So there I was, Christmas Eve in deepest, darkest Suffolk, with an editorial report to send which I had absolutely, cast-iron-promised would get there before Christmas. I had two laptops and three ways of going online and could I get any combination of them to work? Could I hell! The local market town was showing signs of closing down, but mercifully the nicest café-wine bar, which combines 15th century half-timbering with posh cream teas and French brasserie cooking, also combines those with wi-fi internet and a sensible decision that someone was going to need reviving after the last minute shopping at 4pm on Christmas Eve... They were right, it was packed, including me and my netbook. I'll ignore the fact that, since the writer lives in Australia, it would have arrived in the early hours of Christmas morning (now there's something to find in your stocking! But luckily the book's great, so I hope it wasn't too bad a moment) and maybe I didn't actually fulfill my promise. But I had stockings to fill too, so I didn't pause to feed the blog then.
And now I'm home, and I have three precious days on my own, at home, with a novel to write. So I hope you'll forgive me if, even after a long, long gap, I don't post anything very substantial, but only a link a lovely review of A Secret Alchemy which Sally Zigmond put on her blog here. (Be warned that she does say something about the nature of the book which isn't a plot spoiler but would otherwise only come clear at the end). It's difficult to explain to a non-writer just what it does to us to feel so well, so clearly heard: Sally has picked up on several of the core, central questions which I was exploring in A Secret Alchemy but which are not always obvious to the reader or reviewer in a hurry, or to one who doesn't expect that kind of thing to be going on in a novel. Sally preceded her piece with a very interesting ponder here about why, actually, book-bloggers do what they do. I don't, as you'll have noticed, do a lot of reviewing here, but I always enjoy others' reviews - Sally's Book Blog, Reading Matters, Tales from the Reading Room, Vulpes Libris (declaring an interest there), Dove Grey Reader, for example - and not just when they like my work.
So, a bit belatedly, Happy Christmas (or Happy Festival of Light of the society and faith of your choice) and a bit early, Merry New Year to you all!