Pea Green Boat reflections

Just this past week, I was fortunate enough to attend a performance of Stewart Lee’s Pea Green Boat, not once but twice!

From the outset, I need to be clear that I am not, in any way, trying to write a theatre review here. I can barely structure a book review let alone dabble in critiquing immersive theatre. Let’s just call whatever this is that I am writing “reflections”. To add to that, I need to make a full disclosure and say that I have known Director Jim Fishwick for many years as I am friends with his mum and my son has been at school with his brother for gazonkadonks.

I loved Edward Lear’s Nonsense Songs when I was younger. They were weird and silly and enormously fun. One of the most famous, and delightful, of his poems is The Owl and The Pussy-cat which comedian Stewart Lee has appropriated into a darker, macabre tale of love and obsession whilst drifting pointlessly at sea. I love appropriated fiction. Whether it is posted up as fanfiction or fanart, whether it gets the rubber stamp of approval from publishers or production companies, there is something wonderful about a story that gets elaborated upon by many different storytellers. To add to that, every morning for this past month, I have woken up to my husband laughing at Stewart Lee youtube clips. I was already familiar with two major aspects of the theatre I was about to to take part in. In Jetpack Theatre Collective‘s reimagining of Stewart Lee’s reimagining of the Pea Green Boat, we the audience are cast afloat in a pea green boat, a real one.

Jetpack Theatre Collective's Pea Green Boat

Jetpack Theatre Collective’s Pea Green Boat

From here, the audience of three are addressed by the Owl (Hannah Cox)  who talks of her deep love for the Pussy-cat (Jim Fishwick), as inappropriate and species-challenged as their love may be. Meanwhile, the Pussy-cat sits behind us rowing across the water to meet the Turkey (Alexander Richmond) who is to marry them.

The first performance I attended was perhaps the most absurd experience I have had. Due to gale force winds, safety concerns kept the Pea Green Boat from being set adrift. Instead, the boat sat chained ontop of a trailer, in a carpark overlooking a supa-sekrit bay in Sydney Harbour. The two other audience members and I donned our lifejackets, climbed up a stepladder and into a boat where the Owl addressed us while we were all buffeted by racing winds that reached 90km/h. While we were clinging to our drydocked theatre, a limousine pulled up beside us and out poured a brace of bucks who gave us some serious side-eye as they walked to their rowers club while the Owl lamented at the impossible circumstances we found ourselves in. Indeed, it was impossible. The howling of the wind and the bongo playing bachelor’s party paired with my tinnitus impeded my ability to hear the show clearly. Instead, I relished in the absurdity of the situation I found myself in. Bizarre, gusty and amusing.

A few days later, I received a message from the Pussy-cat letting me know that there were a couple of spare tickets that I could have so I could watch the show the way it was supposed to be performed – on the water, floating at sea. I happily accepted his offer. A late afternoon on a rowboat while I had poetry orated to me is my idea of gorgeous. Once again, I donned my lifejacket, the boat was set adrift, clear waters, a brisk breeze and the setting sun provided the perfect backdrop as the Pussy-cat rowed while the Owl talked of her love. And what a beautiful, mismatched love! I could not think of a more wonderful way to experience this silly poem. We drifted on the water for over half an hour until we reached a picturesque peninsula. We audience three hopped out of the rowboat onto a sandy beach, our feet cooled by the water before being led up the hill, soft green grass underfoot, eucalypts swaying above us to hear the Turkey tell of the odd-paired marriage of sorts that he had officiated. Where the week before, I had not heard a word of the Turkey’s lines, this time, I heard every word clearly.

And this is where Stewart Lee’s interpretation of Lear’s nonsense poem fell apart for me. I have previously loved and delighted at the absurdity of the Owl and the Pussy-cat and Edward Lear’s allusion to seemingly impossible love being able to overcome all obstacles. I adore the ethereal joy, the lightness that I feel in the ending of Lear’s poem which I have always imagined to be followed with a wedding party of fun.

Lee’s reinterpretation of this ending, however, is macabre and dark. Sad and blighted. Although it was brilliantly written, and although it was beautifully performed, I was saddened yet unsurprised, that once again, a romance imbued with happily ever after joy was twisted into a cynical, nihilistic end. This is what is celebrated in our society and I suppose, to those who embrace literary fiction, this is hardly a failing.

Overall, I loved watching this quirky, funny piece of immersive theatre. Both the land and the sea shows were brilliantly realised. They embodied the absurdity of Lear’s original poem while embracing the twisted darkness of Lee’s deconstruction.

Pea Green Boat has completed its successful Sydney season. There are several professional theatre reviews that you can search for on the interwebs. Jetpack Theatre Collective post their upcoming events on their Facebook page.


The Owl and the Pussy-cat is the first poem in Edward Lear’s Nonsense Books. It is out of copyright and available as a free download from Project Gutenberg.



The Owl and the Pussy-Cat went to sea
In a beautiful pea-green boat: They took some honey, and plenty of money
Wrapped up in a five-pound note. The Owl looked up to the stars above,
And sang to a small guitar, “O lovely Pussy, O Pussy, my love,
What a beautiful Pussy you are, You are, You are! What a beautiful Pussy you are!”


Pussy said to the Owl, “You elegant fowl,
How charmingly sweet you sing! Oh! let us be married; too long we have tarried:
But what shall we do for a ring?” They sailed away, for a year and a day,
To the land where the bong-tree grows; And there in a wood a Piggy-wig stood,
With a ring at the end of his nose, His nose, His nose, With a ring at the end of his nose.
The Owl and the Pussy-cat


“Dear Pig, are you willing to sell for one shilling
Your ring?” Said the Piggy, “I will.” So they took it away, and were married next day
By the Turkey who lives on the hill.

They dined on mince and slices of quince,
Which they ate with a runcible spoon; And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
They danced by the light of the moon, The moon, The moon, They danced by the light of the moon.


Jetpack Theatre Collective's Pea Green Boat

Jetpack Theatre Collective’s Pea Green Boat

My current library haul

I’m talking about my library haul with Linda Mottram on ABC702 this morning. Catch up radio will have the show on for the next 7 days (I’m on in the last 20 minutes)

My library borrowing is quite different to my book buying habits. At the library I feel at ease to borrow items that I would hesitate to expend money upon as they may be unknown authors, unknown TV shows or just unavailable. Here is my pic taken with my precision skills which my sons caption “The Veros School of Photography” – it is a family gift:

Library Haul November 2015

My own haul from last week:

3 DVDs:

Currently Watching:

The Mindy Project – I’ve been binge-watching Mindy Kaling’s 1st season with my son. She is very funny and I love her perspective.


  • Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing – Shakespeare retelling FTW!
  • The Thick of It – I am in the mood for some sweary Malcolm Tucker


Currently reading:

Anne Gracie’s The Spring Bride – the 3rd of a Quartet (but the first that I am reading). A young lady in georgian England who had a poverty-stricken upbringing only wants a stable and rich marriage to keep her from ever being poor again. Then she falls in love with a spy while she is betrothed to a duke. I’m early in the book but I already love it. This is also my only Australian author from my current haul.


  • Dani Collins x 4 Mills & Boon: An Heir to Bind Them, His For Revenge, The Russian’s Acquisition and A Debt Paid in Passion  – as one of Miss Bates‘ readers called them, they are the amuse-bouche of reading. I am binge reading her backlog. I discovered Dani Collins earlier this year and she has already become a favourite.
  • Brady Udall’s The Lonely Polygamist – a man with 4 wives has an affair. I rarely read books written by males so I approach this one with trepidation.
  • Megan Hart’s Vanilla – I have heard lots about this NYT bestselling author but have never read any of her books.
  • Jo Baker’s Longbourn – Pride and Prejudice from the servants side of the story. Another retelling. I do love appropriated fiction.
  • Lynne Segal’s Out of Time: The Pleasures and Perils of Aging – because, you know, this goes with being menopausal.
  • Ann Beattie’s The State we are in – short stories set in Maine, USA because one day, I will meet my dear Twitter friend Jessica Tripler who always sends me fab pics of her drives around Maine.
  • Jenny Colgan’s Resistance is Futile – because I liked the cover. Pink and Orange.


Whether I will eventually read/watch all of my haul is unknown. But I adore the promise of each one of my choices.

The 100, 25, 12 Dresses

The 100 Dresses by Eleanor EstesWhen I was in primary school, one of my favourite books was Eleanor Estes’ The 100 Dresses. It is about a young Polish girl, Wanda Petronski, who boasts about her 100 dresses. She is visibly poor so a number of kids decide to tease her and claim she is lying. By the end of the book they discover that she did indeed have 100 dresses – all of them were drawings. I’m not sure why, but this book left its mark on me. The cruel kids that taunted the young girl, her life of drawing, imagining, dreaming of the beautiful dresses that she could one day own, and considering her own drawings to be as much a reality and tangible possession as a material dress could possibly be.

I love wearing dresses. I love the way they feel when I walk. I love the way they sway. I love their airiness. Early this year, I realised that I didn’t even own a single pair of trousers*. I have suit bags that lovingly house my dresses from my thinner years. My dresses are not particularly expensive (except for that one, glamorous, plunging neckline, silk, green Merivale) but I can’t throw them out. In the last couple of months I have read two books on dresses. The first is 25 Dresses and the other is Dress Memory.

25 Dresses25 Dresses: Iconic Moments in twentieth century fashion by William Banks-Blaney

This book was both a visual delight as well as a well-researched fashion history book. As one of four girls, my sisters and I always had fashion magazines in the house when we were growing up. Though they weren’t our foremost reading, they certainly were a mainstay of our reading. Vogue, Cosmopolitan, Cleo to name a few. Understanding the influences on the clothes that we either wore, coveted or copied isn’t particularly important to me but understanding the broader historical world circumstances that impacted the fashion industry is much more interesting. I loved that specific cuts and styles were described in detail and photographs not only showed the original designers but also those who reimagined the same cuts to continue a long chain of influence that is evident through to the 21st century. I highly recommend this superb book for those who enjoy fashion history.

Dress, Memory Lorelei VashtiDress, Memory by Lorelei Vashti

The next dress book I read was quite different to the Banks-Blaney. Where his book is a lens upon a historic time,  Lorelei Vashti’s lovely and touching memoir Dress, Memory is a personal narrative of how twelve dresses from her life were part of her own formative adult years. A chapter and a dress for every year in her twenties (and one dress for when she turns 30), her book takes you through her studies, her work, friendships, journeys, love life and her numerous returns to her childhood home. Her decade of exploring her self is not all that different from many other memoirs but her writing from her sense of how specific dresses shaped pivotal experiences in her life touched me.

My dressesThis is how I feel about my dresses. From my orange sparkly party dress I wore during a bogong moth plague necessitating an excruciating night of plucking winged caterpillars off myself, my blue empire line beach dress that I had to sneak-wear out of the house as my dad absolutely hated it as our obnoxious neighbour asked him if he was embarrassed that I was pregnant (stupid neighbour – I wasn’t pregnant, I had a funky cool little pot belly), my magenta grecian style dress that drapes and falls in folds and flutters as I walk making me feel like a goddess to my twitter dress, my rumble in the jungle dress, my daisy dress and my fusion Japanese tunic dress. So many fabulous dresses. Dresses evoke such passion in me. I cannot summon the same adoration for a pair of trousers no matter how comfortable or flashy. Dresses are gorgeous, and now that I have read Lorelei Vashti’s book I will be thinking of the story that each of my own dresses carry. I will also think of 25 Dresses and the couture dream styles that I may not own, that I may only dream of and covet, but, as Eleanor Estes showed me, I can treasure these images of the dresses I own in my mind as much as those I own in my wardrobe.

Screen Shot 2015-11-07 at 10.15.24 pm
I borrowed copies of 25 Dresses and Dress, Memory from a public library in New South Wales. I still own my copy of The 100 Dresses that I bought from Scholastic Book Club back in 1979.

* I have rectified this and now own 3 pairs of trousers.

Victoria Dahl and Taking the Heat

Victoria Dahl's Taking the HeateIt will come as no surprise to regular readers of my blog or my twitter, or even people who have met me in person, that I love Victoria Dahl’s novels. Do a search for her in my lookitupdooblidob to the side and you will find many mentions of her. So when she told me she was writing a male librarian – YES! a male librarian – I ordered her book when it finally came out and bit my lip in anticipation. Would he even come close to the hotness that is Richard Hindon in Lillian Peake’s The Library Tree. This would not be a difficult task.

I had my reservations. This book was perhaps too close to my own professional life. From the outset, I need to say that I mean no disrespect towards any of my current and former male colleagues, but I have never thought anyone in the LIS sphere to be particularly attractive. So the absolutely amazing, hot, sensitive, buff, amazeballs librarian Gabe MacKenzie in this book truly felt like a fantasy man. He didn’t feel real. He was so far from real that he started to edge toward a paranormal romance hero (this is as close as I can get to this month’s TBR challenge for SuperWendy) – he could climb rockfaces, he creates digital (*snort*) magic in the library, he has a talented tongue in the bedroom and a sexy trim beard as his mild superpower to help him out. He is a figment of Victoria’s imagination! No such man exists! This was becoming such a reading block for me, I decided I needed to discuss this travesty with my husband. Here is our exchange:

Me: You know this Victoria Dahl book I have had on my TBR shelf and I haven’t let anyone else read it before me as I needed to pop the cherry on those pages?
Huzbah: nods
Me: Well this book is fab but I have one problem with it – the male librarian.
Huzbah: waits for me to continue speaking
Me: This guy is nothing NOTHING like anyone I’ve ever met in libraries or library school. Apparently, all the chicks in his MLIS (Masters of Library and Information Studies for the unitiated) adored him…
Huzbah: stares
Me: And he was getting it on with the women in his course.
Huzbah: stares
Me: Like, AS IF! There were no hot guys in MY LIS course.
Huzbah: staring harder
Me: And as if any chick in an LIS course would go out with someone from their own course. My disbelief is keeping me from enjoying this book. No man like this exists!
Huzbah: We met in an LIS course.

telling silence ensues
Me: Oh…….

Huzbah: Enjoy the rest of the book. I’ll read it after you.

turns back to watching John Oliver

Soooooo…….that having been resolved……and as I am now remembering that, yes indeed, hot guys who are sensitive, smart, sport a trim beard and can rock climb (or repel in Huzbah’s case), amongst many other things, can actually attend LIS schools and even end up working in libraries. (In my defence, Huzbah was two years below my at university and we met in electives. I still don’t really consider him as being in my core year. And, he often states that despite having LIS qualifications he has yet to exercise his right to work in the industry). I returned to reading Taking the Heat and absolutely adored it.

A quick 101: Veronica Chandler is an advice columnist in her home of Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Having spent several years living in New York City, she is happy to be away from the big city. She feels out of her depth in the advice role she has fallen into and is terrified that she’ll be found out for the fake she imagines herself to be as she feels her sexual inexperience along with a number of other self-perceived inabilities undermine her.

Gabe McKenzie is from New York City, which he underplays for he too isn’t a big fan of the city. He is a librarian who has been brought in to start an e-book service for the local library. He transfers to Jackson Hole because he is a bit of a nature lover and wants to have regular access to rock-climbing. Gabe knows that he is in Jackson Hole for only a year as he has the responsibility of taking over his father’s successful chain restaurant business.

For her work, Veronica has been asked to do a live stand-up version of her advice column in the local watering hole and this is where she first meets Gabe. She is so nervous she over-imbibes and starts admitting to him secrets that she has never revealed to others – like the fact that she is 27 and still a virgin. This drives the plot and, unlike many of Victoria’s previous books, they do not consumate their relationship with penetrative sex until well into the novel. However, in her trademark style, Victoria Dahl doesn’t need to have her characters have penetrative sex to burn the pages with beautiful and descriptive scenes. She builds the sexual tension and her detailed eroticism (often pushing my reading boundaries) showing the strong connection between Gabe and Veronica. This sexual tension, this sexual compatibility is the difference between friendships and relationships. Without the sexual attraction, you have friends that get on. With it, you have that ever important connections that brings the romance reader to their genre – discovering how this couple will have the potential to stay together. For Veronica and Gabe, it is not their sexual congress that challenges their relationship. It is Gabe’s own relationship with his sisters and parents, his sacrificing his own desire to be a librarian, to live outside of a big city so as to be the good son which creates problems between these two perfectly matched characters.

Anyone that follows Victoria Dahl on Twitter would be aware of her strong, feminist approach to life, relationships and society. Victoria is able to show her perspective on life, not in a proselytising form but managed thoughtfully through Veronica’s advice to her own writers. She shows a keen sensitivity to the issues that affect people throughout their lives, from the bullying they may have received at school or to intimate relationship problems. Further to this, Veronica’s virginity loss ends up showing that it meant nothing, her character was strong and determined with and without it, she was insightful to people’s problems regardless of her own sexual experience.

This novel is one of my favourite for this year. I could relate to and understand both the heroine and the hero. I loved the deep understanding for library work that Victoria Dahl depicts and I love the way these characters came together. I feel that I had a fully immersed reading of Taking the Heat which for me means that I did not take notes while I read. I did not use post-it notes to highlight favourite lines or interesting sections. I have not used any specific quotes from the novel and I didn’t do any of the close reading behaviours that I sometimes do because this book was so good, I forgot to pay attention to details. I lost myself in my reading. It was so good, I luxuriated in a shallowread.

I bought my own copy of Taking the Heat through an online vendor after having searched two bricks and mortar book shops in Sydney during her release month. My only disclaimer (though to be honest, I should say namedropping) is that Victoria Dahl and I have followed each other on Twitter for many years, we have twitter chatted over all these years and I did get to meet her (whispers: and I touched her hair, took a photo of her jugs and hugged her goodbye) during the Australian Romance Readers Convention in Canberra earlier this year so I cannot, in any way, vouch that this review is objective.

PS For a wayyyyy more insightful review, you should read Miss Bates Reads Romance’s thoughts. She remembered to take notes.

Returning to lifelogging my reading

At the beginning of this year I decided that I was going to give up recording my reading on Goodreads. I have failed. I am a GoodReads addict.

When I was a kid, I was a casual list keeper, including one of all the books I read. I say casual because after an earnest beginning, faithfully writing down every title I read, I would forget my list until months later when I would call on my powers of recall and I would try to add to it again. Inadvertently, I would lose my list (probably my incredibly neat mum would put it somewhere I could never imagine searching for it like my own desk drawers) and after some time I just gave up on my list keeping. That is, until 2007, when I discovered the social aspect of list keeping. This is the only lifelogging I take part in. I don’t have map my runs (haha – make that walks), I don’t have a fitness logger (I probably should) but I do map my reading.

It took me a while to settle with GoodReads. I started out with LibraryThing and then moved to weRead. I used both solely as a list keeping space but then I exported all my items to GoodReads in 2010 and it all became quite social. Many of the twitter reading crowd were already there, as well as my library colleagues. I particularly enjoyed posting my picture book library storytime recommendations and to this day, it is my most used tag. But I was also keenly aware of the arguments and problems that came with GoodReads, so I rarely commented on other people’s reviews and my own reviews there have become shorter and shorter to the point that I gave up using the site altogether after last year’s bullying behaviour (though I did not delete my account). I miss some of the social readers I used to follow who have left for various reasons. Some have gone to Riffle, others no longer keep a public log of their reading anymore.

As for myself, I tried to keep a spreadsheet instead. I thought it would be more exciting (now there’s a word most people wouldn’t associate with spreadsheets). I could truly be honest. Books that I hated, I could write explosive, expletive laden reviews without feeling mean, horrid or even fear the attack of fans of the book. But the truth of the matter is, I have not written any explosive, expletive laden reviews on my spreadsheet (well….there might be just the one). My spreadsheet became forgotten. It is languishing on a USB somewhere in my house, much like the earnest lists waiting neatly in my drawers.

So I thought I would just post every book I read on my blog instead but that too has failed. I read too many books that I can’t be bothered to review – particularly picture books. I like the tagging aspect of recording my reading (ever the rebel librarian – everything must be rogue catalogued! Power to folksonomies! Down with taxonomies!)

I also missed seeing what others were reading. Sure, I realise that this is just an exercise on tracking my media consumption by couching it in terms of “social reading” and “lifelogging”. I know that my data gets used by companies, publishers, authors etc etc. But I am happy for that. I don’t mind companies getting a different understanding of readership and I like the social aspect of reading. This is the way reading originating. Documents being publicised, read aloud in town squares, in salons and social reading clubs. I also like that the reviews I am reading are crowdsourced from readers. As a professional librarian, I have always followed literary reviewers’ recommendations but I have never been devoted to any particular review journal for my own reading choices. Occasionally, a book would interest me, but my main source of recommendations came from family and friends passing around a favourite read or purely on the strength of a pretty cover and a fabulous blurb. I like being able to bypass the usual cultural gatekeepers. I like reading what readers who don’t have a list of bonafides to back them up, think about a book. Their reviews can be disarmingly honest, weirdly fannish, sometimes harsh, sometimes funny, sometimes perculiar, and for the most part, refreshingly reader focused.

I am also rather deliberate in lifelogging my reading. I want to leave this digital footprint. If GoodReads is around in 40 or 50 years, I love the thought of this list still hanging around. If, like many commercial ventures, they disappear, so will my list. Maybe it will be searchable in the Way Back Machine (doubtful), or maybe I will have had time to export my data back to a lonely, unexciting spreadsheet. But for now, I have revitalised my account. Over the past couple of months, I have added the books that I have been reading throughout the year. I had set a 2015 Reading Challenge of 5 books. This is far better than my 2012 Year of Reading a book a day 356 goal which very nearly killed my love of reading. A 5 book goal is awesome. I log in and see myself called an “Overachiever”. I like setting the bar low. That is much more fun.


As for what I am currently reading: I am still dipping in and out of Jillian Tamaki’s SuperMutant Magic Academy. Written in a comic strip style, it is like attending Hogwarths but the magic is just a skill, there is no adventure or horror, just teens angsting about life and themselves. I am loving its weird, absurd delivery.

I also just finished Victoria Dahl’s Taking the Heat with a hot, male, rock-climbing librarian wooing an advice columnist. It was fabulous. But I will write a separate review later in the week – teaser!

And I am currently reading Alice Clayton’s Wallbanger. Ohhhhhh sooooo gooooood! I cannot put it down.

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Sarah Morgan’s Playing by the Greek’s Rules

I had seen Sarah Morgan’s name bandied about on fave author and autobuy lists for quite a while and it was recommended to me by Miss Bates Reads Romance.

I am so absolutely glad that I bought this book. I think that Playing by the Greek’s Rules has got to be one of my favourite category romances in the last 5 years, if not ever. I absolutely adored it.

But first, the blurb:
 It’s time to throw away the rule book… 

Idealistic archaeologist Lily Rose craves a fairy-tale love, but in her experience it always ends in heartbreak. So now Lily’s trying a different approach—a fling with her boss, infamous Greek playboy Nik Zervakis! 

Anti-love and anti-family, Nik lives by his own set of rules. There’s no one better to teach Lily how to separate sizzling sex from deep emotions! But while Nik has the world at his feet, he also has dark shadows in his heart… 

It starts as a sensual game, but can Lily stick to Nik’s rules? And what’s more, can he?

*sigh* I hate the word sensual. It just doesn’t work for me. The word makes me think of 80s boudoir photography and this book is far from that.

The story opens with archaeologist Lily angry and despondent having just found out the man she loved was actually married. Lily, who grew up in foster homes, is horrified. Family and marriage is sacrosanct for her. Lily blames herself for she keeps looking for a long term relationship with the wrong men. She swears that she needs to have rebound sex and tuurn her heart to Teflon. Her pursuit for love blinding her to the faults of the men she meets. Lily is a typical 20something year old and works several part time jobs so as to earn money to pay off her student loans so she finds herself cleaning billionaire hero Nik’s house when she gets into a fight with his high-tech power shower and needs to take her sopping wet clothes off. Which, of course, leads to their cute meet.

Hero Nik is surprised to find a near naked woman in his amazeballs house as is his girlfriend who walks off in a huff. Lily apologises and when she realises he doesn’t care about the woman decides that he is far from the sort of man she ever wants to be with. The only thing Nik cares about is that he needs a date for a museum opening that night and cleaner/archaeologist Lily will just have to step in thus giving the two more together time. From here, Lily decides that Nik is perfect as a rebound sex guy. She has not interest in being with him longterm and so she lets her guard down and just enjoys her time with Nik. The two laugh and talk, they have sexy times and just burn the pages for several days. Lily ends up accompanying Nik to his father’s fourth wedding and here it is that the sexy, fun talk ceases. Nik’s avoidance of love is because he does not want to emulate his father’s ways, always searching for love, always failing. Nik’s vulnerability emerges at this time. His difficulties reconciling himself to his mother’s abandonement and his father’s refusal to give up on love.

As for Lily, she wants the whole fairytale. She wants to “fall in love, settle down and have lots of babies” as she tells him. She wants the “happing ending part” and she just wants to be someone’s favourite person. And though she has fallen in love with Nik, she walks away because their deal was that they had a one-night rebound sex agreement. It was one night that kept stretching into days and days. 

Sarah Morgan’s book is all about the heroine. Where in many romances the focus is on the hero’s transformation, this book is all about self-soothing, sunshine and puppies, funny and gorgeous, Cinderella story Lily. The hero Nik is hot – he of the “supersonic abs”, smart, (I kept picturing Sakis Rouvas and Lukas Yiorkas) rich Greek guy is not even aware that he needs Lily in his life but she is such a power that she doesn’t transform him, she just brings out the best in him, she highlights his already great qualities.

Sarah Morgan also manages something which most writes fail at: she beautifully captures the quintessential Greekness of Greeks. Where others write characters migh be called Greek, Italian, Spanish etc etc they are absurd, caricatures of the real thing often not understanding their cultural nuances. But Morgan excelled here. Nik to me was a Greek epitomised. His humouor, his stance, his attitude to sex. I love that he gave Lily a tour of his father’s island on his scooter “mihanaki”. Anyone that has ever visited Greece would immediately nod their heads and agree that rich and poor all have their mihanakia. Lily asks Nik if he feels Greek American or American Greek to which he answers “whichever suits my purpose at the time” which exactly how many people with Greek heritage feel (myself included). 

Sarah Morgan also cheekily reflects a long knowledge of category romance’s tropes. From the sexy “safe word” scene where Nik blindfolds Lily, Lily asking Nik if she needed to pretend to be in a relationship with him on the way to his father’s wedding upon which he answers that they really don’t need more complications that role playing would bring and the little side wink of Nik buying glamour dresses for Lily which, of course, fit perfectly. But the trrope that she has really excelled at is the billionaire falling in love with Lily, a funny, smart heroine, living out her own Cinderella fairy tale. As mentioned earlier, it is at his father’s wedding that Lily discovers Nik’s deeper anxieties. Though she understands them, she also does not hesitate to call him out on them and tells him he needs to find his peace with his father. Lily sparkles. Lily is magic.  It is during their discussion that Nik’s father says:

 There are no guarantees with love, that’s true, but it’s the one thing in life worth striving to find”. 

How true is that for all of us. Whether it is a deep love for a partner or searching for a love that grows from friendship, being hopeful for love sustains our life.

 Lily, like Nik’s father, has had 3 failed relationships yet at no stage does she give up looking for her own happily-ever-after and Nik finally realises he can be this for her and she gets her heart’s desire. She is ever optimistic and full of light.

I think that Lily might just be my favourite fictional person.

I bought this book from the sales shelf at my local department store. I am so glad I didn’t borrow it. This book is aa keeper.

Listening to Mindy

I’m back on the ABC’s 702 Sydney show this morning. Linda Mottram is on holidays so I will be chatting with Deb Knight about audiobooks – perfect for roadtrips!

I have a deep, dark secret to admit here. But first, let me point out that I adore being told a story. As a young child, I don’t recall ever being read to but my parents were always telling us stories, and particularly my dad would embellish his with hyperbole (this apple does not fall far from that tree). This storytelling time was either at dinner or at bedtime. Bedtime stories would always put me to sleep, and here is my deep, dark secret. I choose my audiobooks for their ability to put me to sleep. Not in a “I’m so bored I can barely pay attention” way but in a search for calm, soothing voices that work their magic and send you into Morpheus’s arms. This is great when I am in bed, but not so good when I am driving.

My driving audio choices need to be much more lively. I remember on a three hour drive to Newcastle having chosen Homer’s Odyssey to listen to. I barely remember the first line yet when I woke up all rested at the end of the drive, both my sons were at the ready to describe the gruesome eye-gouging of the Cyclopes that I had missed. Side note: my husband was driving on that day.

So what is my latest choice – and have I chosen it to stay awake or go to sleep?

Mindy KalingI’m currently listening to Mindy Kaling’s Why not me? And I am definitely wide awake. I absolutely adore self-narration. I know that this is not always possible. Authors are not necessarily orators, many authors are dead, and it is always interesting to listen to other narrators and their interpretation of a story. There aren’t that many self-narrated fiction audiobooks as much as memoirs. Previous memoirists I have adored are Gervase Phinn and his stories of being a school inspector in the Yorkshire Dales, and David Sedaris whose stories did not inspire me until I heard his readings at Carnegie Hall which had me laughing so hard that I had to pull over and stop driving as I could not see ahead of me due to the tears rolling down my face.

Well, the verdict on Mindy Kaling is up there with both Phinn and Sedaris. I’m not too familiar with her TV work. Though I have seen the occasional American The Office episode (which I like much more than the cringeworthy UK original), I have not seen The Mindy Project at all (I don’t subscribe to cable or any subscription viewing TV). But many of my tweeps bandy her name around with lots of love and adoration so I have watched her interviews on Youtube here and there. Her memoir is like Amy Poehler’s Yes Please and Tina Fey’s Bossypants. Celebrity observances, her life shaping moments, ideas on love and work. I loved her opening with skittles and buying people’s approval because who wants to be “effortless”. Her chapter on why Bridesmaids Have it Worse than Groomsmen validated my 20 years ago decision to not have any bridesmaids at my wedding.  She is funny, sharp and keenly observant. I will definitely be listening to her previous book Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)

I purchased a copy of Mindy Kaling’s audiobook from an online vendor. I borrowed Gervase Phinn from the library and I was given the David Sedaris CDs as a gift though it is now long gone – damn the picky thief who broke into my sister’s car and did not touch all the nostalgic 80s music but took my book. I hope the CD warped and jammed in your player and you are stuck in a sound distorted hell.


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