Well it's nearly that time of year - yes, Valentine's day is almost upon us once again.
Mostly it makes me cringe, but although part of me wants to exclaim "Pfffftttt!" and throw up my hands in disgust, I'm not totally without a heart. You may find it hard to believe but beneath this gruff exterior hides a true romantic: just not the slushy sort.
For this post I was going to pose the question "If you were a book, which one would it be?" but with Valentine's Day looming, it sounded too much like the sort of thing Cilla would ask contestants on Blind Date. Once that image was in my mind it was too horrible to pursue and I could feel my teeth beginning to grind.
Then I thought a bit more about it. One of the Valentine's Day rituals is of course the Special Meal, with the table cosily set for two, ambient lighting provided by a candle, a bottle or two opened in readiness, some low key background music ... But supposing you could substitute books for the food? The menu for my perfect romantic literary feast would be as follows:
A few sonnets from Shakespeare.
(But don't gorge or you'll spoil your appetite and be fit for nothing else.)
(Ghost story or love story? A starter from Charlotte Bronte that will tease and leave you panting for more as you turn the final page)
Joan Aiken's short story The Serial Garden, a tale of love lost, found and lost again
will give pause and sharpen your appetite ready for the next course.
Blackout and All Clear
(Substantial, stick-to-the-ribs reading from Connie Willis which involves time travelling historians lost in the middle of WW2: but at the heart of it, what we really want to know is whether the love-lorn Colin will find them - and more importantly will he get the girl?)
Fire and Hemlock
(A lighter bite for those who want an earlier night, but none the less a very satisfying offering from that masterchef of literary cuisine Diana Wynne Jones. An updated Thomas the Rhymer: not your usual sort of love story and definitely not slushy.)
Ray Bradbury's short story The Swan, a tale of timeless but out-of synch love is the
perfect palate cleanser before embarking on the next course.
A Sterkarm Handshake
A Sterkarm Handshake
(A medley of ingredients from Susan Price includes reivers, a dash of history, a soupcon of time travel and a bit of swashing of buckles as well as a fair bit of 'will she or won't she?' ... but really, it's that perfect bittersweet ending which you will never forget - it will linger on long after you have devoured the last sentence.)
Petit fours and coffee
One for the Money
(A bit of Stephanie Plum from Janet Evanovich is the perfect brain candy to finish off with: there are bounty hunters, and crimes and take downs, but the real action involves the eternal love triangle of Stephanie, Morelli and Ranger. Not over filling but just enough to satisfy that sweet tooth and leave you with a smile on your face as you finally totter off to bed.)
OK, that's me sorted, now what would you like to order?