Mary's musings

Mary Hoffman, author of over 90 children's books, including the Stravaganza series and Amazing Grace, has begun a web journal which will be updated roughly once a week. You can read more on

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Snow on Easter Sunday!

Woke up and looked out of our 'magic window" around 8am and there was a soft covering of snow on the pond and fountain. It was still falling and the cats couldn't go out, to their disgust. But they were very good and let us have another hour in bed. We hadn't got back from Bristol till 1am.

Hamlet at the Tobacco Factory was directed by Jonatahn Miller and was exceptionally clear and good in ensemble. The Hamlet himself was fine but not remarkable in the way Jonathan Slinger was at Stratford in the Histories. But the text was so clear throughout that it was possible, even after all this time and so many readings and viewings to have some new thoughts.

I agree with Yeats that Ophelia's mad scenes are actually unstageable. The actor, from Oxford School of Drama, made a good fist of it but the flowers were imaginary and Laertes' remark about how she turned all to prettiness was not applicable.

I made an Easter egg hunt before going to church and finished trimming the simnel cake when we got back, since Jess and James were cooking the lunch.

I haven't managed much Troubadour this week so shall try to catch up this afternoon.

I read a short story by Ceare Pavese and wrote an essay about Leonardo Sciascia. I heard Biber's Rosary sonatas, written for among other instruments, violins re-strung for each movement. I saw the last of the current episodes of Lewis, with Oxford looking beautiful; wish I'd seen the real thing in the snow.

Monday, March 17, 2008


We had our third SAS get-together in Coventry, where the hotel no longer feels as if run by a group of children. My "room" was a huge suite with a kitchen area with a coffee machine so I took advantage of our late start on Sunday to use it and do some Armadillo editing on my laptop.

It was good to see everyone - about 25 of us including some new members.Our outside speaker was an inspirational web designer who made me feel very inadequate - must make better use of this blog!

OK, so in relation to work, I've finished proofreading City of Secrets, which will go off for final printing tomorrow, and the first section (a third) of Troubadour. The details of my Languedoc trip have arrived, where I shall visit Nimes, Carcassonne and Montpellier - all cities that have scenes in the book, though in 1208. On the one free morning I might get to B├ęziers as well.

Reading has been dominated by Shakespeare's Histories as has the rest of my life.We had our "Glorious Moment" over the weekend - many moments actually. It consis
Toted of 8 plays performed on 4 days thus: 1 + 3 + 3 + 1. But on day 4 we also had a brunch, a talk from the director and a reception to meet the actors.

Day 2 was toughest, with bad back-ache, but our posture must have improved by day 3 when we also had 3 plays and didn't suffer - perhaps we were just in training by then? We had seen all the productiions before and they were even better than first time round. Stand-out performances from Jonathan Slinger as Richard 11 and 111 (and the Bastard of Orleans and Fluellen); Clive Wood as Bolingbroke, Henry 1V and Edmund of York, Katy Stephens as Joan of Arc and Margaret of Anjou, and John McKay as the Dauphin and Jack Cade.

But the whole ensemble were marvellous. And the production is so exciting. I do find the Eastcheap scenes tedious but they did them asd well as they could be done. They'll be in London at the Roundhouse from 1st April.

Today we got up and thought "no drive to Stratford" and "no Shakespeare"! But we're going to Hamlet in Bristol next Saturday so that will help with the withdrawal problem.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Westron wind

Well, the frescoes are all over now and I shall miss them.We ended with Altichiero in Padua - a fine cycle. But it will be good to get Thursday mornings back - I have so much to do!

Finished covers have arrived for City of Secrets and finished copies of Kings and Queens of the Bible (due out in May). Secrets proofs should have come but now won't till Monday and I'll have only 10 days to turn them round. It all takes away from Troubadour but it certainly makes me feel like a writer. (Actually this is true all the time now).

The Falconer's Knot has been nominated for a prize in the States. I'd love to win this one because I could then say I had a "Malice Domestic Agatha Award"! That would certainly be worth having.

I had to drive over to a Gloucestershire village to meet an artist last week and would have been lost without Tim - lots of leafy lanes and muddy roads. As is his wont, he said confidently "you have reached your destination," at a point where there were no street names. I parked on the green and wandered up a street with no house names when a man carrying the Guardian passed by and said "Are you looking for X?" Obviously you can take the girl out of North London but not vice versa.

I read Stardust and actually thought the film was better, in terms of a more coherent plot, though it's possibly a bit overbalanced by Robert de Niro's camp pirate captain, which wasn't even suggested in the book.

Am now re-reading John Julius Norwich's Shakespeare's Kings, in preparation for The Glorious Moment, which is happening the week after next.

I heard lots of versions of Poulenc's Gloria on CD Review and felt nostalgic because my London choir sang it at least once. Also heard Melvyn's Bragg's In Our Time on King Lear, where Jonathan Bate said, incredibly, that Cordelia "couldn't think of anything to say" in the first scene, showing that even Shakespeare scholars can be downright daft, And the three experts agreed that the storm scene was like The Waste Land. I think Becket would be the better comparison.

I saw far too much television! Torchwood, ER, Life in Cold Blood and Lewis. This last was a scream, especially the producer's idea of a typical student house in Oxford - red brick double-fronted, lovely big living-room with tastefully chosen furniture and no dirty dishes etc. etc. Eat your heart out, People's Republic of East Oxford!

I didn't feel the earthquake but was kept awake most of last night by the hurricane - why wasn't that on the news?