Midweek book club – Quentin Blake, May Witwit & Bee Rowlatt

My mother will be disappointed with this week’s book club recommendation as she’s already read this one. Sorry Mum. Maybe next week. Anyway, here’s the parent choice this week.

Talking about Jane Austen in Baghdad – May Witwit and Bee Rowlatt
I was reminded of this during the Syria debate in Parliament this week. It’s the story of two women, Bee, a British journalist, and May, an Iraqi academic. They start talking by email by chance and carry on an unlikely email friendship. As the situation in Iraq deteriorates, especially for academics facing death threats and arrest on a daily basis, the two women start to plan how to get May and her husband out of Iraq. Contrary to many popular beliefs, it is incredibly difficult to seek genuine asylum in this country and the are many moments in the book where you’re just not sure if it’s going to happen. The story is told in a series of emails between the women and as such, I wasn’t sure that I was that engrossed in it. I don’t know why this format distancedu me but there you go. Anyway, I didn’t know I was emotionally involved in this book until I saw the picture on the final page. I was on a plane. I burst into tears. I do this quite a lot on planes but that’s usually because I hate flying.

Mr Magnolia – Quentin Blake
Who doesn’t love Quentin Blake? The only thing I ever found disappointing about him was that he doesn’t look like his illustrations. I wanted him to have a spiky nose and pointy feet. He doesn’t. Still, this is, I think, the only book that I’ve read a thousand times to E that I don’t resent reading a thousand times more. Think of all the words you can that rhyme with boot. This is the result! But better than you can do. Or me, obviously. It’s whacky, funny and imaginative. I love it. And so does E.

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5 Responses to Midweek book club – Quentin Blake, May Witwit & Bee Rowlatt

  1. Mum says:

    Although I have read it I would recommend it & happily read it again. I love Quentin Blake too.

  2. John says:

    Mr Magnolia – one of the greatest books ever!

    The other book looks interesting and is now on my list to get. You might like Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi which I thought very very good (and her second book, Things I Have Been Silent About (her family history).

    • basfordianthoughts says:

      Thanks John. I’ll add those to my goodreads to read list.

      Having mainly remembered Quentin Blake as an illustrator for Roald Dahl books when I was a child, it’s a real joy to “discover” his own books too. I love them.

  3. Bee Pahnke says:

    I met Quentin Blake once at the opening of an Oxfam photography exhibition (a very good one too actually, on what some celebrity types would save in a flood, and what people in Africa actually saved during floods). I was taken aback by just how much he did look like his illlustrations – I thought anyway. Not so much when he was younger, but like in this picture http://news.bbcimg.co.uk/media/images/56132000/jpg/_56132633_quentin_blake_640.jpg I just see it. x

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