We are home again ….

…. after a lovely week in south Devon.

Briar loved her meadow, and she was happy that her humans didn’t ever leave her to go to work or to do errands or to do other things that humans have to do without dogs.

The humans loved the peace and quiet, and the dark nights undisturbed by street lights and the like.

We all loved our cottage and some lovely countryside and riverside walks.

And we all enjoyed our daytrip to Totnes, a town we know and love. We had a lovely walk, a picnic in the park, and a wonderful trip around the town’s charity and second-hand bookshops.

So let’s talk about books!

First the charity shop finds:

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I read a library copy of The Virago Book of Love and Loss years ago, I know I have many of the short stories it contains in other collections, but it is such a lovely selection of stories and authors that I had to pick up this copy.

I haven’t read Walter de la Mere since I was a child, but a lovely cover caught my eye and the story told in The Return – the story of a man who falls asleep on a grave and wakes with the spirit and face of another an – looked very promising.

Desdemona – if only you had spoken! is another Virago publication. It presents monologues that gives voices to famous women – real and fictional – ancient and modern – who never had their day. It might just be fabulous ….

Old Goriot was a very timely find – it’s my Classics Club Spin Book, I didn’t have the book. and the copy I ordered from the library didn’t arrive in time for me to take it on holiday.

Dear Departed: a Memoir by Marguerite Yourcenar  was a Virago Modern Classic that was missing from my collection, so I was delighted to spot a copy.

I already had a copy of Katherine by Anya Seton, but I knew that it was old and tatty and that the print was very small, so I picked up a lovely, recent edition that was priced at just one pound.

A copy of The Enchanted Wanderer by Nikolai Leskov was my most interesting find. There’s a shiny new copy in the library, but I don’t like the translation and I don’t like that it’s overblown, padded out with extra stories. I can’t tell you the age of the copy I found, but I can tell you that it was beautifully produced by The Foreign Languages Publishing House in Moscow.

A new hardback edition of a recent translation of Les Miserables was a lovely find, because I was finding my thick paperback edition unwieldy, and I plan to keep this copy on the dining room to read slowly and steadily,

These books alone would have sent me home happy, but more lovely finds in the town’s two second-hand bookshops turned last Wednesday into my best day for books for years – maybe the best day ever!

 

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I love Kate O’Brien and so I was thrilled to find a copy of Pray for the Wanderer, a novel that I had never come across before and knew nothing about..

The Ikon of the Wall is a collection of short stories by Elizabeth Goudge. It was lovely to find one of her lesser known works in a Devon bookshop not too many miles from the home she loved, and the timing was wonderful, given that yesterday was the anniversary of her birth, and that Elizabeth Goudge Reading Week is in progress.

Eden Phillpotts was another author who loved Devon, and The Farm of the Dagger is set on a part of Dartmoor that I know and love, so it had to come home.

Hearts Undefeated is a Virago anthology, collecting women’s writing about all aspects of the second world war. The range of subjects and authors is wonderful; there are famous names, there are Virago authors, there are Persephone authors, and there are more besides.

Love’s Civil War: Elizabeth Bowen and Charles Ritchie: Letters and Diaries 1941-1973 charts a love affair, and I was so pleased to find a book from my wishlist in lovely condition.

I pounced on The Wise Virgins by Leonard Woolf – I’d wanted a copy for my Persephone collection for a very long time.

A Backward Glance by Edith Wharton – her autobiography – was a book I’d never thought to look for, because my focus has always been on her fiction, but I was delighted to find a copy.

After such good fortune I passed by the shops selling new books – nothing could live up to the gems I’d already found.

What I have to do now that we’re home again is find somewhere to put all of these books, and slow down a little. Because there are more lovely books in the world than I can read in a single lifetime.

I did do a lot of reading last week, but I’ve written about enough books tonight, so I’ll tell you about those books another time ……

We are on holiday ….

….. in a part of the world that has inspired authors to read lovely books like these:

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The will be days out, and there will be quiet days pottering about, when a certain amount of reading will be done.

A certain small, brown dog will have her own half acre of meadow.

She hopes that when she come home her promenade will be open again.

We’ll see you then!

Katherine Wentworth by D E Stevenson

When you need a book to be a security blanket, as I did this week, you could do well to turn to the work of D E Stevenson.

This isn’t her best book; it isn’t a book that would stand up to very much scrutiny; but it is mid 20th century romantic fiction done rather well.

Katherine Wentworth was a young widow, living in Edinburgh in the most genteel kind of poverty, and bringing up a teenage stepson and two young twins. She missed her husband terribly, but she knew that he would have wanted her to carry on and to make a happy home for their family, and she knew that was the very best thing for her to do with her life.

She did well, and I found that I liked Katherine and her family – her sensible step-son, and her adorable twins – very much.

Over the course of one spring and summer a great deal happened.

2730f1542f902e75970454e6a67444341587343Katherine met Zilla, an old school-friend. She was surprised at how delighted Zilla was to see her, as they hadn’t been close at all; and as she saw more of her she was disappointed that Zilla didn’t appreciate that lifestyle and choices that her wealth gave her, or the lovely home that she shared with her brother. That brother became a good, supportive friend to Katherine, and he clearly enjoyed visiting a family home, forming a lovely relationship with her children along the way.

When Simon, Katherine’s step-son, came home from school for the holidays received an invitation from his father’s family. Katherine was concerned, because though her husband had said little about his family she knew that he had not come from a happy home and that he had never had any thought of building bridges. She and Simom talked about that, and they decided that they would go as a family, leaving the twins with her aunt.

After what happened there, Katherine was glad that seized the chance of a family holiday, in a cottage in the Highlands. It was idyllic, her twins, Daisy and Denis, were in their element, and their mother loved seeing the enjoying themselves, as well as enjoying her own escape.

But, of course, real life – the good things and the bad things – caught up with Katherine, allowing things to be tied up nicely and the story to reach the conclusion that I had been expecting from the start.

That ending was a little rushed but it was a very good ending; a proper conclusion but plenty of potential for a sequel.

The story is predictable. I correctly predicted how each character’s storyline would play out as soon as they appeared; and I spotted so any familiar elements that appear in so many of D E Stevenson’s works.

But the emotions were real, and they rang very true. D E Stevenson was very good at emotions, and at families, and at places.

Storylines and character’s fates played out exactly as I wanted them too, but there was just enough depth to the story to make it interesting; and I have to admit that I rather like this idealised era when the war was long ago, the modern age was far ahead, and the world was so much simpler and nicer.

Some of the characterisation is less than subtle; and the parts of the story that deal with bad behaviour and mental health suggest that D E Stevenson had little experience of that side of life and didn’t do much in the way of research.

I’m inclined to think that she sailed blithely past those things because she liked Katherine and her family, and because she wanted to reached the Highland setting that she so clearly loved.

That allowed me to do just the same; and I have to say that this was a definite case of the right book at the right time.

The Girl in the Photograph by Kate Riordan

I find it difficult to resist period romances set in country houses, especially when there’s a hint of suspense or a touch of the gothic, and ‘The Girl in the Photograph’ promised all of that.

This is a story is told in retrospect, recalling events that had happened just a few years earlier.

‘I could never have imagined all that would happen in those few short months and how, by the end of them, my life would have altered irrevocably and for ever’

In 1932 Alice was young, and she was holding down a good job while she waited, quite passively, for when ‘her life – her real life – would begin’. That made her susceptible to a charming older man she met at work. She thought that he was the great love of her life, but he seduced and abandoned her.

23201410Alice’s mother was horrified when she found that her daughter was pregnant, but she was practical and she took matters out of Alice’s hands. She arranged for her daughter to stay with an old friend who was the housekeeper and custodian of  Fiercombe Manor, in the depths of Gloucestershire , while she waited to give birth. She told Alice that she must present herself as a widow, whose husband had died in an accident not long after the wedding, and that when the child was born it would be put up for adoption, so that Alice could resume her old life without shame or stigma.

The story was well told, and it rang true. I believed in Alice’s fall, and in her mother’s response. I understood how each of them must have felt

The  old acquaintance in the country – close enough to offer such help but not so close that she might have any idea that the story she was told was untrue – seemed a little  convenient, but the story was engaging and it held such promise.

“Firecombe is a place of secrets. They fret among the uppermost branches of the beech trees and brood at the cold bottom of the stream that cleaves the valley in two. The past has seeped into the soil here, like spilt blood. If you listen closely enough you can almost hear what’s gone before, particularly on the stillest days. Sometimes the very air seems to hum with anticipation. At other times it’s as though a collective breath has been drawn in and held. It waits, or so it seems to me.”

When Alice arrives at Fiercombe Manor she is uncomfortable with the story she has to tell, and the unwarranted sympathy that she receives. And at night, when the house is silent, she feels another presence in her room. She wonders if the house is haunted, if that is why the family who own the house but who never visit, if there might be a story to be uncovered.

‘I felt intrigued and almost excited, as though a mystery had presented itself to be solved. Delving into the past was just the sort of distraction I needed to take me away from my own present.’

She asks Mrs Jelphs, the housekeeper about the history of the house and about Lady Elizabeth Stanton , the last lady of the manor. Mrs Jelphs had been concerned, helpful and supportive of Alice, she became evasive. Even though she knew that Alice knew that she might have told her a great deal; because years ago she had been Elizabeth’s maid.

Elizabeth’s she recalls the summer of 1898 when she too is awaiting the birth of her child. She lived in Stanton House which was nearby to Fiercombe Manor, but was there no more.  Like Alice, she is pregnant, she is alone and yet not alone, and she is apprehensive about what will happen when her baby is born.

The Girl in the Photograph tells Alice and Elizabeth’s stories, until one of them comes to a  dramatic, shocking end.

The story with beautifully told. The house lived and breathed; the atmosphere, the mystery and intrigue, were pitch perfect; and the gothic overtones were so very well done.

But though I loved Elizabeth’s story, which broke my heart  in the end, I was less taken and less moved by Alice. I found her gauche and self-absorbed, and when I came to the end of the story and thought back to her words in the prologue …. well, that confirmed my feelings..

The writing is gorgeous, the story is readable, and I’m sorry that it doesn’t quite live up to that writing and that it has no more than the writing to set it apart from many other stories like this..

A Second Meeting with Cousin Henry

Four years ago I started to read my first Trollope – ‘Cousin Henry’ – for a Classics Circuit tour. I didn’t get on with the book, I didn’t finish it, but I at least had the sense to write:

“I suspect that I may still come to love Trollope. I just need another time and another book.”

When I saw the same book in the library again last month I thought it was time to try again, time to see if another time and the other books I’ve read would make all the difference.

I think they did; because this time I liked ‘Cousin Henry’, and this time I had to keep turning the pages until I reached the end of the book. It’s a short book,  and it moves along more quickly than any other Trollope I have read, but it is still distinctively and recognisably him.

The story opens on a country estate in Carmarthenshire. Indefer Jones, the owner of that estate was elderly, his health was failing, and he was contemplating his will.

He wanted to make his niece, Isabel Brodrick, his heir. She was his sister’s daughter, and she Isabel had lived with her uncle for many years, since her mother had died and her father had remarried. There was a strong between uncle and niece; and Isabel loved the estate and was well liked by her uncle’s staff and tenants. She was the perfect heir in all respects but one: she was a woman whose claim came from the female line.

6841988Custom and convention said that Henry Jones, the son of Indefer Jones’ younger brother should be his uncle’s heir. Henry had run up debts, he had been sent down from Oxford, and he had found a job, of sorts in London. He didn’t come near, and he didn’t have the best of reputations.

The choice was intriguing, questioning the importance of primogeniture, and asking what roles a woman might play.

A marriage between Isabel and Henry was suggested, and it could have resolved their uncle’s dilemma; Henry was willing, but Isabel was proud, she knew what was said of her cousin, and she dismissed the possibility out of hand.

Indefer Jones died and the will that was found in his desk showed that tradition had won the day. Henry Jones was the heir.

Isabel returned to the home of her father and step-mother, and  Henry Jones took up residence in the manor house.

Friends and neighbours, staff and tenants, were all disappointed with the will. And rumours started to spread The story was that shortly before his death, Indefer Jones had asked two visiting tenant farmers to witness a new will. It hadn’t been drawn up by his solicitor, but he told them that all would be well. He had copied the wording of an earlier will; all he had changed was the name ….

Cousin Henry knew that the story was true, because he had, purely by chance, found that will, in the library, tucked into a book of sermons his estate to Isabel. That was a great blow to a young man hoping for a new life. He couldn’t quite bring himself to bring to destroy the will, and so he tucked it back into the book and said nothing.

He found that easy, but he found living with the guilt and the fear of discovery very, very difficult. And Cousin Henry found it very hard to dissemble, and, though none of them could prove it, Henry’s manner, his actions, his responses to certain questions, convinced many people he was guilty.

Meanwhile, Isabel’s pride lead her to reject the overtures that Cousin Henry made as a sop to his conscience, turn down the proposal of the young clergyman she loved because she was poor, and offer to go out and earn her own living rather than be a burden to her father.

The story worked so well because the characters of Isabel and Henry were so well drawn. They were both fallible; he was weak while she was strong; that was interested and it meant my sympathies were shared between the two, albeit unequally.

I couldn’t say that that I liked either, but, as always with Trollope, I understood, I was involved, and I had to know how the story would play out.

The story is simple, it feels a little contrived in places, but as a psychological study – particularly of the effects of guilt – it’s brilliant!

The story comes to a head when Carmarthen Herald publishes a series of articles accusing Henry of destroying the will, or at the very least having knowledge of its existence. The family solicitor tells Henry that he had no choice but to sue for libel, and he sets the wheels in motion.

But, as he observes Henry, his certainty that there is no libel grows.

I guessed the ending long before it happened, but it didn’t matter. I enjoyed seeing the story play out.

Now I know that this was the wrong book four years ago, and it shouldn’t be anyone’s first Trollope, but when you have come to know and love him it is definitely worth reading.

Literary London with Patricia Duncker

This year, London Book & Screen Week will be taking place from 13th – 19th April, uniting readers, writers, gamers and film fans, with hundreds of events taking place across the capital that celebrate stories and the written word in all its forms. 

You’ll find lots of events are listed at:  http://www.londonbookandscreenweek.co.uk/

It’s at time like this that I wish that Cornwall wasn’t quite so far from London; but I’m lucky that books, films and art can transport me back there, without having to worry about practicalities, and without having to stay at his particular point in history ….

I mention this because last week I was invited to take part in a blog tour.

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To celebrate this year’s London Book and Screen Week, five top authors will be revealing their favourite books about London on seven top blogs over seven days, as part of the first ever ‘London Book & Screen Week Blog Tour’ .

 * * * * * * *

And so I am pleased to present Patricia Duncker, the author of six wonderfully diverse novels, two volumes of short stories, and many literary essays and scholarly articles.

I’m reading her most recent novel Sophie and the Sibyl, published by Bloomsbury this week. It’s inspired by a chapter in the life of George Eliot, it’s intriguing, and it makes me very interested to know what she has to say.

To celebrate London Book & Screen Week, Patricia will be interviewed by John Mullan as part of a Bloomsbury Book Club event on Wednesday 15th April. Tickets are available here.

And today we have her thoughts about books and London:

My top 3 books about/set in London

 1. Charles Dickens Bleak House (1853)

The very first word of this grandiose polemic on the condition of England is London. The scene opens in the court of Chancery and the action concentrates on the machinations of the lawyers in Lincoln’s Inn. Mr. Tulkinghorn is the evil, prying spider, uncovering family secrets.  My sister-in-law is a barrister. She tells me all the lawyers love this book.

2. Bram Stoker Dracula  (1897)

The fabulous Count starts buying up real estate in Purfleet even before he comes to London. Van Helsing arrives at Liverpool Street and dramatic vampire action takes place on Hampstead Heath. London is the prize and the night streets are unsafe when the Count leaves his coffin.

 3. Michèle Roberts Paper Houses (2007)

This memoir of the 1970s and beyond is a portrait of the artist as a witty, radical young woman. Roberts has written many of her novels in and about London. Here she tells her story of art and life through the locations where she lived and wrote. No one else captures in such sensual prose the smells, sounds and textures of the London streets where she walks.

 

My top place to read in London

The café nearest to the Primrose Hill bookshop in Regent’s Park Road. I buy a heap of books at the shop and then retire to the café to gloat over my purchases!

 My favourite on screen/video game book adaptation

My fave book to screen adaptation is Francis Ford Coppola’s 1990s version of Bram Stoker’s Dracula with Gary Oldman as the Count. It has the immortal line ‘ I have crossed oceans of time to be with you’,  and catches the theatrical qualities of the Gothic.

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And now I’m thinking about that …..  Megalosaurus, forty feet long or so, waddling like an elephantine lizard up Holborn Hill ….. conjured up by Dickens at the start of Bleak House again.

So please distract me – tell me which book, which film, which anything at all, transports you to London!

The Spin Has Spun ….

…. and I am very pleased with the result.

I knew that I would be, because I really wanted to read every one of the books on my spin list. But I’m particularly pleased with this one, because it’s by an author I’ve wanted to read for a long time, because it’s been on my list from the very start, and because I think it will contrast well with the other books I have in mind to read this month.

Number two brought me:

‘Old Goriot’ by Honoré de Balzac (1835)

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“Monsieur Goriot is one of a select group of lodgers at Madame Vauquer’s Parisian boarding house. At first his wealth inspires respect, but as his circumstances are reduced he is shunned by those around him, and soon his only remaining visitors are two beautiful, mysterious young women. Goriot claims that they are his daughters, but his fellow boarders, including master criminal Vautrin, have other ideas. And when Eugène Rastignac, a poor but ambitious law student, learns the truth, he decides to turn it to his advantage. Old Goriot is one of the key novels of Balzac’s Comédie Humaine series, and a compelling examination of two obsessions, love and money. Witty and brilliantly detailed, it is a superb study of the bourgeoisie in the years following the French Revolution.~

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Did you spin?

What are you going to read this month?

Spinning with the Classics Club

The Classics Club Spin is beginning again.

      • Pick twenty unread books from your list.
      • Number them from one to twenty.
      • On Monday a number will be drawn.
      • That’s your book, to read by 15th May.

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I’m already planning on reading Anthony Trollope and Elizabeth Goudge this month, joining events to celebrate their birthdays, but I’m sure I can find time for another classic.

And this time around I’m focusing on the older books on my list, with all my choices coming from the 18th or 19th century.

Five books by five very different 19th century gentleman authors:

1.The Collegians by Gerard Griffin (1829)
2.Old Goriot by Honore Balzac (1835)
3.Cloister and the Hearth by Charles Reade (1861)
4.La Regenta by Leopoldo Atlas (1885)
5.Thyrza by George Gissing (1887)

Five books I’ve looked at recently and really wanted to pick up and read:

6.Emmeline by Charlotte Turner Smith (1788)
7.A Simple Story by Elizabeth Inchbold (1791)
8.The Morgesons by Elizabeth Stoddard (1852)
9.Moths by Ouida (1880)
10.The Real Charlotte by Somerville & Ross(1889)

Five books by authors I’d be reading for the very first time:

11.The Coquette by Hannah W Foster (1797)
12.The Antiquary by Sir Walter Scott (1816)
13.Hester by Margaret Oliphant (1873)
14.Effi Briest by Theodor Fontane (1896)
15.Red Pottage by Mary Cholmondeley (1899)

Five books by 19th century women I know and love:

16.The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte (1848)
17.Scenes of Clerical Life by George Eliot (1857)
18.Henry Dunbar by Mary Elizabeth Braddon (1864)
19.Belinda by Rhoda Broughton (1883)
20.Elizabeth and her German Garden by Elizabeth Von Arnim (1898)

What do you think?

Are you spinning this time around?

Humber Boy B by Ruth Dugdall

Ruth Dugdall’s new book spins around one striking event.

A child plummets from the Humber Bridge. He is seen by a schoolteacher, who had been fishing on a day when he might have been – some would say should have been – at a union rally. He plunges into the water, in front of his stunned teenage daughter, in a desperate attempt to rescue the child. His cause is hopeless; the boy is lost.

CCTV footage and witness statement led the police to two young brothers, who had fled from the bridge as the boy fell. They were tried, convicted, and imprisoned; but of course that wasn’t the end.

This story begins eight years one, when the younger of the two brothers – who had been known to the media as Humber Boy B – was released. He was given a new identity, and he was expected to start a new life, leaving everything and everyone he had know behind.

Responsibility for the newly renamed ‘Ben’ fell to probation officer Cate Austin. That’s what made me eager to read this book, when the subject matter would usually make me wary. I read Ruth Dugdall’s two earlier novels that followed Cate’s life and work a few years ago, and I was very impressed.

Humber Boy BThe perspective is interesting, because this is a crime novel about not detection and investigation but the consequences of crime and what happens in the future to the accused and the convicted. It is clear that the author, a former probation officer, knows of what she writes; and I appreciate that Cate is utterly believable as a professional woman. She’s a a single mother,  who copes well with her teenage daughter, and her daughter’s relationship with her father, who lives nearby with his new family. And she is good at her job,  aware of the importance of the work of the probation service, and of the difference if makes.

Her own story is secondary, but it  has similarities with the case she has been assigned without that ever seeming contrived. There are many thoughtful touches like that in this book.

Ben’s is the highest profile case Cate has ever had to manage, and she is apprehensive. She is well aware that there are many who believe that he shouldn’t have a fresh start in life, that he hasn’t been punished enough, and there will be some who to find him. She knows that media coverage and social media pose a threat. She also knows that after eight years – from the age of ten to the age of eighteen – in an institution ‘Ben’ would have a lot of adjusting to do, that it would be difficult, that success was by no means guaranteed.

The story moves, quite naturally, between different perspectives in the past and in the present.

A picture of that day in the past is built up slowly, from the accounts of those who were close to events, or those who crossed paths with those involved. It’s very effective; making it clear that there was a chain of consequence, and that many lives were affected. It was clear that those should have cared and supported ‘Ben’ let him down badly; it was also clear, as his story in the present unfolded, that the system that had been supposed to rehabilitate him and prepare him for his new life had failed.

Cate did what she could, and she wanted to do more, but she was constrained by her superiors who felt that enough time and money had been spent on one undeserving young man, and by changes to the way the probation service was expected to operate.

Even though I knew what he had done, watching ‘Ben’ trying to deal with things was moving. He had no idea how to live in the new flat he had given; he didn’t know what things cost; he didn’t know how buses worked or where to go and what to do; he didn’t know how to be around people, or who he was supposed to be.

And then there were extracts from the Facebook page created by the mother of the dead boy, who wanted to find Humber Boy B. Not, she said, because she wished him harm but because she wanted to meet with him, to talk to him, to try to understand what had happened. There was another poster though – ‘Silent Friend’ – who wanted more for the bereaved mother, who seemed more than ready to act on her behalf.

All of these threads work together to move the story forward, with the question of what happened – and what would happen – always hovering.

The style is understated, the story of what has happened – what is still happening is clear, but it is never sensationalised. And though there is an obvious parallel between this story and Jamie Bulger case, there are enough differences and enough respect for this story not to feel exploitative. The understatement was very effective, because it made the tragedy, the horror, of what had happened all the clearer.. The ending was unexpected; it turned everything on its head, and it still has me thinking.

This is a book that works as a human drama, it works as a social study, while remaining a very good – and very readable – piece of crime fiction.

Today is March and Tomorrow will be April ……

….. which means that it’s time I looked forwards and backwards at my reading.

March was a much better reading month than February.

I read four books from my pool for Reading Ireland Month

Broken Harbour by Tana French got me off to an excellent start. Yes it’s a crime novel, but it’s also a state of the nation novel, or quite simply a top flight contemporary novel I was tempted to start on Tana French’s novel for a while, but I settled for savouring the prospect for a while longer because I had lots of other interesting possibilities.

picmonkey-collage-2I had a lovely time In The Vine Country with Somerville & Ross. They were excellent company, they brought the trip to life on the page, and I’m looking forward to reading more of their books, both fiction and non fiction.

Then there was The Wild Geese by Bridget Boland; a historical family story told in letters. It’s out of print and a ‘pick it up if you see a copy’ book, rather that a ‘go out and find a copy’ book.

Maura Laverty is out of print too, but definitely worthy of reissue. Alone We Embark is a lovely, human drama; and a few weeks on from reading it the people and their stories are still swirling in my head, because Maura Laverty has art of making her characters feel like friends and neighbours.

I started ‘The Quest for Fame’ by Charlotte Riddell too, but I found that it was a book best enjoyed slowly, so that one will run on into April.

 I read two very good crime novels. I’ve already written about The Case is Closed by Patricia Wentworth, a lovely period piece for those who like their stories character driven and don’t mind if they work out the solution before the book gets to it. And I will right about ‘Humber Boy B’, a brand new novel by Ruth Dugdall, so for now I’ll just say that I was very  impressed.

I had mixed feelings about my other contemporary reads: I’ll just sat that:

  •  Rise by Karen Campbell was great
  • The Girl in the Red Coat by Kate Hamer was readable
  • The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton was  ….forgettable ….

Now let’s talk about classics.

untitledLady Anna was my first non-Palliser Trollope and I loved it, for the drama and the romance of it all. It might not be his greatest work, but it is a very fine entertainment.

I’ m looking forward to reading more Trollope for his bicentenary next month. Ayala’s Angel is the book I have in mind, and I’m planning to take it with me when we cross the border for a week’s holiday in Devon.

 I’m afraid though the I was disappointed in this year’s Dickens – David Copperfield – there were moments when I loved it, but there were moments when I definitely didn’t. I’ll pull my thoughts together soon. I will say that it probably didn’t help that I read this not long after last years Dickens – Bleak House, which I loved – and that I wish I’d read Dickens chronologically, because I spotted one or two characters here that I suspect were re-worked for later books

I started with my new book of the month and I’ll finish with my old book of the month:

 The Flowering Thorn by Margery Sharp is a gem, and it so deserves to be reissued.  But even of it isn’t there will be another party next January, for Margery’s 111th birthday.

And that was March.

EGButtonNow for April.

I’ve mentioned Trollope, I’m putting a list together for the Classics Club Spin, and I have a book in mind for Elizabeth Goudge Reading Week.

Beyond that I shall, as always, be trying to read the books that call.

Now, please tell me how your March was? And what do you have planned for April?

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