Amy Bloom

I haven’t done much reading lately, mainly because I have been away for a few days in St Ives in Cornwall, where I’ve been going on holidays since I was four months old. So, instead of a book-related post, I thought I’d post some photos I took while I was away. There are some beautiful beaches in the area, and I spent lots of time just wandering around the sea-front.

In the first photo, you can see an ancient chapel (which has been there for ‘time immemorial’ according to the plaque on the wall), which is a perfect place to sit and look out over the sea.

St Ives is also a good place to visit if you are interested in art, as it’s been a home to many artists over the years, such as Barbara Hepworth, Ben Nicholson and Alfred Wallis. While I was there, I went to Barbara Hepworth’s studio and to the Tate Gallery, where I saw the summer exhibition.

One of my favourite works in the exhibition was Martin Creed’s ‘Half the air in a given space’. The artist had filled exactly half of the gallery with white balloons. If you visit, you are allowed to enter the gallery, which has huge windows overlooking the sea-front, and swim around among the balloons! Another of my favourite exhibits was a piece by Roman Ondak, in which visitors are invited to have their height measured and recorded against the walls of the gallery. After a few days, the bare white walls had become full of scribbled names, heights and dates, creating a portrait of everyone who had visited the gallery. It was nice to be a small part of the artwork and to leave a memento of myself behind, at least for a while.

Cornwall has some very beautiful landscapes, as I found out on a walk along the cliffs from Zennor.

On the end of a wooden bench in the church in Zennor, you can find a carving of a mermaid that’s over 600 years old. I like it when churches have carvings illustrating more ancient myths and legends, like the green man or mermaid. While in the church, I also saw a reminder of a visit to Cornwall I made years ago to see a total eclipse of the sun. It was nice that this event had been commemorated in knitted form!

I did do some reading while I was away, and finished a book of short stories by Amy Bloom called Where the God of Love Hangs Out. I’d never heard of Amy Bloom before but was attracted by all the praise in the reviews quoted on the back cover. All the stories are about everyday life and the relationships between families and couples. The characters are both very interesting and very realistic; I really felt that they were people I might meet, became intrigued by their lives and wanted to know what happened next. The book is rather unusual because several of the stories revisit characters who’ve already appeared in other stories. So there are four stories about William and Clare, a couple having an affair, and four about Lionel and Julia, a boy and his stepmother. There’s a snapshot of their lives in one story, then the next story returns to the same two people anything from a few weeks later to fifteen years later. I actually really liked this idea, because I didn’t want to say goodbye to Amy Bloom’s characters after only a few pages. The self-contained stories are equally good though. One that sticks in my mind is Permafrost, about a social worker who is helping a young girl in hospital, just because it was so sad! I’ve definitely discovered an author I’d like to read more of.