The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery


“The Elegance of the Hedgehog” is an absolute joy. I read a library copy but I definitely want a copy of my own to keep.

Paloma Josse is twelve years old and she lives on the fifth floor of a Left Bank apartment block. She is extremely bright but she is isolated and plans to commit suicide on her thirteenth birthday.

Down in the basement is fifty-four year old concierge Renee Michel. She is seen as a dull but reliable servant, and she is happy to be seen that way. What the other residents of the apartment block don’t see though, is that once her door is she is reading, listening to music and watching films to engage with the beauty of art and nature.

The narrative is largely Renée’s story, but it is interspersed with excerpts from Paloma’s journals. The two narrative voices are clear, distinct and engaging.

Paloma is observant and, in her journal, she suggests that there may be more to the concierge than meets the eye:

“Madame Michel has the elegance of the hedgehog: on the outside, she’s covered in quills, a real fortress, but my gut feeling is that on the inside, she has the same simple refinement as the hedgehog: a deceptively indolent little creature, fiercely solitary – and terribly elegant.”

The apartment block’s newest resident, Japanese businessman Kakuro Ozu thinks so too and he instigates a friendship with Renee that helps her to deal with painful memories and begin to move out of her self-imposed seclusion.

Paloma is drawn in too and begins to find reasons for living.

But just as this strange family has come together something quite unexpected happens and the book comes to a sudden end.

The plot is simple, but there is much more to this book than that. It reminds you of so many things that make life wonderful – art, literature, music, ideas and so many wonderful small things. And it makes you think – do you judge by appearances, do you hide things about yourself and just what is important in life?

What more could you ask for from a book?!

(Translated by Alison Anderson.)

Great Meadow by Dirk Bogarde

Great Meadow‘An evocation’ says the cover, and evocation is exactly the right word. This is a childhood memoir, written from old age and it is quite lovely.

Dirk Bogarde was undoubtedly blessed. His father was the art editor of the Sunday Times, his mother was a former actress, and the family was more than comfortably off. Their home was on the Sussex Downs,and the children seemed to live their lives out of doors, coming home only for practical necessities. That included meals and those were reported frequently, and always with loving detail.

“It was shepherd’s pie and runner beans for lunch, and Daddies sauce. Which was a particular treat because it was never allowed in the dining room when our parents were there, which seemed a pit because it had a quite interesting picture on it of a very happy father and mother and their children, and the father was smiling like anything and holding the bottle of sauce. That was why it was called Daddies, you see. But it was a very good sauce anyway, and it went down a treat, as Lally said, with a bit of shepherd’s pie. And then there was treacle tart for pudding, only because it was still summertime, and we’d had it hot the day before. We had it cold with clotted cream from the Court Dairy, and it was really pretty good, all sticky and crinkly.”

The voice and the words there, and throughout this memoir are those of a child. They are simple, precise and unsentimental, and they paint pictures beautifully. But they are filtered through an adult understanding. The boy didn’t understand the significance of the words ‘she might lose it’ when his mother fell on the stairs but the adult did, and so the boy reported that incident.

Those moments like that were the smallest of distractions; I was completely captivated by this evocation of an idyllic childhood. There was little incident – just an occasional visitor, an occasional trip – but young lives were lived.

Lally was indispensable. She had been  nanny – she still was, even though her charges considered themselves far too grown up for these things – and she kept the household running smoothly. It is to her that this book is dedicated.

It is the story of a happy family, in a world that would soon be changed forever by World War II.

The highlight came at Christmas.

“The most beautiful tree you’ve ever seen. All gold and silver. Shining in the firelight. And we all cried out in surprise, and our father said the only thing was not to touch it really, because it was all made of holly branches and he’s had to paint all the leaves gold and silver by hand and it had taken him half the night. Our mother said that was his punishment  for forgetting the tree in the first place, and Lally said it was a good thing she wasn’t about to do any washing because her clothes’ prop was now covered in holly and thick as a hedgehog with nails, and our father said that there was quite a gap in the fence down at the Daukeses’ cottage.”

And the lowest moments where when Lally fell ill. The terrible fear that she might die, that she might not be coming back. And the realisation that, loved though she was, she was not one of the family and came from a very different world.

Everything important in a young life is here, sights, sounds, incidents perfectly recalled more than fifty years after the fact.

The result is a lovely little book, with the power to pull you back to another time and place.

The Gourmet by Muriel Barbery

A debut novel – predating The Elegance of The Hedgehog, and reissued after that novel’s success – built around a simple conceit. In an apartment building in Paris the great food critic, Pierre Arthens, is dying. And he has just one concern:

“I am going to die, but that is of no importance. Since yesterday, since Chabrot, only one thing matters. I am going to die and there is a flavor that has been teasing my taste buds and my heart and I simply cannot recall it. I know that this particular flavour is the first and ultimate truth of my entire life, and that it holds the key to a heart that I have since silenced. I know that it is a flavour from childhood or adolescence, an original, marvellous dish that predates my vocation as a critic, before I had any desire or pretension to expound on my pleasure in eating. A forgotten flavour, lodged in my deepest self, and which has surfaced at the twilight of my life as the only truth ever told – or realized. I search, and cannot find.”

It’s a hugely promising opening to a story, but what struck me was the sadness, that there was nobody, nothing more important than that.

“Food was just a pretext, perhaps even a way of escaping, of fleeing what his goldsmith’s talent might bring to light: the exact tenor of his emotions, the harshness and suffering, and the failure, in the end … Thus, where his genius might have enabled him to dissect for posterity and for himself the various feelings which were troubling him, he lost his way along secondary paths, convinced that he ought to say what was incidental, and not essential. Such a waste. Heartbreaking. “

So how does a life come to that?

The book moves between Arthen’s deathbed memories of tastes, and the thoughts of those around him as they ponder his imminent demise.

A neglected trophy wife, who clearly cares more for her husband than he does for her. Three children of an emotionally distant father. Renee, a concierge – yes, that Renee. Contemporaries, who share and understand his passion. A cat and a dog – it sounds strange, but it works, and helps who understand just who Arthen is. All make brief, but telling, contributions.

Who he is becomes clearer as his memories unfold. There’s not too much story, but a picture does emerge.I came to understand how the boy became the man. He didn’t become a man I could like, but he did become a man I could understand.

But what struck me most was the wonderful prose, and the extraordinarily vivid, and emotional, descriptions of food:

“The moment I bit into the slice of toast, utterly sated for having honoured my bountiful plate up to the very last morsel, I was overcome with an inexpressible sense of well-being. Why is it that in France we obstinately refrain from buttering our toast until after it has been toasted? The reason for the two entities should be subjected together to the flickering flame is that in this intimate moment of burning they attain an unequaled complicity. The butter loses its creamy consistency, but nevertheless is not as liquid as when it is melted on its own,in a bain-marie or a saucepan. Likewise, the toast is spared a somewhat dreary dryness, and becomes a moist, warm substance, neither sponge nor bread but something in between, ready to tantalize one’s taste buds with its resultant sweetness.”

“It was dazzling… True sashimi is not so much bitten into as allowed to melt on the tongue.  It calls for slow, supple chewing, not to bring about a change in the nature of the food but merely to allow one to savor its airy, satiny texture… sashimi is velvet dust, verging on silk, or a bit of both, and the extraordinary alchemy of its gossamer essence allows it to preserve a milky density unknown even by clouds.”

“The resistance of the skin – slightly taught, just enough; the luscious yield of the tissues, their seed-filled liqueur oozing to the corners of one’s lips and that one wipes away without any fear of staining one’s fingers; this plump little globe unleashing a flood of nature inside us: a tomato, an adventure.”

The ending is quiet, but probably right.

And what you have is a slight story, made into something a little special by the quality of the writing. hence the muliplicity of quotes and the lightness of the anlysis – it’s that kind of book.

Translated by Alison Anderson

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.

2009 – My Books of the Year – It’s a Long List!

I tried to do a top 10, but I just couldn’t do it. So many wonderful books that I just couldn’t leave out. Same problem when I tried a top 20. And so what follows is my top 25. And every one is a gem.



Marraine: A Portrait of my Godmother by Oriel Malet
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
The Red House Mystery by A. A. Milne
The Great Western Beach by Emma Smith
The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery
Doreen by Barbara Noble
South Riding by Winifred Holtby
The Herring Seller’s Apprentice by L C Tyler
True Murder by Yaba Badoe
The Solitude of Thomas Cave by Georgina Harding
The Doves of Venus by Olivia Manning
The Captain’s Wife by Eilunned Lewis
High Wages by Dorothy Whipple
Among The Mad by Jacqueline Winspear
Letters to Alice on First Reading Jane Austen by Fay Weldon
Paul Ferroll by Caroline Clive
Tales of Terror from the Black Ship by Chris Priestley
The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa
Chess by Stefan Zweig
The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
Night Thoughts of a Country Landlady: Being the Pacific Experiences of Miss Emma Nightingale in Time of War presented by Edith Olivier and illustrated by Rex Whistler
London War Notes 1939 to 1945 by Mollie Panter-Downes
The Boy with the Cuckoo-clock Heart by Mathias Malzieu
The Girl With Glass Feet by Ali Shaw

No stats – one of my resolutions for the year was no counting and I’m sticking to it.

All I’m going to say is that I’ve had a great reading year!

I Will Not Serve by Eveline Mahyère – and a challenge completed

Virago Modern Classic #142

In 1957 Eveline Mahyère died by her own hand. The was thirty-two and she he left behind this, her only novel.

It is an extraordinarily vivid piece of work.

Sylvie is seventeen years old. She is bright, but she is also rebellious and impetuous. And she has been expelled from her convent school just three months before she is due to take her Baccalaureate.

Why? Because Sylvie has fallen passionately and obsessively in love with Julienne. A nun, and her teacher.

“I shall only discover my life through you Julienne, and thanks to you. It’s been said only too often that love is the main preoccupation of women. But, for me, love is you.”

Set adrift, Sylvies’ feelings for Julienne grow. The love of God that was encouraged in the convent has come to life in Sylvie. Not though as love for God. As love for Julienne. Sylvie veers between ecstacy and despair.

“What could a passer-by do – come to her aid, take her to hospital? No charitable sould could have understood the absence of Julienne. People pity a man who falls from scaffolding, a woman who loses her husband. Because they suffer? No, because they have the right to suffer.”

And Julienne? How does she respond? First she follows the counsel of herconvent and remains silent. But as Sylvie persists she reaches out to her and tries to help. But does she really understand? Can she really help Sylvie?

It seems not.

Sylvie’s story is evocative and oh so moving. It is told by omniscient narrator and brought to life by interjections from Sylvie. Her journal. Her letters – to Julienne and to her cousin Claude.

So much is said to about love, religion, obsession, compassion and understanding.

It works wonderfully. Because the writing is lovely and Sylvie’s voice is so true.

I suspect that she will continue to haunt me.

Translated by Antonia White


And the completed challenge?


Lost In Translation – six books in translation.

My original plan was six books in six languages, but I changed direction. I found a few French books I wanted to read and so I decided to go for six in that one language, but six different translators. 

I did it!

Here’s the list:

I can’t pick one favourite – they are fairly diverse and each has its own virtues.

And this is the rest of my reading in translation:

  • Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson (Norwegian – translated by Anne Born)
  • The Ice Princess by Camilla Läckberg (Swedish – translated by Steven T Murray)
  • The Paris Enigma by Pablo de Santis (Portugese – translated by Mara Lethem)
  • The Preacher by Camilla Läckberg (Swedish – translated by Steven T Murray)
  • The Girl Who Played With Fire by Steig Larsson (Swedishtranslated by Reg Keeland)
  • Unseen by Mari Jungstedt (Swedish – translated by Tiina Nunnally)
  • The Pyramid by Henning Mankell (Swedishtranslated by Ebba Segerberg with Laurie Thompson)
  • The Reunion by Simone van der Vlugt (Dutch – translated by Michelle Hutchison)
  • Almost Blue by Carlo Lucarelli (Italian – translated by Oonagh Stransky)
  • Chess by Stefan Zweig (German – translated by Anthea Bell)
  • Little Indiscretions by Carmen Posadas (Portugese – translated by Christopher Andrews)

There are some wonderful books in there!

Thank you to Frances for hosting!

Notes From Walnut Tree Farm by Roger Deakin

Roger Deakin was a writer, broadcaster and film-maker, with a particular interest in nature and the environment.

For the last six years of his life he kept journals of his life, musings and memories. Those journals form the basis of this book.

Walnut Tree Farm

After his death in 2006, his friends assembled entries to build a picture of a composite year.

The pieces are short and dis-jointed. The prose is plain and the style is unpolished. But then these weren’t words necessarily written for publication, so maybe better that way than polishing things and running the risk of losing a true voice.

Some of his views were naive and many of his expectations unrealistic, but Roger Deakin’s words paint a wonderful portrait of a man living close to nature.

This isn’t a book to read from cover to cover, but a book to pick up and dip into from time to time. You might just enjoy the company, or you might hit upon a perfect observation or idea.

And because I can’t explain things as well as I like, I will finish with a quote that struck me from each of the twelve months.

Read and enjoy!


Books are like seeds: they come to life when you read them, and grow spines and leaves. I need trees around me as I need books, so building bookshelves is something like planting trees.


Poaching is a symptom of poverty. People have to need a rabbit or a pheasant and need it enough to pluck or skin it and gut it too, and hang it a few days in the shed.


What we need is the farming equivilant of conscientious objectors: people who are prepared to stand up and say, ” No, we won’t do this any more”, at whatever personal risk.


The magic of outdoor skating is all too rare a pleasure these days. As a child I remember skating all the time every winter. As soon as winter clamps down with a big frost, you are in another world.


Every now and again you find yourself slipping into a little pocket, a little envelope, of country that is unknown to anyone else, which feels as though it is your own secret land.


I can’t bear to mow my lawn because it would mean mowing all the blueness out of it, the vanishing blues of self-heal, bugle and germander speedwell. They are worth more to me than the neatness of a mown lawn: in truth I have loathed neatness ever since school – and uniform, and collars and ties, and haircuts.


Yesterday, in the rain, a bedraggled little hedgehog appeared in the kitche, on the brick step. It shuffled around the kitchen, hoovering up bits of food or crumbs. The uneaten cat food was soon polished off and the dish left gleaming.


Why would anyone want to go and live abroad when they can live in several countries at once just by being in England. Yesterday was hot, clammy and humid, with sunshine and dramatic cloud. I might have been in Singapore, fighting for breath. This morning it is another country, soft and damp aftyer rain, cool and breezy. Last night we were in monsoon India, and, according to the weather forecast, we will be in the sunny south of France this weekend.


I am teaching myself to draw, and Alfie obliges me each morning at breakfast time by posing on the kitchen doorstep, just outside the door, in the early sunshine. He adopts a pose, holds very still for five minutes, while I sketch him, then shifts into a profile, or turns his great black head to face me, fixing his owlish golden eyes on me as I draw.


The real wages of potters are in the daily silent appreciations of their customers as they pour the morning tea from the teapot, or drink coffee from their mug, or eat dinner from their plate. To be thus involved in the daily lives of people who appreciate and admire your work enough to but it must bring deep pleasure and reassurance. It is a king of immortality you can enjoy while still living.


Wild is an absolute: you can’t have wildish, or semi-wild.


A shooting star, and another shooting star.

Wondrous Words Wednesday


Wondrous Words Wednesday is a new hebdomal* meme to share new words that we discover in our reading.

It’s a great idea from Bermuda Onion.

* My use of that word will become clearer later!

I have learned two new words in just the opening chapter of The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery.

Eructation – Better known as burping or belching. Casting up wind (expelling air) from the stomach through the mouth.

Deleterious – Having a harmful effect; injurious. Example: The deleterious effects of smoking.

I expect to have a much longer list next week when I’m further on in the book!

Have you learned any new words? Do share them!


This is where my use of the word “hebdomal” becomes clear.

Word of the Week is a new weekly feature hosted at Between The Covers.

I am late with last week’s word:

Hebdomal – Appearing or occurring every seven days.

This week though I have shown more celerity.

This week’s word:

Celerity – Swiftness of action or motion.

Next week I hope to do even better and use the word of the week rather more naturally!

Do join in!

Library Loot


Library Loot is a weekly event hosted by Eva and Alessandra to share the library books we find each week.

I am in arrears with my library reading, but a couple of books that I had on order turned up this week and I picked up a few more that I just couldn’t leave behind.


The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery

This is one of those books that seems to be being talked about all over the place, so I ordered it for the Lost in Translation Reading Challenge.


Words of Love by Pamela Norris

An absolutely wonderful history of women’s writing from Heloise to Sylvia Plath. It’s wonderfully readable and will inspire me a to read lots more books! I suspect that this is a book I won’t want to take back and that i will end up buying my own copy to look back to.


The Great Western Beach by Emma Smith

This is a childhood memoir. Emma Smith is a wonderful writer and she grew up between the wars very near where I grew up some years later.


The Leopard by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa

I have been interested in this book for ages and I found a lovely unread “Millennium Collection” edition in the library. Isn’t it nice when you are the first person to read a new library book?!


The Virago Book of Food edited by Jill Foulson

I am definitely a Virago geek and this is a lovely anthology that I will be dipping in and out of over the next few weeks.

Support Your Local Library Challenge – The Book Lists

  1. Mothernight by Sarah Stovell
  2. Their Finest Hour and a Half by Lissa Evans
  3. Sanctuary by Edith Wharton
  4. The Coroner by M R Hall
  5. Agatha Christie’s Secret Notebooks by John Curran – W
  6. The Quickening Maze by Adam Foulds
  7. Rambles Beyond Railways by Wilkie Collins – W
  8. Pastworld by Ian Beck
  9. Angels of Destruction by Keith Donohue
  10. True Deceiver by Tove Jansson
  11. The Peachgrowers’ Almanac by Elaine di Rollo
  12. Snapped in Cornwall by Janie Bolitho
  13. Demobbed by Alan Allport
  14. The Abbess of Crewe by Muriel Spark
  15. Twisted Wing by Ruth Newman
  16. Bell Farm by M R Barneby
  17. Talking About Detective Fiction by P D James -W
  18. The Missing by Jane Casey
  19. Archelaus Hosken’ Dilemma by F J Warren
  20. Martha, Eric and George by Margery Sharp – RW
  21. The Tin-kin by Eleanor Thom
  22. Let The Northern Lights Erase Your Name by Vendela Vida
  23. The Gourmet by Muriel Barbery
  24. Love in the Sun by Leo Walmsley
  25. The Well and the Mine by Gin Phillips
  26. Roots and Stars by C C Vyvyan
  27. Ruby’s Spoon by Anna Lawrence Pietroni
  28. A Room Swept White by Sophie Hannah – W
  29. Paperboy by Christopher Fowler
  30. Even The Dogs by Jon McGregor
  31. Secret Son by Laila Lailami
  32. The Wives of Henry Oades by Johanna Moran
  33. Miss Jemima’s Swiss Journal – R
  34. The Twisted Heart by Rebecca Gowers
  35. Sarah Strick by Randle Hurley
  36. Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen
  37. Cold Earth by Sarah Moss
  38. Savage Lands by Clare Clark
  39. This is How by M J Hyland
  40. Haweswater by Sarah Hall
  41. Roseanna by Maj Sjöwall & Per Wahlöö
  42. The Wilding by Maria McCann
  43. Echoes From The Dead by Johan Theorin
  44. The White Woman on the Green Bicycle by Monique Roffey
  45. The Book of Fires by Jane Borodale
  46. Inside The Whale by Jennie Rooney
  47. After The Fire, a Still Small Voice by Evie Wyld
  48. The Darkest Room by Johan Theorin
  49. Trespass by Rose Tremain
  50. I Coriander by Sally Gardner
  51. The Shadows in the Street by Susan Hill
  52. The Boy Next Door by Irene Sabatini
  53. The Return of Captain John Emmett by Elizabeth Speller
  54. Nimrod’s Shadow by Chris Paling
  55. Sex and Stravinsky by Barbara Trapido
  56. The Green Child by Herbert Read
  57. The Ninth Wave by Russell Cellyn Jones
  58. Florence and Giles by John Harding
  59. The Coral Thief by Rebecca Stott
  60. The Man Who Went Up In Smoke by Maj Sjöwall & Per Wahlöö
  61. The Thornthwaite Inheritance by Gareth P Jones
  62. Dancing Backwards by Salley Vickers
  63. The Herring in the Library by L C Tyler
  64. The Lessons by Naomi Alderman
  65. Tatty by Christine Dwyer-Hickey
  66. Raven Black by Ann Cleeves
  67. The Man Who Disappeared by Claire Morrall
  68. The Dinner Club by Saskia Noort
  69. Forgetting Zoe by Ray Robinson
  70. White Ravens by Owen Sheers
  71. The Opposite of Falling by Jennie Rooney
  72. The Hand That First Held Mine by Maggie O’Farrell – W
  73. Room by Emma Donoghue
  74. Manna From Hades by Carola Dunn
  75. Faithful Place by Tana French
  76. Whatever You Love by Louise Doughty
  77. Paradise Creek by Leo Walmsley
  78. Diamond Star Halo by Tiffany Murphy – WR
  79. The Swish of the Curtain by Pamela Brown – W
  80. A Colourful Mystery by Carola Dunn
  81. Rendezvous by Esther Verhoef
  82. The News Where You Are by Catherine O’Flynn
  83. The Sinner by Petra Hammesfahr
  84. The End of the Alphabet by C S Richardson
  85. Meeting Monsieur Right by Muriel Zagha
  86. Agatha Raisin and Love, Lies and Liquor by M C Beaton
  87. The Sculptor’s Daughter by Tove Jansson -WR
  88. The Burying Beetle by Ann Kelly
  89. An Unsentimental Journey Through Cornwall by Mrs Craik -W
  90. The Dead of Winter by Chris Priestley
  91. Agatha Raisin and Kissing Christmas Goodbye by M C Beaton


  1. Monster Love by Carol Topolski
  2. The Haunted House by Charles Dickens and others
  3. The Finishing School by Muriel Spark -S
  4. Behind a Mask by Louisa May Alcott – W
  5. Marraine: A Portrait of my Godmother by Oriel Malet -R
  6. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
  7. Books, Baguettes & Bedbugs: The Left Bank World of Shakespeare & Co by Jeremy Mercer
  8. The Owl Service by Alan Garner (re-read)
  9. The Red House Mystery by A. A. Milne -W
  10. Memoirs of a Novelist by Virginia Woolf
  11. Laura Knight by Caroline Fox
  12. The Great Western Beach by Emma Smith – W
  13. The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie (re-read)
  14. The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery -S
  15. The Girl from the Chartreuseby Pierre Péju
  16. The Borrowers by Mary Norton (re-read)
  17. The Good Soldier by Ford Madox Ford
  18. House To Let by Charles Dickens and Others
  19. Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson
  20. The Ice Princess by Camilla Läckberg
  21. The Island at the end of the World by Sam Taylor
  22. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley -W
  23. The London Scene by Virginia Woolf
  24. Lady Into Fox by David Garnett -S
  25. The Manual of Detection by Jedediah Berry
  26. Knights of Loveby Jane Tozer
  27. The Paris Enigma by Pablo de Santis
  28. The Good Women of China by Xinran
  29. The Fire Gospel by Michel Faber
  30. The Preacher by Camilla Läckberg
  31. The Girl Who Played With Fire by Steig Larsson -W
  32. The Herring Seller’s Apprentice by L C Tyler -W
  33. Henry: Virtuous Prince by David Starkey
  34. Anne of Green Gables by L M Montgomery (re-read)
  35. UFO in her Eyes by Xialou Guo
  36. Unseen by Mari Jungstedt
  37. Yellow by Janni Visman
  38. What to Do When Someone Dies by Nicci French
  39. An Incomplete Revenge by Jacqueline Winspear
  40. An Equal Stillness by Francesca Kay -W
  41. A Boy at the Hogarth Press by Richard Kennedy
  42. The Joy of Eating: The Virago Book of Food edited by Jill Foulston
  43. The Pyramid by Henning Mankell
  44. A Very Persistent Illusion by L C Tyler -W
  45. The Weather at Tregulla by Stella Gibbons
  46. Chez Moi by Agnes Desarthe
  47. The Flying Troutmans by Miriam Toews
  48. Without Knowing Mr Walkley by Edith Olivier -R
  49. The Solitude of Thomas Cave by Georgina Harding -W
  50. Blackmoor by Edward Hogan
  51. The Reunion by Simone van der Vlugt
  52. Molly Fox’s Birthday by Deirdre Maddern
  53. Instructions to Servants by Jonathan Swift
  54. The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters -S
  55. Leaving The World by Douglas Kennedy
  56. Almost Blue by Carlo Lucarelli
  57. octurnes by Kazuo Ishiguro
  58. The Household Guide to Dying by Debra Adelaide
  59. Jane’s Fame: How Jane Austen Conquered The World by Claire Harman
  60. Miss Dahl’s Voluptuous Delights by Sophie Dahl -W
  61. The Affair of the Bloodstained Egg Cosy by James Anderson -S
  62. The Captain’s Wife by Eilunned Lewis -S
  63. The Clothes on Their Backs by Linda Grant
  64. The Spy Game by Georgina Harding -W
  65. Tragedy at Law by Cyril Hare
  66. The Alchemy of Murder by Carol McCleary
  67. Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel -W
  68. Ten Little Herrings by L C Tyler -W
  69. Hammer by Sara Stockridge
  70. Uncle Montague’s Tales of Terror by Chris Priestley -W
  71. Where Shall We Go For Dinner?: A Food Romance by Tamasin Day-Lewis
  72. Gathering The Water by Robert Erdic
  73. Angels With Two Faces by Nicola Upson
  74. The Best of Men by Claire Letemendia
  75. Hold My Hand by Serena Macksey
  76. The View From Downshire Hill by Elizabeth Jenkins -R
  77. Notes From Walnut Tree Farm by Roger Deakin
  78. Ten Sorry Tales by Mick Jackson
  79. Among The Mad by Jacqueline Winspear
  80. On The Other Side: Letters To My chIldren in Germany 1940-1946 by Mathilde Wolff-Monckeberg
  81. Mugby Junction by Charles Dickens and Others
  82. Letters to Alice on First Reading Jane Austen by Fay Weldon -R
  83. Puppet Master by Joanne Owen
  84. The Owl Killers by Karen Maitland -S
  85. A Bookseller’s War by Anne and Heywood Hill
  86. Kisses on a Postcard by Terence Frisby -W
  87. The Rapture by Liz Jensen
  88. The Finest Type of English Womanhood by Rachel Heath
  89. Crimson Rooms by Katharine McMahon
  90. The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa -W
  91. Stone’s Fall by Ian Pears
  92. The Case of the Gilded Fly by Edmund Crispin -W
  93. Arthur Rackham: A Life in Illustration by James Hamilton -W
  94. Away From The Bombs by Ricky Clitheroe -S
  95. Instruments of Darkness by Imogen Robertson
  96. Night Thoughts of a Country Landlady: Being the Pacific Experiences of Miss Emma Nightingale in Time of War presented by Edith Olivier and illustrated by Rex Whistler -R
  97. Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffennegger
  98. London War Notes 1939 to 1945 by Mollie Panter-Downes -R
  99. The Other Elizabeth Taylor by Nicola Beauman -W
  100. Moon Behind Clouds: An Introduction to the life and work of Sir Claude Francis Barry by Katie Campbell
  101. The Girl With Glass Feet by Ali Shaw -W
  102. Thaw by Fiona Robyn
  103. Under Fire by Phil Robyns
  104. Howard’s End is on the Landing by Susan Hill
  105. Norman Garstin: Irishman and Newlyn Artist by Richard Pryke
  106. Drawn Here by Mary Fletcher

And what so the letters mean:

S = I’ve added it to my own collection now
W=I want a copy of my own
R=This is a wonderful out of print book that needs to be reissued