Nine days. It’s been nine days of Covid here for Hubby and me. Nine days since I suddenly began to sneeze my brains out, rough violent sneezes that left me breathless, with an aching chest. A sneezing fit that came from seemingly nowhere, and which catapulted me into Covid-land. Odd too, when I had only a couple of hours earlier been laughing with Hubby and feeling great. Oh, it took another day before I really felt terrible. I mean, really terrible. And two days before I finally took a Covid test. But that sneezing fit was the beginning.
Not that you should give a hoot. Not really. I don’t have any idea why I’m being so ultra-dramatic about the situation. When so many of you have experienced the same thing. Let’s chalk it up to nine days of social isolation. Of living inside my own head, ringing ears and all. Of Hubby’s and my mutual groaning and moaning. Of slumping about the house in my pyjamas, from bedroom to sunroom sofa, back to bedroom. Of shuffling downstairs to the laundry with a pile of damp sheets after waking in the middle of the night bathed in sweat. Of sitting as upright as I could to ward off the middle-of-the-night coughing fits that didn’t seem to quit. Of listening to Hubby do the same in the spare bedroom. Of no appetite. And then of weird taste manifestations. I never lost my sense of taste. But I was all of a sudden made nauseous by the smell or even the thought of certain foods. Like Brussels sprouts. Or bacon.
Seriously, my friends, forgive me for whining. And being so dramatic. I mean… most of you have been there. Maybe are there now. If you are I am sorry. It’s not nice is it? Not the “mild cold symptoms” we’ve all been hearing about. Ha. I wish.
So let’s blame the drama on Covid, shall we? That and the fact that when I’ve not been sleeping, coughing, or whining, I have had my face buried in books, and audio books, and old BBC television series for nine days. It’s no wonder that my grasp of reality seems a bit shaky.
I read Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus. This book came highly recommended by friends. And by a myriad of reviews and by lots of readers on Goodreads: “a witty and empowering novel set in the 1960s that challenges societal norms and celebrates the resilience and intelligence of its remarkable protagonist, Elizabeth Zott.”
I was charmed and entertained by the novel right away and thought: “Thank god, my long drought of booklessness is over.” Ha. “Don’t speak too soon, Susan,” I should have said.
I finished the darned thing because I really, really wanted to find out what happened in the end. And even though I laughed in places, and was charmed at times by the inventiveness of the author in creating such a character as Elizabeth Zott, I mostly thought that Bonnie Garmus took the easy way out in the end. In the end and in the middle and in the beginning, actually. Lessons is Chemistry is unique. The plot is clever. And I really liked many of the characters. But I found the novel riddled with stereotypes, especially stereotypes of male characters who were so flat, and unrelentingly nasty that they appeared almost cartoonish to me.
Of course I know that such men existed in the fifties and sixties. Men who hated women and who could not stand for women to succeed in a man’s world. But did Garmus have to make virtually every man in the novel, bar the three or four “decent men,” that kind of man? Ugly inside and out? So even when I cheered at Zott’s victories in the book, I felt uneasy, felt that hating the male antagonists was just that teensy bit too easy. Plus the ending. That really pissed me off. I won’t say why. But if the book hadn’t been loaded onto my iPad, I might have chucked it across the room. You can read the reviews here on Goodreads if you’re interested.
I had such a good run of books when we were away in Portugal. Many of them I’d purchased and saved for our trip. For the long plane journeys and for those days when we’d planned to slow down our travels and put our feet up. I devoured Murder Most Royal, the third in S.J. Bennett’s lovely, lovely series featuring Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth as crime fighter and detective extraordinaire. I read Richard Osman’s latest and long-awaited Thursday Murder Club Mystery, The Last Devil to Die. And Another Girl, the newest in Peter Grainger’s Kings Lake Investigation series. And when we came home I read Alice Slater’s Death of a Bookseller and loved it. Four lovely books in a row. Bliss.
Then my luck turned. And I could not find a book to love despite long hours of research, reading samples on line, and borrowing books from the library only to return them later the same night. At the moment, after finishing Lessons in Chemistry, I am currently reading my way through all my old W.J. Burley Wycliffe mysteries. I need a few calm and competently written mysteries to assuage my frustration. I do love Wycliffe. So soothing. Even if it is about murder.
While I have been sick and sleepless in my bed late at night, besides way too much Tik Tok, I’ve also been watching an old BBC series on Prime, Vanity Fair from back in 1987. I enjoyed it so much. And I’ve been listening to the latest Cormoran Strike novel by Robert Galbraith. The Running Grave is Galbraith/J.K. Rowling at her best. I’ve loved all the books in that series, so excellently read by Robert Glenister.
I always was someone who needed books to get through illness. Even as a kid. I can still conjure up the sight of the books I read when I was eight and I was sick most of the summer. The books. And the meals Mum made to tempt me to eat. Butterscotch pudding with bananas still entices me when I’m feeling ill. Or vanilla ice cream and bananas, as Hubby and I have been eating. So soothing on the throat. So comforting.
I remember the year in my late twenties when I lived at home with Mum and Lloyd, and I contracted a really bad cold. I stayed in bed for days reading old mysteries from my grandmother Sullivans’ book closet. I hadn’t been sick at home for years. And I remember Mum brought me homemade soup and toasted homemade bread for lunch. Then tea and molasses cookies. And one day a package that had been delivered by the mailman. A new sweater pattern and the yarn to make it that I had ordered from Chatelaine magazine.
Seriously, I can still hear the sound of the screen door bang, and Lloyd saying that there was “a package for Suz.” Mum brought it upstairs and sat on the edge of my bed as we opened it together and read the pattern. Then she brought up her needle basket, and I cast on the stitches and began my sweater. I knit happily all afternoon. And later I could smell something delicious in the oven. I’m pretty sure I went downstairs in my pyjamas for supper that night. But maybe not. Maybe that’s just me and my dramatic imagination wrapping that story up in a cosy bow.
So that’s pretty much it for me, today, my friends. The story of our nine days of Covid. Of whining and reading and shuffling around the house.
Tomorrow will be day ten. I am going to make an effort to go for a walk. Not just a lethargic shuffle around to the front of the house to watch the geese on the river. But a real walk. I’ll wear my wooly hat, and my down jacket and mittens. And maybe Hubby and I will put a roast chicken in the oven, and leave just before sunset.
There’s nothing like a late fall, late afternoon walk. The cold, fresh air. The dramatic skies. The warmth of the house when we come back inside. The smell of dinner in the oven. As long as it’s not Brussels sprouts. Or bacon. Ha.
What are you reading these days that might tempt me, my friends? Anything good?
P.S. The book links in this post are affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking my link, I will earn a small commission which helps to pay for the blog.