Tuesday, 8 July 2014

A Book to Read on a Midsummer's Evening

Posted By Daisy

ONE of my oldest friends got married at the weekend. On an estate in the middle of the West Cork countryside, under blue skies in the heat of the midday sun.
Guests sat on rugs dotted around the lawns, shoes off and legs stretched out in front of them, as L and B walked casually (with smiles so wide) to the waiting celebrant. Wearing a fairy-queen dress (which she only tried on for the first time an hour before the wedding), L smiled calmly and patted the dog as her husband to be (wearing a bell bottomed suit made by L) held her other hand.
They were blessed to the sounds of the bride’s father singing ‘She Moved Through The Fair’, his deep baritone carrying over the gushing river. Dogs ran amok, babies crawled towards them as the celebrant spoke, and in between the words, her brothers sang love songs and played the guitar.
Afterwards, we drank champagne in a clearing by the river, and ate sushi and sausages and smoked salmon and giant squashy eclairs filled with cream, and basked in the sun for the whole afternoon. The bridesmaid kicked off her heels and wore black lace up boots and socks with her sea-green dress and blond hair.

The wedding marquee was an old circus tent. They strung coloured bunting across the circumference of the tent. They threaded hydrangeas and bluebells and daisies and buttercups through a wooden bower, and filled jam jars with flowers and candles on every table.

They cut down huge branches from the forest nearby and strung tiny glass jars with tea lights with thread from the branches. Guests wrote good luck wishes on handmade labels and tied them with straw to an apple tree outside.
At dinner, we drank wine and feasted on hummus and pate and pea soup and buttery sea bass barbecued in tinfoil, and a pig on a spit. The wedding favours were wild flower bombs, to be planted in spring.

'It's like Robin Hood,' said someone, as two merry men carried a barrel of Guinness into the bar tent, and after-dinner guests began to arrive.

At dusk, citronella candles were lit, and lights strung across trees outside switched on and the bride donned a hooded silk-and-brocade dancing jacket. Inside the tent, dinner tables were pushed aside and the first of three bands began to play. Guests milled around outside and it felt like there was magic in the air and that anything could happen.

And maybe it did. A moment as fleeting and wispy as a midsummer nights dream. But it made me happy.

Elevator Pitch: A teenager and her brother live with their outwardly pious but tyrannical father and brow-beaten mother in a Nigeria that's changing every day. They soon realise that not everyone's life is this brutal and limited.
It's a cross between The Poisonwood Bible and any book by Alexander McCall Smith.
After reading a few chapters, I predicted that this would be one of the best books I had ever read. And although it didn't quite live up to early expectations (the ending is strange), it was still a great read nonetheless.
A young Nigerian man and his English wife spotted my mum reading it on the airport tube, and they chatted happily about Africa (she spent 9 years in Nigeria) the whole way from Heathrow to Hammersmith.
It was longlisted for the Booker Prize in 2004, and was Adichie's first novel. I look forward to reading her next novel, 'Half of A Yellow Sun'.