Tag Archives: My Brilliant Friend

Walking in the Dolomites, the pleasures of the pudding buffet and a few books

View from Hotel Freina, SelvaI’d love to board a train at my local station and travel all the way to the Dolomites by rail but that would entail a good deal of time, organisation and probably money so we did the next best thing and flew from our local airport to Munich where we spent our first evening having dinner outside in the Englischer Garten, a huge park in the middle of the city, then caught the train through Austria over the Brenner Pass down into Italy the next morning. We stayed in two different places, first in the tiny village of Badia then moving on to Selva which felt like a metropolis in comparison although it’s not much more than a village itself. We walked our socks off and then some, which was just as well given the five course meals in the second hotel not to mention the pudding buffet laden with seductive treats.

The flowers were stupendous, undoubtedly our favourite part of the holiday. It was like Alpine flowers - dolomiteswalking through someone’s magnificent garden. Each time we thought that we’d seen all there was to see we spotted another species. The secret, so I’m told, should you want to sow your own wild flower meadow, is to strip out all fertilisers Alpine flowers - Dolomitesotherwise grass will take over. Consequently there were many more flowers where there were no cows, if you get my drift. It’s entirely spoiled me for walks through British meadowland where I’ve oohed and ahhed over cranesbill, chicory and poppies which now seem a bit tame but I’m sure I’ll get over it in time, just as I’ll get over the absence of the pudding buffet every night.

And, yes, I did manage to fit in a little holiday reading while H pored over maps and walking guides which is his particular way of relaxing. Thumbs firmly down for Lionel Shriver’s Big Brother, I’m afraid, over written and over-rated. Had I not been hit by a wave of horror that I might run out of books I’d have given it up. Thumbs up for Ellen Feldman’s empathetic and absorbing Next to Love about three American women dealing with the fallout from the Second World War; for Beth Gutcheon’s elegant, quietly understated Gossip, about friendship, love and social mores which has a surprisingly dramatic conclusion; and for Karl Taro Greenfield’s acerbic Triburbia about a group of men living in New York’s Tribeca who think of themselves as Cover imageartists, far superior to the men in suits moving into the area. Richard C. Morais’s Buddhaland, Brooklyn was a nice easy read about an inward-looking Japanese monk transplanted to America and his gradual unbending, while Tim Glencross’s Barbarians – the state-of-the-nation novel I mentioned in my second books to look out for in May post – was entertaining but enjoyed much more by H than me. Last, but far from least, I’d been saving Elena Ferrante’s My Brilliant Friend set in 1950s Naples for this holiday – very different from the serenely beautiful, alpine beauty of the Dolomites but Italy nevertheless. It’s the first in a trilogy about the intense, sometimes bumpy friendship between Elena, who narrates the novel, and the fiercely intelligent Lila, struggling with the violence and poverty which characterises their neighbourhood. I finished it yesterday evening – what an ending!

Re-entry into real life has been very much eased by finding that I’ve been nominated by several bloggers whose posts are always stimulating for a Very Inspiring Blogger award. What lovely news to come back to. I’ll be nominating my own VIBs next week.