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About France

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    Settling In
  • Birthday 06/27/1954

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  1. Tour de France

    I may break a long standing habit and actually watch some of the tour this afternoon as it's going through our town. As it's the first properly sunny day for ages and everyone is pulling out all the stops with places to eat and drink, entertainments and fireworks later the place will be packed so I'll get the bird's eye view on the telly.
  2. I enjoy these too, I've read all of them and I'm beginning to wonder where she can go from there. Each one os set on a different island and surely she's going to run out of them soon.
  3. Willoyd's Reading 2021

    That's two more on the wish list! Have you read Paula Byrne's book on Evelyn Waugh and the Lygons, Mad World? That's exceptional too.
  4. Willoyd's Reading 2021

    I only discovered Barbara Pym a few years ago and she now one of my favourite authors. I want to read the new biography about her by Paula Byrne whom I enjoy a lot, her book about Jane Austen was brilliant and looked at her in an entirely different way.
  5. I love the Cazelet chronicles too but honestly don't bother with number 5 which she wrote quite some time after the others and is set in the 50s. It's perfectly readable but doesn't have the magic of the previous ones and slightly took the shine off them for me.
  6. France's reading 2021

    The Water Clock by Jim Kelly Published in about 2002 this is the beginning of a series set near Ely featuring a local journalist, Philip Dryden who has a wife in a coma following a car accident two years previously. It’s the depth of winter and freezing cold. A car is found dumped in a drainage ditch and there is a body in the boot which appears to be linked to a violent robbery on World Cup day in 1966. Shortly afterwards a corpse that has been there for at least thirty years is found on the roof of Ely cathedral. Philip believes the two might be connected and is soon being warned off investigating any further but his real obsession is finding out who caused the accident that immobilized his wife. The investigative part of the story is competent but not outstanding, what really makes this book stand out is the sense of place, he makes them evocative, beguiling and very cold! I barely know the Fens but I almost feel that I’ve been there. I’m really looking forward to reading more in the series and the only really annoying thing is that I got this at a local twice yearly charity book sale and could have got the first five, I only bought two. Oh well, he’s written another series too so I’ve got loads to look forward to. I have no idea who suggested that I should look out for Jim Kelly, but whoever they are, thank you. Behind Closed Doors – B A Paris From the back: "Everyone knows a couple like Jack and Grace." Given the title you can get the gist of the plot. Oh goodness this was bad. It claims to be a gripping, shocking, million copy best seller, ok it was a best seller but unless you’re gripped by juvenile writing and cardboard characters it’s neither gripping nor shocking. I gather the end made up for quite a bit but I didn’t get that far. Wild Strawberries – Angela Thirkell. Angela Thirkell wrote pleasant romantic comedies in the 1930s set in big houses among the comfortably well off. I’ve read a couple and though they are very dated they were nice enough to keep an eye out for any of her other books. Unfortunately Wild Strawberries, one of her early ones, is a bore. It’s populated with single-characteristic characters so lady Emily is vague and constantly losing her glasses while accusing her maid of misplacing them, her daughter is kind and obsessed with her children and keeps on saying fondly ‘Oh wicked ones’. I did finish it but it was an effort.
  7. Grading books in Goodreads

    Reviews are by their very nature highly subjective so what's wrong with giving it one star if you really didn't like it? If you didn't like it but thought it had a few good things in it then give it two stars.
  8. Things in books that annoy you

    Try coming to rural France, Timebug! I've lived in 3 different places here and mobile signal has been poor in all of them, we've finally got decent internet (most of the time) but I often have to go out in the garden to be able to hear what people are saying. Better than our last house where you had to stand on the well to get a signal! Rosamund Lupton's Three Hours is about a school shooting and nearly all the besieged seniors had forgotten to charge their phones. I have never met a 17 year old who didn't have a charged phone. Fortunately it's a good enough book to be able to suspend disbelief.
  9. Grading books in Goodreads

    I very rarely give one star reviews but I have doled them out to books I haven't finished because I loathed them or were horribly violent.
  10. France's reading 2021

    Yes, it's all explained in the end.
  11. France's reading 2021

    I was given The Kingdoms by Natasha Pulley for my birthday which I absolutely loved. It's strange, stranger than her previous books and definitely not for anyone who can't cope with multiple time lines, shifting alternate realities and not having a clue what's really going on (quite a few of the members of my real life book group!) but I was totally gripped. I really don't know what to think about The Summer Book. I'd heard so much about it, that it's an absolute masterpiece etc and I have to say that it didn't grip me. It didn't bore me either and I have a feeling that I need to read it again. It's very short so that won't be a problem.
  12. Wine

    Chateau de Sudiraut is one of the top class Sauternes chateaux and right next door to Chateau Y'quem, their second wines (the Castlenau de Sudiraut or Lions de Sudiraut) will both be very well made and lighter than their premium wine but probably the ones to go for. Sauternes is an intense drink and very few people drink more than one or two glasses at a time. It keeps brilliantly in the fridge with the cork put back in (because of the high sugar content, think of how long jam keeps). The purists say you can keep it for 10 days to 3 weeks, I've had an opened bottle in the fridge for over three months and it was still perfect when we finished it.
  13. Wine

    First thing to know is that Sauternes can be eye-wateringly expensive. The entry level price for Chateau d'Yquem, the top de la top of Sauternes is £250 a bottle! For a good bottle you'd pay 30 euros here, and upwards. There is a reason why it's so expensive; nearly all grapes whether picked by machine or by hand are picked by the bunch. The flavours in the Sauternes grapes come from a microclimate and the grapes ripen unevenly, so the pickers cut out individual ripe grapes, wait a few days for the grapes on the patch to ripen a bit more, go back and cut out the ripe grapes. All Sauternes chateaux have to send their pickers out at least three times before all the grapes are harvested, some like Chateau d'Yquem do it 11 times. Labour costs are huge and there are no shortcuts. Lecture finished! I take groups to Chateau Rayne Vigneau and their wine is delicious. They make 2, their second wine Madame de Vigneau (I think, could be Rayne) is lighter and there's their first wine Chatau de Rayne Vigneau, full bodied and more expensive. They are a premier cru but to be honest any decent Sauternes chateau which bottles at the chateau and isn't dirt cheap should be OK. The rcher the straw colour the more intense the flavour. Drink them chilled, as an aperatif, with snacks, salty food, (absolutely wonderful wth sardine pate!) and surprisingly, Indian food and curries. Not with sweet things, it's too much.
  14. France's reading 2021

    Two really disappointing books recently, frstly Dog Days by Ericka Waller which was highly recommended by a book blog I follow as being feel good and for all lovers of dogs. I love dogs and it was a Kindle cheapie, feel good it isn't (won't go into details for spoilers) but it left a nasty taste in the mouth. The main charecters are George, an extremely grumpy pensioner who has just lost his wife and is angry about it, a councellor to whom it has never occured that he might never have had a girlfriend because ...(not a spoiler it's obvious) - none of his family seem to have had a clue either, and mother with her child in a refuge who won't say what happened to her. The dogs don't really play much of a role ether. She can write though, I hope the next book has a better plot line. I only bought Kirsten Hannah because I was in our local English bookshop and thought I'd better get something and had heard that her descriptions of Alaska are wonderful. That's true, as a love letter to Alaska it really works, as an enthralling story it doesn't. Overblown, cardboard charecters, uneven plotting. Won't read anything by her again. The Miseducation of Evie Epworth by Matson Taylor is a coming of age story set in 1962 and is great fun. 16 year old Evie has to decide what she wants to do with her life while trying to free her farmer father from the clutches of his busty housekeeper Christine. I loved this, only two small quibbles. Firstly in the opening scene Evie catches sight of a neighbour with a cow. All I'd say is that either it was a minature cow or he was standing on a box. Nuff said. Secondly, Christine gets rid of the old friendly Aga and replaces it with a modern electric cooker and you can see wallpaper where the Aga used to be. The author can't ever have seen an Aga, they're built in and weigh a ton, there simply wouldn't be paper behind it. Never mind, still a thorougly enjoyable read.
  15. Which online bookstores do you use?

    Yes, it's utterly disgraceful. My youngest daughter was interviewed for a job at one of the big Amazon depots in the south of France as an h&s officer and lets put it this way, she was rather relieved not to be offered the job.