Clearing the Decks: Round 4

I was going to be terribly organised today and write a reading resolutions post, but my brain is saying no, it really doesn’t want to think that hard.

So I’ll ponder resolutions a little longer and write about them in a few days. I’ve read books that I really must write about before too long as well.

Tonight though, I’m going to present the next batch of books for my Clearing The Decks project.

100 books have been lodged in my home library to be read or ditched and then leave the house. It’s working – I finished one book today and I’ve already picked up another.

Advice would be very welcome. Which books did you like – or not like? Which would you like to know more about?

For The Love of Angel by Susan Penhaligon

“A time of great change in Truro – set in 1880 – the foundation stone of the new cathedral is laid – there is a strike of clay workers which creates civil disorder and great strife. Florence Trevern is left to look after her baby sister when her mother drowns. Their father is over-possessive of both daughters, obsessively controlling their lives. Florence, self-willed, has to protect her sister from their father’s unhealthy love whilst trying to gain her own independence, complicated by her passion for Russell, a striking clay worker.”

I passed on copies of this one several times, because the cover made it look as if it would be romantic nonsense. But when I was looking for something else on the Truran Books website I read the synopsis and it looked rather good. My copy came from BookMooch and it’s registered with BookCrossing so I’d like to pass it on again once it’s read.

The Consolation of Nature by Valerie Martin

“The ten elegant stories in this book go beyond mere terror to locate the darkness that abides beneath the everyday. A Halloween mask refuses to come off; a family’s placid equilibrium is shattered by the coming of a large and oddly durable rat; a mermaid with a cold pale stare lures a fisherman to his death; and death itself, when met is unshakeably, erotically alluring.”

I had an offer for a book that had been sitting on my list for ages on ReadItSwapIt. There was nothing I was particulary looking for on the requestors list, but I recognised Valerie Martin’s name and thought this might be interesting, so I took it.

Carmen Dog by Carol Emshwiller

“It’s a dog’s life in a world dominated by men, but when Pooch, a rather attractive golden setter, finds herself becoming a rather attractive young woman, she discovers there is more to be feared from men than a swat with a rolled up newspaper. All over the words dogs, cats, guinea pigs and snakes are turing into women, while women are mutating into birds, bison and other beasts – unexplained transformations which men struggle to deny and control in the name of reason. But the forces of women and nature combine, led by the mysterious Rosemary, to make the world safer for females. After many adventures, Pooch finds true love and happiness as an opera singer.”

When this turned up in the Oxfam Shop  the title made me pick it up, and when I read the synopsis I thought that it would be one of those books that was either brilliant or terrible. Because it was published by The Women’s Press I gave it the benefit of the doubt.

Careless in Red by Elizabeth George

“It is barely three months since the murder of his wife and Thomas Lynley takes to the South-West Coast Path in Cornwall, determined to walk its length in an attempt to distract himself from his loss. On the forty-third day of this walk, he sees a cliff climber fall to his death, apparently witnessed by a surfer in a nearby cove. Shortly afterwards, Lynley encounters a young woman from Bristol whose personal history is a blank before her thirteenth year. These events propel him into a case that brings Barbara Havers from London and thrusts both detectives into a world where revenge is only one of the motives they must sift through to identify a killer.”

I’ve liked a lot of Elizabeth George’s books, but I was horribly disappointed in her last book and a half. I’m giving her the benefit of the doubt, and I picked up a used copy to read on holday a couple of years ago but didn’t get to it.

Cowboy by Sara Davidson

“Sara Davidson, television producer, scriptwriter, author, now in her forties, had established her way of life. A divorced mother, her two teenagers lived with her: she had a good circle of friends, a successful career. Then she meets Zack, an itinerant cowboy, a man from a completely different background — and what began as a light romance, deepens into the kind of love Sara Davidson had never felt before. But her friends, her children, her colleagues find him unacceptable: find her behaviour crazy: and she finds herself uncomfortable in her own surroundings. So should she give up such an unsuitable lover?”

This one came from Any Amount of Books in Charing Cross Road not long before I moved out of London. It’s been tucked away in a storage box since then, but I uncovered it when I went through all of my boxes in search of books for this project.

Autobiography of a Geisha by Sayo Masuda

“Masuda was a geisha at a rural hot-springs resort where the realities of sex for sale were unadorned by the trappings of wealth and power. Sent to work as a nursemaid at the age of six she was then sold to a geisha house at the age of twelve to learn the geisha arts. When she made her debut as a geisha in 1940 she was sixteen. Although she had barely learnt to write Masuda was determined to set down her story, motivated by the desire to tell the truth about life as a geisha and explode the myths surrounding their secret world.”

I live in a town with good bookshops, but they are all quite small. As a result when I visit a big bookshop I either buy far too many books or rush out with nothing because I’m overwhelmed. This book came home after a trip to Waterstones in Truro when I clearly wasn’t overwhelmed!

The Savage Altar by Åsa Larsson

“On the floor of a church in northern Sweden, the body of a man lies ritually mutilated and defiled; and in the night sky, the aurora borealis dances as the snow begins to fall. Rebecka Martinsson is heading home to Kiruna, the small town she left in disgrace years before. A Stockholm tax lawyer, Rebecka has a good reason to return: her friend Sanna, whose brother has been horrifically murdered in the church of the cult he helped create. Beautiful and fragile, Sanna needs someone like Rebecka to remove the shadow of guilt that is engulfing her, to forestall an ambitious prosecutor, and to confront the rumours circulating in a closed and frightened community. But to help her friend, and to find the real killer of a man she once adored and is now not sure she ever knew, Rebecka must relive the darkness she left behind in Kiruna, delve into a sordid conspiracy of deceit, and confront a killer whose motives are dark and impossible to guess…”

Another bargain bin book.

Liars and Saints by Maille Meloy

“Set in California, Liars and Saints follows four generations of the Catholic Santerre family from World War II to the present. In a family driven by jealousy and propriety as much as by love, an unspoken tradition of deceit is passed from generation to generation, and fiercely protected secrets gradually drive the Santerres apart.”

This one has been hanging around for a long time, and I really don’t remember where it came from. It’s used but there’s no price on it so I suspect it was a swap book. I believe it was listed for one of the Orange Prizes, so I might try to read it for Orange January.

What I Loved by Siri Hustvedt

“What I Loved is a deeply touching elegiac novel that mourns for the New York artistic life, which was of a time but now has gone–by extension, it is about all losses swept away by mischance and time. Half-blind and alone, Leo tells us of marriage and friendship, and makes the sheer fragility of what seemed forever not only his subject, but perhaps the only subject worth considering. Scholars Leo and his wife Erica admire, and befriend, artist Bill and his first and second wives–their respective sons Matthew and Mark grow up together until the first of a series of tragedies strikes. And things get gradually worse from then on, both because terrible things happen and because people do not get over them.”

My fiance picked this up at a book sale that I had I couldn’t get to. It wasn’t a bad pick – in the early days of our relationship he brought me some horrors, but nowhe knows my taste pretty well – but it just isn’t calling, and I’m not sure that it ever will.

The Redemption of Alexander Seaton by Shona Maclean

“Is the young man merely drunk or does his tottering walk suggest something more sinister? When he collapses, vomiting, over the two whores who find him on that dark wet night, they guess rightly that he’s been murdered by poisoning. So begins this gripping tale set in the town of Banff, Scotland in the 1620s. The body of the victim, the apothecary’s nephew, is found in Alexander Seaton’s school house. Seaton is a school master by default, and a persona non-grata in the town – a disgraced would-be minister whose love affair with a local aristocrat’s daughter left him disgraced and deprived of his vocation. He has few friends, so when one of them is accused of the murder, he sets out to solve the crime, embarking on a journey that will uncover witchcraft, cruelty, prejudice and the darkness in men’s souls.”

I was looking for books for my aunt’s birthday and picked up this one for myself as there was a three for two offer. I do like the look of it, but I don’t think it’s going to be a keeper.

… and that’s the end of this batch … Any thoughts?

2 responses

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: