Last year was a good year for books. Here are some of my favourites from 2021:
Mermaid of the Black Conch by Monique Roffey
This book was dark and beautiful. The description of the mermaid’s fight against the fishermen’s line was one of the most memorable scenes I read last year. I was lucky to see Roffey speak at the inaugural Falmouth Book Festival and she spoke of how she wanted this novel to reclaim the sexualisation and ‘Disneyfication’ of mermaids, representing them as their true folklore roots.
Ithell Colqhoun by Amy Hale
This is a biography raising the profile of the surrealist artist and author Ithell Colquhoun who was based in Lamorna, Cornwall, during the 1930’s. She was a truly fascinating woman who has been overlooked historically when studying the surrealist movement. The images included were beautiful and it was so nice to learn about an artist in Cornish history that many people haven’t heard of. No-one knows exactly how to pronounce her surname so worry not. Colquhoun's book The Living Stones was one of the pop-up's bestsellers last year!
Winter by Ali Smith
The second instalment of the seasonal quartet focusses on a middle aged man visiting his mother in her house which is too big for her for a Cornish Christmas. In typical Smith style it moves through characters pasts and present whilst using metaphors to portray things I sometimes don’t understand.
Funny Weather by Olivia Laing
Collated from essays she had previously published and small biographies of artists from the modern period it was a lovely little read. My favourite part was the first half which gives each author roughly 2 - 3 pages and favourite of these was Georgia O’Keefe's.
The Lamplighters by Emma Stonex
I read this on the cusp of 2021/2022. It is one of the most rugged and robust books I’ve read in a long time. Mystery, murder and ghost tales upon a lighthouse tower off of the Cornish coast. Amazing!