Library Loot

I’ve taken a few days off work this week to try to catch up with myself. Among other things, that’s given me more time than usual to have a really good look around the library. And, of course, the result was rather a lot of books brought home. I’ve going to have another ordering ban in March while I catch up, because I really couldn’t have left any of these behind:

A Room Swept White by Sophie Hannah

“TV producer Fliss Benson receives an anonymous card at work. The card has sixteen numbers on it, arranged in four rows of four — numbers that mean nothing to her. On the same day, Fliss finds out she’s going to be working on a documentary about miscarriages of justice involving cot-death mothers wrongly accused of murder. The documentary will focus on three women: Helen Yardley, Sarah Jaggard and Rachel Hines. All three women are now free, and the doctor who did her best to send them to prison for life, child protection zealot Dr Judith Duffy, is under investigation for misconduct. For reasons she has shared with nobody, this is the last project Fliss wants to be working on. And then Helen Yardley is found dead at her home, and in her pocket is a card with sixteen numbers on it, arranged in four rows of four.”

I read a good bit of crime and mystery, and Sophie Hannah is about as good as it gets. This one sounds particularly intriguing, and I am delighted to have picked it up so soon after it came out.

The Gourmet by Muriel Barbery

“France’s greatest food critic is dying, after a lifetime in single-minded pursuit of sensual delights. But as Pierre Arthens lies on his death bed, he is tormented by an inability to recall the most delicious food to ever pass his lips, which he ate long before becoming a critic. Desperate to taste it one more time, he looks back over the years to see if he can pin down the elusive dish. Revealing far more than his love of great food, the narration by this larger-than-life individual alternates with the voices of those closest to him and their own experiences of the man.

I loved the Elegance of the Hedgehog, and so, of course, I had to pick this up as soon as I saw it.

The Voluptuous Delights of Peanut Butter and Jam by Lauren Liebenberg

“Nyree and Cia live on a remote farm in the east of what was Rhodesia in the late 1970s. Beneath the dripping vines of the Vumba rainforest, and under the tutelage of their heretical grandfather, theirs is a seductive childhood laced with African paganism, mangled Catholicism and the lore of the Brothers Grimm. Their world extends as far as the big fence, erected to keep out the ‘Terrs’ whom their father is off fighting. The two girls know little beyond that until the arrival from the outside world of ‘the bastard’, their orphaned cousin Ronin, who is to poison their idyll for ever.”

I loved the title as soon as I heard it, a couple of years ago now. That the book is published by the Virago Press is a very good sign. That was shortlisted for the Orange Prize for New Writers is a very good sign too. So it’s been on the wishlist for a while, and this week it finally appeared in the library.

The Frightened Man by Kenneth Cameron

“Introducing an intriguing new hero in the world of crime fiction…American novelist Denton is an uncomfortable outsider in class-ridden turn-of-the-century England. But he is about to be plunged into the dark heart of a society where privilege and propriety hide unspeakable horrors. When a stranger turns up at his door declaring he has just seen Jack the Ripper, Denton dismisses his lurid ravings as the delusions of a madman. But then a prostitute’s horribly mutilated body is discovered that night – and Denton suspects the two events are connected. While the police investigation grinds towards a seemingly pre-ordained conclusion, Denton becomes obsessed with finding out who the victim really was and who killed her – a search that leads him by degrees into the darkest, most violent underbelly of London…”

Kenneth Cameron’s book The Bohemian Girl caught my eye a couple of weeks ago. I noticed though that it was the second in the series, and so I ordered up the previous book – and here it is. I’m worried that it may be a little too dark for my tastes, but I love the period and the American in London scenario is an interesting one. We shall see!

The Wives of Henry Oades by Joanna Moran

“In 1899 Henry Oades discovers he has two wives — and many dilemmas! In 1890, Henry Oades decided to undertake the arduous sea voyage from England to New Zealand in order to further his family’s fortunes. Here they settled on the lush but wild coast — although it wasn’t long before disaster struck in the most unexpected of ways. A local Maori tribe, incensed at their treatment at the hands of the settlers, kidnapped Mrs Oades and her four children, and vanished into the rugged hills surrounding the town. Henry searched ceaselessly for his family, but two grief-stricken years later was forced to conclude that they must be dead. In despair he shipped out to San Francisco to start over, eventually falling in love with and marrying a young widow. In the meantime, Margaret Oades and her children were leading a miserable existence, enslaved to the local tribe. When they contracted smallpox they were cast out and, ill and footsore, made their way back to town, five years after they were presumed dead. Discovering that Henry was now half a world away, they were determined to rejoin him. So months later they arrived on his doorstep in America and Henry Oades discovered that he had two wives and many dilemmas !.”

I read a very good report about on this book – I’m afraid I forget where – and so it was another book I just had to grab. The concept is intriguing, and based on a true story it seems.

Have you read any of these? What did you think? Which book should I go for next? And which are you curious to know more about?

And what did you find in the library this week?

Eva is in charge of Library Loot this week. Do go and take a look at her wonderful book selection and her vlog.

15 responses

    • I’ve read mixed reports, but I’ve seen some lovely quotes too. So I think I’m going to treat it as a minor/secondary work rather than the next book after one I loved.

  1. I knew a new Sophie Hannah was coming out this year, but hadn’t realised it was out already. I hope I can get a copy from my library soon and look forward to finding out what you think of it.

    I wasn’t a fan of Peanut Butter and Jam – it wins the award for the best title though!

    • The Sophie Hannah has only come out this week. My private library has a member who reviews crime fiction for The Times and passes most of her books on. So its actually her proof copy I’ve got!

      I’m sorry you didn’t like Peanut Butter & Jam. I wasn’t sufficiently enthused to buy a copy, but there were definitely enough points in its favour for me to pick it up when it appeared in the library.

    • Several of these are pretty new – I definitely was lucky this week. It was only because the second Kennth Cameron had a lovely cover face out that I picked it up to see what it was about – so a ood cover definitely makes a difference.

  2. I’ve had the Voluptuous Delights of Peanut Butter and Jam (love that title) on my list for a while now, so I look forward to your thoughts on that. I quite enjoyed The Gourmet, but that was my first Barbery so I didn’t have the high expectations many other readers had of her work!

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