Monthly Roundup – April 2020

April has been surreal. I am still trying to fathom how our government achieved this lockdown with so little protest from the wider population (for the avoidance of doubt, although I am questioning certain decisions, I am adhering to guidelines on proscribed activities). Yes, the media has whipped up a frenzy of fear of this new plague but with people’s livelihoods and future prospects on the line I expected more reasoned debate. It is only now, however many weeks in, that articles are appearing in newspapers pointing out the wider cost of these measures. It is not as straightforward as health vs wealth. Unless protected by personal assets or a benefactor, regular income and a home are necessary for survival.

Even in lockdown we cannot entirely avoid contact with other people. When we are eventually freed, the virus will not have been eradicated from everywhere.

I feel despair for those who have built small businesses and must now face the prospect of failure due to the imposed restrictions. I feel despair for the young people whose future prospects have been stymied. It is stressful for us all not knowing what the eventual fallout from lockdown will be. Saving lives is more complex than a soundbite suggests. Stress and loneliness can also kill.

And then there is the blame game. The opinionated will no doubt remain vocal as they try to use the trouble this is causing to promote their personal, political agendas.

I am aware that I am stating my opinion here. I am aware that I know little about this new virus – that will require careful research, probably lasting years.

On then.

We want some positive news!

Until I was struck down ten days or so ago with the recurrence of a chronic health issue that temporarily prevented me going much further than my garden (I know, I am lucky to have outdoor space), I enjoyed some notable outings on daily exercise. Husband purchased a new bicycle and set up his old one for our daughter. Thus we could all enjoy cycling the highways and byways that surround our home. We are fortunate in living within easy reach of many interesting, scenic, and currently eerily quiet places.

I was also out running two or three times a week and set a new personal best time over the 10k distance. My longest run is now 18k. I had been aiming to achieve a half marathon so hope my running legs return to form once I am properly up and about again.

The fence that blew down in my garden, forcing my free ranging hens into lockdown (they have a spacious enclosure), was finally replaced. I had missed watching them scratch around widely and sunbathe. We are all happier to see them wander where they will.

The weather in Wiltshire has been mostly amazing. Spring has sprung and I derived much pleasure on walks admiring the bluebells and wild garlic carpeting local woodland. As the month progressed I watched as pretty blossom and leaves appeared on trees. Farmers are keeping busy and crops are growing in the fields. I feel blessed to live in the countryside. Even from my bedroom, where I have been forced to rest and recover, I could watch the changes and remember the cycle of life continues.

And I am now slowly recovering. Debilitating pain is a reminder of the true value of good health.

But also…

I received news last weekend that my father had died. He had suffered a variety of health issues in recent years so, although the specifics were something of a shock, his death was not totally unexpected.


I posted reviews for 11 books this month: 4 novels (1 translated); 2 poetry collections; 2 short story collections; 3 works of non-fiction (2 memoirs). Click on a title below to read my review. Click on the cover to learn more about the book.


Fine Fiction

The Mermaid of Black Conch by Monique Rofley, published by Peepal Tree Press
Wild Dog by Serge Joncour (translated by Jane Aitken and Polly Mackintosh), published by Gallic Books

Saving Lucia by Anna Vaught, published by Bluemoose Books


Two more books from Open Pen – a novelette and a poetry collection

Never Seen the Sea by Holly Watson, published by Open Pen
Bad Boy Poet by Scott Manley Hadley, published by Open Pen


Short Stories

Carrying Fire and Water by Deirdre Shanahan, published by Splice
A Stone Statue In The Future by Benjamin Myers, published by Bluemoose Books and Little Toller Books


Originally reviewed for Bookmunch 

Long form poetry and a fascinating account of Britain’s canals

The Martian’s Regress by JO Morgan, published by Jonathan Cape
Waterways by Jasper Winn, published by Profile Books


Non Fiction

Two very different memoirs

This One Is Special by Suzanne Askham, published by O-Books
Jolts by Fernando Sdrigotti, published by Influx Press


Literary Events

At the end of last month my favourite literary prize was announced online. I wrote a post to signal boost the occasion as their party, to which I was invited, had to be cancelled due to lockdown.

The Republic of Consciousness Prize 2020


I agreed to take part in a blog tour as it is being run to highlight books that would have been considered for another literary prize I value – the Wellcome Book Prize – which is on hiatus this year.

Reviews of: Constellations, and War Doctor


Sourcing the books I read

Purchases made have been slow to arrive this month. The only ‘book’ received was the short story by Benjamin Myers – a digital download that I made into my own hard copy.

Do please consider purchasing this (for only £3) as it will help raise much needed funds for two fabulous, small independent presses whose finances are struggling due to the current situation. Click on the picture below for further details.

Two publishers did manage to get books to me. With many publicists working from home ebooks are being offered. Apologies but I prefer to wait for hard copy.


As ever I wish to thank all the publishers who send me their titles to review – the arrival of a book parcel remains a cheering event in my day.

My thanks also to those who share my words across their social media platforms. Your continuing support is always appreciated.

And to everyone reading this, I wish you and yours good health, speedy recovery from any illness, and as much mental stability as can be mustered in these challenging times. May we strive, at all times, to be kind  xx

10 comments on “Monthly Roundup – April 2020

  1. Joanne says:

    I’m so sorry to hear about your Dad. I hope that your own recovery goes well and that we all can be enjoying the great outdoors again soon.

  2. MarinaSofia says:

    You have had quite a month, haven’t you? So sorry to hear about your father, and about your own bout of poor health. The blame game that is becoming so obvious at the top is making me want to rant too, so I can understand your frustration.

  3. Gosh Jackie. What a month. Huge condolences on your Dad’s passing and every good wish for a full recovery for you too.

  4. BookerTalk says:

    What a stressful month you’ve had Jackie. Even though your father had clearly not been a well man for some time and you’d expected his death, it’s still a shock when it happens. I assume because of the lock down you were not able to see him at the end, making it even harder.
    I do hope your own health recovers soon and you can get back to training. 18K is quite an achievement!

  5. I’m catching up on blogs from the week. I’m so sorry to hear about your father, and your ongoing health issues. What a dreadful time for you. Thank you again for taking part in the Not the Wellcome Prize blog tour. I’ll continue reading your reviews with interest.

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