No particular reason, I just slipped out of the habit.
But this week’s books want to have their moment of glory.
And I want to say, look at these lovely books! Do you know them? Have you read them? Are you curious about them?
Purely by chance, the four books that I bought home cover two world wars and the years between them. So I’ll introduce them chronologically:
“Bessie Mundy, Alice Burnham and Margaret Lofty are three women with one thing in common. They are spinsters and are desperate to marry. Each woman meets a smooth-talking stranger who promises her a better life. She falls under his spell, and becomes his wife. But marriage soon turns into a terrifying experience. In the dark opening months of the First World War, Britain became engrossed by ‘The Brides in the Bath’ trial. The horror of the killing fields of the Western Front was the backdrop to a murder story whose elements were of a different sort. This was evil of an everyday, insidious kind, played out in lodging houses in seaside towns, in the confines of married life, and brought to a horrendous climax in that most intimate of settings — the bathroom. The nation turned to a young forensic pathologist, Bernard Spilsbury, to explain how it was that young women were suddenly expiring in their baths. This was the age of science. In fiction, Sherlock Holmes applied a scientific mind to solving crimes. In real-life, would Spilsbury be as infallible as the ‘great detective’?”
It did cross my mond that this could be a case of “Mr Whicher was successful, so let’s see if we can do the same thing again.” But even if it is, the case is one I’m curious about, the period fascinates me, and it does look like a very well put together book.
“‘Fear no more the heat of the sun.’ Mrs Dalloway, Virginia Woolf’s fourth novel, offers the reader an impression of a single June day in London in 1923. Clarissa Dalloway, the wife of a Conservative member of parliament, is preparing to give an evening party, while the shell-shocked Septimus Warren Smith hears the birds in Regent’s Park chattering in Greek. There seems to be nothing, except perhaps London, to link Clarissa and Septimus. She is middle-aged and prosperous, with a sheltered happy life behind her; Smith is young, poor, and driven to hatred of himself and the whole human race. Yet both share a terror of existence, and sense the pull of death.”
This is going to be my first book for Anbolyn’s Reading Between The Wars project. I have my own copy, but it’s old and tatty and the library had a lovely, new Oxford World’s Classics edition.
“It is 1934, the Great War is long over and the next is yet to come. Amid billowing clouds of dust and information, the government ‘Better Farming Train’ slides through the wheat fields and small towns of Australia, bringing expert advice to those living on the land. The train is on a crusade to persuade the country that science is the key to successful farming, and that productivity is patriotic. In the swaying cars an unlikely love affair occurs between Robert Pettergree, a man with an unusual taste for soil, and Jean Finnegan, a talented young seamstress with a hunger for knowledge. In an atmosphere of heady scientific idealism, they marry and settle in the impoverished Mallee with the ambition of proving that a scientific approach to cultivation can transform the land. But after seasons of failing crops, and with a new World War looming, Robert and Jean are forced to confront each other, the community they have inadvertently destroyed, and the impact of their actions on an ancient and fragile landscape.”
I saw this on the returns trolley and I thought, “Laura!” She read this book for Orange January and wrote about it a few days ago. I liked the look of it – tables and pictures in the text are always good in my book – and it was only a little book, so I decided that I would read it too.
“London, June 1940. When the body of silent screen star Mabel Morgan is found impaled on railings in Fitzrovia, the coroner rules her death as suicide, but DI Ted Stratton of the CID is not convinced. Despite opposition from his superiors, he starts asking questions, and it becomes clear that Morgan’s fatal fall from a high window may have been the work of one of Soho’s most notorious gangsters. MI5 agent Diana Calthrop, working with senior official Sir Neville Apse, is leading a covert operation when she discovers that her boss is involved in espionage. She must tread carefully – Apse is a powerful man, and she can’t risk threatening the reputation of the Secret Service. Only when Stratton’s path crosses Diana’s do they start to uncover the truth. But as they discover Morgan’s connection with Apse and their mutual links to a criminal network and a secretive pro-fascist organisation, they begin to realise that the intrigues of the Secret Service are alarmingly similar to the machinations of war-torn London’s underworld.”
I’ve liked Laura Wilson’s books in the past, and I’ve heard good things about this one, so I always intended to pick it up one day. A few weeks ago I read about the third book in this series and it looked wonderful, so I decided that it was time to make a start.
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?
Do go and tell Claire!