onsdag 18 november 2015

Comfort reading - and viewing

One commonplace I'm guilty of spouting a lot, especially in spring and summer, is "autumn has its uses, because then you're not tempted to go out and you get things done" (not that I'm ever tempted to go out a great deal). All right, you do get quite a bit done workwise, but apart from that? This autumn, ambitions have been decidedly low on the home front. "Go on", my non-better self urges me, "you're a grown woman. Why shouldn't you have a cup of cocoa if you want to?" (Though maybe better selves are not the issue here. Why should I consider it immoral to drink too much cocoa, when I'm the only one who suffers if my jeans get too tight?) Book-wise, too, I have consistently gone for the cup of cocoa novel equivalent.

First, I've worked my way through the back catalogue of Kate Saunders - though saving Night Shall Overtake Us because it takes place during World War One, of which I'm currently rather sick. The Marrying Game, Lily-Josephine and Bachelor Boys all proved gripping page turners, though sadly no more sexy villain sightings were forthcoming (with the exception of a quite nice villain surrogate in The Marrying Game who unfortunately doesn't feature as much as I would have liked). Next, I gave Kate Morton another try - some years ago, I gave up on The Forgotten Garden because I couldn't see how anything could lighten up its gloomy premise. This time round I tried The Secret Keeper. It's not such high quality escapism as Kate Saunders, but it was still an enjoyable read with nice twists and a satisfying conclusion. Morton seems fond of plots where old mysteries are solved several decades after the events took place. The upside of this is you get a historic setting to some of the action; the downside is that some characters have to wait an awfully long time to have old ghosts laid to rest.

Now, I've fallen far enough to resort to chick lit, with no on-travel excuse whatsoever. More fool me - Mini Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella is proving to be one of the more stressful Shopaholic books. When it comes to Becky, the Shopaholic franchise's heroine, I don't mind her shopaholicism that much, but I have a hard time with the pathological lying which puts her in all kinds of unnecessary scrapes. Sometimes, her frantic scrambling to iron out various swindles while owning up to as little as possible calls to mind some chick-lit version of The Way We Live Now.

As for TV, I emergency-ordered the first part of the new Doctor Who series recently - I needed another fictional universe to snuggle up in in order to dampen my Downton worries, and my worthy ambition to wait until the whole series was available fell flat (honestly, part two isn't even available for pre-order yet!). It's still great, though the two-part episodes this far haven't come up with any tidier solutions than the shorter adventures. The added time is mostly taken up with potentially character-explaining chatting - but with dialogue of this calibre, who's complaining? I was particularly pleased to see Missy again, as cheerfully over-the-top wicked as ever. When Clara asks sceptically if she's supposed to think Missy's turned good now, she treats the question with the contempt it deserves. "No, I've not turned good", she sighs very Scottishly, killing off a random passer-by just to prove her point.

I know villains who are capable of reform are the best - of course I do - but there is something therapeutic with the Missy approach now and again. The problem with a villain redeemed is the good guys get to have it all their own way. And gracious me, they can be a smug, sanctimonious lot, in great need of having their certainties shaken up a bit. Not that I'm thinking of anyone in particular, mind...