As a treat for my birthday (a few months ago now) I received a small cash gift specifically intended for spending at one of my favourite bookshops Toppings, Ely. A fabulous, little place; three storeys with the most wonderful view of Ely cathedral, a warm welcome and an invitation to get lost amongst the shelves for as long as you’d like. I love the place and, as always, found it impossible to come away with just the one new book so, it’s taken me a while to get around to reading them all and I’m still not quite there yet. One of my favourite’s so far has been Valentine Grey by Sandi Toksvig.
Now, I have to begin by admitting a little bias here. I’m quite a big fan. What with her satirical comedy on the radio, her non-fiction writing, and her recent entry into British politics I can’t help but admire her. But until recently I hadn’t read any of her fiction.
You’ll be glad to know that she doesn’t disappoint. Valentine Grey is a thoroughly engaging story. It begins slowly and with many other writers I would have struggled with the first few, London bound chapters. Not so here. Toksvig’s keen sense of observation and her directness with language took me with her characters; all of them. They’re well defined and coloured by the author’s careful wit. She has a talent for very simply describing aspects of character and society clearly, even those that many might think were best left alone. She seems to be interested in everything and you can tell. But, nothing’s overdone in the way I’m probably overdoing my attempt to describe it.
It’s a wonderful book. I highly recommend it. I’ll certainly be sampling a little more of her fiction beginning with Whistling for the Elephants which is waiting on my bookshelf. I’m already excited at the prospect and at the variety of options for the book to follow so, thank you Mrs Toksvig.