guernseyliteraryfestival

It's not just a book thing!

Books that Changed my Life

by Di Digard, Features Editor, Guernsey Press

di-pic

Pic by Tom Tardif 05-08-11. Guernsey Press, Braye Road, St Sampson’s. ByLine pic of Features Editor Di Digard. REF: IMG_0993.JPG

Five go to Kirrin Island

51qvdz886l-_sx258_bo1204203200_RAF Gutersloh, Germany. 1963. Some Forces kids don’t like the life. Upping sticks every three years, new schools, friends left behind, new ones to make. That was me: a self-contained child whose safe haven was a large armchair in which to curl up and enter more agreeable worlds. Enid has come in for a bit of stick since, but she knew how to talk to children, and the Famous Five were friends you never had to let go. I devoured every book, learning how to spell by osmosis, and romped to Grammar School on English results.

An isolated base in the Cotswolds was our next home and with a head full of Enid and a much younger sibling to entertain, I took to storytelling. A Petite typewriter, delivered by Santa, was the most exciting gift I’ve ever received and soon I was writing and illustrating Cuckoo Times, a hand-drawn comic starring a bird in a frock. A nine-year-old ‘journalist’ in tartan slippers, I bashed out stories based on life in a two-storey, tastefully accoutred alpine clock. The habit stuck and here I am, 40 years to the good in a career I’ve loved.

51vf9hf3vpl-_sy344_bo1204203200_Other memorable reads? In my early 20s I enjoyed the work of the Mitford sisters plus the letters and diaries of Evelyn Waugh – as a snapshot of a world of privilege in the years between world wars, they’re unbeatable. Try Jessica Mitford’s Hons & Rebels as a starting point and ignore this from Nancy, who famously quipped: ‘I have only ever read one book in my life, and that is White Fang. It’s so frightfully good I’ve never bothered to read another’.

51obqn854ul-_sx310_bo1204203200_Set in the 1950s, Edna O’Brien’s The Country Girls evokes memories of an Ireland that had barely moved on when I lived there in the late 60s. It was her first book and is also the first of a delightful trilogy.

A final favourite, but cast the mediocre 2003 film from your mind. Frances Mayes’ Under the Tuscan Sun should be required reading for anyone planning a holiday there. Beautifully written, it accompanied me to Cortona several times, introduced me to Renaissance art and is 100 times better than any guidebook.

 

 

 

 

 

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This entry was posted on February 26, 2017 by .
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