Beyond Eden Rock

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Almost as soon as I hit ‘post’ last week, I realised that I didn’t really want to say goodbye.

I didn’t want to let go of this lovely community of people who love books.

What to do?

Well, I decided that what I needed to do was to let go of the things that of the things that were weighing me down – the years of history, the multiplicity of projects, the pseudonym, the record keeping, and my own expectations of what this should be.

And so I’ve picked up the things I want to keep – my books, my knitting, my 100 years project – I’ve called my dog, and we’ve moved to a new home.

I don’t intend to lose my history, but I need a new beginning in a new home.

You’ll find me Beyond Eden Rock; where some things will be the same and some things will be quite different.

It would be lovely to see you there …..

 

The Continuing Story of a Girl Who Loves Books: Untying the Knot

This is the post that I didn’t want to write, that I’m still not quite sure that I should be writing, but I think I have to write ….

The Girl Who Loves Books discovered them when she was very, very small, and as he grew up she found more and more to love. Longing” ~ Heinrich Vogeler

There were so many worlds in explore, in the past, in the present, and in the future. There were so many fascinating people to meet; real people and fictional people. There were stories, there were adventures, there was so much to learn. And it was lovely to step out of the real world sometimes.

She knew that lots of other people liked books, but, maybe because she came from a very small town, she didn’t know anyone who loved a lot of the books she loved. It was lovely to be able to talk to them, to recommend books, and to dicover so many new books, new publishers, new possibilities …

One of those possibilities was a book blog. She started writing about books and bookish things on a blog of her very own. And in time she found more places to write her book thoughts. Just to celebrate the books and tell more people about them. Because some people don’t use LibraryThing, or read book blogs. It was lovely, but it grew and it grew and it grew.

In the end it became too much – there were too many books, too many projects, too many places to be, too many people to keep up with.

She decided that the only thing she could do was walk away. So that she could do other things, so that she could read a book without worrying about what she would say about it, and so that she wouldn’t spend so much time wondering if she was Jane or if she was Fleur.

She’ll probably come back one day; maybe here, but more likely in a new home where things will be rather different.

So I don’t think this is goodbye.

But it is goodbye for now.

The Reading of Books: Looking Back at May and June

I can’t quite believe that we’re half way through the year, but I know that we are.

The sun is shining, the town in full of tourists, and it’s almost time for bed but it’s still light outside.

It’s time to think about this years sixes.

It’s time to pick up my first book for Paris in July.

But I should look back first; and, because I was distracted at the end of last month, I have two months of books to consider.

These were some of my favourites:

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And there were other books that I loved. Enough that I’d find it easier to pull a few weaker books from that bottom of the heap found it pulling a few favourites from the top.

So I’ll do is make a few little lists.

I won’t ramble, because I’ve had two good reading months and there are rather a lot of books to go on those lists.

I’ll just say – here they are!

Two very different pieces of narrative non fiction:

Becoming Queen by Kate Williams
This House of Grief by Helen Garner

The first fiction published by one of my most beloved authors:

Scenes of Clerical Life by George Eliot

Three lovely Victorian novels:

 The Romance of a Shop by Amy Levy
Policy and Passion by Rosa Praed
The Vicar of Bullhampton by Anthony Trollope

Two contemporary stories of mystery and suspense that didn’t work for me:

The Sudden Departure of the Frasers by Louise Candlish
Disclaimer by Renee Knight

A not as good as her others – but by no means bad – book by a writer of traditional mysteries:

Lonesome Road by Patricia Wentworth

An excellent edition to one of my favourite contemporary crime series:

River of Souls by Kate Rhodes

Two very different books that I’d read before, and were just as good as I remembered:

Cashelmara by Susan Howatch
The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton

Four fine novels by 20th century authors:

The Far Cry by Emma Smith
Modesta by G B Stern
The Meeting Place by Mary Hocking
Vain Shadow by Jane Hervey

Two promising first novels:

Clay by Melissa Harrison
The Gracekeepers by Kirsty Logan

One wonderful one-off:

The Improbability of Love by Hannah Rothschild

Two very good contemporary novels:

Flight by Isabel Ashdown
The Red Notebook by Antoine Lauraine

And one shiny new gem:

The Song of the Sea Maid by Rebecca Mascull

* * * * * * * * *

Now tell me – how has your reading been? – what do you have planned?

April Flew ….

…. and I’m not entirely convinced that the time before we went on holiday, the week away and the days we’ve been back add up to a whole month, but the calendar is quite certain that it does.

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It’s not been the best reading month – I’ve picked up and dropped too many books as I tried to find the right book for my reading mood – but I have read some very good books:

This month’s Trollope

I decided to brave and pick up Cousin Henry to read during the month of the great man’s bicentenary. I say brave because I didn’t get on with the book when I decided that it was the place to start my Trollope reading a few years ago. This time around I’m pleased to say that I found much to love, and  I think that proves the importance of reading the right book – and the right author – at the right time.

Since I pick this book down I’ve started on The Vicar of Bullhampton, which I think I’m going to love even more.

One book plucked from tips for the Bailey’s Prize longlist

Claire Fuller’s debut novel, Our Endless Numbered Days, was one of the books that caught my eye when it appeared in almost every post I read about books that might be or should be listed for the Baileys Prize. It didn’t make the list, but it is a very impressive and readable first novel that wouldn’t have been out of place there.

I’m delighted to see that Claire Fuller has been shortlisted for the Desmond Elliot Prize for new fiction.

One comfort read:

During a stressful week at the beginning of the week I needed a comfort read,  Katherine Wentworth by D E Stevenson was just the thing

Two stories of suspense:

 After The Storm by Jane Lythell and Who Are You? by Elizabeth Forbes. Two interesting second novels, each one quite different from the book that came before and yet each one defining the author’s particular strengths. I’ll write a little bit more about that in a day or two.

One lovely children’s book:

I bought quite a few books when we were on holiday, in the lovely bookshops of Totnes, but I was very, very restrained when we were at home. I just picked up two Puffin books from the 1960s, that would have sat very nicely alongside the others I had on my shelves when I was young.I l

 I didn’t know the title Marianne Dreams or the author Catherine Storr, I loved the sound of it.

“Ill and bored with having to stay in bed, Marianne picks up a pencil and starts doodling – a house, a garden, a boy at the window. That night she has an extraordinary dream. She is transported into her own picture, and as she explores further she soon realises she is not alone. The boy at the window is called Mark, and his every movement is guarded by the menacing stone watchers that surround the solitary house. Together, in their dreams, Marianne and Mark must save themselves.”

I loved it, and I wish I’d spotted a copy when I was a child because I think I might have loved it even more,

The other Puffin I bought was a lovely copy of The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge.

I had another book for Elizabeth Goudge Reading Week The Rosemary Tree – but I’m afraid the week will be over before I’m finished. She’s an author who rewards time and attention, this week has been rather busy, and it wouldn’t be right for me to rush.

One big history book:

I took The Plantagents: The Kings Who Made England by Dan Jones on holiday, and it was so readable and so full of great stories that I flew through it. It’s a book about the history more than a book about the people, but that was what I needed to fill the gaps in my knowledge.

 My non fiction book of the month:

The Dead Duke, His Secret Wife, and the Missing Corpse by Piu Marie Eatwell  tells a true story as remarkable as its title wonderfully well.

My fiction book of the month:

As Far As Jane’s Grandmother’s by Edith Olivier is a little gem, and as I wrote about it a couple of days ago I’ll leave it at that tonight.

And that was April!

I have a couple of books in progress, I have those books I picked up and dropped to reconsider, I have a few interesting review books, and I have my Classics Club Spin book.

That should see me well into next month, and then I’ll see which books call me.

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

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?

Was that really February?

It seems to have come and gone amazingly quickly!

Hereabouts it has been a damp, grey month, the council has been digging roads up here there and everywhere, and because they have taken our old railings down and haven’t started putting the new ones up we still can’t get to the promenade or the beach.

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The spring cleaning bug bit early this year; we’ve revamped one room and have plans for other parts of the house.

I read less that I have for a very long time. But I read some very, very good books, especially the first one and the last one:

The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton
Maiden Voyage by Denton Welch
Set in Stone by Linda Newbery
Vanessa and her Sister by Priya Parmar
What Lies Within by Tom Vowler
Girl in the Dark: a Memoir by Anna Lyndsey

I’ve only written about Vanessa and her Sister, but my head is full of things I want to say about ‘Girl in the Dark’, and I’ll catch up with the others very soon.

The TBR Dare stuck for a second month, but I’m calling time on it now. It’s helped me to rationalise my library borrowing, it’s made me more aware of the books I have on my own shelves, but I’ve reached a point where I’m thinking too much about what I can and can’t read.

I’ve picked up and dropped far too many books this month, and I have eight books in progress which is just plain ridiculous.

There are a couple of specific points too.

I want to start re-reading Winston Graham’s Poldark books before the new BBC adaptation starts.


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And there’s a book in this month’s books shopping that I know I won’t be able to resist:

The local charity shops have served me well this month.

Charity Shops

Instead of a Letter by Diana Athill is an autobiography from 1963, and a very pretty little hardback.

I read about Something in Disguise by Kate Colquhoun in the paper and then I spotted it on the shelf, and though I wasn’t sure I’d read a book about a Victorian gardener, I decided that it was a sign. And that if I don’t read it the man of the house probably will.

Country Girl by Edna O’Brien was on the same shelf and quite irresistible.

Civil to Strangers by Barbara Pym is an upgrade; from a tatty old copy to a Virago Modern Classic.

And La Batarde by Violette Leduc is that rare and special thing, a Virago publication that I didn’t know I existed until I spotted it. Indeed I hadn’t even heard of the author, and she does see quite obscure, so here’s the synopsis:

“An obsessive and revealing self-portrait of a remarkable woman humiliated by the circumstances of her birth and by her physical appearance, La Batarde relates Violette Leduc’s long search for her own identity through a series of agonizing and passionate love affairs with both men and women. When first published, La Batarde earned Violette Leduc comparisons to Jean Genet for the frank depiction of her sexual escapades and immoral behavior. A confession that contains portraits of several famous French authors, Leduc’s brilliant writing style and attention to language transform this autobiography into a work of art.”

And then there was a little trip to the St Just Café Bookshop.

St Just

It was a plain little hardback but it was in lovely condition and so An Autobiography by Anthony Trollope had to come home.

There is No Armour by Howard Spring was a lovely addition to a growing collection of his work. I read some of his book from my parents shelves years ago, I read his lovely childhood memoir more recently, and I love the way he writes.

I pounced on a book by one of my most wanted authors: And Did He Stop and Speak to You? by G B Stern. It’s a collection of her essays about literary contemporaries, including Sheila Kaye-‘Smith, R C Sherriff, Pamela Frankau ….

But the book of the month was Trollope on the Net by Ellen Moody.; a book of essays inspired by an early internet discussion group, published by the Trollope Society in 1999.

Wouldn’t it be lovely if the email addresses that adorn the cover were real?

atrollope@gpo.penny.post.org.uk
harding@hiram.hospital.org
pfinn@loughshane.commons.gov.uk
omnium@gatherum.castle
mason@orley.farm.uk

I’ll settle though for meeting – and revisiting – them on the printed page.

I’ve balanced a wonderful month of bookish acquisitions with a good bit of shelf clearing. We dropped eight books of boos at a charity shop last weekend, I’ve found a new home for my mother’s complete collection of Inspector Morse videos, and three more bags of books and bric-a brac are ready to go.

That makes me feel much more positive about reading books and writing about books in March.

And I hope that Briar will get her promenade and her beach back.

Time will tell ….

So that was January ….

…. the last week went missing, thanks to a horrible cough and cold,  a tricky few days when I went back to work, and a computer that started playing up horribly, and in the end had to have it’s factory settings restored.

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But still I’ve managed to read more this month than I have in a long time:

‘The Lodger’ by Louisa Treger
‘The Faithful Servant’s by Margery Sharp (re-read)
‘The Curiosity Cabinet’ by Catherine Czerkawska
‘Jill’ by Amy Dillwyn
‘The Crooked House’ by Christobel Kent
‘The Prime Minister’ by Anthony Trollope
‘Linnets and Valerians’ by Elizabeth Goudge
‘Weathering’ by Lucy Wood
‘Enchanter’s Nightshade’ by Ann Bridge
‘The Young Pretenders’ by Edith Henrietta Fowler
‘Burial Rites’ by Hannah Kent
‘The Gipsy in the Parlour’ by Margery Sharp
‘Don’t Let Him Know’ by Sandip Roy
‘The Duke’s Children’ by Anthony Trollope

I have to give great credit to the TBR dare, for keeping me away from the library and making me realise how many great books have been waiting on my shelves for far too long.

To date I’ve knocked eight books off the physical TBR and six books off the virtual TBR.

My book of the month has to be ‘Weathering’ by Lucy Wood, and I’ve not read a book that I haven’t liked.

‘Linnets and Valerians’ and ‘The Young Pretenders were for the Classic Children’s Literature Event.

I came to the end of Trollope’s Palliser novels; after eight months months in their company I’ll miss them, but I want to try some of Trolloe’s other books and I still want to read ‘The Forsyte Saga’.

‘The Gipsy in the Parlour’ – set in Devon – was my first book for Reading England.

Margery Sharp Day, on the 25th was a joy, and I am still absolutely delighted that so many found and enjoyed a book.

Since then I’ve been dabbling, and all of these have been picked up and partly read:

‘Saraband’ by Eliot Bliss (the jury is out)
‘The Dead Duke, His Secret Wife And The Missing Corpse’ by Piu Marie Eatwell (just as good as it sounds)
‘Troy Chimneys’ by Margaret Kennedy (one of her best)
‘The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton (half-way through, and I love it)
‘Lady Anna’ by Anthony Trollope (I was smitten from the first page)

I’ll pick them up again in February, which I want to be a simple, project free month of reading the books that call.

I’ve added a couple of books to a new ‘after the TBR Dare list on my library account.

And I’ve added a few judicious purchases to my personal library:

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‘Three Fevers’ by Leo Walmsley
‘Fire Over England’ by A E W Mason
‘Winds of the Day’ by Howard Spring
‘The Houses in Between’ by Howard Spring
‘All The Day Long’ by Howard Spring
‘The Jasmine Isle’ by Joanna Harystiani
‘Harlequin House’ by Margery Sharp
‘A Century of Creepy Stories’ edited by Hugh Walpole

They’re very much ‘library building purchases’; six on a day when I had an appointment in Truro and seized the chance to visit my favourite bookshop, one came from a local charity shop, and ‘Harlequin House’ arrived because I’ve been looking for an affordable copy for a long time and I finally found one.

I’ll have difficulty resisting that one until the dare is over, but I could read ‘All The Day Long’ because I had a tatty old copy and so the lovely, signed, hardback edition is an upgrade.

My old copy has gone to a charity shop, in one of seven bags we dropped off this afternoon.

I must declare one addition to the virtual TBR – ‘After The Storm’ by Jane Lythell – because I loved her first book, and because it was a ridiculously good bargain.

That was January.

A very good month for books and reading.

Now tell me, how was your month?

What do you have planned for next month?