Autumn 🍂 by Ali Smith: Does it mirror Dicken’s a Tale of Two Cities?

This was a book club choice. After buying the book in preparation, Ali Smith’s name came up later in the year, when I was in Edinburgh, thinking about Edinburgh books / authors.

My copy of Autumn does not have a blurb in; I had bought it so long before I started reading that when I started I made incorrect assumption it was a historical novel. It is actually very contemporary, set in 2016 (with reflections back from there). The page made me fear it could be a historical novel and be too wordy for me (book club choices sometimes are too wordy and worthy for me!) I feared this despite being impressed by the opening lube ‘It was the worse of times, it was the worse of times’. Straight away to me that echoed ‘It was the best of times, it was the worse of times’; although I could not really place where I knew this from. After researching, it is the start of Charles Dicken’s a Tale of Two Cities. I have never read Tale of Two cities, so don’t know how I knew that. I therefore I also don’t know if the two books mirror each other in other ways.

Has anyone read both books?

Bee books: Tell it to the bees 🐝 and The History of Bees 🐝

I did a mini flatlay with these two books, but not got storage space to upload, therefore it is on instagram instead.

Tell it to the bees 🐝By Fiona Shaw

This centres around a woman and her son being deserted by her husband. She subsequently starts a relationship with a woman, this was realistic in being undramatic, however the crux of my problem with book is lack of drama; I basically found it a little slow perhaps it was too nuanced for me.

The history of bees 🐝By Maja Lunde

This had narratives in 3 time eras: a past 1851, a presentish 2007 (although now recent past) and future 2098. I could not get on with 1851 narrative and ended up skipping those parts. Then 2007 narrative describes bees disappearing from hives. The 2098 is when bees have supposedly disappeared. I think the narratives did not cross reference and the only link was to show the chronological decline of bees.

2098 was dystopian which, I’m not a big fan of but, this was quite character based. This narrative started by showing humans having to painstakingly paint nectar on to flowers to pollinate. It then had the most dramatic of the three narratives.


I preferred The history of bees. However, both books were left in a Portabella charity shop rather than dragged back from Edinburgh with me. Yet 2 other books bought and read; Lullaby and The Stranger next door are in my luggage.

Books in luggage

Edinburgh literature and me

Recently during my stay in Edinburgh, I reread One Day and retraced the steps of the Edinburgh part of the book. Nicholas association with Edinburgh is that as an actor he performed at the Fringe one year. He set the begiing of the book in the flat he stayed in at the time he stayed in it; as described in the following guardian article.

nicholas – guardian

One Day footsteps from 15Jul1988 by David Nicholas

One Day by David Nicholas made me cry again

How well do I know other Edinburgh literature?

Blackwell’s in Edinburgh had a whole section for Scottish books; guide books and books by Scottish writers.

Walter Scott

Scott was a Edinburgh born and bread poet and Novelist. During my time in Edinburgh I have climbed the monument built after his death in 1832. I have discovered Waverley train station is named after one of his novels. Inside Waveley station I have seen Walter Scott quotes.

Muriel Sparks

I have become aware of Muriel Sparks because she is a big focus of the book festival in Edinburgh as this year marks 100years since her birth in 1918. She died in 2006. I have previously heard of one of her novels; the Pride of Miss Broadie but, would not have been able to name it’s author.

JK Rowling

Not many in the UK would fail to know Harry Potter author JK Rowling. I have read the first book and seen the films although I did not find them really to be my thing; I’m not keen on fantasy type literature. Edinburgh has lots of towers, turrets and domes so, it easy to see how those images infiltrated into the books.

Ian Rankin

Rankin was born in Fife close to Edinburgh. He attended Edinburgh university. He has written a series of books about the detective Rebus. I have read a couple of these books and would read more. When I saw the live recording of Sara Cox’s show, Rankin was one of the guests.

Free BBC shows at Edinburgh

Alexander McCall Smith

McCall Smith has written dozens of books including the series The Number 1 Lady detective series. I have read one book from the Number 1 Lady Detective Series, which is lighthearted rather than grisly, but for me the charm of that did not come across although it was very popular. If I had liked the one book I have read more, I may have been tempted to read 44 Scotland Street.

Ali Smith

Coincidently this year I have book Ali Smith book Autumn as it on my book club reading list for Autumn, therefore I will be learning more about this author.

Ruth Jones

Jones of  is definitely not Scottish; she is Welsh. She is an actress and has written tv series including Gavin and Stacey and Stella. She is currently writing her second novel. During the Edinburgh book festival I heard her talk about how one of the settings for her first novel Ever Greener is Edinburgh.

Irvine Welsh

Welsh was born in Leith area of Edinburgh and sets his books in Edinburgh. I have not read any of Welsh. However, he wrote Trainspotting, which was adapted into a film that I have seen. Also at the Fringe I saw the play version of his novel Filth.

Filth; By Irvine Welsh (Edinburgh fringe)

Trainspotting 1

Trainspotting 2

Any other should read?

One Day by David Nicholas made me cry again

I’m not going to spoil it by saying what made me cry. It is rare for a book to make me physically cry. The first time I read it must have been 2010 as that is the year the film came out. It is rare for me to choose to re-read a book rather than just rereading as nothing new to hand. Maybe I would have re-read it sooner, but a lent someone my copy and they lost it. I have considered buying again charity shops but never seen, one in very good quality … Until I found the one I bought in Redford for £1. As it starts and ends in Edinburgh, I decided once I knew I was going to be in Edinburgh to read it whilst here. It is not not so pristine after the journey up and carrying it in a canvas bag yesterday next to wet towel and swimming costume.

It is the story of two graduates from Edinburgh and tells the same one day each year of their story for 20years. When the characters in the book graduated; I was still ‘a child’. They graduated in a time without mobile phones. My Mum bought me, my first mobile phone when, I went to uni; so basically I have had a mobile just about all my old life. Yet I can remember the time before mobiles; when people sent postcards or people had to be in their house to talk on the phone. Like the lady Emma, in the book I can relate to initial reluctance to have a phone. Therefore I don’t necessarily identify with the beginning of the book.

It would be a very different book, if it was set much later as the way people communicate has changed so much in 20years.

I do identify, with how views change in the first 20years after graduation, how you become scarred. Alas even though I’m not 20years post graduation, since I first read the book, talking about events that happened first hand to myself 20years ago is becoming less alien. For example, 20years since first Oasis concert. Perhaps it is this that made it more poignant this time found. There is a shocking bit that had me in tears last time. Knowing it was going to happen meant I got past that part. But, suddenly I was sobbing. Not just welling up proper sobbing during last couple of chapters and when I put the book down.

The book starts and ends in Edinburgh. Yet most of the action is in London; yet Edinburgh is referred to throughout the book. Yesterday reading the book, I realised I recognised a street mention from having been there, a couple of days before, so it is very authentic. I have checked google maps and the street at the start is in Edinburgh so, I want to see it as well as climb Arthur’s seat.

Tuesday Top 5 books I want to reread

Challenge set by Sarah at

1. The only one I’m actively planning to reread is One Day by David Nicholas. I’m going up to Endinburgh, as this book is set in Edinburgh, I would like to read it in Edinburgh.

Other than that, I’m not sure what I would like to reread. I guess there are some children’s books that I would enjoy reading to children…


2. Charlie and the Chocolate factory by Roald Dahl. Love, the imagery at the beginning with all 4 Grandparents top and tailing in a bed.

3. Father Christmas, comes to Sheffield. Given this as present twice for a few children (joint present for nephew and niece and present for friends little boy). However, I have not yet read it to a child. It has beautiful Sheffield illustrations in. Maybe one day, I can borrow it back for a Sheffield child or two.

Christmas Gift’s from Sheffield 2017

4. Fantastic Fox by Roald Dahl. I think my Dad read this one to my sister and I and I later read it to my brother.

5. Hungry caterpillar . With it’s fun cut out pages, a fun one to read with kids.

Tuesday Top 3 books I have read due to YouTube or blogs

Challenge set by Sarah at Bionic books.

I’m fairly new to all this social media. never read a book, due to a youtube video. There are a few as below that I have read due to a blog. Possibly there may be one or two more that I can not remember.

1. Elenor Oliphant

www Wednesday reading

Saw least a couple of recommendations for this, plus my Auntie recommended. For me , it did not live up the hype that it had ben built into for me.

2. All the breaking waves by Kerry Lonsdale. During my world book day party Chelia from pink for days mentioned this one.

All the Breaking Waves: Kerry Lonsdale Contains SPOILERS

Round up following World Book Day blog party 🎉 🎉 🎉

Today, I blog. And we PARTY!!!!


3. Girl with trilogy. I had heard about it and happened to see it in a charity shop after reading about Life of Angela reading it.

The Girl with Dragon Tatoo by Steig Larsson

Wednesday www Reading

The flaw in the Girl who played with fire?

Summary of a fun blog party. I contributed a cyldrical pass the parcel … read on to see what was inside. Thanks Angela for the party and great summary and congratulations on 1000.

June Summary


2 and 3 of Steig Larssen’s Millennium trilogy.

Wednesday www Reading

The other couple

www Wednesday reading

Started and gave up on Memoirs of a Geisha.


One Flew over Cuckoo nest

One flew over cuckoo’s nest at Sheffield theatre


30 days wild

#30DaysWild Summary

Hot air balloon flight

Floated into sunset on a hot air balloon

Festured in Suffragette scarf art / parade.

London Suffragette Procession: The End? Part 3 #Procession2018