It was Jo’s idea a couple of years ago, and now it’s become an annual event – celebrate the first six months of the reading year by putting six books into each of six categories.

Not quite as easy as it looks. I’ve tweaked the categories to suit my reading style, and because I wanted to push disappointments to one site and simply celebrate some of the books I’ve read and the books I’ve discovered.

Here are my six sixes:


Six books illuminated by wonderful voices from the twentieth century

Lolly Willowes by Sylvia Townsend Warner
The Diary of a Provincial Lady by E M Delafield
The English Air by D E Stevenson
The Castle on the Hill by Elizabeth Goodge
Nine Coaches Waiting by Mary Stewart
The Magic Toyshop by Angela Carter


Six books from the present that took me to the past

The Visitors by Rebecca Maskell
Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke
An Appetite for Violets by Martine Bailey
Turning the Stones by Debra Daley
The True and Splendid History of the Harristown Sisters by Michelle Lovric
Sugar Hall by Tiffany Murray


Six books from the past that pulled me back there

Wired Love by Ella Cheever Thayer
Esther Waters by George Moore
Griffith Gaunt by Charles Reade
Nine Pounds of Luggage by Maud Parrish
The Count of Monte Christo by Alexandre Dumas
Can You Forgive Her? by Anthony Trollope


Six books that introduced me to interesting new authors

Wake by Anna Hope
Still She Wished for Company by Margaret Irwin
The Lie of You: I Will Have What is Mine by Jane Lythell
Mr Perrin and Mr Traill by Hugh Walpole
My Salinger Year by Joanna Rakoff
None-Go-By by Mrs Alfred Sidgwick


Six successful second meeting with authors

The Auction Sale by C H B Kitchin
The Twelfth Hour by Ada Leverson
A Hundred Pieces of Me by Lucy Dillon
Wild Strawberries by Angela Thirkell
Mrs Westerby Changes Course by Elizabeth Cadell
Her by Harriet Lane


Six used books added to my shelves

The Heroes of Clone by Margaret Kennedy
The Serial Garden by Joan Aiken
Portrait of a Village by Francis Brett Young
The West End Front by Matthew Sweet
The Stag at Bay by Rachel Ferguson
Elizabeth’s Women by Tracy Boorman


Do think about putting your own sixes – it’s a great way of perusing your reading, and I’d love to read more lists.

A Hundred Pieces of Me by Lucy Dillon

Lucy Dillon writes lovely books: she’s a wonderful storyteller with the lightest of touches, but her stories always have just enough serious underpinnings to stop them drifting off into the ether ….

‘A Hundred Pieces of Me’ is particularly lovely, and a little different to the books that came before.

18623990It’s Gina’s story. Her passage through life hadn’t been straightforward, but she knew that she’d been lucky; she’d survived breast cancer, she had a wonderful husband who had supported her, they had a lovely home, and they had a wonderful future in front of them.

And then he left her.

There were tears, there were recriminations, but ultimately Gina knew that she had to pick herself up and get on with the life that she knew was so precious.

She found a lovely new flat and she vowed to clear out all of the ‘things’ that she had acquired over the years and live a simpler life: she would keep just one hundred things that would help her to hang on to memories.

Picking out those one hundred things brought back so many emotions – happy and sad  – and there were so many things to remember, as Gina worked out what she must  hold on to and what she should let go.

It was fascinating to watch, and impossible not to think about what we keep, why we keep it, what it says about us ….

There was a new future to forge too: a new job meant that she had to work with the new owners of a wonderful house that was her own dream home, and, quite unintentionally, she came to share her new home with a dog.

Gina didn’t quite complete her list,  because it gave way to an even lovelier idea: a new friend gave Gina a polaroid camera, and he planted the idea that she might photograph one hundred things that would make new memories.

I rather missed the hundred things, but that shift provided the time and space that were needed for the story to come together. It was very clever, gradually revealing what had happened to Gina’s first love, why her relationship with her mother was so strained, and what consequences on her illness had, not just for her, but for her friends and family as well.

The story is so touching, so poignant; with happiness and sadness beautifully balanced,

I particularly loved Gina’s relationship with her best friend, Naomi, who supported her and who needed her in her life. I was so pleased when Gina and her mother finally came to talk about the things that really mattered, and to understand herself a little better. And the way that a dog inveigled its way first into Gina’s life and then into her heart, turning her into a dog-person, was utterly perfect.

‘A Hundred Pieces of me’ is a beautifully written story about letting go of the past, about not worrying about the future, and about loving life in the here and now.

I can’t deny that it was a little contrived, that one or two things fell into place a little too easily, but I can forgive that because all of the characters, all of the relationships ring true, and they caught – and inspired – so many emotions.

And because Gina learned and grew so much over the course of the story.

When the end came I didn’t want to let go: and it wasn’t really an end, but another turning point in Gina’s life.

So now all I can do is wish her well ….