"Her mother's bed is soft, and there are many layers of sheets, blankets and duvet. Through the window she sees the Thames moving in the dark, as through it has breath. Kitty presses herself between blanket and duvet. Next to the bed is a photograph of Marina, young and laughing, in the orchard at Hay, with Kitty gazing up at her and Sam and Violet crawling in muslin nappies, out of the frame. Kitty doesn't remember who took it, but she recalls the feeling of the sun on her face, and how her mother laughed when she told her she was going to build a tree house and live at Hay until she was very old, at least fifty-three.
"But what about your husband, little Magpie? And your babies?" Her mother said, stroking her hair out of her eyes. "What about what they want?"
"They're just going to have to like trees," Kitty had answered."
Sophie Dahl, Playing with the Grown Ups
Sophie Dahl writes the way I wish I could write; simple and honest and good and true. I still remember reading a column of hers in the waitrose food magazine oh, many, many years ago now, and reading about how pumpkin always reminded her of bonfire night, and bad men with long hair who didn't want to eat her carbonara pasta (included in her cookbook as "heartbreak carbonara", which is remarkably apt, really, since I've always through carbonara was true, true comfort food). And then I feverishly searched for her first novel, finding it in a tiny little bookstore in Cambridge when I was visiting my brother's godfather, and I devoured it. The ways she writes... its romantic and rosey and champagne-hued, but it's also completely effortless. The first chapter of her novel, the first line, contains one of the best descriptions of a character I've ever read. "Her grandfather, Bestepapa, had hands that were true as butcher's blocks, and his voice was like the beginnings of a bonfire." The beginnings of a bonfire. How wonderful. All that talent, to write and tell stories and cook, and just look at her, too. Sometimes god gives with both hands.