I think most of us probably have a favourite comfort read – that book that you reach for when you’re in need of mental soothing or when you have a miserable cold and want familiar fireside reading. There are several on my bookshelves; some of which have been with me most of my life. One that always makes me smile is Hens Dancing by Raffaella Barker – the story of newly-divorced Venetia who moves to the Norfolk countryside with her three children and keeps the most amusing diary of family and country life. Similar in feel to my much-loved Provincial Lady, I picked up this on the spur of the moment when travelling back from London by train. Weary and footsore and pregnant, I chose this book almost entirely on the basis of the cover which was the very opposite of how I felt at that moment. It kept me happily entertained on the journey home and I return to it every so often. Such elegant prose too – I love Barker’s writing.
I do have one little, bookseller-type, moan though – the original jacket is sooooo much nicer than the latest one.