On Green Dolphin Street by Sebastian Faulks

I confess I am a sucker for a flawed hero and there’s a very appealing one here in On Green Dolphin Street.

Sebastian Faulks is one of my favourite authors. You know how some books stay with you for a long time? Well, for me, On Green Dolphin Street, and particularly Charles Linden – the flawed diplomat at the centre of this book – has done just that.

Set your flawed hero in New York in the 1950s and he becomes even more irresistable. On Green Dolphin Street is the story of the diplomat, his wife and her lover – told beautifully and sensitively.

I loved this sad tale. Yes, it’s a different book entirely from Birdsong, but for me Sebastian Faulks never disappoints.

The Red Tent by Anita Diamant

I must start by confessing that The Red Tent by Anita Diamant was a book club choice which I might never have come across left to my own devices

Essentially The Red Tent is about women and menstuation and it is set in Biblical times.

I believe that there is nothing new under the sun and so I can easily accept that women thousands of years ago were not so very different to how we are today. That’s one of the things that I like about this book. You can relate to the female characters.

Nothing new?

The club girls had quite divergent views on The Red Tent though. Some thought if you have read women’s studies during your formative years, you’ll find nothing new in this format. I accept that, but still thought it a good story, nicely told – an enjoyable read with enough pace and content to keep you interested.

I loved the image of the women collecting herbs and sewing them into the hemlines of their dresses as they traversed the desert.  I can even say I was moved to tears – particularly at the ending.

I read a lot of books so one of the ways I rate them is whether they stay with me months after I’ve read them. The Red Tent by Anita Diamant does. I couldn’t necessarily recount the tale or describe the characters but some of the images have lingered in my head. For that reason, I’m happy to recommend it.

Natural Alternatives to HRT by Marilyn Glenville

About ten years ago, I picked up a book called Natural Alternatives to Dieting and with it, I got a free copy of Natural Alternatives to HRT. At that time, I had a quick scan of the HRT book, read a list of symptoms and thought well, I definitely don’t have that.

Familiar symptoms

I forgot all the book until some years later, at a point in my life where I was suffering from panic attacks and anxiety, feeling quite jumpy and stressed. I had seen my GP and asked for a referral for counselling which he talked me out of. Instead, he told me to take a few days off work and have a rest. I was glad of the break from work but really felt no better at the end of a week off.

Then, it suddenly dawned on me that the way I was feeling was not unlike how I had felt at the start of menstruation when hormones were in disarray. It got me wondering, and I dug out Marilyn Glenville’s book Natural Alternatives to HRT for another look. Sure enough, this time, many of the symptoms were familiar. It was a tremendous relief actually. I wasn’t cracking up. I was probably in perimenopause. Just knowing that, helped me to relax and get over it.

There is a lot of sensible advice in this book – some of which I have taken, some of which I haven’t. What I like about it is that it puts managing menopause into a zone where you can take some steps to control the emotional and physical chaos.

If you’re embarking on the journey, and in need of a guide, you could do a lot worse than start with this one.

I recommend it.