Book Review: The Other Ida

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It’s been a while since I did a book review on the blog, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been reading. In fact, I’m reading a lot at the moment, as we have a fantastic library in the village. It has a great library, and Ben and I walk down there most Saturday mornings. As well as a huge range of books for younger children, Ben has recently discovered the children’s DVD section. Borrowing a Thomas the Tank Engine DVD last week turned out to be a pound very well spent, as Ben is currently obsessed.

This means that I’ve been able to pick up the odd novel and also a few cookery books. The Great British Bake Off Christmas book is currently in my possession, and I’m tempted to renew it until the end of December. I’ve also joined a local book group run by the Library service. This is great, as it means I have to prioritise my reading – this is never really a chore.

So when I was asked to review a new novel which had won the Dundee International Book Prize, I was happy to agree.

The Other Ida, by Amy Mason, is a fast-paced, original novel, with a great main character. To be honest, I didn’t think I’d like Ida, the main character very much – she drinks too much, is hopelessly chaotic, and seems to be on a path to self-destruction. But actually, she is a really complex character, and her journey of self and family-discovery is a really good read.

One of the things I love so much about reading, and Literature in general, is that it can transport you into the shoes of another person. In Ida’s shoes, there is an element of discomfort. Her experience and history is so far removed from mine, and yet, I could really relate to her. In fact, it made me think back to my teenage self and made me realise how much we do change in those formative years in our teens and twenties.

Suffice to say, Ida’s own teenage years were chaotic, and traumatic at times. As an adult, she is experiencing the fallout from that, and hasn’t spoken to her alcoholic mother for years. When her mother, the writer Bridie Adair, dies, Ida has to return to the home of her teenage years to help arrange the funeral. Her relationship with her sister is fractured, to say the least, and the spiky dialogue between them is vivid and engaging.

I really enjoyed this book. It is the kind of book I would choose, but I have to say, I enjoyed it so much more than I thought I would. The non-linear structure means that the pieces of the puzzle fall together for the reader in the same way they do for Ida. Each evening, I couldn’t wait to find out just that bit more. Its fast pace kept me interested, as well as my real hopes for Ida.

I was sent a copy of the book by the publisher, but all opinions here are my own.

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A Christmas Preview

SONY DSCLast Wednesday was a wild, cold and blustery night up here in Lancashire. As much as I wanted to stay inside in the warm, I ventured out into Whalley to a Christmas Preview night by Food by Breda Muphy.

Food by Breda Murphy is a lovely eatery in Whalley, opposite the train station. Part restaurant, part deli and part gift shop, I have already been in several times to find gifts and to eat. It’s a really lovely place, just outside the main village. The food is really high quality, and truly delicious. Plus, it’s a family-run, independent business.

The preview night was an opportunity to view their Christmas range of decorations, gifts and food hampers.

SONY DSCI love this beautiful pale blue glass jar. A lot of the items on sale were in icy tones of white and blue, with lots of sparkling lights and glass. It looked both festive and elegant.

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I could definitely see this clock on our mantlepiece!

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These socks hanging on the wall would make fun present. There were also lots of snuggly blankets and throws – necessary for chilly Lancashire evenings.

SONY DSCThese hampers had some lovely components. There was a real range as well, in size and price. I may have my eye on one or two of these for gifts.

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I did buy one of these signs, and they seemed to be very popular on the evening – most people had one or two in their basket! I think it’ll look great in our hallway.

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Christmas definitely needs a little sparkle, and this glass tree is just beautiful.

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These baubles look so beautiful in a group like this. They were really unusual.

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Stags seem to be very fashionable in home decor this winter. I thought this guy was gorgeous. I just need some furniture to put him on.

Add in some canapes, a glass of Prosecco, and by the time I left, I was feeling really quite Christmassy… is it time to start singing carols yet?