Sometimes you need to have a little patience with a book. I'm going to come clean and say that the first time I read Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, I didn't get on well with it. I couldn't quite suspend my disbelief/cynicism, call it what you will, and engage with the world of the novel. But when I tried again, I raced through it, enjoying every moment and hour of Miss P's Day.
The same thing happened with Patience by John Coates which has just be republished by Persephone. Although on first reading I found the treatment of the central subject of sex and, in particular, women's enjoyment of sex, brilliantly and delicately done, I didn't engage fully with the book's very particular style and characters, and failed to appreciate how very funny and charming it is. But second time around, I couldn't put it down and loved it right to the very end. This time Patience didn't try my patience, I found Philip utterly delightful (and, it has to said, very seductive), Edward cleverly drawn, and 'poor Lionel' fabulously dried-up and creepy. The parks of London feature heavily, and the book has changed forever my image of Queen Mary's Rose Garden in Regent's Park. But underneath the gentle, light, witty dialogue, there are serious themes of faith, sex, marriage, and women's choices. It's a wonderful book; if at first you don't succeed with it, do try again.
[This Suffolk Puff quilt is proof I do have sufficient patience to spend every evening for a few weeks hand-stitching little circles of fabric into puffs, them sewing them together in a 4 x 4 pattern. Palette-wise, I was inspired by the Ascot scenes/costumes in My Fair Lady]