I woke up early this morning and gazed out at the inky dark sky as the lights from Wilshire Boulevard twinkled and the palms swayed, caught in a balmy breeze. The siren song of Los Angeles shimmered in the blue pre-dawn light and the enchantment of the city that we call home hit me afresh, as it often does when I’m least expecting it.
Our apartment is full again as family arrived from London via Mexico City late last week. My daughter was beside herself with excitement as was my son, albeit in a more nonchalant teenage fashion. When you live apart from close family it is always extraordinary how your lives- lived thousands of miles apart for extended periods of time- can then instantly slide together and fit as perfectly as the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle that you didn’t know were missing. Whether it’s the comfortable feeling of the crowded dinner table where conversation flows for far longer than usual, the two coffee pots bubbling away on the stove rather than one or just that simple feeling that all is right with the world it’s in the details that you can catch the magic working.
On another note, I’m about to begin my annual read of Nine Coaches Waiting by Mary Stewart. Best categorized under the genre of romantic suspense, it is Stewart’s flair for evocative description coupled with a haunting atmosphere of menace and the fascination of her characters that draws me back time and again to this novel, discovering something new during each read. This time I’m pulled headlong into the heroine’s narrative. Told in the first person the novel opens with the enigmatic first sentence, ‘I was thankful that nobody was there to meet me at the airport.’ A few breaths later, it is Stewart’s ability to paint emotional complexity in a few words that leaves me deep in thought, ‘Mine had been a good case once… I thought, with an amusement that twisted a bit awry somewhere inside me.’ As Stewart’s description of Paris, where the novel opens, is so vivid I had previously not seen how carefully she is drawing her protagonist’s inner workings for us from the outset. I’ll probably dedicate an entire post to the book when I’ve completed this year’s read. Highly recommended.