Mr F and I disagree on very few important issues  –  they’re mainly of the ‘wet spoon in the sugar bowl’ degree of seriousness, but there is one thing I do think warrants my going public: writing in books. On this point, never the twain.

Like me my husband loves books. Unlike me he never passes them along. He has books going back to his college years, books still in their dust jackets, and I can guarantee he’ll have written something in every one of them. Sometimes he’ll just underline a word. This generally signifies that he thinks the author has used it incorrectly. I purely dread seeing his pencil mark on anything I’ve written.

As marginalia go an underlining is quite mild. Sometimes he’ll put an exclamation mark next to a line. I must tell you, this is hardly ever meant as a compliment. The next worst thing is the word ‘RUBBISH’ in the margin. The endpapers don’t escape defacement either. Phone numbers get scribbled down, and arcane little messages that baffle you when you take Little Big Man down from the shelf years later. Who was Walter, you wonder? And what was it that required 40 minutes at Gas Mark 5? In my husband’s hands a book gets treated like a memo pad.

The books I consider exclusively mine may not be in tiptop condition – I’m afraid I’m a page-corner bender, a practice Mr F would never stoop to  – but I would never, ever write in them. I guess it’s an attitude drummed in to me as a child, when the books I read were mainly borrowed from the public library and to deface them would have brought shame on my family. Actually, my grandmother already had that covered. She smoked in the street. Never scribbled in a book though, credit to her.


Well, exciting times are upon us. Finished copies of A Humble Companion  arrived yesterday and they look delicious. I’ll post a picture of the final jacket next time though frankly no photo does justice to its gorgeousness. So, only eighteen sleeps till publication day and the start of my Virtual Launch Party, a three-day extravaganza to which you are all invited and about which, more very, very soon.


  1. Elizabeth Dunn on May 22, 2012 at 3:45 pm

    The new cover is gorgeous. Have just loaned out At Sea and Being Kennedy and hearing the joyful groans ad nauseam! You are prolific. I don’t know how you do it – deadlines and practice?

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