. Our heroine is Imogen Quy and there are another two in the series. I read it in a day. The author was known to me for having written two Lord Peter Wimsey books in conjunction with notes left by Dorothy Sayers, if I’m not mistaken.
STARRY NIGHT by Debbie Macomber. I bought this for light relief and it is an easy read by an extremely popular American author. THE PROMISE by Freda Lightfoot is a family saga which involves a family mystery and is told from two points of view, that of the grandmother and which takes us back to late 19th century, early 20th century San Francisco and the granddaughter in late forties Britain. A page turner with lots of action and emotion. Well worth a read. THE ISLAND HIDEWAY by Louise Candlish. She is a new author to me but I went for the island of Sicily setting. Not my usual kind of read but I did enjoy the setting and found it interesting hiding out with modern characters whose lifestyle was so different to mine. I did finish it.
WE THAT ARE LEFT by Juliet Greenwood. This is a WW1 novel. Having researched the period myself, I still found plenty of interest in this book. I liked the main characters and enjoyed the settings. I was moved to tears and I’m glad to say there were happy satisfying moments as well as sad. Well worth a read. HEARTBREAK HOTEL by Deborah Moggach. I bought this because she is the author of THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL, of which I have seen the film. It is a sort of Rom-Com. I had problems from the beginning with the title as I kept thinking of Elvis’s hit song of the fifties. Then the main character’s nickname was Buffy, so what with my having a son who is a great fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I kept thinking of that Buffy. Having said that as a lover of Wales, I enjoyed the mainly Welsh setting. Lots of characters who I had trouble distinguishing one from the other at times. I also had to suspend belief in their actions. Occasionally amusing and touching, I did feel the author was perhaps much more au fait with today’s young woman than I am as a mother of sons.
I also read a bit each day of Henri Nouwen with Michael J. Christensen and Rebecca J. Laird’s SPIRITUAL DIRECTION which I found interesting and helpful but will need to read again.
On the last day of my holiday and homeward bound I began to read THE IVY TREE by Mary Stewart, bestselling author of romantic thrillers and historical novels. My favourites are THE MOONSPINNERS and MADAM, WILL YOU TALK. She is one of my favourite writers, who died recently at the age of 97. I re-read her books and this one I actually read about thirty years ago, so could remember little of what it was about. I finished it a few days ago and enjoyed it.
Now I have no hiding place from work as I have a deadline to meet and so I have to sit at my desk and get on with finishing my latest manuscript LOVE LETTERS IN THE SAND. Definitely few hiding places on a beach, although there’s always the sea.