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On 26/04/2021 at 9:53 PM, willoyd said:

The Mermaid of the Black Conch by Monique Roffey G ******

Excltingly alive, I found this winner of the Costa almost unputdownable.  Given so much of this story deals with quite heavy issues, this was a remarkably easy, upbeat, read, written in thoroughly refreshing, almost technicolour, language,.  Loved every second of this.

I really wanted to buy this after Talisman recommended it. I think this is the sign that I really do have to buy it now!

 

On 26/04/2021 at 9:53 PM, willoyd said:

I remember reading the Sherlock Holmes novels and rating them distinctly lower down the scale than the short stories

I know what you mean, I would generally agree but I also love The Hound of the Baskervilles!

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More Reviews

I'm getting seriously behind here, not least because I'm reading more than ever before, and am even in danger of forgetting quite how books affected me, so must catch up!  So, these below will take me to the end of March (and it's now May!)

 

Birdsong in a Time of Silence by Steven Lovatt *****

Beautifully written contemplation of listening to birds during lockdown, that strongly resonated with me as that is what I noticed, and enjoyed, the most about the first lockdown (a year ago now!) - the lack of human noise and the commensurate increase in natural sounds.  Last spring was a joy in that regard, and something I'm so missing this year - it's scary (at least to me) as to how much we so impose ourselves on this planet to the detriment of pretty much everything else, even in terms of sound.  I've come to really dislike (to put it mildly) manmade noise.

 

Why Do Birds Suddenly Disappear by Lev Pariakin ****

Another book on birdwatching, rather lighter than the previous one, but no less enjoyable if in a different way - a tale of rediscovering the hobby (passion!) in adulthood - pretty much the same as me, so another book that resonates.  His follow up book is out, and I'll definitely read it!

 

The Witches of Eastwick by John Updike ***

Read for the Rhode Island leg of my Tour of the United States.  Perfectly readable, and mildly entertaining, but one of those rare instances where I think I prefer the film to the book - this just seemed rather inconsequential, leaving me very unsure of what the author was trying to achieve or say. I'm sure I'm missing something! Intrigued by the streak of magical realism though, less fantastic and more matter of fact than other books.

 

Touche by Agnes Poirier **

Disappointing, the definition of a 2-star designation, says it all really. I was intrigued to see what a French woman made of English culture, but this was so superficial and steeped in stereotypes as to lack any sense of insight. Straight to a charity shop!

 

Gilbert White by Richard Mabey *****

Biographies are so often chunky tomes, it was lovely for a change to read this slim, elegantly written, volume.  White's life was decidely unadventurous, but that is almost part of his appeal. In a very straightforward way, I felt as if I'd got to know the person, his world and the eighteenth century so much better.

 

Tidelands by Philippa Gregory **

My first experience of this often lauded author, and I can't say I was particularly impressed - in fact I didn't even finish this book group choice.  It was all so utterly predictable, dull, and formulaic, whilst not being particularly believable. Can't say I'm in a hurry to read more.

 

The Stubborn Light of Things by Melissa Harrison ******

I set out to read this collection of writings (the author is one of the Nature Diary writers for The Times) a few entries at a time, to sort of echo the episodic nature of the writing, which starts off when the author is living in London and covers her transition to life in deeply rural Suffolk. I ended up gulping this down in rather larger chunks, finishing in a couple of days I enjoyed it so much. Her book At Hawthorn Time was good enough, but this was actually better! One to go back to and savour more slowly now.  Straight on to my favourites list!

 

Seven Kinds of People You Find In Bookshops by Sean Bythell ***

Fun enough, but pretty inconsequential, slim, volume.  Read as a bit of a filler having picked it up for a few pence; not one to have spent much more on it!

 

 

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April Reads

Quick reviews of my books for April - gradual catching up so that can get back to proper reviews - struggling a bit already to do these in any detail as it is!  With 2 five-star reads and even 1 6-star, and nothing below 3, this was a cracking month's reading.

 

Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison *****

Read both as a book group read and, by coincidence, my stop over in Michigan for my tour of the United States.  This was my first Toni Morrison, and certainly won't be my last.  The subject material verges on the torrid at times but there is a vitality to Morrison's writing that carries you through it. The characters are so full of life, and the narrative so full of energy, that it would have been hard not to genuinely enjoy this.  And yet Morrison deals with some pretty tough issues.  At the core of it is Milkman's search for his own identity, but wrapped up in it is, inevitably, his race, attitudes to women, the power of place etc etc.  As so often in these sorts of books, I found the men the least attractive characters, and the women, almost marginalised at times (as in real life), by far the most interesting.  A book that needs to be reread, but in the meantime a 'comfortable' 5-stars.

 

Blood and Iron by Katya Hoyer ****

A concise and highly readable history of the Second Reich - the sort of overview I needed to put things in place, covering a lot of ground in a very short distance.  It will certainly make more in-depth histories more comprehensible, and interesting, now; I'll almost certainly be starting with a biography of Wilhelm II, of whom it always surprises me when I remember he actually lived through until after the opening of World War II, so far off the political radar did he disappear after his downfall in 1918.  I heard Katya Hoyer on Dominic Sandbrook's and Tom Holland's podcast 'The Rest is History' and she performed well on that too! It all makes for fascinating, but often overlooked, history - how high Germany rose in the second half of the nineteenth century, and how far things came crashing down in the twentieth.

 

Travels in Scottish Islands - The Hebrides by Kirstie Jareg ****

Originally published as part of a longer book that has now been split into two parts. An interesting introduction to aspects of both Inner and Outer Hebridean life from a writer originally from Scandinavia, so able to view the islands with both a native and a foreigner's hat on.  Focuses very much on the people, and quite down to earth its approach, I do feel as I know these places better as a result. A good read.

 

Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver ***

Started off really well, and settled into this quickly, but ultimately I have to say I was a mite disappointed.  Hard to put my finger on why, but it sort of never really took off.  I usually enjoy these sorts of novels, where to timelines reflect each other, and gradually weave together, but the overal feeling at the end was that this was all a bit inconsequential.

 

Skylarks with Rosie by Stephen Moss ****

Slight but as ever thoroughly engaging account of the author's local nature experiences under lockdown during the spring of 2020.  An easy, quick read that thoroughly evoked my own recollections, even if we live in a rather more suburban environment.  Many will reall the Covid epidemic with horror, sadness and/or grief, but I will recall it as a time when the planet regained a bit of sanity, even if only temporarily.

 

All Among The Barley by Melissa Harrison *****

Read as a book group read, this definitely  grew on me. From the word go, I loved the author's evocation of the 1930's East Anglian farm upon which the book is centred, but felt, initially, that as a novel it wasn't going anywhere particularly fast or precisely.  However, it was a slow burner (with an explosive ending, alongside an only partially anticipated twist)that completely sucked me in by the second half - it's one of those plots that slowly gets under the skin rather than keeps you tied to your seat in anticipation and suspense.  Book group views were a bit more mixed - mostly centred on the perceived lack of narrative drive - but I have to say that I'm finding Harrison's writing increasingly addictive. What everybody agreed was that she writes nature brilliantly.  The book itself may not have quite made it to a 6-star level, but Melissa Harrison is definitely, overall, on my list of favourite writers, and a very rare one in that this is for both her fiction and non-fiction writing.

 

Nineteenth-Century Britain by Christopher Harvie & H Matthew ***

As with so many of the Very Short Introduction series, this performs the function it sets out to do: a slim, succinct introduction to its topic.  Not great literature, not a hugely detailed or insightful analysis, but a valuable overview that puts so much into context.  Read as a bit of revision as I introduce my niece to this aspect of history, it did its job perfectly.

 

Vesper Flights by Helen Macdonald ******

I read and enjoyed the authors H for Hawk, but this collection of essays was for me, if anything, a significant improvement. I initially started reading these serially, but found that I wanted to slow down and read them individually, one at a time, with breathing space between each.  Deceptively simply, they needed time to absorb.  As with so many 6-star reads, one I will need to return to to really appreciate. I originally had this out as a library book, but needed to buy my own copy for longer term contemplation and reference! 

Edited by willoyd

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I'm so behind on my reviews, and I'm starting to forget detail, that I'll jump forward to the present, and catch up with shorter notes later.  So.....

 

The Shepherd's Life by James Rebanks *****

One of my book groups, normally a fiction group, opted for this this month. I can't say I'm complaining!  Rebanks has become quite a well-known figure through his twitter account (@herdyshepherd1) and his tweets centred around his sheep farming life in the Lake District, where his family have apparently been farming for over six hundred years.  It's a mix of autobiography, account of a farming year, and paean to the place and people in his life, particulary his father and grandfather.  It could have turned out a bit of a sentimental mess, but in fact it proved a genuinely unputdownable read - it took me just three sittings - simply and beautifully written, with an affectionate but clear-sighted (and personally honest) look at a way of life that is all too easily disregarded by people like me - visitors who use places like the Lake District primarily for recreation.  It's a compelling read, and one from which I also feel I learned loads.  It should certainly be compulsory reading for any fell-walker, and for any politician pontificating on agriculture and cheap food deals with other countries, although they'd probably still put money in front of people!  At least five stars, but may well get upgraded.

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Fast After Fifty by Joe Friel ***

Being a post-60 athlete, this was certainly of interest!  Like so many of these 'training bibles', it could all have been said in half the pages, but there was some useful material, well evidenced, in amongst the whiffle and repetition, which confirmed some other reading I've done.  It certainly made me think again about some of my training, and provided some specific information that I was looking for. Basically, older athletes need to incorporate a higher proportion of more intense training to counter strength and speed loss (worse than pure endurance), whilst recognising that recovery takes longer. Nutrition needs to be more fat and protein and less carbohydrate based (but I've been doing that, with very satisfying results, for the past couple of years anyway). Overall a decently useful read, and appropriately titled, given that this was my 50th book of the year!

Edited by willoyd

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May Reads

 

Yes, I know it's now July, but that's how far behind I've got!  Anyway, here are brief thoughts about what I thought of those books I read in May (if I can remember!)

 

The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim ****

Four disparate women come together to share the rental of a castle in Italy for a few weeks' holiday.  And it is the interaction and consequences of these aspects that the novel is about.  Von Arnim's writing is lightly elegant, witty, and a pleasure to read, with characters that are beautifully drawn - not always instantly likeable but very human in their flaws and strengths.  Very much a book of its time - particularly in its attitude to male-female relationships - but no less a pleasure because of that, not least when those mores are subverted.

 

Pere Goriot by Honore de Balzac *****

A French variant on Shakespeare's King Lear, with the ex-trader Goriot's love for his daughters exploited by them to undewrite their extravagant lifestyles and social aspirations. Where it differs is in the intertwined narrative of Eugene de Rastignac's efforts to himself climb the self-same social ladder, and the Machiavellian Vautrin's own machinations in exploiting Rastignac to make his own fortune.  All part and parcel of Balzac's Human Comedy project that extended over 90 volumes and revolutionised literature in the way characters were woven through multiple volumes.  Another major character in this book is Paris itself, or at least three contrasting faubourgs, reflecting three clearly defined social strata.  Balzac's descriptions are detailed, intricate and help bring the city to vivid life. A classic classic!  

 

Balzac's Pere Goriot by David Bellos ***

A short volume of commentary that helped a lot in understanding and appreciating the book itself.

 

The Screaming Sky by Charles Morris *****

All about swifts, my favourite bird!  A slim, beautifully presented, volume from Little Toller, with much fascinating material.  Loved it!

 

Lolly Willowes by Sylvia Townsend-Warner ****

Lolly Willowes, a post-WW1 spinster who keeps house for her father, is left to rely on her brothers and their wives when he dies.  A rather barren existence awaits, but Lolly rebels and establishes her own life in the semi-rural Chilterns.  I really enjoyed the bulk of this book, but found it latterly a mite disappointing as things become wilder and more fantastical.  Other reviewers found that this is what raised the book above the ordinary for them, but for me it had the opposite effect - it almost felt like a bit of cop-out.

 

Less than Angels by Barbara Pym *****

Whereas The Enchanted April and Lolly Willowes reeked of the 1920s, Less than Angels is very much a book of the mid-twentieth century.  Whilst I've mildly enjoyed a couple of her books previously, there was an extra bite here which for me raised to this to a higher level. I was a bit perplexed by the setting: an institute of anthropology isn't exactly your average setting, but I subsequently read that she had spent much of her working life at the International African Institute, so had first hand experience of this world and the people in it!  As with those others I've read, it's the characters that count here, the plot being relatively trivial, although distinctly amusing.  This was certainly good enough that I want to go back and both reread those books of hers I've read before, and explore some of her other work too.

Edited by willoyd

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10 hours ago, willoyd said:

May Reads

 

Yes, I know it's now July, but that's how far behind I've got!  Anyway, here are brief thoughts about what I thought of those books I read in May (if I can remember!)

 

The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim ****

Four disparate women come together to share the rental of a castle in Italy for a few weeks' holiday.  And it is the interaction and consequences of these aspects that the novel is about.  Von Arnim's writing is lightly elegant, witty, and a pleasure to read, with characters that are beautifully drawn - not always instantly likeable but very human in their flaws and strengths.  Very much a book of its time - particularly in its attitude to male-female relationships - but no less a pleasure because of that, not least when those mores are subverted.

 

 

I enjoyed this book too, Willoyd. I've also read  Elizabeth and Her German Garden which I found interesting because she mentions old-fashioned roses. I didn't realise she was a cousin of Katherine Mansfield.

 

I like the sound of Lolly Willowes too.

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On 7/10/2021 at 4:25 PM, willoyd said:

 

 

 

Less than Angels by Barbara Pym *****

Whereas The Enchanted April and Lolly Willowes reeked of the 1920s, Less than Angels is very much a book of the mid-twentieth century.  Whilst I've mildly enjoyed a couple of her books previously, there was an extra bite here which for me raised to this to a higher level. I was a bit perplexed by the setting: an institute of anthropology isn't exactly your average setting, but I subsequently read that she had spent much of her working life at the International African Institute, so had first hand experience of this world and the people in it!  As with those others I've read, it's the characters that count here, the plot being relatively trivial, although distinctly amusing.  This was certainly good enough that I want to go back and both reread those books of hers I've read before, and explore some of her other work too.

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.

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19 hours ago, poppy said:

I like the sound of Lolly Willowes too.

 

Definitely worth reading.  I want to explore more of Sylvia Townsend-Warner - another of those writers very well known at one time who now seems to slide under the radar.

 

3 hours ago, France said:

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.

 

I've got that Pym biography on my shelves to read - I couldn't resist it after Byrne's Austen biography which I do so agree was brilliant (I've dipped into her other Austen book too, and that looks just as good). Her husband's book, The Genius of Shakespeare is excellent too - a formidable partnership!

 

Just finished Ventoux by Bert Wagendorp.  Review to follow, but a very engaging read that I completed in barely four sittings, and only as much as that because I was dragged away on a couple of occasions!  4/6.

Edited by willoyd

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13 hours ago, willoyd said:

 

 

 

 

I've got that Pym biography on my shelves to read - I couldn't resist it after Byrne's Austen biography which I do so agree was brilliant (I've dipped into her other Austen book too, and that looks just as good). Her husband's book, The Genius of Shakespeare is excellent too - a formidable partnership!

 

 

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.

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4 hours ago, France said:

 

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.

 

I haven't.  I read Brideshead for the first time a year or two ago, and absolutely loved it - which really surprised me! - so am very interested!  (I realise, going through her bibliography, that I have also read her biography of Mary Robinson, soon after it came out so a while ago. Guess what? It was good!)  Byrne is one of a group of biographers whose work I tend to read even if the subject isn't one I'd normally go for. Others include Claire Tomalin, Jenny Uglow, Hermione Lee and, (provisionally) Franny Moyle.  A couple of other history writers have also crossed over into the biography genre, and I rate both types of theirs: Lisa Jardine, Hallie Rubenhold, Stella Tillyard.  Interesting that they are all women. I don't think there's any male historian/biographer that I read because of their writing as much as the subject, although James Holland and Max Hastings come close.

Edited by willoyd

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I haven't been on the site for an awfully long time - over two months now - so have got even more badly behind on the book reviews than previously.  Intend to get on more regularly this autumn, but in the meantime a list of books from the first half of summer, with very brief comments:

 

Where the Crawdad Sings by Delia Owens G ***

Mildly enjoyable read, but can't understand why so highly rated by so many - just too many flaws.

 

What's Left of Me is Yours by Stephanie Scott G ***

Interesting insight into Japanese culture, an area I know absolutely nothing about, but one which the acclaim suggests the author has a strong grip on.  Can't say I was ever totally gripped though, but seem to be in a minority on that one.

 

Native by Patrick Laurie ****

Farming in Galloway - another culture insight if a bit closer to home.  I was rather more taken with this one though.

 

Days Without End by Sebastian Barry G ***

Another book with rave reviews which I really didn't connect with beyond the superficial. Set in the 'Wild West', the narrator is supposedly ill-educated, yet the language belies that.  Never really recovered from that fundamental flaw IMO. Compared to books by Larry McMurtrey, Cormac McCarthy et al, this really couldn't compete, although it was distinctly better than the likes of The Sister Brothers.

 

Miss Austen by Gill Hornby *****

Found this to be a highly readable and fascinating take on the relationship between Cassandra Austen and her sister Jane, and why the former destroyed her correspondence with the latter.  Really felt the author took us inside this world.

 

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying by Marie Kondo **

So smug it beggared belief.  Some interesting ideas, but overall I was very disappointed with this.

 

The Moon and Sixpence by W. Somerset Maugham G ****

Book  group read that I didn't expect much from given the material - the life of an painter in the mould of Gauguin - but was drawn in by the elegant prose and the forensic analysis of the subject's life and relationships. 

 

A General Theory of Oblivion by Jose Eduardo Agualusa G ****

Another book group read, set in Angola.  A highly unlikely premise, but very entertainingly carried out - a fascinating take on the Angolan fight for independence and its aftermath.  Surprisingly light. Want to read more by this author.

 

Why Women Read Fiction by Helen Taylor **

Just felt full of assumptions, generalisations and stereotypes. No real insights.

 

The Shepherd's Life by James Rebanks G *****

Absolutely cracking semi autobiographical read.  Found this pretty unputdownable.  There was a touch of whinge about it, but fortunately didn't go so far as to spoil it.

 

Fast After Fifty by Joe Friel ***

Useful for a post-60 athlete like me!

 

Ventoux by Bert Wagendorp ****

An engaging story based around friendship and passion for cycling, with a strong streak of mystery.  Worth a read!

 

 Airhead by Emily Maitlis ****

An insight into some key political events, and the life of a (highly!) itinerant journalist.  Fascinating.

 

The Feast by Margaret Kennedy *****

Reprint of this 1950's novel, where several key characters are killed off in the first few pages, but you're not sure which ones, followed by flashback to the week leading up to these deaths in a natural disaster.  Based around the Seven Deadly Sins.  Super read, really well put together.  Possibly the unexpected find of the year so far.

 

 

 

Edited by willoyd

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So glad I've finally found someone else who was underwhelmed by "Crawdads".   I can't understand all the hype either, at first  I was quite gripped, but after a while it seemed to meander, and eventually I thought it just fizzled out with a rather abrupt ending.  I don't think it's a bad book, it's very readable, but not worth all the fuss.  Did love the setting and sense of isolation though.

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I rather agree about Crawdads, I felt it was a bit juvenile in places though I did enjoy it. It just wasn't superb.

 

On the other hand I loved Miss Austen, I thought it was far better and more convincing than The Other Bennet Sister which is the one that has been garnering all the rave comments.

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On 28/09/2021 at 9:40 AM, Madeleine said:

So glad I've finally found someone else who was underwhelmed by "Crawdads".   I can't understand all the hype either, at first  I was quite gripped, but after a while it seemed to meander, and eventually I thought it just fizzled out with a rather abrupt ending.  I don't think it's a bad book, it's very readable, but not worth all the fuss.  Did love the setting and sense of isolation though.

 

On 28/09/2021 at 11:15 AM, France said:

I rather agree about Crawdads, I felt it was a bit juvenile in places though I did enjoy it. It just wasn't superb.  On the other hand I loved Miss Austen, I thought it was far better and more convincing than The Other Bennet Sister which is the one that has been garnering all the rave comments.

 

I haven't yet read The Other Bennet Sister to compare, but otherwise these both are pretty accurate reflections of my reactions.  On Crawdad, I don't know that part of the world, but it just didn't feel credible either.

 

 

Edited by willoyd

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11 hours ago, Madeleine said:

I felt the same about Captain Corelli's Mandolin as well!

I have tried de Bernieres a few times, but I never get beyond the first few pages, and now don't bother.  Not sure why.  In the case of CCM, I think it's a natural rebelliousness in that I find I'm generally very resistant to books 'everybody' is raving about (a rule I suspect that's more honoured in the breaking than the keeping!). 

Edited by willoyd

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Some more one-liner 'reviews' as part of long term catch-up (stars out of 6: 1-awful, 2-disappointing, 3-fine, 4-good, 5-excellent, 6-favourite, only one or two of these years at most)!

 

Origins of the First and Second World Wars by Frank McDonough ***

A slim and straight-forwardly useful book that covers exactly what it says on the cover - used for some revision work in tutoring.

 

The Bumble Bee Flies Anyway by Kate Bradbury **

A rather disappointing account of developing a wildlife garden from a pretty manky plot.  Very twee and rather tedious. I did hope to get some insight, even ideas/wisdom - the author comes over far better on TV - but there was little of either.

 

On the Map by Simon Garfield ****

Very readable journey through the history of maps - one of those books where you find something interesting on pretty much every page.

 

Bestsellers by John Sutherland ***

One of the Oxford Very Short Introductions series.  Interesting enough at the time, if a bit listy, but have to admit not recalling a single thing from the book a few weeks later.

 

The Singing Sands by Josephine Tey ****

Entertaining crime mystery set in western Scotland, a slight cut above the average Golden Age of Crime novel.  Enjoyable, but disposable.

 

What the Fat? Sports Performance by Grant Schofield et al ***(*)

Useful reread of one of the few books on low carb-high fat diet that addresses needs of the sports performer.  I went on this diet a couple of years ago as a response to a pre-diabetes diagnosis, which enabled me to bring my blood sugar levels, blood pressure, weight and cholesterol levels all significantly down, but left me struggling when racing for more than 40 mins.  Feel it's now reasonably sorted!

 

Sixty Degrees North by Malachy Tallack ****

The author, a native Shetlander living on the sixty degree north latitude, circumnavigates the globe along that line, visiting key places along the way.  An interesting reflection on place and the sense of home.

 

Chastise by Max Hastings ****

Hastings is as erudite and interesting as ever, this time on the Dambusters operation - he is one of the best writers on the state of war - although my preferred book on the subject remains James Holland's.  This focuses more on the people and on the impact.

 

The Pitards by Georges Simenon *****

Simenon says more in a few words than many writers can say in chapters.  Psychological examination of the breakdown in relations between wife and husband when she insists on accompanying him on his maiden voyage as owner rather than just captain of a cargo ship. As gripping and as atmospheric as his more famous Maigret novels (of which I'm a complete fan).

 

Woodston, The Biography of an English Farm by John Lewis-Stempel ****

An anniversary present, this is an historical account of the Worcestershire farm that the author's grandfather used to run, and the surrounding area.  Lewis-Stempel tends to rely too much IMO on quoting sources at length, but his own writing is excellent.  It felt a wee bit rushed towards the end, but that is probably more an indicator that I was so enjoying the book I wanted even more detail! Some of his notes at the end were extensive commentaries on conservation that were distinctly thought provoking.

 

The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields *****

The autobiography (although much written in the third person) or a fictional 'everywoman' for the 20th century.  Much to say on the role and position of women during the century, and on how somebody can be misperceived and misunderstood even by those closest to them. Loved the different styles employed. This was a book group read that was unanimously acclaimed- it averaged a score of 9.2 (out of 10), the highest in our five years reading to date.

 

Mrs Bridge by Evan S. Connell  *****

Completely coincidentally read after the previous book, yet in so many ways so similar: a biography of a fictional woman, playing very much the wealthy wife and mother role in mid-twentieth century midwest America - similar husband, similar children (2 girls, one boy).  Different personality, different mindset, different atmosphere,written rather more sparingly, but the comparison was fascinating. Both books in very different ways say much about the society the women grow up in.  This book was followed up ten years later by a parallel volume, Mr Bridge, with both books combinedi into a film starring Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward.  The second book is already on order!

 

Maigret's Patience by Georges Simenon *****

As atmospheric as ever, I particularly love the Maigrets actually set in Paris.  This one felt somewhat grittier than some of the others I've read, which I felt give a welcome extra bite.  Food is as important as ever, but it gets shoved to one side as the heat is turned on!

 

And that, believe it or not, brings me right up to date!! 

Edited by willoyd

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Your review reminded me that I really wanted to try the Maigret books! I love a good detective novel. Although, I think there are quite a lot out there that could be described this way (!): 

On 30/09/2021 at 11:15 PM, willoyd said:

Enjoyable, but disposable.

 

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3 minutes ago, Hayley said:

Your review reminded me that I really wanted to try the Maigret books! I love a good detective novel. Although, I think there are quite a lot out there that could be described this way (!): 

 

 

Spoiler

Enjoyable but disposable


I enjoy them too and that would be an apt description of them. I got 6 of them out of the local supermarket who were running a bookshelf at the time - bring your used books and put them on the shelf. Choose another and make a donation to charity (they made a fortune!)  - sadly removed as a result of Covid. I was lucky because they are expensive to buy, imho, from booksellers.

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On 12/10/2021 at 9:26 AM, lunababymoonchild said:

 

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Enjoyable but disposable


I enjoy them too and that would be an apt description of them. I got 6 of them out of the local supermarket who were running a bookshelf at the time - bring your used books and put them on the shelf. Choose another and make a donation to charity (they made a fortune!)  - sadly removed as a result of Covid. I was lucky because they are expensive to buy, imho, from booksellers.

 

I wasn't referring to the Maigret books, although that is what is implied by Hayley's post (not sure if you are doing that either).  I enjoy returning to these, even though the plots stick in my memory, so for me Maigret is not disposable!  I sometimes read them in English, but have the 10-volume 'Tout Maigret' omnibus set in French which just adds to the atmosphere!  The Tey on the other hand, as with so much of the 'golden age' type of crime novel, is one which I don't think I'll feel a need to go back to.

Edited by willoyd

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