Tuesday, November 08, 2005


The other day in the canteen at work, one of the cooks noticed the Patrick O'Brian novel at the side of my tray.

'That's a very good author,' he said, 'though I never thought of him as a ladies' author before. Mind you, I suppose Jack Aubrey is quite a ladies' man, isn't he? And the doctor too, to an extent.'

(Actually, one of the things I like about the Aubrey-Maturin novels is their wealth of strong female characters, like Diana Villiers, Louisa Wogan and Queenie Keith. But I couldn't start a detailed discussion while my colleagues were queueing up behind me for their lasagna.)

'If you like those books,' he said as I was paying, 'there's another very good writer called
Tristan Jones. If you have trouble remembering his name, just think of Tristan da Cunha, the islands, and then think of Wales.'

And what do you know? It works.


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