I have just come back from a 10-day trip to Australia where I have been shooting the hush winter catalogue.
It was the first time I had done the trip without one or both of my children and comfortably the longest time I had been apart from them.
I had been so dreading leaving them that I seriously thought I might have a panic attack on the plane, but as it was I was fine and I was able to sit back, relax and enjoy all the things you can't do with children.
Three films, one book and plenty of sleep later, I landed in Melbourne feeling quite rested and with lots of new material for the newsletter.
Of the films, more at another time – but the book (Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri) I must tell you about now because it was absolutely brilliant.
They say you should write about what you know and Jhumpa Lahiri, a highly-educated Bengali living in the US, writes almost exclusively with the experience of highly-educated Bengalis living in the US.
However, with a storyteller of her ability this is a fantastically rich seam, with the experience typical of immigrants everywhere – the desire to assimilate but also not abandon one's heritage, the clash between cultures but also generations etc. - serving to demonstrate truths that we can all recognise.
Unaccustomed Earth is a collection of short stories, like her first book Interpreter Of Maladies, which I have recommended in the past.
(She has also written a novel called The Namesake, which I very much enjoyed although admittedly not as much as her short stories.)
If you haven't read any of her work, try any or all of these – she writes beautifully, her characters are engrossing and the storylines just suck you in.
No wonder the Financial Times called her “probably the most influential writer of fiction in America”.