I wanted a big, slow (for me) read, something I could sink into and stay with for a while. Turns out, Hild by Nicola Griffith is that book.
It’s beautifully written, and set in 7th century Britain, takes me juuust far enough outside anything I know, turning it into a true adventure. Lots has been written about this book, and I’m not sure how much I have to add to any conversation — especially given that I’m still reading it — but it’s a treat.
Hild is based on the life of Hilda of Whitby. It’s often a novel of politics, but the things I like best are seeing women in every day life. The making of butter, the weaving of cloth. The book has a very real quality to it, that the clothing worn and the food eaten have histories and costs attached them, neither of which we, as modern readers, probably consider enough.
Hild is something of a darling, but she’s finally taking steps to be something more than that, and I’m encouraged I will like her quite a lot as this part of her adventure closes (it’s the first in a trilogy).
And look at that cover. The trees, the sky, the birds, and she’s kind of part of the trees, or they’re running into her…ah, it’s lovely.
The second story I’ve been wrapped up in this month is…erm, Fallout 4. I know what you’re thinking. Elise, that’s a video game, and you are not wrong! But Fallout 4 contains a pretty interesting story, too. Minor spoilers follow.
Once upon a time, you were happy and married and living in the burbs, see; spouse, baby, a really great house and a really snarky robot. Then, as happens, the world blew itself up. You invested in a slot in the fallout shelter, of course you did — but from there, things go even further downhill, as you later witness the apparent death of your spouse and the abduction of your child. (I say apparent because I don’t know; the story is still playing out. Who knows what I saw when I came out of cryosleep!) You emerge into a world that’s completely changed — seemingly two hundred years later. Oh your swell house is still there, but it’s a wreck, and the neighborhood has really gone to hell.
There’s a learning curve here, how to survive in this new landscape, how to interact with people and animals you encounter. How to find clean water and safe food, and rebuild — or not. I’m also taking this story slow, enjoying the exploration of a nearly empty world. It’s waking up the writerly part of my mind, too, as the best books do.
I’ve also got a bookmark in The Clockwork Dagger by Beth Cato, but proper words on that adventure will have to wait until next month!