Painting my favourite books

I painted this picture one summer in France, several years ago, when my children were young. We had a little rustic house there, and we covered one wall with 12 inch square paintings, representing ourselves and our interests. This panel was a bookshelf of treasured books from different decades of my life.

Ballet Shoes, by Noel Streatfeild was my all time favourite book as a child. Pauline, Petrova, and Posy, three orphans rescued by an absent minded explorer. I wanted to be Posy. My own daughter narrowly averted being named Posy herself, though her favourite baby doll inherited the name.

Hatter’s Castle by A J Cronin was the first “grown up” book from the adult library that my mother encouraged me to read when I was about fifteen years of age. A few years ago, I remembered this book, and wondered if there was some message in it that my mother, who died long ago, was trying to convey to me. Set in a less tolerant age, it featured a young woman pregnant before marriage, and banished from the family home. Maybe it was a warning? Amazon succeeded in locating a tattered old copy in a second hand book store in America. On second reading, I wonder if she was alerting to me to avoid a certain kind of man and a certain kind of marriage. Thank goodness I have!

The Women’s Room by Marilyn French … the key to feminism when I was twenty something. A close friend and I deciding that any potential suitor should be given this book to read, and his reactions to it inspected carefully…. Neither of us had the nerve to test that idea…

Margaret Forster is one of my favourite authors, and it was for that reason that I read Lady’s Maid, as it’s not my normal genre: a “factional” book about the (factual) life of Elizabeth Barrett Browning through the eyes of a (fictional) ladies maid. An amazing book, I’m so glad I read it.

And The Hiding Place, by Trezza Azzopardi. Set in Cardiff docks, close to my own hometown of Barry. How I thrilled at the mention of the Greek Orthodox Church, the very Church I attended as a child! Like watching Gavin and Stacey, filmed in my hometown: Look! Look! I lived there! I went there!

We no longer own the house… and the new owners painted over our family mural. But we preserved it in photographs.

And it felt great to find a use for this little bookshelf on my blog!

2 thoughts on “Painting my favourite books

  1. Exciting to look forward to the publication of Honor’s Shadow! I thoroughly enjoyed the early drafts I read, and can’t wait to see the ways the plot and the characters have evolved since then. Karnac also happen to be my favourite publishers – in my view they have a real eye for talent and my bookshelves are full of their psychology and psychotherapy titles – so it seems particularly appropriate that this compelling narrative has been ‘spotted’ by this superior publishing house. Looking forward to the launch!

  2. Painting my favourite books really stuck in my mind… and here’s why:

    I remember you reading all of those books and you influenced me to read them myself.
    Having been to that rustic little house in France for a very memorable holiday, I was reminded of your resourcefulness and creativity in thinking of entertaining and meaningful pursuits for the family.
    You were always good at crafts of all types and I thought the books looked great!

    More importantly though, Vou, you have always loved books and have wanted to be a writer for a very long time, and here you are with a book being published. It is one heck of an achievement and you deserve every success. You know that I loved the early draft; it was fast moving, thought provoking and hard to put down! I cannot wait to read the final version now.

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