Image of the front cover of the novel The Talisman Ring by Georgette HeyerI often feel guilty when I’m reading. It feels like skiving off. Instead of being curled up with a book I should be DOING something – writing, making, working, clearing, cleaning, exercising. In contrast soaking up someone else’s words feels like a big fat indulgence.

But oh it’s so good! Now at the moment I have background research reading to justify my fix (currently The Story of Munnar and The Last Season) – and of course my monthly book group read (currently The Spy who came in from the Cold) – but I’ve now come up with a couple of other ruses to justify the escape.

Firstly reading novels set in the same period or place I’m writing about. Now to make that really generous I’ve defined that as 1930s for period and the whole of India for place. That’s allowed me under place to read The Siege of Krishnapur even though it’s set in the 1830s and Staying On – even though it’s set in the 1970s.

But secondly – the masterstroke! – reading novels that people in the book are reading. And joy of joys I had a brilliant escape this week – with Georgette Heyer. Now I haven’t read one of her books since I was 13. As I didn’t have a lot of homework in those days and kept a torch under my pillow I probably got through the entire oeuvre. Since then, it would never have occurred to me to read one of her books. I wanted my heroine to be reading a contemporary book so checked what was published in 1936 and spotted The Talisman Ring and downloaded it to my Kindle. And so glad I am that I did. It was a little cracker. Once I got past the rather unpromising first few pages it raced along uproariously – and to my amazement was actually very funny and totally daft. In fact I laughed out loud – something that rarely happens. Ms Heyer was it seems a mistress of the period – I learnt lots of new vocabulary – French and English. I’d not known that an abigail was a maid for example. She also writes rather well – far better than the usual popular historical fiction. And I’m just devastated that I’m never going to have someone ride to my death bed or my rescue – ventre a terre. If you want something to while away a few hours and are in need of a bit harmless diversion – give old Georgette a whirl. Deliciously frothy and fun. we can’t be serious all the time.

Pie Chart 3A little progress update – I’ve been so busy DOING that the writing has suffered (the reading can get done on tubes and planes) – however I had a little burst this morning and we’re now over 17,000 words. I’m breaking off now to do some of the other DOING stuff – like clearing a space on the floor so I can walk between my desk and the door – proof reading the MIAMI book and paying the bills. Then 6pm tonight I’m skiving again – to watch Chelsea in the Semi-final of the FA Cup – on TV – first time in ages I haven’t gone to Wembley.

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