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, February 22, 2009

Green shoots

Sorry for the silence. Everything seems to have been HARD and slow. First the big snow and all the attendant travel problems. Then youngest daughter's car being smashed into while stationary outside her boyfriend's house. (It was technically a write-off but is now being repaired). Of course the perpetrator left no details.

Then, much worse, she slipped on the ice, broke some ribs and got a chest infection.

I had to do another round of Troubadour edits on the page proofs. Self, husband, copy editor and proof reader all picked up different things. Thank goodness for having several sets of eyes on it.

And the London Library came up trumps with a new book on the Occitan War, which I'm working my way through.

My Ships are sailing slowly into port.

I had a writer friend to stay for a while in half term and we worked on our laptops and had coffee breaks together. We also went to the Ultimate Book Guide party at the Groucho Club where I met lots of old friends I hadn't seen for a while, like Kaye Umansky and Jan Pienkowski.

Then to Zilli's Bar, where Aldo Zilli was INCREDIBLY loud and intrusive with his wife and friends.

There have been some good things to set against the woes - baby Viola was born on February 5th, our surrogate granddaughter and we saw her a week later. She is so tiny and perfect (born 2 weeks early by Ceasarean). And we celebrated oldest daughter's birthday today, with Bellinis and a home-made Middle Eastern meal, which middle daughter helped to cook.

I went to a Italian Day School yesterday on literature and culture and rather wished I hadn't. Too many of the lecturers thought they would just give a gallop through a long list of books (or films) and illustrate each with a sentence or two.

I heard the Diabelli Variations and Opus 127 (the first of the late quartets) last week when Beethoven was Composer of the Week - a very good alternative to You and Yours. It's been Bartok this week, also a good swap.

Am still reading off and on The Audacity of Hope but must admit to skipping some bits. And we are continuing to read The Garden of the the Finzi-Continis in Italian. But I've also read Mary Ann Schaffer's The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, which I loved. Her only book, published last year when she was 74, and then she died. Sad for her family but I don't think se would have written another; this was it.

My insomnia has been horrible of late but I'm cheered by all the snowdrops, crocuses and primroses in the garden now the snow has retreated. I shall try to get lots of sunshine into my head and improve my circadian rhythms.

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Monday, February 02, 2009


I'm glad I made it to Newcastle and back before the snow hit; it was still pretty cold. I didn't win the North East Teenage Book Award - Jenny Valentine did with Broken Soup.

I stayed at the Malmaison hotel which had a French-speaking lift! "Quatrième étage," it said. "Rez-de-Chaussée". I thought the second lift should have spoken in Geordie - Fooerworth Floower - but it didn't. It was a bit out of keeping to have Radio 2 piped into the public areas!

Got lots of writing done on the train in both directions.I'm now reading The Audacity of Hope, which is not such a beguiling read as the autobiography but still thoughtful and intelligent.The only other thing I read was a short story in Italian called Malinconia by Goffredo Parise. It was from one of his two "Primers" or ABCs, which produce short stories as definitions. He stopped when he got to Solitudine and then added Zero!

Youngest daughter delivered her dissertation on Thursday and we indulged in the treat of a massage - bliss!

And of course today the great news has been the snow. We haven't had it as badly in Oxfordshire as in London but both daughter and I had skids and visits to the garage. I made it to swimming this morning but won't try tomorrow.

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