Along with reading two great books for work purposes, (How Couple Relationships Shape Our World: Clinical Practice, Research and Policy perspectives edited by Andrew Balfour, Mary Morgan and Christoper Vincent and The Evidenced-based Parenting Practitioner’s Handbook by my colleague Kirsten Asmussen), I indulged in an eclectic mix of books whilst on this year’s Pilates bootcamp in Thailand (for previous years’ selections see my blogs on Thailand reading and Thailand reading 2).
I started on the flight with Princess Margaret: A Life Unravelled by Tim Heald. Having watched and loved The Crown seasons 1 and 2 in December I was fascinated by its depiction of Princess Margaret and realised how little I knew about her. I had just a vague image of her old and ill in a wheelchair and remembering a story about her getting into the bath drunk and scolding her feet.
The Princess Margaret in The Crown is young, beautiful and interesting, in that she mixes with artists and social liberals of the early swinging 60s and chooses a path very different from other royals of the time. This led me to read this book to learn more about her. But I was left feeling not much the wiser. Having read it I had little sense of what made her tick, unlike the sense I have got from other biographies of interesting historical figures (see my blogs on Clementine Churchill and Sophia Duleep Singh). Despite, or perhaps because of, the use of extensive historical sources of her royal engagements, this book just comes across as an account of her life based on her menu choices at formal events, and you get little sense of what she was like as a person.
I then moved onto reading My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier, inspired by my visit to Fowey in August. I read and loved Rebecca and Sally Beauman’s novels (see my blog), which are inspired by du Maurier, but had somehow never read another du Maurier. This one was a real treat. Immediately engaging from the first page, it kept me gripped right to the end. Fantastic Cornish settings, a murder to unravel, a mysterious woman at the centre – just my cup of tea for some unwinding by the pool.
Having watched The Girl on the Train (see my blog) by Paula Hawkins on DVD whilst staying here it seemed appropriate to read her second thriller Into the Water. It didn’t disappoint. Set in Northumberland it centres around a ‘drowning pool’ – a place to get rid of difficult women. I didn’t let getting a bit confused between some of the families who live along the river get in my way – it is pacey and keeps you wanting to follow the main character Jules to find out what an earth is going on. Perfect holiday reading.
I then felt the need to go back to non-fiction and used this as an opportunity to read She-ology: The Definitive Guide to Women’s Intimate Heath. Period. by Dr Sherry A Ross, which I’ve been wanting to do since I heard about it from an interview with the author on one of my favourite American podcasts Happier in Hollywood. In the interview I loved the frank way that Dr Ross was actually willing to repeatedly say out loud the word vagina – still so taboo despite the Vagina Monologues, whatever wave of Feminism we are now in, and the last few months of women being heard through the #metoo movement and the very public equal pay disputes at the BBC.
It’s a great read and is packed with practical and useful advice for women of all ages about their vaginas and their health in general. The book is divided into life stages and also deals with everything from PMS to STIs to sport. In the UK where it’s not normal to visit a gynaecologist regularly (at least not amongst anyone I know) this is a book every woman should read, and (spoiler alert) it’s certainly a book I’ll be buying lots of my female friends for their birthdays this year.
I then went on to read a couple of books on the politics of belonging – but more on that in my next blog.