Mulled Wine and Mince Pies
There were plentiful supplies of mulled wine and mince pies on offer in the Hall last week, along with a selection of traditional home baking, including ginger bread and a veritable forest of shortbread Christmas trees. As far as the Blog is concerned, it was Frances who won Star Baker for her puff pastry mince pies – pies made in heaven!
Some villages have traditional figures like the Burry Man in South Queensferry, others have their Straw Men, but Fearnan can now boast its own Christmas Tree Lady after Julia arrived lit up like ……… well, lit up like a Christmas tree, truth be told.
We were joined by our local ‘Ukes’, aka the Highland Perthshire Ukulele Club, starring several villagers and other well-kent faces, who played a selection of Christmas carols and songs. Audience participation in the singing, although not obligatory, was good and given the rate at which the ukulele is being taken up by locals, we anticipate an even bigger band next year.
Next Event: It’s Pudding Night on Saturday 29th February – get it in the diary now, and tell your friends – there’s always plenty to go round, from traditional winter puddings to delicate desserts. This year, in addition, we will trialling a small selection of savoury goodies to cater for all tastes.
A Big Cheque for Fearnan Hall
Last month we reported that Fearnan Hall’s Christmas dreams had come true, with the award of a cheque for an amazing £6,824.86 from the Co-op’s Community Fund for local good causes.
Elaine and Karen were presented with the cheque by the local Co-op manager, Martin.
Fearnan Art Club
Fearnan Art Club (below) met for their Christmas lunch – no painting, no drawing, just eating and talking:
Fearnan Book Club
The Book Club also had their Christmas Lunch recently – at Ciro’s, at Loch Tay Highland lodges. No photos? We’re wondering why not!
It’s Book Club catch-up this month, with 2 reports. Linda wrote the November report, and Lesley provided the December one. The Club’s Book of the Year is revealed at the end of the report – take note if you are looking for some Christmas reading.
November: The Club reviewed The Strings of Murder, a debut novel by Oscar de Muriel. The book, an easier read than the previous month’s, was set in Victorian Edinburgh in 1888 with a storyline cleverly written, although gory and gruesome. Those of us familiar with Edinburgh enjoyed the descriptions of the locations and the historical references.
The interaction and banter between the main characters met with a mixed reaction from the group. The characters were portrayed almost as caricatures – the archetypal tough Scots Detective, and the disgraced, dandyish, London-based Inspector sent up to assist with the case. Jack the Ripper is on the loose in London and there are fears that this is a copycat crime.
As rivals, they dislike each other from the outset and insults are exchanged throughout the book. A dysfunctional duo but, as the book progresses, they begin to respect each other’s strengths. This was the first book in the series featuring these two complex characters and there were aspects that could be developed in subsequent books.
Some found the use of language inaccurate for the period and peppered with Americanisms, but for most this didn’t detract.
This was a challenging set of murders to solve and for us to predict who the killer was!
December: Our book this month was The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell.
A staring, malevolent eye on the book cover gives you a presentiment of fear and danger. This is a Gothic ghost story with a dual timeline moving between 1635 and the 1860s.
It starts in the 1860s, with Elsie who is badly scarred by fire and so traumatised she cannot speak. She is confined to an asylum on a murder charge and a sympathetic doctor encourages her to write her story. Thus we learn that newly widowed, and pregnant, Elsie travelled to her late husband’s country house accompanied by his cousin, Sarah. There the scene was set, a gloomy house, sullen servants and hostile villagers who refused to come near. The appearance of ‘The Silent Companions’ and the discovery of a diary from 1635 presages subsequent, unsettling events.
This book evoked a variety of reactions in our group: either it was a rational murder plot, a portrayal of paranoia, or a very scary ghost story that you wouldn’t want to read alone at night! It was agreed it was very atmospheric especially around the appearances of ‘The Silent Companions’. We discussed the subservient role of the central female in both timelines and how this impacted on their lives. The ending was open to interpretation with several theories being aired.
Our Book of the Year for 2019 was judged to be a draw between ‘Magpie Murders’ (Anthony Horowitz) and ‘The Lost Man’ (Jane Harper).
We look forward to a new year of reading and discussion.
Happy Christmas, Everyone!