What do you read on a lazy afternoon in Cornwall, when a warm sun is balanced by a light breeze, and when you can’t imagine ever wanting to be anywhere else?
The book I picked up was exactly right. It was a small elderly hardback book that I spotted in the library. A book that had been out of print for years by an author who is still terribly neglected.
I picked up the first volume of her memoirs a couple of years ago, and I was soon smitten. Because I saw straight away that Clara Coltman Rogers, later to become Lady Vyvyan, loved and understood Cornwall.
And I saw it again in these wonderfully diverse little sketches. She gets everything right: the environments, the communities, the characters, the speech patterns …
There are sketches of characters, places, events and incidents, all set down quite beautifully, with love and affection.
Reality gently changed to make wonderful fiction.
It’s more than seventy years since they were published (by Jordans Bookshop of Truro), and it was lovely to see that, while many things have changed, so much has remained the same.
A wonderfully shrewd account of the workings of a certain committee made me smile.
A clear-sighted portrait of an eccentric elderly woman, called a witch by village children, stirred memories.
A tale of a weekend visit, with a London couple and a Cornish couple seeing things quite differently, could have happened yesterday.
The story of an auction, with villagers eager to see what would be sold by the family at the big house, was utterly charming. And I suspect that the naming of Mrs Menabilly was a nod to the author’s friend, Daphne.
But loveliest of all was taking a boat trip along the rocky coast, and a walk across lonely moorland.
Those where the times when I so clearly understood that Lady Vyvyan and I, seventy years apart, looked at the same world in the same way.
Sometimes I look for other things in books, but today that was exactly what I needed.