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Blogging about things that matter to me. Photographing things I love - Instagram @debcyork. Writing about both. Only wine and chocolate can save us… You can also find me on Twitter (@debcyork) and Facebook. If you like four-legged views, try @missbonniedog on Twitter

Monday, 7 March 2016

In Praise of Sharpe

I have been pondering what to write about today and had actually half completed a rather morbid blog about ISIS, as I have been reading increasingly depressing articles all week about Islamic State's aims, methods and beliefs.

However, I have decided instead to confess one of my current guilty pleasures.  Bernard Cornwell's Richard Sharpe novels.  I am completely addicted and have spent more of my Audible credits on them than anything else.  I have also bought a load of them on my Kindle.  Just because they were on sale - I had actually listened to the stories already.  Oh dear.

They are wonderful escapism.  I never really watched the Sean Bean television version.  And I am glad not to have done so because I have so enjoyed them when discovering them now.  Rupert Farley who narrates the series is fantastic.  Doing the ironing has never been so exciting!
I have always loved historical fiction.  Not the Georgette Heyer kind though.  The more dashing and exciting, the better.  I think I have previously mentioned the Dennis Wheatley Roger Brook series as a favourite as well.  The Sharpe novels are formulaic but the character is so strong.  He is a bit like a Napoleonic A-Team member - he always finds a way out or something to use as a weapon.  And he always gets the girl.  You can't help but be drawn in, against your better judgement and knowing that Sharpe will be victorious whatever.
When I started listening to the initial novels, I did so because I was interested in the research that Bernard Cornwell must have done to write such detailed descriptions of life in a British regiment in India at the beginning of the eighteenth century.  I have traced ancestors to similar regiments.  However, like any addiction, it didn't stop there and I am now half way through the series.
The other reason for my 'confession' is that yesterday, in a Mothers' Day miracle, I was left alone long enough whilst in the bath to read Mothering Sunday by Graham Swift.  The title was obviously perfect for the day but the length of the story even more so.  Around one hundred and thirty pages.  Enough to read the whole thing before I was completely freezing and wrinkled in the bath.  (A glass of fizz helped.)
The book is completely captivating and it touched on some of my favourite 'issues' in this blog.  How small changes in decisions could affect our lives and those of our descendants.  What things actually feel like - Swift's writing is very emotional.  I cannot recommend the book highly enough.  But one aspect of Jane, the main character, which struck a chord that I had never even considered was her preference for what was then (1920s) thought of as 'boys' literature.  Treasure Island, Kidnapped, etc.  I do remember reading stuff like Judy Blume and 'girl' classics like Little Women or Anne of Green Gables.  But I think I related more to the adventurous characters.  Jo was my favourite in Little Women.  And I definitely liked the 'boy' stuff as mentioned above.
I don't remember being pushed at such stories but there must be something from my childhood and/or in my own character.  My mother and I are still drawn to the same books.  In fact I sent her books for Mothers' Day!
So next on my agenda is making sure I am writing strong characters.  Not just reading about them.

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