So I just found out that “Slade is a surname of Saxon origin, meaning, variously at different times in different dialects, “a valley, dell, or dingle; an open space between banks or woods; a forest glade; a strip of greensward or of boggy land; the side or slope of a hill”” which is great and brings me so much joy. This book is essentially titled Dingle House. It sounds like a place I would very much like to live, even though I’ve read the book and know that I wouldn’t want to be within 100 ft. of Mitchell’s Slade House.
I hope that this week finds you well and all that good stuff. Things are picking up speed as we move into the three weeks of the semester so I hope you are all able to keep your stress levels to a minimum.
Slade House by David Mitchell was pretty kick tale. Inspired by the British setting I have attempted another traditional British dessert: Bread and Butter pudding.
More specifically, Blueberry Bread and Butter pudding. I’ll be honest, this stuff is pretty much just glorified French Toast with less effort considering you don’t have to dunk every single piece in egg and then fry it. So I guess it’s healthier too? Because it’s baked? Anywho, all in all, it was pretty good.
I would recommend bread that is a little bit stale for this one. Because it sits in the custard bath for so long if the bread is too fresh (I was procrastinating and wanted to make bread, so mine was super fresh) the end result is some spongey bread and butter pudding. Some people might like this? Maybe that was how it was supposed to be? I dunno, but I would have appreciated it if the end result had been a little more firm, which you would get with bread that is just a wee bit stale.
I also made scones, which Kathy took some pretty great pictures of. This was mostly because I wanted my family to be able to eat something in case the bread pudding turned out bad and also because I was procrastinating like nobody’s business.
Blueberry, Lemon, and Poppyseed scones aren’t that bad of a reward for putting off work if I do say so myself.
So yeah, that’s how that went. Now for the book!
Slade House is great. David Mitchell is one of those authors that I can happily sit down and read his whole book in one sitting. Slade House is also the book that kind of started my David Mitchell kick. I started this book weeks ago — I got about halfway through reading it on my Ipad and I realized I wanted to blog about it so I went on the hunt for a hard copy so I could get a good picture of it. One quick Amazon search later and I realized that the American release cover was ugly as anything. Grey and geometric, I didn’t think that it captured the colorful and engaging inside. So I checked out Amazon.uk, because I’ve noticed that they tend to get the prettier covers over there in jolly old England, and I found the vibrant cover that I was looking for. The only problem was that it took about four weeks to get here. But! It is here now and I am going to tell you all about this quick but excellent read!
The book is divided into five parts and between each section is a nine-year gap. But there are a few common threads that run through each section, regardless of the time gap: a man running in an orange and black tracksuit, a woman being pushed in a wheelchair, The Fox and Hounds pub, and Slade Alley and House of course.
The book opens harmlessly enough, just an awkward teenage boy, Nathan, and his mother on the way to the posh side of town to meet with an important lady, Nora Grayer. Nathan mentions that his parents are divorced and they have a bit of money trouble, but other than that they bicker like mother and son are prone to and make their way to Slade House. They struggle to find the entrance — they were instructed not to come in the front door and instead find a little black door in the alley behind the house. This doesn’t seem to strike them as odd, which struck me as odd, just because that seems kind of rude? But the mom seemed pretty hell bent on getting to this party and schmoozing with the famous people so I guess she didn’t really care in the grand scheme of things.
Things go from odd to freaking weird real quick as Nathan’s filched Valium kicks in and it’s hard to tell what’s real and what’s just the effects of his high — or Slade House itself.
I can’t really share much more than that without giving away some really neat aspects of the book. This is a novel that deals with mysticism and spiritualism, the real and the imagined. Mitchell is able to create and maintain a level of tension that left me feeling unnerved and captivated at the same time. He’s created a really incredible piece of fiction that is engaging and fascinating, a hooked from the first page kind of novel. It’s the kind of book that you can read two or three times and find all the little things that you missed the first time — Mitchell gives plenty of clues as to who the Grayers really are, and you need only look close enough to find them.
I enjoyed this book immensely. Mitchell captures a whole range of voices in this one without a stumble or a moment of “would this person really say that?”. His rendering of character is seamless and his imagery is vivid and crisp. I am once again blown away with what he has been able to create within such a small space, and I am interested to see what he has done in his larger novel, Cloud Atlas. Well, I guess that’s it from me for now. Thanks for reading!