Jump to content
  • Announcements

    • Michelle

      Important Announcement!   07/28/2018

      Dear BCF members,   This forum has been running now for many years, and over that time we have seen many changes. Generalised forums are nowhere near as popular as they once were, and they have been very much taken over by blogs, vlogs and social media discussions. Running a forum well takes money, and a lot of care and attention, as there is so much which goes on behind the scenes to keep things running smoothly.   With all of this in mind, and after discussion within the current moderator team, the decision has been made to close this forum in its current format. I know that this will disappoint a lot of our long term members, but I want to reassure you that it's not a decision which has been taken lightly.    The remaining moderator team have agreed that we do not want to lose everything which is special about our home, and so we are starting a brand new facebook group, so that people can stay in touch, and discussions can continue. We can use it for free and should be easier for us to run (it won't need to be updated or hosted). We know not everyone has FaceBook, but we hope that those of you who are interested will join the group. We will share the link, and send invites as soon as we are ready to go. Added: We may as well get this going, find us here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/195289821332924/   The forum will close to new registrations, but will remain open for some time, to allow people to collect up any information, reading lists etc they need to, and to ensure they have contact details for those they wish to stay in touch with.    The whole team feel sad to say goodbye, but we also feel that it's perhaps time and that it feels like the right choice. We hope we can stay in touch with all of you through our new FaceBook group.   I personally want to thank everyone who has helped me moderate the forum, both in the past and the present, and I also want to thank every single person who has visited, and shared their love of books.. I'm so proud of everything we've achieved, and the home we built.   Please visit the new section in the Lounge section to discuss this further, ask questions etc.
willoyd

Willoyd's Reading 2018

Recommended Posts

1 hour ago, Athena said:

Sorry you had such a bad experience with a book :(. I don't know a lot about the book but I did know it'd got some good reviews from some people, I've seen it on a bestseller list and things like that. I hope your next book will be a better experience for you!

 

I know it may sound odd, but actually reading such a bad book can generate its own fun.  When a book is this bad, it gets quite entertaining spotting all the mistakes.  This one, though, was over 800 pages long, and whilst that can be fun for a while, I'd had enough after 500. What I did find a bit odd is that usually I can at least see why books I rate one star are good sellers, even books like Gone Girl, even Da Vinci Code (risible, but a fun premise).  How this one got beyond the usual thriller readers (Robert Ludlum, Lee Child etc) and became so highly rated by so many is a a mystery to me.  Anyway, the reading group will be fun!  And one advantage of reading a bad book is that the good ones are even more enjoyable!

Edited by willoyd

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's funny how you can find more to say about a bad book than a good one!  But everyone raved about this book at the time it came out.  Haven't read it myself.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
52 minutes ago, Madeleine said:

It's funny how you can find more to say about a bad book than a good one! 

 

All too true, and the more I dislike it, the more I seem to write - which is why this is one of my longer reviews!  (And notice how quickly I wrote it - I definitely felt the need to write something!). I think it's because, if you're going to negatively criticise a book, you feel you have to justify that criticism, but if a book's great, you can say simply that.

 

I also wanted to get my ideas down whilst fresh in my mind, as I'm going to have to justify my thoughts at the reading group in a couple of weeks time, by which time some of my reasons may have disappeared into the recesses of my memory!

Edited by willoyd

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Oh dear :lol: 

 

This is on my TBR. I might push it down the priority list a tad! Thoroughly enjoyed your review though. I much prefer writing reviews about books I haven’t enjoyed as well. It’s much easier! 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ha! Excellent review of I Am Pilgrim ... you might not have enjoyed the book, but I certainly found your thoughts on it entertaining. :lol:  One to avoid, methinks. ;) 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Happy New Year Willoyd and Happy Reading in 2018. Hope it's full of great books :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Reading Update

A week of surprises. 

 

Firstly, I've completed almost 400 pages of Lucy Hughes-Hallett's Peculiar Ground.  It's an odd book - eminently readable, some interesting ideas, but, after a very promising start, seems to have lost its way for a while - pretty much ever since the timeframe changed form the 17th century to the 20th.  Too many characters and a lack of any central driving force to it feels to be the problem. However, I'll see it out to the end now, only 80 or so pages away, and just about to return to the 17th century.  I'm surprised at the excellence of the reviews.

 

I've also started Terry Pratchett's Wyrd Sisters,  one of my Round Robin Challenges (and, being on the Kindle, readable in bed at night!). I would love to like Pratchett's books, but for me the humour has always felt just that little bit too forced and obvious; each book I've tried seems to be trying just that little bit too hard, and so far, 20% in, Wyrd Sisters is proving no different.  The strength of his popularity continues to surprise me.

 

Two books acquired this week, both half price offers:  Patrick Barkham's Islanders and Horatio Clare's Icebreaker.  Both travel books, and going to favourite locations of mine - islands and Scandinavia. 

Edited by willoyd

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

January roundup

 

A solid month's reading, with several ticks in terms of aims this year.  To date (and shamelessly copying @chesilbeach!):

 

Books read:  6

Pages read:  2360, average 393 pages per book.

Gender : 5 male, 1 female

Genre:  4 fiction, 2 non-fiction (1 historical biography, 1 travel)

Sources:  3 TBR list, 3 library

Format:  3 hardback, 3 paperback

Non-fiction doorstoppers:  1

Round Robin challenge:  1
Target authors: 1 x Simenon

 

Edited by willoyd

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wyrd Sisters by Terry Pratchett ***

 

I can't quite remember why I bought this - I think it was after some discussion about Pratchett's treatment of Shakespeare and other icons on the radio - but have been meaning to read it for some time.  It's one of my Round Robin challenges this year (from More Reading Time Required), so has jumped to the front of the queue. 

 

I've had a couple of goes at Pratchett in the past.  I remember enjoying The Colour of Magic quite a lot soon after it came out in the mid-80s, but since then, what I've read has left me largely unengaged.

 

Wyrd Sisters draws on a variety of Shakespeare elements, including elements of Macbeth, Hamlet and King Lear, whilst other Shakespeare references abound.  It features one of Pratchett's most popular protagonists, Granny Weatherwax, one of the three witches and (here) the wyrd sisters.  From my limited reading of Pratchett, it's a typical Discworld story; other readers confirm it's one of his more popular ones.

 

Hmmm.  I found it perfectly readable, making it quite comfortably to the end.  Aside from that, I remain somewhat mystified as to what all the fuss is about.  It's not particularly funny (but I'm probably not a good judge of what makes a 'funny' book), although it seems to aspire to humour - personally, as I said in an earlier post, I find it rather forced.  It's not particularly gripping - I could have quite easily put it down at any stage and not come back to it.  It's not particularly strong on character or setting.  I suppose it is quite clever - the references are woven in fairly comfortably (with the odd clunk) and are largely fairly easily spottable - but does that make a book?  All in all, it seems to do most things OK, and nothing particularly well (actually, I found the characters rather weaker than that, but then they are perhaps meant to be somewhat cartoonish).  At the end, it all felt rather forgettable.

 

So, I'm left still wondering quite what all the fuss is about (and quite why I was so taken with The Colour of Magic.  However, that is another book; maybe I need to read that again?) .  I can understand people enjoying the books - and I know enough people who do! - but I do feel as if I'm missing something, as Pratchett's impact and stature suggests so much more.  I need enlightenment!

 

Edited by willoyd

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hmmm. I can`t recall Wyrd Sisters too well, but I have great memories of Reaper Man and Hogfather. And Guards ! Guards !  If you didn`t enjoy the Witches, perhaps you`d like some of the Sam Vimes or Death books ? :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
58 minutes ago, Little Pixie said:

Hmmm. I can`t recall Wyrd Sisters too well, but I have great memories of Reaper Man and Hogfather. And Guards ! Guards !  If you didn`t enjoy the Witches, perhaps you`d like some of the Sam Vimes or Death books ? :)

 

I don't know.  I've read several in the past, including Guards! Guards! and Mort, and whilst they've been OK and (on one occasion) whiled away an otherwise boring journey, I just don't see what there is in them to rave about, even though they are just the sort of thing I would expect to love.  Each one I've read has left me vaguely disappointed, as if they could've been brilliant, but never quite managed it.  I know some series need time to get into, but I think it just isn't going to happen here.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 minutes ago, willoyd said:

 

I don't know.  I've read several in the past, including Guards! Guards! and Mort, and whilst they've been OK and (on one occasion) whiled away an otherwise boring journey, I just don't see what there is in them to rave about, even though they are just the sort of thing I would expect to love.  Each one I've read has left me vaguely disappointed, as if they could've been brilliant, but never quite managed it.  I know some series need time to get into, but I think it just isn't going to happen here.

 

Sounds like you`ve given them enough of a go, and they just didn`t click for you. :) It`s not like you`re going to be shunned now. ;):lol:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
20 hours ago, Little Pixie said:

 

Sounds like you`ve given them enough of a go, and they just didn`t click for you. :) It`s not like you`re going to be shunned now. ;):lol:

Yep, it does sound like it's one of those things - you can't like everything and something that is popular doesn't mean that you'll like it yourself.  There are plenty of books/films where I have tried and thought "I just can't see the appeal". :D

 

Although, if you liked The Colour of Magic, it might be that you really really like Rincewind, so you should try The Light Fantastic (after re-reading TCoM), Sourcery, Eric, Interesting Times The Last Continent. :giggle2: 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, More reading time required said:

Yep, it does sound like it's one of those things - you can't like everything and something that is popular doesn't mean that you'll like it yourself.  There are plenty of books/films where I have tried and thought "I just can't see the appeal". :D

 

Although, if you liked The Colour of Magic, it might be that you really really like Rincewind, so you should try The Light Fantastic (after re-reading TCoM), Sourcery, Eric, Interesting Times The Last Continent. :giggle2: 

 

Or else.... ;)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 12/02/2018 at 4:50 PM, Little Pixie said:

 

Or else.... ;)

 

Exactly!  I might dip in again in the future - after all I don't dislike his books - but for now, I've got other books that I'm much keener to read.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 12/02/2018 at 2:28 PM, More reading time required said:

Yep, it does sound like it's one of those things - you can't like everything and something that is popular doesn't mean that you'll like it yourself.  There are plenty of books/films where I have tried and thought "I just can't see the appeal". :D

 

Although, if you liked The Colour of Magic, it might be that you really really like Rincewind, so you should try The Light Fantastic (after re-reading TCoM), Sourcery, Eric, Interesting Times The Last Continent. :giggle2: 

 

Though, talking of sorcery, you might also like The Legend of the Seeker books. :ph34r:

 

Michelle(MRTR) and I both ( mostly) enjoyed them. ;)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 1/21/2018 at 12:43 PM, willoyd said:

I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes * (less if I could)

 

This is a huge (800+ pages) book  that seems to have made a big impact, attracting over 5,000 reviews on Amazon, and was the choice for the February meeting of one of my reading groups.  Given the multitude of rave comments, I've been looking forward to reading it for a while, and was grateful for that selection.  An added bonus was that it was added to my Round Robin Challenge by Karen.d - my first of the year!

 

It got off to a promising start, a murder scene where it seemed that the victim was completely, and I mean completely, unidentifiable.  Sharp and snappy, I was quickly absorbed.  There were a couple of worries - not least some rather dodgy gender deduction and a bit of rather gratuitous sex, but this could well be just scene setting.  By the end there was a major niggle too - how did they 'know' the it was the murderer not the murder victim who lived in the room - they didn't, and that was never explained as far as I could see.

 

Things deteriorated rather rapidly after that.  Cutting away from the murder scene, we dived into extended back story, and back stories within back stories.  Other warning signs started flashing, not least the establishment of the main character as a wealthy orphan who becomes, and modestly boasts of being, the best secret agent in a supersecret organisation (Bruce Wayne anybody?).  A major alarm goes off when he, this supersecret person, reveals himself as the author of THE manual on investigations, the book upon which the murderer at the start of the novel bases their work (I mean, what supersecret organisation is going to let their supersecret agent write a book that could be used as a murder manual, for goodness' sake).  And what's with the silly names 'The Rider of the Blue', 'Whispering Death' etc?  As the book goes on we find that Pilgrim's just amazing at everything he turns his hand to (at one point he dabbles in sailing and is told he could make it to the Olympics if he tries - just as an aside it seems). Not just a supersecret agent, but some sort of superhero.  Only problem is he keeps, apparently, making mistakes....

 

The plot is, in fact, pretty bog standard.  It's the sort of thing that turns up in virtually every James Bond film ever made: terrorist is going to commit world shattering crime (this time, infect the whole of the US with plague) and only James Bond, er no, sorry, Pilgrim, can stop him).  And to do so, he relies on some incredible, I mean incredible, coincidences.  I thought Dan Brown was bad on these, but I do Mr Brown a disservice.  I won't 'spoil' the book by saying what they are, but for me they were jaw droppingly unlikely.

 

I had an additional problem with the timelines too - they were all over the place as the author indulged in those multiple backstories, chopping backwards and forwards between timelines, and extended narratives in order to move minor plot points forward.  Biggest issue of all was the attempted interweaving of murder and terrorist plot.  As other reviewers have said, they should have been two separate stories, as the connection between the two was tenuous in the extreme (one of those coincidences), and unnecessarily clumsy.  The actual chronology was also dodgy - for instance it only takes the detective an absolute maximum of 3 months to find Jude Garrett, yet the work described would have taken years.

 

An additional problem with the plotting was the point of view used.  The story is told in the first person, which starts well enough. However, as the book progresses, particularly into the backstories, and the author wants to go off into areas where the main protagonist could not have gone, it starts to fall apart.  We are told things the author simply couldn't have known, not even from all the reports and later research he tells us he did.  The POV simply doesn't work in the way he wants to write the book.  And, because we are being told the story in the first person, we know it's going to work out alright: Pilgrim survives and is writing this for our benefit.  For me, the suspense was pretty much non-existent.

 

The author does work hard at developing that suspense.  Unfortunately, he seems to have but one tactic to develop it.  Every chapter, it seems, told us that 'I should have known better', 'Little did I know', 'If I gave any thought', 'And for me? It was a disaster', and so on and so on.  Narrative foreshadowing I think it's called, and occasionally it's fine, but ad nauseam it annoys like anything.

 

So, the main character is a cliche, the plot is a cliche, but neither is a patch on the women or racial backgrounds.  Take the women, for starters.  Believe it or not, they are all stunningly beautiful - flawless skin, high cheekbones, almond eyes, you name it, they've got it, every single one, I kid not, and there's lots of gratuitous flaunting of physical assets too.  Male characters are equally stereotyped - all the goodies are staunch upright Americans, all the baddies are dastardly Arabs/Muslims (not much differentiation going on here).  One sentence in particular clobbered me (p92): the hero is getting out of a cab, trying to avoid the possibility of being shot:  "The driver thought I was crazy - but then his religion thinks stoning a woman to death for adultery is reasonable, so I figured we were about even."  The casualness (and inaccuracy) of that statement appalled me, and it was, I think, at that point he completely lost me and I started vetting the book for attitudes and mistakes rather than reading it as a novel.

 

And there are plenty, I mean plenty, of mistakes.  The book is riddled with them. Places are misdescribed, things happen that can't, continuity is wobbly at best.  Other reviewers have identified them in detail, but they run well into the tens if not hundreds.

 

I managed to just about reach just over 500 pages, and then came to a juddering halt after two horrible plot errors in the space of a few pages, errors that signficant parts of the story depended on (for those familar with the book, they are the 'development' of the mirrors, and the ruins revealed by the 'low' tide).  I'd had enough.  I did, however, jump to the denouement just so I could keep vaguely in touch for the reading group.  A complete anti-climax, simply because it just wouldn't have happened.  All the way through Hayes has been writing about Islamic extremism, and yet at the most critical point, he completely fails to understand it. 

 

In summary, this book is, in one word, awful.  It offends on so many levels, and has to be one of the worst books I've read in years.  My first reaction is that I am shocked that it was even published - what were the editors thinking of? But then, having said that, they obviously got it right, as it's a bestseller.  What really stuns me are the rave reviews it gets.  I have, at least in book terms, never before felt quite so at odds with the mainstream of book reading, although there are enough 1-star reviews to sustain some faith.  If I could give something no stars on my scale I would  It is a rock solid contender for Duffer of the Year, probably Decade, maybe even Century? Certainly one of the worst so far in all those categories!

 

 I'm sorry that you didn't enjoy this book, especially seeing as I was the one who challenged you to read it :hide: I also wanted to read this book, but I think I might not now, after reading your review. I hope you have more success with your other 'Round Robin' Challenges.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
56 minutes ago, karen.d said:

 I'm sorry that you didn't enjoy this book, especially seeing as I was the one who challenged you to read it :hide: I also wanted to read this book, but I think I might not now, after reading your review. I hope you have more success with your other 'Round Robin' Challenges.

 

Please don't be concerned about having challenged me with it.  This was a book, after all, that I already owned and wanted to read. All my challenges to others have been the same - a book that I am also interested in reading.  I'm sure there will be one or more that people don't enjoy.  But, and this is the big but, you've helped me whittle down my TBR list.  So, actually, it's a big thank you from me for your challenge.  (And, as an aside, I actually enjoy having the odd book I really don't enjoy.  It helps me enjoy other books all the more, and putting the review together was fun!).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 hours ago, willoyd said:

 

 (And, as an aside, I actually enjoy having the odd book I really don't enjoy.  It helps me enjoy other books all the more, and putting the review together was fun!).

 I agree! It would be boring if you enjoyed every book you read.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Coot Club by Arthur Ransome ******

 

I originally intended to reread the Swallows and Amazons series in sequence, but this rapidly unravelled when I took Great Northern away on holiday to the Outer Hebrides last summer, the location for this, the last of the finished novels in the sequence.  So, when we decided to have a few days down in the Norfolk Broads, our first visit, Coot Club was inevitably packed. 

Reading a novel in the place it is set always adds an extra frisson, and this proved no exception.  Unlike the Lake District novels, where Ransome conflates and twists the geography around, or the Outer Hebrides, where he is pretty free and easy with it altogether, the East Anglian novels are very precise in their locations - and Coot Club could be followed exactly both on the map and on the ground.  Only Tom Dudgeon's house is apparently totally fictitious, but even the location, if not the house itself, can be fairly accurately pinpointed.  So, in amongst the birdwatching and other activities, OH (an equally ardent lover of Ransome's novels) and I spent a happy few days identifying several of the book's locations, all the while rereading the novel itself.

 

Coot Club is a gloriously old-fashioned adventure novel.  As a result it is somewhat out of fashion amongst modern children, although obviously still read if it's continuation in print is anything to go by.  Talking to several children who have tried it, one or two loved it, most, sadly, found it 'boring' or 'unreal'.  The latter is probably the primary problem - what the children in the novels get up to is almost certainly outside the experience, and indeed imagination, of most today, even if set in a vaguely recognisable world, even if one bereft of modern technology and social media.  Just to take one example from Coot Club: we have two 11-12 year old girls (twins) just missing setting sail on a week-long trip around the Broads with a group of friends, so they sling a few clothes into a rucksack, jump on board a boat piloted by two elderly men (barely known by their single parent), sail downriver to the nearest large town 15 miles away, are then passed on to another elderly man (completely unknown by parents or children) on his boat, and then onto an equally unknown couple on another boat on which they spend the night before meeting up with their group of friends the next morning! All through the S&A novels, the children do things and have a freedom that are totally incomprehensible to most children today (it's interesting that those children who did enjoy the book came from outdoor orientated families),although I do remember having not totally dissimilar freedoms.  Maybe that was partly because we didn't have mobiles and tablets!

 

It may be old-fashioned in its social mores, but it is not in terms of language.  Ransome doesn't specifically write for children, but his language is simpler than most books I read.  However, in using this he comes over as simply more direct rather than deliberately more child-friendly.   He does seem to capture both characters and place almost as simply as his drawings, and is able without fuss to engender a sense of adventure and excitement out of even fairly minor episodes, not least because he sees the world so accurately through a young person's eyes.  For me, he captures that view on the world perfectly, where the trivial can become monumentally important, and what might appear to an adult to be important becomes relatively trivial, yet never losing respect for or patronising his subjects.  

 

There are plenty of other sub-texts to Coot Club.  Issues that are important today were growing in importance in the 1930s (when the story was set) and 1940s (when it was written), such as conservation and the impact of tourism, and they are at the heart of Ransome's story.  Some critics also read all sorts of colonial and imperial threads into the stories as well.  Perhaps, but what Ransome does above all else is create a cracking good story about a group of children, all with their own vivid personalities, having an adventure on the Norfolk Broads.  It's a book that I will go back to again (and again, and again).

 

BTW, my favourite character is Dick Callum.  Why?  Because he's so like the somewhat geeky young Willoyd.  In fact, like the adult Willoyd, so OH tells me!  I did, and still can, totally relate to him, and through him, to the others.  He may be geeky but Ransome treats him with the same seriousness that he does all the others, fully accepting both strengths and weaknesses (and all his characters have their weaknesses), as do the other children.  All that's a major part of the reason why they remain such firm favourites.  Now some fifty years since I read my first S&A book, I have still yet to read a better set of  'children's novels', even if they weren't written for children, and Coot Club stands as one of the best of the set.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 30.12.2017 at 9:05 PM, Janet said:

 

I hope you enjoy 'Tess'.  I love it - but @frankie hates it! :D I think you'll like/love it, but one never can tell!   :)

 

 

On 31.12.2017 at 12:07 AM, willoyd said:

 

I'm pretty confident I'll enjoy it simply because I've loved all the Hardy I've read to date, but we'll see!

I'm certainly pleased it's part of my challenge.

 

:lol:  Jänet's right, I hated Tess! With a passion! I never would've finished it if it wasn't mandatory reading. But for your sake I do hope you will like it - I generally don't go about hoping people will hate the books they read :D

 

I was reading the last pages of your 2017 reading log (I'm still catching up with past logs and new) and I learned that you are working at a library one day a week? That's great! :smile2: I'm actually jealous! 

 

I also read your review of the Jacob book by Susan Hill. I'm so sorry it was such a big disappointment! I do wonder what got into her. And WHY... 

 

Happy reading in 2018, willoyd! :readingtwo:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 21/02/2018 at 2:54 PM, frankie said:

Happy reading in 2018, willoyd! :readingtwo:

 

Thank you Frankie. 

On Tess: We all have those sorts of books don't we, books that we're either supposed to like or everybody raves about, but we find that we actually hate!  I've written quite a few reviews where I've wondered why a book has garnered so many plaudits, or why it's a bestseller, because I thought it was rubbish!

 

I'm loving the library work.  The local city authority is financially in quite a bit of bother, and they've been trying to cut costs.  Most of the smaller libraries like ours have been farmed out to parish (village) councils, redesignated 'community libraries' ,and staffed mostly by volunteers. We've got a super co-ordinator who is really trying to get more buzz about the library, and it seems to be working.  We were certainly busy to day!  I'm now also doing an afternoon a week in a local school, helping sort out their library, which is proving an interesting challenge, especially as they want to base it on the Dewey system (and needs to be meaningful to primary age children).  It would be nice to get something paid (these bills have a habit of popping up rather too regularly!), but along with the volunteer conservation work, it's great being able to be involved with things I really believe in.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Big Six by Arthur Ransome *****

Although this is the ninth book in the Swallows and Amazons sequence, it follows on almost directly from the fourth, Coot Club, and doesn't involve any of the Swallows and Amazons themselves!  Coot Club is meant to have taken place around Easter, and The Big Six is late summer, very early autumn (chronological evidence in the series suggests that it's set in 1932).  This time the central characters are the crew of the Death and Glory, three boys, with Dick and Dorothea Callum and Tom Dudgeon in close support, all with important roles to play.

Whilst I didn't enjoy this quite as much as Coot Club (that was a full 6 stars), this is still an excellent, highly engaging, read.  Almost all the characteristics of the earlier book that made it so special still apply, particularly Ransome's writing skills, characterisation and descriptions.  If anything, the plot is even better constructed: the Death and Glories fall under suspicion as a there is a spate of boats being unmoored and let loose; the situation seems to get worse and worse until Dorothy leads the fightback as they become detectives in order to find the real culprit(s).  Unlike so many children's 'adventures', this is completely believable, not least the fact that their evidence, conclusive in their eyes, has its holes...!

So, if it has all the characteristics of Coot Club, why don't I rate it the same?  I wondered a while, and I think it's because there's a strong thread of anxiety/worry affecting the characters that runs through pretty much the whole book.  This is inevitable, by the very nature of the story (!), but as a result, some of the sheer joy of Coot Club for me was lost a bit.  Coot Club has its own adventure and denouement, but it feels more relaxed; rather than worry, it was simple excitement.  It was noticeable that my favourite parts of the book were centred on activities that weren't to do with the main plot: there's a lovely chapter where the D&Gs catch a pike, and the whole section is absolutely riveting (Ransome was a passionate angler), right from the opening description of them walking up the river early in the morning.  Having said that, I did enjoy the book a lot more once the children started fighting back! 

 

I was also sad to see the loss of the twins, Port and Starboard, whose presence in the earlier book I'd particularly enjoyed. 

However, in compensation, and perhaps the space was needed to let them flourish, what is a real plus about this book is the development of the D&Gs, and the way Dorothy and Dick really come into their own.  I used to think that the Lakeland novels were my favourites but, aside from Winter Holiday which I remain particularly fond of (another six star book), as a unit I'm beginning to think that the Norfolk novels may actually have the edge (especially if one includes the rest of East Anglia, and thus Secret Water).  It's a real pity that Coots in the North was never completed, although whether transposing the D&Gs into the Lakeland setting, as what was completed does do, would have fully worked is a question, it is one that will now never be answered.  Never mind, we're lucky to have what we have.

 

Incidentally, I can't remember the last time I read two books by the same author back to back.  That says a lot about how much I love these books!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

February Review

A steady month's reading, mainly of books centred on the Norfolk Broads, as that's where we went for a week's break.  I kept the book acquisition list down too, although the TBR list has increased (by one!).

 

Figures are those to date for the year, with figures in brackets being those this month if more than zero.

 

Books read:  10 (4)

Pages read:  3566 (1206), average 357 (302) pages per book.

Gender : 9 (4) male, 1 female

Genre:  7 (3) fiction, 3 (1) non-fiction

Sources:  7 (4) owned of which 4 (1) TBR, the rest rereads3 library

Format:  5 (2) hardback, 4 (1) paperback, 1 (1) ebook

Non-fiction doorstoppers: 

Round Robin challenge:  2 (1)
Target authors: 1 x Simenon , 2 (2) x Ransome.

 

Books for reading acquired this month:

Poacher's Pilgrimage by Alastair McIntosh (hardback, online: account of walk across Isles of Harris and Lewis)

The Blessings of a Good Thick Skirt by Mary Russell (hardback, charity shop: history of women travellers and explorers)

The Good Companions by JB Priestley (hardback, charity shop)

Arthur Ransome on the Broads by Roger Wardale (paperback, online: real life experiences that influenced Ransome's books)

Darkest Hour by Anthony McCarten (Kindle: history behind the film)

 

Edited by willoyd

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now

×