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

Tuesday, December 02, 2008


Because we can't get to the Bourton-on-the-Water turning on of the lights for the third year running, we tried Woodstock, which was terrible! Ghastly Frank Sinatra (or was it Bing Crosby? anyway a 50s crooner) on tape and then a live rendition of Hark the Herald Angels Sing by a young woman with a strong voice and Pop Idol style, who couldn't fit the words to the tune, making a real muck of "Hail th'incarnate deity" and singing "rysen with healing in his wings".

And the tree had just one blue star at the top and light blue strings of them in its branches. Pathetic.

We had been Christmas shopping in Oxford Street the day before (which also had poor lights - is the credit crunch already creating an austerity Christmas?) so were quite tired and wished we hadn't turned out again.

But all was redeemed by the Bath Abbey Advent service by candlelight on Sunday. A wonderful choir washed our ears out with lovely motets and we sang lustily O Come, O Come Emmanuel, Hail to the Lord's Anointed and Lo, he comes with Clouds Descending. And went out into the frosty night carrying our candles.

Then hot cinnamon-spiced pear cider at the vegetarian restaurant where we had dinner. And now we have an Advent calendar and candle, so if we don't feel Christmassy after all that, there is no hope for us.

I'm seven chapters into City of Ships and getting into the rhythm of a new Stravaganza but the copy-edits for Troubadour came today, which will take up quite a bit of time. And I have a meeting at my picturebook publishers in London on Thursday, which ditto.

We had a lovely family gathering to celebrate the November birthdays the previous weekend and just-back-from-New-York daughter had brought all the US papers celebrating Obama's victory, since she woke up there on 5th November. Also a baseball cap and badges for me, so I could feel part of it.

I've read Lost in a Good Book by Jasper Fforde and am now reading The Well of Lost Plots. I rather feel that by the third one he is stretching the idea a bit. He seems to have run out of plot himself, paradoxically and be caught up in just inventing things.

We also had an assessed discussion in Italian Literature about a short story by Verga called l'Amante di Gramigna, which some of us have read before. It's a nasty ittle piece - how I dislike "verismo".

We've continued to watch Little Dorritt, in which Claire Foy is luminously beautiful. I wish I could like Eddie Marsan's Pancks better. He was wonderful in God on Trial and everyone else likes him but I find his snot-snorting mannerism revolting and it's hard to believe he is the fine character that Pancks is.

We also saw Andrew Graham-Dixon oiling himself round the subject of Vasari and the same tantalising glimpse of the Corridor. If only someone - not him! - would make a full length programme about it. You can't even get a book that tells you all the paintings that are in it.Ah well, maybe I'll get inside it one day.

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