First Line Friday: 18/09/2020

First Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
  • Finally… reveal the book!

 

Happy Friday!

It is time to guess that book. As per usual the answer is below the cats.

“Anna peered through the window of the gatehouse, watching the chariot trundling through below, enjoying the rich sensuousness of the new silk gown she was wearing, and conscious of her parents’ expectations of her.”

 

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ANSWER

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Newly widowed and the father of an infant son, Henry VIII realizes he must marry again to insure the royal succession. Now forty-six, overweight and unwell, Henry is soundly rejected by some of Europe’s most eligible princesses, but Anna of Kleve—a small German duchy—is twenty-four and eager to wed. Henry requests Anna’s portrait from his court painter, who enhances her looks, painting her straight-on in order not to emphasize her rather long nose. Henry is entranced by the lovely image, only to be bitterly surprised when Anna arrives in England and he sees her in the flesh. She is pleasant looking, just not the lady that Henry had expected.

What follows is a fascinating story of this awkward royal union that had to somehow be terminated tactfully. Alison Weir takes a fresh and surprising look at this remarkable royal marriage by describing it from the point of view of Queen Anna, a young woman with hopes and dreams of her own, alone in a royal court that rejected her from the day she arrived.

Please drop me a comment with your First Line Friday and I will head over for a visit.

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Friday Poetry: Hugo Williams

Happy Friday!

Today is an unusual one for me because I have no teaching! Usually I have some lessons to teach but everyone is on holiday so that means I get an extra day off which is nice. Hopefully this means a little bit more reading.

The chosen poem for this week is by Hugo Williams. I must admit I hate a nettle sting hence why I have chosen this poem. I do like nettle tea though, very calming.

Joy

Not so much a sting

as a faint burn

 

not so much a pain

as the memory of pain

 

the memory of tears

flowing freely down cheeks

 

in a sort of joy

that there was nothing

 

worse in the world

than stinging nettle stings

 

and nothing better

than cool dock leaves.

 

Hugo Williams

 

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Friday Poetry: Gillian Clarke

I love plums! Green Gages are my absolute favourite. Due to this I have chosen a poem about plums by the Welsh poet Gillian Clarke.

 

Plums

When their time comes they fall

without wind, without rain.

They seep through the trees’ muslin

in a slow fermentation.

 

Daily the low sun warms them

in a late love that is sweeter

than summer. In bed at night

we hear heartbeat of fruitfall.

 

The secretive slugs crawl home

to the burst honeys, are found

in the morning mouth on mouth,

inseparable.

 

We spread patchwork counterpanes

for clean catch. Baskets fill, 

never before such harvest,

such a hunters’ moon burning

 

the hawthorns, drunk on syrups

that are richer by night

when spiders pitch

tents in the wet grass.

 

This morning the red sun

is opening like a rose

on our white wall, prints there

the fishbone shadow of a fern.

 

The early blackbirds fly

guilty from a dawn haul

of fallen fruit. We too

breakfast on sweetnesses.

 

Soon plum trees will be bone,

grown delicate with frost’s

formalities. Their black

angles will tear the snow.

 

Gillian Clarke

 

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First Line Friday: 4/09/2020

First Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
  • Finally… reveal the book!

 

It is time to guess that book. As usual the answer is below the cats!

 

The parties at the Tunons’ house always ended unquestionably late, and since the hosts enjoyed costume parties in particular, it was not unusual to see Chinas Poblanas with their folkloric skirts and ribbons in their hair arrive in the company of a harlequin or a cowboy.

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When glamorous socialite Noemi Taboada receives a frantic letter from her newlywed cousin begging to be rescued from a mysterious doom, it’s clear something is desperately amiss. Catalina has always had a flair for the dramatic, but her claims that her husband is poisoning her and her visions of restless ghosts seem remarkable, even for her.

Noemi’s chic gowns and perfect lipstick are more suited to cocktail parties than amateur sleuthing, but she immediately heads to High Place, a remote mansion in the Mexican countryside, determined to discover what is so affecting her cousin.

Tough and smart, she possesses an indomitable will, and she is not afraid: not of her cousin’s new husband, who is both menacing and alluring; not of his father, the ancient patriarch who seems to be fascinated by Noemi; and not of the house itself, which begins to invade Noemi’s dreams with visions of blood and doom.

Her only ally in this inhospitable abode is the family’s youngest son. Shy and gentle, he seems to want to help, but might also be hiding dark knowledge of his family’s past. For there are many secrets behind the walls of High Place. The family’s once colossal wealth and faded mining empire kept them from prying eyes, but as Noemi digs deeper she unearths stories of violence and madness.

Book DepositoryWaterstonesWordery

 

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Friday Poetry: Allan Ahlberg

Happy Friday!

Lots of schools are now going back so I have chosen an appropriate poem for the occasion.

 

Please Mrs Butler

Please Mrs Butler

This boy Derek Drew

Keeps copying my work, Miss.

What shall I do?

 

Go and sit in the hall, dear.

Go and sit in the sink.

Take your books on the roof, my lamb.

Do whatever you think.

 

Please Mrs Butler

This boy Derek Drew

Keeps taking my rubber, Miss.

What shall I do?

 

Keep it in your hand, dear.

Hide it up your vest.

Swallow it if you like, love.

Do what you think best.

 

Please Mrs Butler

This boy Derek Drew

Keeps calling me rude names, Miss.

What shall I do?

 

Lock yourself in the cupboard, dear.

Run away to sea.

Do whatever you can, my flower.

But don’t ask me!

 

Allan Ahlberg

 

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Friday Poetry: Lord Byron

Happy Friday!

My chosen poem today is by the notorious Lord Byron who is known for his often outrageous writings and misadventures.

 

So, We’ll Go No More a-Roving

 

So, we’ll go no more a-roving

So late into the night,

Though the heart be still as loving,

And the moon be still as bright.

 

For the sword outwears its sheath,

And the soul wears out the breast,

And the heart must pause to breathe,

And love itself have rest.

 

Though the night was made for loving,

And the day returns too soon,

Yet we’ll go no more a-roving

By the light of the moon.

Lord Byron

 

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Friday Poetry: T. S. Eliot

Happy Friday!

I hope everyone has some good weekend plans ahead. This week’s poem is an old favourite. As some of you know I love the cat poems by Eliot so I thought I would share another of my favourites.

The Rum Tug Tugger

The Rum Tum Tugger is a Curious Cat:
If you offer him pheasant he would rather have grouse.
If you put him in a house he would much prefer a flat,
If you put him in a flat then he’d rather have a house.
If you set him on a mouse then he only wants a rat,
If you set him on a rat then he’d rather chase a mouse.
Yes the Rum Tum Tugger is a Curious Cat–
And there isn’t any call for me to shout it:
For he will do
As he do do
And there’s no doing anything about it!

 

The Rum Tum Tugger is a terrible bore:
When you let him in, then he wants to be out;
He’s always on the wrong side of every door,
And as soon as he’s at home, then he’d like to get about.
He likes to lie in the bureau drawer,
But he makes such a fuss if he can’t get out.
Yes the Rum Tum Tugger is a Curious Cat–
And there isn’t any use for you to doubt it:
For he will do
As he do do
And there’s no doing anything about it!

 

The Rum Tum Tugger is a curious beast:
His disobliging ways are a matter of habit.
If you offer him fish then he always wants a feast;
When there isn’t any fish then he won’t eat rabbit.
If you offer him cream then he sniffs and sneers,
For he only likes what he finds for himself;
So you’ll catch him in it right up to the ears,
If you put it away on the larder shelf.

 

The Rum Tum Tugger is artful and knowing,
The Rum Tum Tugger doesn’t care for a cuddle;
But he’ll leap on your lap in the middle of your sewing,
For there’s nothing he enjoys like a horrible muddle.
Yes the Rum Tum Tugger is a Curious Cat–
And there isn’t any need for me to spout it:
For he will do
As he do do
And there’s no doing anything about it!

T. S. Eliot

 

The Rum Tug Tugger really is the epitome of cats.

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Friday Poetry: Hugo Williams

Happy Friday!

This week I have chosen a poem by Hugo Williams. Williams was born in 1942 and is a British poet, journalist and travel writer.

Reading through some poetry this week and this poem really stuck out for me and I have read it quite a few times since discovering it.

 

Tides

The evening advances, then withdraws again

Leaving our cups and books like islands on the floor.

We are drifting you and I,

As far from one another as the young heroes

Of these two novels we have just laid down.

For that is happiness: to wander alone

Surrounded by the moon, whose tides remind us of ourselves,

Our distances, and what we leave behind.

The lamp left on, the curtains letting in the light.

These things were promises. No doubt we will come

back to them.

 

Hugo Williams

 

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First Line Friday: 31/07/2020

First Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
  • Finally… reveal the book!

 

It is time for another guessing game! Here we go…

“Tell me about a complicated man.”

 

As usual the answer is below the cats.

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The answer is…

The Odyssey by Homer (translated by Emily Wilson)

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Composed at the rosy-fingered dawn of world literature almost three millennia ago, The Odyssey is a poem about violence and the aftermath of war; about wealth, poverty and power; about marriage and family; about travelers, hospitality, and the yearning for home.

This fresh, authoritative translation captures the beauty of this ancient poem as well as the drama of its narrative. Its characters are unforgettable, none more so than the “complicated” hero himself, a man of many disguises, many tricks, and many moods, who emerges in this version as a more fully rounded human being than ever before.

Written in iambic pentameter verse and a vivid, contemporary idiom, Emily Wilson’s Odyssey sings with a voice that echoes Homer’s music; matching the number of lines in the Greek original, the poem sails along at Homer’s swift, smooth pace.

A fascinating, informative introduction explores the Bronze Age milieu that produced the epic, the poem’s major themes, the controversies about its origins, and the unparalleled scope of its impact and influence. Maps drawn especially for this volume, a pronunciation glossary, and extensive notes and summaries of each book make this is an Odyssey that will be treasured by a new generation of readers.

 

Did you guess it? Please drop me a link with your First Lines Friday and I will go over for a visit and see if I can guess the answer.

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Friday Poetry: Ogden Nash

Happy Friday!

This week’s poem is a short one that made me laugh. It is by the American poet Ogden Nash and is based on homophones.

 

A Flea and a Fly

A flea and a fly in a flue

Were imprisoned, so what could they do?

Said the fly, ‘Let us flee!’

‘Let us fly!’ said the flea

So they flew through a flaw in the flue.

 

Ogden Nash

 

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