Some of Gill’s favourite reads encountered in 2019…

Richard Ford, Between Them (Bloomsbury)
Determined to preserve two lives that might otherwise have gone unnoticed, Richard Ford’s tender memoir of his parents doesn’t shy away from the difficulties they encountered by having a child many years into their marriage. I found this a fascinating portrait of an American family in the 1950s.


David Park, Travelling in a Strange Land (Bloomsbury)
A world shrouded in snow. A father setting out to fetch his son, sick and stranded in student digs, and bring him home for Christmas. But who is the shadowy figure at the roadside and in the service station car park, and why is Tom so tormented by the sight of him? A slow and painful journey through an icy landscape forces Tom to confront a part of his past that’s still too raw and awful to think of. A disturbing and deeply moving tale of parental failure and adolescent addiction.


Harriet Martineau, A Year at Ambleside (originally pub. 1850)
available in Barbara Todd, Harriet Martineau at Ambleside (Bookcase)
Restored to health and vigour after five years as an invalid, the eminent Victorian writer and social reformer moves to Ambleside, where she undertakes to build a house, set up a small holding, improve the insanitary conditions of Ambleside’s poor, and campaign against injustice in its many forms. A window on to life in the final years of Wordsworth and Hartley Coleridge, Martineau’s month by month journal details her walks around Ambleside, Rydal and Grasmere, the weather, the views of the locals, the nuisance of tourists and many more fascinating features of everyday life in a place we can still recognise from her descriptions.