Phew, well that’s 2016 over. There’s plenty to look forward to in 2017, here are some of the things I’m looking forward to – except, as always, sometimes the unexpected things are the best things and create the best memories. So we’ll see what 2017 brings – here’s to another productive and creative year.
I’ve been lucky enough to have many wonderful experiences this year, and get to spend time with some truly wonderful friends and also meet many lovely new people. Here are some of the highlights!
Second in my roundup of 2016 is TV, film, and music.
The Great British Bakeoff
- The world seemed to come crashing down when it was announced that the Bakeoff would be moving from the BBC after this series, provoking outrage across the nation. This series was another fantastic one, with a great group of bakers!
- Gorgeous Cornish landscapes, what could be better? Perfect Sunday night TV.
Call The Midwife
- This is always an enjoyable distraction from the harshness of winter and this series didn’t disappoint. Already looking forward to next year’s series!
- A brand new Doctor Who spin off written by YA author Patrick Ness was extremely welcome this year, and I adored this series, with it’s fantastic, talented cast.
- I love the Royal family and twentieth-century history, so this was a perfect combination – a lush production, and addictive.
Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life
- Another Netflix series and this one was long anticipated! Four addictive episodes that I couldn’t stop watching.
Olympics, Wimbledon, and the Davis Cup
- This was a super year for sport and there are too many highlights to name! Of course, Murray ending the year as Number One, winning Wimbledon and Olympic Gold are up there – as well as many other wonderful Team GB moments.
Captain America: Civil War
- Always love a bit of Captain America – this didn’t disappoint. Team Cap all the way…
Bridget Jones’s Baby
- A great and very funny follow-up to Bridget Jones.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
- One of the most anticipated things of the year for me and it didn’t disappoint. For more on Fantastic Beasts, head over to SpeakBeasty and MuggleNet!
I’m not very good at going to the cinema, especially in the summer so here are some of the things i missed that I’ll have to catch up on sometime.
What I missed: Doctor Strange, Star Trek, Ghostbusters, Swallows and Amazons
- A new Busted album after twelve years? Who would have thought!
- One I missed before, but fell in love with Chaos and the Calm this year.
- Yes, I missed this one too, but I finally caught up and now get all the references (also it’s awesome).
- Finally became a Patreon subscriber this year and fell in love with Amanda’s solo music. She recently released a piano version of Theater is Evil.
- Tom’s first solo album was released this year, and it’s beautiful!
Phew – that’s it. What are your film, TV, and music highlights of the year?
Well, what a year it’s been. It’s far too easy to focus on the bad and the strange year that 2016 was, but it’s always nice to look back and recap some of the things I enjoyed about the year, as well as personal achievements and more. In the first post of this series, I’m going to look at some of the books that I enjoyed in 2016 – not necessarily things that were published this year, although there’ll be a mix of both.
It’s funny looking back at my diary and notebooks from earlier in the year. I was so full of hope and optimism at the beginning of the year, for the way that things might go for me personally. I need to find that positivity and optimism again.
- The Elena Ferrante Neopolitan series
- I wrote about this earlier in the year, but I utterly fell in love with this series when I read it back in March and would recommend it to anyone.
- Vanessa and Her Sister by Priya Parmar
- I loved this take on Vanessa’s relationship with Viriginia and those around her. It was a really enjoyable, gripping novel. I love novels like this, which take real events and reimagine them.
- A Gathering of Shadows/This Savage Song by V.E. Schwab
- Victoria was on fire again this year, publishing two very different novels, and i loved them both. Can’t wait for the next installments in each series.
- What’s a Girl Gotta Do?/And A Happy New Year? by Holly Bourne
- The end of the Spinster Club series, and it certainly went out with a bang. These books brought a smile to my face and also made me both emotional and empowered.
- The Sleeping Prince by Melinda Salisbury
- It seems like a lifetime ago that I went to the launch for this at Waterstones Picadilly back in February, but I adored this. I can’t wait for the next installment!
- Ride by Lisa Glass
- I adored this series set in Newquay, Cornwall, and this was a fitting conclusion to the story. Take me back there!
- The Graces by Laure Eve
- I love the mix of magic in this story and I galloped through this and deeply loved it.
- Charlotte Bronte: A Life by Claire Harman
- I certainly didn’t know as much about Charlotte Bronte as I thought I did and this year was the 200th centenary of her birth so a fitting time to read this. Fascinating and very enjoyable.
- Eat Sweat Play by Anna Kessel
- A bit different, but in a year of Olympics and empowering sport, a wonderful, passionate look at why more women don’t take part in sport.
- The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson
- This was one of those perfect summer stories, best enjoyed on a long, lazy summer day. I love everything Morgan writes.
- A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson
- I loved Life After Life and this was a great companion novel, asking questions that I think a lot of us always do!
- A Writer’s Diary by Virginia Woolf
- I’ve been engrossed in learning about Virginia Woolf this year and loved this selection of her diaries, edited by her husband Leonard Woolf, with a focus on writing.
I read so much good non-fiction this year, with a lot of it about Virginia Woolf and Vanessa Bell, and I’ve loved engrossing myself not only in their lives, but in plenty of other fascinating women from early twentieth-century history. Non-fiction has definitely stolen my heart this year.
I’m sure there are plenty of things I read that I missed off and I’ll be kicking myself later!
What was your bookish highlight of 2016?
I’m just back from another week in Cornwall. I’ve done well this year, totalling up a whole month in my favourite place in the world. Consequently, thanks to exploring further afield, I know a lot more places and can navigate my way round the county pretty successfully – and probably better than Sussex!
This trip didn’t involve a visit to my beloved Fowey (shockingly – but I’m saving it, maybe for October, and anyway it was Regatta Week there!), but we did venture nearby. Here are some of the highlights of the trip.
My trip to Monk’s House seemed to arrive with the beginning of spring. The sun was in the sky, it was warm, and the daffodils were all out. Monk’s House is a beautiful and idyllic village called Rodmell, hidden between Brighton and Lewes. Since I began discovering more about the Bloomsbury group, I’ve known about Monk’s House, but I didn’t know how wonderful it was until my visit.
Monk’s House was the country retreat of Leonard and Virginia Woolf, seen below, commemorated in sculptures in the garden.
Stepping into the garden at Monk’s House was like stepping into another world and place. The garden was beautifully organised and arranged, divided into sections and bursting with daffodils, primroses, and other spring flowers. It was easy to imagine how inspiring and calming a place this would be.
There was a lawn too, where they used to play Boules and this was easy to imagine.
It was amazing to think that Virginia used to walk from Monk’s House, across the countryside to Charleston Farmhouse, where her sister, Vanessa Bell lived.
Of course, one of my favourite parts of the garden was the amazing writer’s hut, situated at the end of the garden, with a stunning view of the South Downs.
The house too was light and inviting, full of flowers and books, and it was easy to imagine it being a wonderful place to live and work.
I love writer’s houses. I love discovering the places that they worked and lived and inspired them. It was evident that Monk’s House was an inspiring place- and I wait to go back there in the summer when all the trees are in bloom! The gift shop was packed full of wonderful Woolf inspired books and gifts, and another trip will definitely be in order…
We finished off our day with a detour via Berwick Church, to take a look at the paintings by Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant, which was another stunning location.
You can find out more about Monk’s House here. If you’re ever in Sussex and/or intrigued by the Bloomsbury group and Virginia Woolf, then I definitely recommend a visit!
Like many, over the past few months I’ve become obsessed by Elena Ferrante, the Italian author of the Neapolitan series, which includes My Brilliant Friend. I’ve just finished the third book and I’m excited but also reluctant to move onto the fourth and final. What will I do when I’ve finished them?
Being a writer is a great excuse to eavesdrop, scavenge for found pieces of conversation, and generally be nosy. You don’t have to go out of your way to do this. You can be passing people on the street and hear a snippet of conversation, which out of context sounds intriguing.
In the Harry Potter world, there’s not really a charm for creating silence. There’s a silencing charm, but it only makes the recipient temporarily mute. And that’s not the true kind of silence I want to talk about.
[Contains story spoilers]
It didn’t occur to me for a long time that two of my favourite novels actually had something rather interesting in common. Aside from the fact that both are set in the English countryside and appear to be stereotypical English novels, they both share something else rather curious. Namely that both novels were written in exile, in a state of longing and nostalgia.