The Value of Everything by Mariana Mazzucato

Not the most appealing-looking of book covers, is it?

And I suppose that it won’t help either if I tell you that I’ve taken about a year to finally finish and review this book.

But you definitely shouldn’t let my poor discipline in reading this put you off starting. Let’s rather back up to the point of my inspiration to read it. Mariana Mazzucato was speaking at a CFA conference in London that I attended in May 2019. Subtitled “Disruption: The New Reality in Investment Management”, Mariana, a passionate Italian-American, now heading the Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose and at the University College London argued that economic theory we’ve all learned is problematic. We need an economy that encourages participation from both government and private sector (and rewards each appropriately, in recognition of their contributions), that is sustainable and that has a mission – a big one at that.

My imagination was captured. Just picture what the world would look like if we really could do that, I dreamed. This book is the foundation of those dreams – what really creates value in society, and what just makes (takes) money from ideas that have already been developed? In the preface, she quotes Oscar Wilde as saying that a cynic is one who knows the price of everything but the value of nothing…“economics is known as the cynical science. But it is exactly for this reason that change in our economic system must be underpinned by bringing value back to the centre of our thinking – we need a revived ability to contest the way the word value is used, keeping alive the debate, and not allowing simple stories to affect whose thinks productive and who is unproductive.”

A detailed history of the development of the economic wold follows, with reference to what is built by wealth creators that adds value and how value is extracted by landlords, portfolio managers and the like. But it isn’t that simple. In order for great innovation and growth to happen, we need collaboration, and government – often painted as boring, bureaucratic and unproductive, has an advantage in that it can afford the risk-taking that is so necessary yet unaffordable by the private sector. She uses an example of the development of the smart phone (reliant on the internet and SIRI – developed by DARPA, GPS developed by the US Navy and touchscreen display by the CIA). And there are many others.

So many questions are posed through the book about how we value things, how we should challenge the status quo and the capitalists who charge inappropriately for life-saving medical interventions and our traditional constrained thinking.

Many of the hopeful ideas and collaborations are not thrashed out fully in the book. However, given that Mazzucato advises on policy in this regard (from Mission-Oriented Research & Innovation in the EU to assisting Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez with the thinking behind The Green New Deal) she can be forgiven for ending where she did, replacing writing and thinking about this stuff with actually helping people implement these strategies. She’s also part of Cyril Ramaphosa’s Economic Advisory Council, tasked with igniting the South African economy.

Her critics will point to all the ways that this could fail – corrupt government, greedy capitalists, unwillingness to pay social taxes in production. However, when growth is desperately needed, and ideas and innovations to rescue us from lockdowns and economic devastation wreaked, I’d rather have an optimist and dreamer on my team than a cynic.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, and will be quoting from it regularly, even if it’s just to my family around the dinner table for now.

ISBN: 9781610396745

Five stars

You may also enjoy Green Giants by E Freya Williams

A Single Thread by Tracy Chevalier


There are some authors whose work I will grab/buy and run with/download so fast. I have even been known to sit down in the book store with my already-purchased book, and start imbibing while the rest of my family are still deciding.

Why not?

Why not indeed? I am the child who was given a whole packet of (as yet unpurchased) Marie biscuits to eat through a Pick n Pay shopping experience, so that I didn’t worry my busy mother. I make no excuses. It’s learnt behaviour and I can blame my dear Mom.

Tracy Chevalier (Girl with the Pearl Earring, At the Edge of the Orchard, and New Boy) is one of those authors, and A Single Thread one of those books.

It is 1932 and Violet Speedwell is not living her best life. The Great War has stolen her fiancé and a brother, leaving her to tea and toast with her bitter mother. Violet soldiers on, gathering her pennies so she can escape to Winchester, where there is a cathedral, and more importantly, a group of ‘broderers’ – the women who embroider the prayer cushions, and other paraphernalia that cathedrals require. She discovers her tribe there – including austere Dorothy, lovely Louisa and the ever glorious Gilda. In her happy place, she rediscovers herself and what she wants from her life.

This is a wonderful glimpse into a bygone era with new lenses. It’s a celebration of womanhood, community, presence and purpose. The characters are diverse and real, intense and stoic. The setting is austere and dramatic, the perfect backdrop for their passions.

I loved every minute. Every stitch was a memory, a nostalgic moment, a wiped tear. Just my kind of book. Thank you Ms. Chevalier for writing such masterpieces, not rushing the process and giving your readers (especially me) such joyous experiences.

ISBN: 9780008153823

5 stars

You may also enjoy Love is Blind by William Boyd or The Alice Network by Kate Quinn, or even Transcription by Kate Atkinson.

I owe you One by Sophie Kinsella

40702156 When will my book reviews be confession-free? Especially of the old faithful, really boring “it’s been so long since I last reviewed a book” confession.

Well, here’s a new confession. I’m really struggling to read. Yeah, you read that right, sadly. I truly am. I think it’s the pathological “I-have-to-read-everything-about-COVID-19” part of me. It drives my behaviour, and I find I have very little time for anything else. And I’m exhausted. Go figure.

So, in desperation, when the last 2 for one sale on Audible hit, I chose some titles. My only criteria – the narrator. I listened and listened to all the excerpts. This one’s British – tick. And Sophie Kinsella – should be light and easier to read than the dark COVID stuff plaguing my brain day and night. Right?


Fixie (that’s her nickname, but when her name is finally revealed, you don’t really need the info) Farr is a fixer-upper. She’s obsessed in that way. She’s also fixated with “family first” and the family business – Farrs – a homeware general store. Since her father’s death, she’s helping Mom with the store, her brother Jake – who is keen on reaching a much posher target audience, and sister Nicole, who thinks yoga makes everything better.

Enter Sebastian, a stranger in a coffee shop who asks Fixie to keep an eye on his laptop while he takes a call.  She does, and so much more. Then enter Ryan, the schoolboy crush who also needs fixing up, and best friend Hannah, a spreadsheet kinda girl who wants a baby, now.

Listening worked, but not only that – this was a great story. I was hooked in the first five minutes, and I just loved the characters, the plot, the everything. This is a fun read/listen, even if Fixie’s fixing is so annoying, so persistent and so self-destructive. I’m working on my patience with humanity, so maybe I had some left over for her in these trying times.

I finished it, I had fun doing so, and hopefully it’s broken my book austerity.

4 stars

You may also enjoy Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid, or what about Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty?


Morning all you beautiful people. Here we are on day 2 of lockdown in SA, courtesy of COVID-19, and tell me truthfully, how many of you are just a little stiff thanks to your over-zealous workouts from home yesterday?

When I used to be a blogger, I did a weekly Ten of the Best – my ten favourite clips/articles/pictures from the internet and social media sources from that week. Then I took a break, and also quite a big break from social media, which was restful. Now I’m finding I need all my virtual connections more than ever, and with the virus keeping us confined to our living spaces, the only way we can “get out” is on the WWW, or perhaps in a good book (if you’re not like me and struggling to read, that is).

Enough of the babble, let’s get into the stuff. If you haven’t been here before, what follows is my favourites, you click the video/picture to link to the content and come back for more. Seen it? Skip it. It’s that simple.

I suppose it’s fitting to start with my favourite clip of what this virus is, and why hand washing beats it.

And, the responses, oh the responses – especially the music. Yay for the music.

Here’s the first I saw and loved – A rewrite of Africa by Toto – please stay home South Africa.

Other countries took to their balconies – the Spanish, the Italians and the English. Hilarious.

And then the Berklee students, all locked down, showed us how it’s done.

And our very own Roedean School – Hallelujah. This is beautiful.

Of course, there are those of us (especially in SA) who will miss our takeaways and our Uber Eats. I loved the Nandos ad about this.

And this is how we all feel about that…

But the beautiful Kathleen O’Meara’s poem, ‘And People Stayed Home,’ which was written in 1869 is still so appropriate.

And people stayed home
and read books and listened
and rested and exercised
and made art and played
and learned new ways of being
and stopped
and listened deeper
someone meditated
someone prayed
someone danced
someone met their shadow
and people began to think differently
and people healed
and in the absence of people who lived in ignorant ways,
dangerous, meaningless and heartless,
even the earth began to heal
and when the danger ended
and people found each other
grieved for the dead people
and they made new choices
and dreamed of new visions
and created new ways of life
and healed the earth completely
just as they were healed themselves.

The explanation of the feelings of grief in this HBR article also touched a nerve.

Mar20_23_1022720964-2And then there’s this – Rabbi Manis Friedman’s take on why we should welcome this.

There’s almost too much to choose from. And more everyday, which I shall be sharing in my timelines. But this went up last night – a beautiful rendition of an old hymn.

And yesterday, we were able to meet – not in a coffee shop but via Zoom, and hear a psychologist unpack all the emotions we’re feeling and explain how we need to be gentle with each other. This is a long clip, but if you’re needing an antidote to the news, this is it.

So people – hold each other in your hearts until we can hold each other physically again. Reach out to your friends, and show them love with your words, your voice, your virtual connection with them. And what I’ve learned recently is this – the virtual isn’t as good as the physical, but what is helpful is to go deeper – share more openly, be more vulnerable, love more freely  and expressively and listen to each other’s pain. This is hard, but we can do it together.

Happy lockdown, friends and family. We’ve got this.

The Missing Wife by Sam Carrington

43351584Lou Lou (Louisa) is a new mom to Oliver. She’s sleep-deprived, and not coping at all, so why Tiff – her best friend (really?) – would organize a surprise party by hacking her Facebook account is beyond me. It sounds like my worst nightmare. But that’s just the beginning. Oliver (gorgeous and part of Lou Lou’s chequered past) shows up with his wife. Only she goes missing at the party.

The good is that this is a thrilling page turner. You can’t really stop and think, that would kill the vibe. And I suppose that’s the bad. The ugly is that this is one of those books where everyone is the suspect and then the ending comes completely out of left field. It’s an enjoyable weekend read, if you’re prepared to just go with it, not think too much and suspend your disbelief for an extended period of time. There are also some pacing issues – parts of this speed past, whilst others feel unbearably dragged out.

Not bad, but not wonderful either.

3 stars.

ISBN: 9780008348038

You may also enjoy The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn, or My Husband’s Wife by Jane Corry.

The Afrikaner by Arianna Dagnino


Zoe du Plessis is The Afrikaner. She’s also a palaeontologist, who has lost her fiancé (and also her work colleague) in a car hijacking in Johannesburg. She wants to complete the work they were busy on in the Kalahari. Her own family history and secrets also emerge and threaten to disrupt her life completely.

When I observed that Adrianna Dagnino had spent only five years in South Africa, and written a novel from the perspective she chose, I approached with caution. Surely there would be some clangers – language perhaps, or interactions between diverse people groups that wouldn’t ring true. South Africa is a rainbow nation of very different people groups, with complex histories and relationships. I am happy to say that this was not the case. Whilst I am still wondering how appropriate it is for  a person who is a different nationality to write from the perspective of “The Afrikaner”, I found the elements of the diversity in the novel beautiful, non-judgemental and complementary, which was uplifting and inspiring. The plot was interesting, the tension nicely built, and the ending satisfying.

A diverting and interesting book.

ISBN: 9781771833578

You may also enjoy Deon Meyer’s Icarus, or what about Love and Wine by Paula Marais? Both about Afrikaners, by South Africans. Or for a book with history in Franschhoek, set in France, what about Kate Mosse’s The Burning Chambers?

The Confession by Jessie Burton

44439342._SY475_Jessie Burton, writer of The Miniaturist, The Muse and most recently The Confession, is one of my favourite authors. Not only because she  spends time on her work – evidenced by the carefully constructed characters, intricate plots, and true-to-life settings created with words,  she is an original and talented craftsman. These are books you can judge by their appealing and finely-drawn covers.

In The Confession, we meet Constance Holden and Elise Morceau as they meet for the first time in 1980 on Hampstead Heath. Elise is young and attractive, the older enchanting Connie a writer about to be launched into the world of filming and screenplays in Los Angeles because of her wildly successful novel, Heartlands.

Skip forward three and a bit decades to 2017 (yes, sad but true), and Rosie is looking for her mother, Elise. Elise disappeared on Rosie and Dad when Rosie was just a baby. The last person to see her alive, says Dad, was Constance Holden, still an author, but now reclusive and somewhat batty. Has Rosie the courage to find and confront Constance, who has become expert at hiding herself away?

These two timelines weave and intersect as we discover what happened to Elise, and the story of the relationship between Connie and Elise takes centre stage. It’s gorgeous. The sense of place and setting (LA in the 1990s) is nicely done, and this makes the book a place you can hide in for a few days, where the words and the worlds wash over you, taking you outside your present reality for just a little bit.

“Like all cities, parts of it they drove past looked abhorrent; there was the layer of smog, the air of enslavement, the endless streams of cars. Healtheeeeeee 4 U! screamed a billboard. The taxi had its radio on. ‘Buy, buy, buy’, it yelled. The advertisement seemed never to stop; the word threatened to overwhelm her.”

I loved the three protagonists, their actress and agent sidekicks, and their complex interactions. This is one of those books you’ll want to rush through, and then slow down, because you don’t want it to end. Not yet.

5 stars

ISBN: 9781509886142

You may also enjoy The Only Story by Julian Barnes, or Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid.


The Shape of Night by Tess Gerritsen

43808355I’ve read quite a lot of Tess Gerritsen. She is famous for her Rizzoli & Isles (R&I) series – a detective and a medical examiner who solve all the crimes. As one came out, it was  downloaded to Kindle (by my husband and me) and then devoured at a cracking pace. In between, I went on the hunt, and found her older, romantic suspense novels, which I also enjoyed. And lately, I loved Playing With Fire, which was a standalone, and far better than her recent R&I, Die Again, where I wondered if Tess was not perhaps a teensy bit bored.

Cue The Shape of Night – another standalone. This is not your average “mystery thriller”, as it claims on the blurb. Ava escapes Boston, where some shit went down and heads for the coastal village of Maine – Brodie’s Watch, specifically. This is a rental house – old, haunted, wuthering, creaky and squeaky. But it’s all good – she has her cat Hannibal to help her uncover the legends and the sightings of Captain James Brodie, the captain who built and lived in the house. She’s come because she needs to complete a cook book, and there are some mouth watering descriptions of the food, eerie evenings in the house,  some strange stories of past visitors and even stranger appearances of visitors and strangers. Who do you trust? Ava didn’t expect to have to confront all her demons and then some more in sleepy Maine.

All good. The part that requires some suspension of belief is the interaction with the paranormal sojourners. While I wouldn’t describe it as “ghost porn”, as some of my fellow reviewers have, it’s certainly raunchy, and more than a little weird. Not sure about this part, but the book does work. And with Tess, you know you’re in good hands, she sets a great pace, and most of the sexy scenes with “suspicious” characters are forgivable. I still think she was veree bored when she wrote this though.

Not a yawn, but maybe a miss if you’re not into paranormal thrillers.

4 stars

ISBN: 1984820958

You may also enjoy Black-Eyed Susans by Julia Heaberlin, or Blacklands by Belinda Bauer.


Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

reid_9781524798628_jkt_all_r1.inddWhile reading this book, I noted the following in my journal, which I know is a quote, but where from? Either the book itself, or a review of it. It doesn’t really matter, I suppose. I’ll just add that this is accurate when it comes to Daisy Jones and the Six.

“We love broken, beautiful people. And it doesn’t get more obviously broken and more classically beautiful than Daisy Jones. So it makes sense that Daisy starts to find herself on the sunset strip. This glamorous seedy place.”

Daisy, if you haven’t figured it out, is a singer. And The Six were her band. And this is the story of them, their lives, their interactions, their heady fame and short-lived glamour. This was my first Taylor Jenkins Reid, and it will definitely not be my last.

It’s written as a series of recorded interviews with key people from the time of their fame and after. You’ll be forgiven, if like me, you keep thinking this is history, not historical FICTION (mostly fiction). The band, and Daisy are so unforgettable and real, you will want to go and find their music to read more about them. Apparently the author immersed herself in 70s rock – Fleetwood Mac, Bruce Springsteen, Linda Ronstadt to mention a few. It shows. There are even a few (fictional) lyrics from Daisy’s and The Six’s own hands – which I loved, because it seemed to add an extra layer of authentication.

And that, probably is the single factor (if I have to narrow it down) that made me love this book so much. I loved the authenticity. It’s amazing when gorgeous flawed characters reflect our humanity in all its forms from the brokenness to the moments of extraordinary courage and beauty. This story was set in the 70s, in LA, mainly, and the sense of place was extraordinarily beautiful.

There were lots of favourite moments, which I won’t explain, because spoilers. Suffice to mention the relationships – Karen and Graham, Daisy and Billy, Camila and Billy, were so real and raw and honest and I gasped and wept and laughed and cried.

A full and fabulous 5 stars to this brilliant book.

ISBN: 9781524798628

You might also enjoy Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver.

Here’s a link to my last round of recommendations. Yes, I know it was a long time ago – I’ve been a bad blogger, but as my gynaecologist told me last time I went – “You’re here now” I’m blogging. For now.

Ten of the Best #5

Zapiro Boris HulkHappy weekend, everybody. This edition is earlier than usual, because I’m so busy this weekend. What a lovely thought. But we couldn’t have a weekend without a catch-up of our favourites on all our social media posts. Don’t you just love the Zapiro. Even more delightful is the fact that Boris set himself up for this by making the initial comparison.

I’ll start with an admission. I had no idea what a “homecoming assembly” is. But apparently ’tis the season for them, and their dances. A quick Wikipedia look-up revealed that homecoming is a fundraiser for a school/college that usually takes place around a major sporting event and even a prom-like dance, parades and general festivities. Sounds like a fabulous idea. Here’s a Marvel-themed dance, with a great mash-up of songs.



Have you watched Downton Abbey? You need to, before the movie, which released 20 September. If you haven’t, or haven’t finished, here’s the recap.




Want to train your brain? Learn a musical instrument – from The Guardian. Click the pic.


Wait up, did the judges of America’s Got Talent just try to adopt Ndlovu Youth Choir as Americans? Well, then they should at least have won the competition, which they didn’t. But they remain OUR stars after all. Here’s the performance, for those of you who’ve been living under rocks (and missed it).


This was their competition – Detroit Choir, who came in second place. What do you think? Better? No, I don’t think so either.

Melville made it! One of the best neighbourhoods in the world.

Screenshot 2019-09-20 at 22.10.39

And still in SA, Caitlin Rooskrantz won a gold medal for gymnastics.


Bravo, Theresa Kachindamoto. Ending child marriage in Malawi and sending girls back to school.


Nicely written by Kathleen Ebersohn – Teaching our boys to love.


I loved this too – Scientists Show How Gratitude Literally Alters The Human Heart & Molecular Structure Of The Brain.


We will sign out with this one… Naomi Osaka was on Ellen, again. Naomi is the cutest, nicest person ever, and I love the gentle teasing from both these women.

That’s all for the weekend, guys. Happy resting. Here’s the link to last week.