Yikes! This is a doozie of a month, I truly hope you are sitting comfortably and may I suggest grabbing one of these truly scrumptious cans of beauty, sipping at this delicious English fizz and diving into a world of new beginnings with the one and only wine lady extraordinaire @knackeredmother aka Helen McGinn and her brand new novel?
Autumn is a time for reflection, as the trees shed their leaves and nature discards what she no longer needs, we too should look to ourselves and allow ourselves to make any changes, rid ourselves of things that perhaps have made us unhappy through the year. All three of this months books are based on new beginnings so The Uncommon seemed like the perfect partner for our October reads.
The Uncommon have not only produced the most beautiful cans of English sparkling wine but they have begun brand new vineyards in Kent, Surrey and Hampshire. With growing conditions similar to Champagne 50 years ago and the evolution of new technology, The Uncommon knew it was the perfect time to push England’s young wine industry into new territory. In 2017, with 5 tonnes of Bacchus grapes they took the plunge and became the first company in the UK to can English wine. The can not only has the sweetest, old fashioned eccentric characters decorating it’s joy but keeps the wine fresher, fizzier and has less environmental impact than glass. Genius.
Over to the fabulous Rebecca Fletcher for our October reads…
Lately, I find myself increasingly distracted by daydreaming. Maybe it’s because the fire has been lit or perhaps it’s delightful Stanley Tucci being back on our screens….but it feels as if October calls for a little wistfulness. A beautiful view or two to soothe the soul into autumn? Perhaps we’ll join Stanley in search of something a little Italian too?
Time to settle into the armchair, pop on some Puccini and sip a little something from our marvellous sponsors, The Uncommon, as Rebecca and I guide you through our Are You Sitting Comfortably reads for October.
‘…they stopped and stood underneath the huge stone arches, looking east along the river towards the Ponte alle Grazie, rolling Tuscan hills in the distance. Below them, the water moved slowly, small ripples making the light on the surface dance to an invisible tune.’
What do you do when your husband vanishes and no one knows where or why? After a decade in a seemingly happy marriage with longed for children, a successful business and comfortable London home, Stella finds herself picking up the pieces of her shattered life in bestselling novelist Helen McGinn’s latest, This is Us. There are choices to be made as Stella learns to live again with the help of family, her book club friends and a trip to Florence. An uplifting third novel from beloved TV and print drinks expert, author and founder of the Knackered Mothers’ Wine Club, This is Us is a story of friendship, sisterhood and starting again. Helen’s writing is a joy and there’s such heart in this story so if you’re a fan of Jojo Moyes, Beth O’Leary or Sophie Cousens, then this one’s for you. I know that she’s also a massive fan of our favourite classic for this month too.
From one woman’s reawakening in Florence to another, thefirst time I met Lucy Honeychurch and journeyed alongsideher and her redoutable chaperone to Florence, I was reading E M Forster’s A Room with A View as an A Level set text. I’d never been to Italy but I remember being swept up in the romance of it all as I read. A decade later, I stopped just onthe Ponte Vecchio and looked out over the Arno, drinking in Florence’s beauty for myself. I’ve been in love with Forster and Italy ever since. How could you not fall in love with all that wonderful philosophising on loving and living? To me, there’s something about Forster’s exquisite talent for social comedy and examination of the confines of Edwardian society that makes his writing so special. Hidden depths and a story full of soul, A Room with a View is still a firm favourite.
‘Let yourself go. Pull out from the depths those thoughts that you do not understand, and spread them out in the sunlight and know the meaning of them.’
As an eccentric cast of characters assemble at Pensione Bertolini in Florence, the young Lucy Honeychurch and cousin, Charlotte Bartlett arrive to find that they have rooms but no view. A disaster when one is visiting Florence for the first time. When fellow guests, Mr Emerson and his son, George, offer to swap rooms with them, much to the protestations of prim and proper Charlotte, it is the beginning of a broadening of horizons. Free from the constraints of class and home, Lucy finds herself alive to new experiences as the widely romantic novelist Eleanor Lavish takes her under her wing and she becomes acquainted with the gentle Mr Emerson and his passionate and unconventional son,George. Fate and Italy conspire to bring them together as Lucy finds herself torn between society’s conventions, the path mapped out for her with dull fiancé Cecil Vyse and wanting to follow her heart.
From one gorgeous view to many, our wonderful wildcard this month is SJ Axelby’s Interior Portraits: An Artist’s View of Designers’ Living Spaces. From a long line of artists which include an art teacher to Queen Victoria’s children and the designer of the Penny Black, Sarah Jane is never far from a paintbrush. As lockdown descended, she began a ‘sketch-a-day’ project painting the interiors she dreamed of being in. Her Instagram account @roomportraitclub took off and thousands have joined in with her weekly prompts ever since, sketching, painting and being inspired by interiors.
Capturing the favourite rooms of leading creatives from interior designers to florists, antique dealers, artists and ceramicists, Sarah-Jane’s book Interior Portraits: An Artist’s View of Designers’ Living Spaces brings to live these glorious vignettes of their homes, beautifully illustrated in watercolour and offering a glimpse into the interiors we all long to be in. Together with charming interviews with each owner, SJ takes us on a guided tour of room portraiture, all seen through her artist’s eye. She offers a chance to peer behind closed doors. This book isn’t just for the interiors buff but for anyone who delights in discovering more about the lives and living spaces of others and finding inspiration. Quite literally a book filled with beautiful views – this is treasure.