I’d waltzed through Foxglove Summer, the new Ben Aaronovitch — Constable Peter Grant despatched to l’Angleterre profonde.
Ah, now! It is greatly to be hoped that the TV rights (surely the adaptation is inevitable?) on the Rivers of London series fall to the BBC, so the scripting can be doctored by the likes of Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat.
Then, something for the weekend, an older (but to me, latest) Christopher Fowler to come my way: Seventy-Seven Clocks. Ummm, I have to say the Bryant & May mysteries have matured, like last year’s Christmas pud, since that one — the third in the sequence? — waspublished. Anyway, that means all ten of the sequence knocked off. All the notes, but not necessarily in the right order.
“Always, scribble, scribble, scribble! Eh! Mr. Sansom?”
Well, none too quickly for me.
The latest Shardlake, Lamentation, from CJ Sansom, is another solid chunk of cellulose and hard-back — a nice production to take up shelf-space alongside its predecessors. That was the intended next one off the guilt-pile; and, indeed, I had reached Shardlake channelling his inner Sherlock among the printers of St Paul’s Churchyard.
More on that later, perhaps.
Essaying the Cevennes
Then, idly, my hand fell on Richard Holmes (no connection with Sherlock), and his Footsteps, Adventures of a Romantic Biographer from the mid-80s. This had been one of my many lurkers for years now.
I tried a few paragraphs, and was hooked. Shardlake and Sansom may have to wait.
Suddenly I’m with a young Holmes, just eighteen (and therefore the summer of 1964):
After ten years of English boarding schools, brought up by Roman Catholic monks, I was desperate to slip the leash. Free thought, free travel, free love was what I wanted. I suppose a foreign affaire de coeur would have been the best thing of all; and that, in a way was what I got.
Oh, so neatly, so elegantly Holmes integrates a thorough appreciation of RL Stevenson, and close observation of the French landscape, along with delicious vignettes of the people he meets on the way.
Obviously I then looked for my Travels with a Donkey, a nice embossed library edition and the Walter Crane illustration, too. It has gone AWOL.
I shall have to content myself with Holmes in the mad Parisian early summer of 1968, reconciling himself with the parallel experience of Wordsworth in 1790:
I’m going to enjoy every page.