What Else Are You Reading - Part IX
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The previous thread was really, really long!
I'm reading Muriel Spark at the moment, and am also in the middle of Anthony Powell's Dance to the Music of Time: Fourth Movement.
I've just finished a Georgette Heyer for a bit of light and entertaining reading during a difficult time - The convenient marriage - the comic scenes, mistaken identities and disguises reminded me in this one of a Shakespeare comedy or operatic plots like Cosi fan tutte.
Hunkering down with Agatha Christie's Towards Zero, which doesn't require much brain power.
>5: Maybe not, but I've always found Dame Agatha very soothing when you need a relaxing read.
Laura - Peggy has read all those and will no doubt have something to say.
I also thrive on Christie even when I am re-reading for the nth time.
I am also not having a great week and settled yesterday for sitting out on the deck with my white legs stretched out to catch the sun and read Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin. A Chick lit movie some of you may have seen and exactly what I needed bookwise. (The plainer girl gets the man. Or at least I hope she gets the man. I have yet to finish it.)
#6 I'm reading it for "comfort" myself, but oddly when I mentioned it to my daughter a little while ago she said she sometimes finds Christie a bit dark. That quite surprised me. Then again...she isn't much of a mystery reader anyway, so maybe it's just that anything with a murder in it is dark for her.
I have never tried an Agatha Christie. I have seen a couple of the P.B.S. shows and they just always seemed so simple to me. Perhaps it's time I give her a try. I often need to read for comfort. Like right now.
I have a brother in hospital (1 1/2 hours away) in stage 4 emphysema/COPD. He nearly passed on the way in this time and he continues to worsen.
I have a sister-in-law in hospital (2 1/2 hours away) in renal failure but she is making progress. They medevaced her from Coffman Cove, Alaska to the University of Washington Hospital. When they let her go home she will have to have blood drawn weekly and sent down to the hemotologist there.
And we have a dear friend in hospital dying of a rare, (one in a million people get this one) cancer in his kidney with a tumor on the kidney the size of a foot ball. He is 2 hours away.
So yeah, I have been doing a lot of comfort reading and you should see my house. I have so ignored the poor thing for so long.
But we are putting all of it on the back burner this afternoon (it's 4:30 P.M. here) and having all the kids and grands in for BBQ. Settle the psyche a bit loving on those grands.
Also someone mentioned Georgette Heyer. I tried one of hers: These Old Shades and just couldn't finish it. Do you think it was just the wrong time? I hear really good stuff about her.
I read my first Joanna Trollope yesterday & this A.M. A Village Affair and I loved it so much. It could so easily have been a Virago. Any of you into her?
Sorry, I guess I dumped on you guys. But who ya gonna call? VIRAGOITES!~!
Hugs n Bugs,
>8: Laura - Peggy has read all those and will no doubt have something to say.
In fact, it was Peggy who introduced me to the series, Barbara. And I've loved it!
I do so love *Dance* and am thrilled beyond saying when somebody else gets him! This may or may not be the year for a reread, Laura, but you make me want to.
Dear Belva! I'm so very sorry to hear about your beloved people having such terrible illness. Peace to you and to them!
And do try another Heyer. I'm not sure that These Old Shades is one of the best, but then, I'm not sure that I read it even long ago. I'd think she'd be just the thing. I fall into a Heyer novel and find it a great relief in times of stress.
I draw great comfort from Heyer and am very happy to have a good few of hers on my TBR for rediscovery at the moment, too.
I fall back into children's classics (The Secret Garden) or pony books when I need comfort - or cosy mysteries.
I'm so sorry about your family and friend, Belva. It's always horrible, but worse when it all happens at once. Yes, comfort reading is definitely called for.
I also go for cosy mysteries, and I think Agatha Christie is good for that because her books are generally (but not always) quite formulaic. The settings are lovely and soothing and you don't often have any nasty surprises. I've never read any Georgette Heyer but a friend of mine who knows Patrick Gale said that when asked what he reads for comfort, his immediate answer was, "I love Georgette Heyer!"
Sending positive thoughtwaves to you - I so agree you need comfort reading. Christie is great for this tho' she *does* have darker elements in some of her stories, certainly the later ones. But great to escape into when you want to avoid the world - I've used her for this many a time.
>12: my hubby just picked up the first movement to re-read ... as he saw me settling into the fourth he just couldn't help himself. We don't normally read the same kinds of books so it's also nice to share this experience.
So many great suggestions. Thanks all and for the kind thoughts as well. We shall muddle through. We always do.
Hey Belva - life sucks sometimes right? Blessings on you my darling and good thoughts going your way.
I have read all of Joanna Trollope and loved nearly all of them. Lucky you to have her to read!
Never read a Christie!!!??? What should she start with ladies? Something a bit creepy like And Then There Were None, one of the Marples?
Here is The Guardian recommendations
Being a Christie pedant I would always suggest starting at the beginning and reading through chronologically - I mean The Mysterious Affair at Styles is a great place to begin and it does introduce 3 of Christie's main characters (Poirot, Hastings and Japp)!!
Sending best wishes and good thoughts your way, Belva. I've only read The choir by Trollope, which I chose because of the cathedral and musical setting. It's very good, and there was a decent TV adaptation too. My first Christie was And then there were none, whcih I reread recently - it is just as good still. I love Miss Marple, but am not so keen on Poirot.
I've just read Life among the savages by Shirley Jackson. It's a memoir about her family life in small-town Vermont and is supposed to be very funny. It obviously wasn't my kind of humour though; I expected something a lot sharper-edged from Jackson, and this was rather cutesy. It's like having an acquaintance tell you stories about their children which they find incredibly funny and endearing, but to you the listener they are just too long and not very interesting. A disappointment. I'm moving on to a Virago next to make up for it.
Thanks for the Guardian list, Barbara. I see that John Curran agrees with me that the older ones are the best....so in that way, I also agree with Karen. The one that I will need to reread because I don't remember it specifically is Murder in Retrospect, which is the American title - or at least my American title - for Five Little Pigs. (And that should be a caution for anybody just getting into the fun of Dame Agatha; playing with her titles was apparently the thing to do over here.)
Meanwhile, I am reading Pictures from Italy by Charlie D. and Loitering with Intent to finish off April.
Hugs for Belva xo
I don't usually think of Agatha Christie as especially dark but was quite disturbed by Endless Night when I read it in my mid-teens.
I want to start The Prime of Jean Brodie right now but find myself instead re-reading bits of The Sense of an Ending for my first Book Club meeting tonight and bits of the Consumer Credit Act for a course I'm going on for work tomorrow! I was quite relaxed about the course until I saw in the title that it was an intermediate consumer law course which presumably means I am already expected to have a basic kind of knowledge and am wondering if I will get away with my level of basic!
>25: Hmm, I love the Provincial Lady. But her children aren't so front and centre as the ones in Savages, maybe that is the difference for me.
Maybe it's because so few of my friends have had children yet - I'm not bored of children-orientated stories yet!
Peg - John Curran chooses mostly books from 26-46 which was considered her greatest time. I would agree with many of his choices but, like Dee, was quite disturbed by Endless Night which was a terrific book from the 60s. I like her very early work much less well. I did not like Five Little Pigs when I read it as a teen but thought it wonderful on a re-read a few years ago.
What I absolutely loved about Christie, as a teen stuck in a deeply boring Adelaide suburb, was how she allowed me to travel the world - in luxury. How I longed to be on the Riviera, the Nile, or snowed into a Dartmoor village. And who can forget how incredibly scary And Then There Were None got as each person, trapped on the island, was killed. Or the ending of Death Comes as the End which gave me nightmares as a 13 year old.
Belva, I'm sorry, somehow I missed your post about life's troubles, I was too busy composing a reply to another message. I'm sorry you're dealing with so many difficult situations right now ... Sending a virtual hug.
I recently discovered Ngaio Marsh, and gobbled up an omnibus of three Inspector Alleyn mysteries. They are delightful and I can't believe I passed them over for so long!
Sakerfalcon, I have to say I adored Life Among the Savages, and so did my husband--we laughed out loud through the whole book and its sequel Raising Demons. We do, however, live in the country and have two small children, and so could utterly sympathize with her!
>28 Would you believe it, Barbara! That's what I loved about Christie as a young one too. I was fortunate enough not to read Death Comes as the End as a child. Katy, I'm another Marsh fan and much more likely to reread a Marsh than a Christie these days. I guess the one I should reread is *Retrospect* or *Little Pigs* because I have no recollection of it at all, and that's fairly unusual for me with Dame A.
I'm reading Marina Lewycka's latest, 4th novel - Various Pets Alive and Dead - Serge and Clara and Oolie-Anna (Ulyana) - named after Victor Serge, Clara Zetkin and Vladimir Ulyanov (better known as Lenin) have been brought up in a commune which has now disintegrated - their mother Doro, their father and the grown up children are trying to come to terms with their present day reality. Serge can't admit to his old leftie parents that he works in the City. Though I was never brought up in a commune, there is a lot in this book that really amuses me and that I can identify with.
I too am a Marsh fan. My faves are Death and the Dancing Footman, Surfeit of Lampreys aka as Death of a Peer (I think), and Singing in the Shrouds. But I also love Artists in Crime and Death at the Bar. I did not like her NZ novels as a teen, but that is because I longed as a child in Australia and New Zealand to be in England and had no patience with homegrown books. I should definitely try re-reading them.
I just finished A Far Cry From Kensington yesterday by Muriel Spark for that challenge and I loved everything about this book and author. I so appreciate being drawn to a new-to-me author that I fall in love with.
I am now reading my 2nd Joanna Trollope: Friday Nights and I love her writing and her books too. These books both are easy on the psyche and comfy, cozy, fun reads.
I'm reading a book about Bletchley Park, having finished The Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer ...
I finished my second Maisie Dobbs (the 3rd book in the series) which had a very poor mystery but much else to like. I listened to it on audio and the American narrator drove me bananas trying to sound British. She is the one who keeps saying things like parsage instead of passage.
Belva - so glad you liked the Spark. Far Cry is absolutely wonderful but others are much harder to like. Joanne Trollope's The Rector's Wife was in a care package sent to me while I was living in a German village. I dived right in and was hooked! Comfy and cozy is right. Would definitely suit my mood right now.
I have just finished a book I was sent by the publisher from a giveaway on twitter it is called Landed by Tim Pears I won't be keeping it -so my review won't appear on LT (only put books I keep on LT) Later I will be starting Lewis Percy by Anita Brookner I love Brookner. Luckily she has written loads and I still have a good number to read.
This thread is all about my favorites: Christie, Heyer, and Marsh. I've read as many as I could get my hands on and they never disappoint with rereading.
#23 Peggy, I am just starting Dicken's Pictures from Italy as well. I'll be interested to hear your thoughts. I am also starting The Semi-attached Couple by Emily Eden.
How right you are, Jan! I was recommending Killer Dolphin to Genny over on her 75 thread, and that meant that I had to reread it. I'm enjoying it again!!! Besides the 2nd volume on LBJ (Robert Caro) and Thirteen (Richard K. Morgan), what I'm really loving is The Bone People by Keri Hulme, which won the Booker in '85 and has sat on my shelf for a good 20 years. I'm loving it! I'm dipping into The Song of Achilles too, but I'm sort of saving it for a one-sitting event when I have a good chunk of time.
Jan, I know you'll enjoy the Dickens, whatever you think of his anti-Roman Catholicism, at least as it was practiced in France and Italy. And I think the *semis* are going to be my next Virago.
I've read all the Hardy's before - a couple of them more than once. My Hardy group (online thing) are reading them all in order of publication. One every 2 months - the novels and short stories - we will be doing it untill April 2014.
I'm reading The Harper's Quine, the first in a series set in late 15th century Glasgow. Fortunately it's an easy read as I'm enjoying it very much and there are already seven more in the series that I may have to read too.
Kerry - those look interesting. God, another series! My TBR pile will not stand it. I am reading Princes in the Land by Joanna Cannan - one of my unread Persephones (so far excellent) and Something Blue, the follow up book to Something Borrowed in which the bitchy girl is getting a very satisfying come-uppance. I am also listening to a cosy mystery on audio. One of Anne George's Southern Sisters series, which is a hoot!
Not in the mood for anything too challenging at the moment and very happy with the Chick Lit and murder mysteries.
#49 ooh I read one of those and loved it, esp as I have spent a little time in the "Other" Birmingham: must look out for the others in the series!
Just posted a new set of reviews catching up on recent reading http://librofulltime.wordpress.com/2012/05/06/book-reviews-10/
In case anyone wasn't able to get the three Dodie Smiths from The Book People, they just turned up in my local branch of The Works - 3 for £4.99 - I couldn't resist....
Handy for you - saves on postage too. No branch of the Works near me - there is an excellent, unusual and surprising bargain bookshop near work, and there's a place near my mum's which I think must get Book People odds and ends, among others, to offload.
I'm reading Period piece by Gwen Raverat, her memoir of childhood in late C19th/early C20th Cambridge. It's excellent, a vivid and humourous depiction of her life, home and family.
56: Yes, I was quite pleased as I'd been in a shall I, shan't I mood about them - when I actually saw them in the shop I couldn't resist! Maybe they will turn up in one of your local bargain shops. I have actually found a couple of decent books in Poundland of all places: Peace: 50 Years of Protest by Barry Miles and Finding George Orwell in Burma by Emma Larkin which I was quite pleased with for, yes, £1 each!
#60 Jealous about the Emma Larkin book - I gave my copy away stupidly thinking I would just go back and buy another copy and guess what of course when I went back to the bargin book shop where I got it from - none left and I have never found it since.
I already bought the Dodie Smiths from the Book People.
I've found books by John Lanchester and Lionel Shriver in Poundland, but they were both awkwardly large books and I think I've replaced them with smaller paperback editions.
#58, #59 - Period Piece is one of my very favourite books! I don't often re-read, but I think I've turned to that one at least three times!
>58, 59, 66 Thanks for bringing this one to my attention. I ordered it earlier this week, and Helen's affirmation just makes me more eager for it!
I am almost done with The Forty Days of Musa Dagh by Franz Werfel, in a new translation with an expanded text. It was written back in the early 30s, before Song of Bernadette, and it's about a group of Armenian villagers who go up into the mountains and hold out against the Turks during the genocide. It takes awhile to get into but once the siege begins its very gripping. Werfel based many of the characters on aquaintances in Vienna, including his wife, Alma Mahler.
Lately, I recently finished Never Breathe a Word: The Collected Stories of Caroline Blackwood If you like her novel Great Granny Webster, you will like this book.
I hope you like it Belva! I have just finished The Good Wife Strikes Back by Elizabeth Buchan which is really just Illyrian Spring meets Enchanted April. I read it over several days while sitting out in the sun. This afternoon I listened to another Maisie Dobbs while ironing out on the deck. Last night a friend and I went to see The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel which was delightful. Any film where Judi Dench gets the man is all right with me! Has anyone read the book by Deborah Moggach? (aka These Foolish Things)
#71 Yes I read These Foolish things a few years ago - I seem to remember really enjoying it.
I'm reading Spinster of this Parish by W.B. Maxwell (from 1922) which so far seems exactly like it should have been a VMC or Persephone - Victorian courtship; the spinster left behind etc.
Oh, and I've just discovered that W.B. Maxwell was the son of Mary Elizabeth Braddon!
It's all got a little weirder this morning - they've sailed off to hunt for emeralds in South America...
I've been reading Zora Neal Hurston's Jonah's Gourd Vine and once I'd got over the way the language was written out, I found it absolutely engrossing - thank you again, Janeajones for a fab Virago Secret Santa! It was one to concentrate on, so I'm going to alternate the books in this collected volume with other books, so I can truly enjoy each novel (and the set of short stories) as I go along.
Lizzie -- so glad you're enjoying the Hurston. She's one of my favorites -- so originally her own self.
I'm intermittently engrossed in A.S. Byatt's Still Life -- it's like eating rich, dark chocolate -- you can only imbibe so much at a sitting.
>@ 79, LyzzyBee;
Jonah's Gourd Vine is one of my favorite Viragos. I read it in the fall of 2009 and it is still with me. I too, found it engrossing. If Jane gifted you that book, she has incredible intuitive powers. Not everyone would choose it. Good on you.
I am loving my Agatha Christies and Maisie Dobbs books. Also Laura Lippman. Thank you so much to all who recommended them to me.
Right now I am reading a Fern Michaels: Betrayal
Still can't bring myself to read anything worthy - although I am reading a Persephone that is very good - and am now reading a Minette Walters murder mystery. I have a massive pile of British murder mysteries to work my way through. I buy every newer British book I find in the Goodwill; some I have loved, some not so much. Last week I read a chick lit thing set in the West Country by Katie Fforde. Total bs but as Alison said above - light, undemanding and quite pleasant. Minette Walters I find variable, but this one has engaged my attention.
>88 - which Persephone?!
I think I'm about to give up on The Finkler Question
Princes in the Land. Very good except I cannot stay awake to read it in bed every night and because it is a beautiful Persephone I cannot read it while covered in suntan lotion or stuff it in my handbag to take to work. I am almost finished and it is an excellent book, but it seems to be taking forever to read.
Aha - I'm afraid my response was very different from yours, but I'm glad you liked it!
>81 I am lucky enough that it's part of the Complete Works, so I have several more to work through. I suppose I can't review the volume on here till I've read the lot, but will review the individual books on my wordpress review blog in the meantime.
Attempting to read several things at once - Robert Byron's Europe in the Looking Glass (a lovely - and surpringly long at over 200 pages! - Hesperus volume, the cover of which is enough to make you buy it); Commonplace by Christina Rossetti (another nice Hesperus) and on the Virago front A Very Great Profession. Trouble is, Virginia Woolf's Carlyle's House has just arrived. *Sigh* - there aren't enough hours in the day...
84: Give up if you're not enjoying it. When you get to be as old as I am you'll realise there's no point in persevering if the book is not giving you something - I am reading totally for pleasure, interest, stimulation, books that take me somewhere I haven't gone before - if it's hard work with no reward I don't think there's any point, personally! :-)
Incidentally, has anyone read any of the Daisy Dalrymples? I notice the Book People have a set which I might drop a few hints to people about forthcoming gifts if they're worth reading!
Just finished Cynthia Ozick's Foreign Bodies yesterday (thoughts here) and picked up Anne Enright's The Forgotten Waltz last night. So far I absolutely love it, quite a different reading experience from The Gathering for sure. Still hoping to read the other two shortlisted Orange works before the prize is announced, but the weather is awfully nice, which interferes with reading somehow.
>88 I found A Very Great Profession was brutal for my TBR list. In many ways, it reads much like a list, and I found myself wanting many of the books discussed in a "right now" kind of way.
>89 - Kaggsy, I know lots of people who really like them but I'm not a fan. I've only read the first one, but I thought it was very poorly written and a bit overly fluffy (this from a woman who enjoys a bit of fluff from time to time!). Perhaps they get better after book one.
I've reviewed Sun City, The Corinthian and The Wedding Wallah on here and on my blog http://librofulltime.wordpress.com/2012/05/24/book-reviews-12/ if anyone's interested ...
I quite enjoyed the first two Daisy Dalrymples and would read the next if I could find it - maybe now it's stopped raining I can get another look in the shed. The set on the website appears to be books 9-20 (I bought a set of 1-8 last year and I have 9-19 as Kindle downloads from last year's Kindle sale.
I'm reading a collection of pieces by writers and journalists about the delights of public libraries, there's a scary piece by Julian Barnes and I've just learned that Alan Bennett went to my old secondary school (or its previous incarnation) and used two libraries I used to go to. The Library Book is currently available on Amazon UK for 99p in Kindle - definitely recommended. I hope libraries are getting copies in too.
Lots of social history goodies in the Jubilee Kindle sale, yum.
Ah, the Jubilee Kindle sale. I'm jealous, being an American.
Incidentally I went online to look at Queen Victoria's diaries today. Her handwriting is quite readable, her daughter's (Princess Beatrice), not so much. I wish I could have read more (the site crashed) because they really have that inimitable Victorian voice.
>97 - I've been reading them too. Fascinating stuff! Have you ever read Queen Victoria's Sketchbook? It's absolutely lovely.
Is it possible to download her selected letters in the US? There are 3 volumes on the Amazon UK website, free for Kindle, and they look like public domain/Project Gutenberg type things.
I finished Princes in the Land last night - the Persephone that took me a couple of weeks to read. I did enjoy it - apart from the fox hunting! Perhaps you have to be a mother but I felt terribly sad for the lead character who has poured her life's blood into her children and then has to step back and watch them take a completely different path to her own. What had me laughing out loud, however, was that this tired, washed up woman, grey haired and settling into old age is, at the book's end, only 46!
I just started When God Was a Rabbit because the author is speaking at our little local lit fest next month.
>103 - I thought the writing was good, but she tried to put far too much into it...
I finally finished Bring Up The Bodies and posted my review. Now I think something really non-mindboggling is in order.
Read Code Name Verity over the weekend and in spite of some doubts at first really enjoyed it as a nice little adventure yarn. I know that when I was a teen I would have LOVED it.
Halfway through Blackout by Connie Willis. Loving all the period detail and not in the least bored, so far.
I've just finished Scenes of Childhood by Sylvia Townsend Warner.
A collection of lovely little autobiographical pieces, maybe embellished just a little, and originally written for the New Yorker.
I'm doing the happy dance for Barbara and Blackout. I loved it!!! I loved All Clear even more!!!!!
Well Kaggsy - I started with the Dog and then read Doomsday Book about time traveling into the Middle Ages. Now I am on the first of the WW2 books. I have LOVED them all so far, for different reasons but if I had to recommend I would say start with the first book - Doomsday - and work from there.
I am not sure why Blackout got a bad rap. I read till 11 last night and am absolutely fascinated by the details of life during the Blitz. I realise not much is happening but that is just fine with me. I am learning so much and, like all Willis's books, there is a lot to laugh out loud at. I am also in love with the recurring characters in the Time Travel Center in Oxford, the prep they have to do for their travels, the costume fittings, the endless rows over changes in the schedule etc. And don't even get me started on the 'slippage', which can leave them days late and a hundred miles off course for something quite specific like V E Day or, in the case of Doomsday, slap bang in the middle of the Black Death.
Oh dear - sounds like *another* series I'll have to collect! ;) Thanks for the advice!
LOL, Simon - although I normally 'lurk' here, I wanted to share the journey your mention of 'Spinsters' sent me on today...
Checking on bookfinder.com I was intrigued to see a number of similar titles including, surprisingly enough, a Virago!
Spinsters of this Parish - Life and Times of F.M. Mayor and Mary Sheepshanks by Sybil Oldfield.
Then there was a novel of 'village life' by Anne Purser, written in the 90's and which I hadn't noticed before, which includes the Ivy Beasley character whose cozy mysteries I've been reading...Spinster of the Parish
And, finally, the wild card was yet another 'Spinsters of this Parish', from 1998, by a Sandra Laslett (can't find her in LibraryThing), with no product description available but a funny cover that appealed...
So now those three are on their way to me via the Abebooks/Amazon marketplace - but looks like W.B. Maxwell will have to wait for another time. :)
Much as I groan at my TBR stacks, I just love this kind of a hunt...thanks for the inspiration!
>113. When I had finished Blackout and All Clear I came to the conclusion that the two books might have worked better as one (she mentions that she intended to write it as one book, originally, but was persuaded to divide it into two.) I found some of it repetitive and stretched out and I got tired of the numerous fake cliff-hanger chapter endings. On the other hand, the books are so much fun to read that I feel like a curmudgeon to even suggest this. I'd never want to discourage anyone from reading the books -- they are well worth it.
>115 - lovely! How funny that the mention should send you off to those - the Oldfield, especially, sounds wonderful.
My review of Zora Neale Hurson's Jonah's Gourd Vine plus a couple of Persephones is on my blog now http://librofulltime.wordpress.com/2012/05/31/book-reviews-13/ - I can't review the Hurston on here till I've read the whole volume of collected works!
I recently read Connie Willis's latest novella, All About Emily, which was typically charming. I love pretty much everything she's written, although Passage is probably my least favorite (I found it anticlimactic). Her short story collection, Miracle and Other Christmas Stories, is perfect and brilliant; and all the Oxford time-travel books are fantastic. My only complaint about Blackout was that I didn't know it was the first part of a duology until I finished it!!
I will eventually go after *Spinsters*, and I thank you for putting it on my radar. Katy, I'm with you 100% in your love for Willis with Passages at the bottom of the list. I loved the journey, but the ending was off. I haven't read her short stories or *Emily*. I think I even own a book of ss's, but I just put off reading them no matter how much I love the author.
I've just started Doc, and while I'm happy, I don't like it as much so far as The Sparrow or A Thread of Grace.
I ordered Passage and Lincoln's Dreams from PBS yesterday. I read a bunch of negative reviews of the first book but the NDE/Titanic theme will draw me in every time. I finished Blackout two nights ago and began All Clear yesterday. Given my obsession with WW2 Britain I was keen to get on with the second book. Remember the folk singer Melanie saying 'Wish I could find a good book to live in...' Well these time travel books would be perfect for me. Cosy, silly, hilarious, informative and peopled with some of the nicest characters in bookdom. HUGE comfort reads! I am off to sit in the garden with All Clear to work on my untanned legs.
ooh speaking of Beryl Bainbridge Helen - and everyone else. A book blogger Gaskella is hosting a Beryl Bainbridge reading week - on the week on 18th June. I am going to be reading The bottle factory outing that week and it will be my first ever Bainbridge.
Here's a link to Gaskella's blog
Thanks for that link! Master Georgie is my first ever Bainbridge and I'm already enjoying it thoroughly!
I finished Wolf Hall and enjoyed it despite Mantel's annoying habit of always referring to Cromwell as "he". It wasn't as confusing as I'd expected for the most part, given the trouble a lot of reviewers seemed to have, but it was irritating. Now I will have to look for the sequel at the library, because in spite of my moaning, and the fact that I know the eventual fates of the characters, it was a very compelling read.
As posted over on the Persephone group I am reading Manja by Anna Gmeyner one of the 11 Persephone books I have TBR after my recent birthday that led to 8 arriving in my house within a 2 week period.
#129 I'm reading Bring Up the Bodies now. Enjoying it very much, but Mantel is still playing fast and loose with her third person pronoun!
I'm reading The Rape of Europa The Fate of Europe's Treasures in the Third Reich and the Second World War by Lynn Nicholas. It is fascinating, but not an easy read because of the sheer number of individuals named.
Belva - I picked up a Lippman on audio from the library yesterday. Only one disc in but so far so good. Never heard of the woman before but always looking for stuff I can listen to while cleaning, cooking, ironing etc. Thank you!
I am re-reading Mansfield Park but I'm in the slow midsection where everybody but Fanny Price and the reader think she's going to marry Henry Crawford. Also am enjoying it because I have a co-worker much like Mrs. Norris. And it occured to me this morning that Mrs. Norris the cat in Harry Potter might be an allusion to the Austen character.
Liz1564, that's on my shelf now. Has been for a while. I read Nicholas's Cruel World and really enjoyed it, if one can use that word about such a dark subject.
I'm reading Making of a Marchioness after having given up on Conversation Piece by Molly Keane. I've loved her other books but this one was too darned horsey for me.
Belva, I am listening to What the Dead Know. I am finding it very well written. Often the audio I listen to is sort of throw away reading. I have to keep turning it off and on and it cannot, therefore, be too complicated. This is much higher quality than some of the stuff I listen to and I will be looking for more by her.
I've started The Bottle factory outing for the Beryl Bainbridge reading week. It's the first Bainbridge I've read.
Simon has inspired me to read my copy of Gentlemen prefer blondes and But gentlemen marry brunettes. My copy has the original illustrations, which are very cute and fit the style of the book well.
OMG; My husband whoops and hollars every time he watches their show, which isn't often thank God.
Italo Calvino's Into the War which my lovely OH just surprised me with because it's the only Calvino I don't have. I am intending to re-read his If on a winter's night a traveller to tie in with Ali's July project - I'm a little scared because I loved it so much when I read it years ago, but I want to go back to it so this gives me a good excuse!
148 - Helen, hilarious!
150 - I'm intending to read If on a winter's night a traveller at some point this year - for the first time, though - so perhaps our paths will cross in July.
I'm reading Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother by William Shawcross and it's dreadful, so dreadful that it's compulsive. I can't stop because I can't believe that it will go on being this bad. It has to get better, doesn't it?
I looked at If on a winter's night a traveller last night - my much loved copy from many, many years ago - and read the first paragraph and got shivers down my spine just like when I first read it. So It won't be long I think till I pick it up again properly!
If on a winter's night is one of my all time favourite books, ever since I found it in the library at VI form college and read the first page. I defy any booklover to put it down, at least before the end of that chapter!
>152: Oh my Kerry, how awful! What makes it dreadful? Poor writing, bad editing, something else? I think I understand your compulsion though, sometimes books are so bad you can revel in their awfulness.
#156 It's written in a fairly grovelling tone and it's all so trivial. I'm not particularly a royalist but the royal family are in the thick of public life, something interesting must happen to them from time to time. I'm only just past her marriage, perhaps the abdication crisis will push the trivia into the background.
It's not a book I would have sought out but it was the kindle daily deal and I was tempted...
I just started Le Bal by Nemirovsky, which I found in a little bookshop one day last week. It's quite short but something tells me it will pack quite a punch in the end.
I finished listening to the Laura Lippman book on audio (disappointing end but otherwise good) and then got called to the library to pick up the second audio in the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series. I don't know if anyone else has read this trilogy. I find myself absolutely hating the sex bits. I am so done with all that violence against women nonsense I almost gave up on the book in the first chapter.
So glad to see others are loving Edith Wharton as much as I do. Read the Gentlemen Prefer Blondes books in my teens and had the same response. How's the Beryl Bainbridge thing going, Stuck? I read her in bulk during my 30s but have never wanted to revisit.
I'm not sure when I'll get back to serious reading. All Virago August is coming up but I may still be in beach reading mode :)
I have a gorgeous Folio Society edition of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (bought because, like you Sakerfalcon, the film is one of my all-time faves), but I've never read it.
Claire, I'm sort of reading Among Others too as I take breaks from Dombey and Son in my Dickens year.
Barbara, I have never gotten to the second Larsson book although I have it on hand. My other main books are Revelation, where I am in the C.J. Sansom series, and Honor Among Enemies a reread of favorite military/space opera series. Go figure. My reading of James Tiptree, Jr. has been put on hold as the month winds down and I need to be ready for Our Mutual Friend in July!
160 - I agree. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes was good fun, but the joke was stretched pretty thin.
163 - Beryl Bainbridge is going very well! I've loved Injury Time and Sweet William (in that order) and then read a collection of her Evening Standard columns called Something Happened Yesterday - rather bizarre, but good fun.
161/163: I made it through the first Larsson book, but hated with a passion all the violence against women and thought it overwritten and overrated. If about a third of it had been cut out and he'd concentrated on the actual mystery of the missing Harriet, it would have been a much, much better book. I think it's overhyped and the claims for Lisbeth Salander as a feminist heroine are rubbish. I tried to start the second book and the first thing she does is have a boob job so I threw it down in disgust and haven't looked at it since.
(Sorry if anyone loves these books but that's just my opinion!)
Kaggsy, I am in complete agreement! That's, hands-down, the worst book I've ever read. And I've read The Da Vinci Code. ;)
I agree Karen. I really liked the first book as a hacker/mystery novel and was really turned off when all the serial killer stuff started. This one started with a horrible 'sex' scene but has turned into more of a straight thriller since then. For this reason I am much more comfortable with this book but have yet to finish it, so who knows what will turn up in the last third. But you're right, the feminism is a joke - the women are as violent as the men and the lesbians are all porn star good looking and into bondage.
I think Larsson fell in love with Salander and in this book is attempting to make her more... 'acceptable'? Hence the boob job, smarter clothes, laser removal of some tattoos and abandonment of most of her piercings and Black Adder hairdo. Salander Lite? Settling down to marriage and motherhood by the third book? In this respect Larsson HAS engaged my attention. I want to know where Salander winds up. Because in real life a woman with her past winds up like the heroine of Denise Mina's Garnethill novels - alcoholic, borderline crazy and only tentatively attached to men.
Oh, I'm so glad to know I'm not the only one to feel like this about them! I always think it must be me, but so many of the books I love are not liked by the general public - so the general public must be wrong! ;)
I've just started re-reading A Room of One's Own and, oh, isn't it GOOD. I do love Woolf dearly, fiction and non-fiction, and could just indulge in her writing for weeks. It always feels such a treat, especially when it's not for study (although this read is) so I can ignore exactly what is going on and just enjoy the beautiful writing washing over me.
It is an awesome book. She is one of my three favorite authors. I too, love her dearly. Anything she wrote and most anything written about her. To me she was/is a fascinating personality, both professionally and personally. Glad you are loving it.
I *so* agree - Virginia Woolf is someone I could read and read again. I read all her fiction and diaries in the 1980s in a mad VW obsession and go back to her regularly - though not enough to the fiction, I think, which I need to revisit. Currently I am halfway through The Platform of Time which is a lovely little volume that Hersperus should be highly praised for issuing. Nobody writes like Woolf, that's for sure.
I collected all my VW's last summer with the intention to read through them chronologically -- haven't gotten to it yet.
I read all mine chronologically the first time except for Mrs. Dalloway which I read first out of order. I really think she's an author who your first reading of should be done sequentially, just so you can can see and enjoy how her writing develops.
She's probably my favourite author of all, although that wasn't always the case. I do think it sometimes takes years to fully appreciate her.
>163: I finished Among others at the weekend and loved it. It had so many of my favourite things - outsider protagonist, boarding school, strong sense of place, and of course, all the SF references. I liked the way Walton integrated the supernatural material - but it would have been a great book without that too.
I've just started reading Arcadia by Lauren Groff, which I was happy to find at the library the other day.
I'm in that camp too, Stephen. One of my most intense reading experiences ever was the year I read VW's diaries and letters together. I still feel that I knew her better then than some people whom I've known all my life.
Loved Among Others and the interesting thing is I'm not a sci-fi fan, and certainly wasn't growing up. It's more the love of books and of talking to other people about books that I so wholly identified with.
I'm slowly reading and enjoying Talking of Jane Austen by Sheila Kaye-Smith and G. B. Stern (as recommended by Simon - I think?)
It was me, yes! I love that book, and the sequel More Talk of Jane Austen (which I read in the wrong order.)
I've just started A Favourite of the Gods by Sybille Bedford - also The Production of Space by Henri Lefebvre, but I imagine that would appeal to this group less... it certainly appeals to me less.
>184: I was very tempted by the recent Book People deal on a set of the Gervaise Fen books for £cheap! If you enjoy the book, I expect I will be unable to resist any longer.
184/185: You'll *love* the Fen books - particularly the early ones. The Moving Toyshop is just fab. I adore these so much I nearly bought the Book People set, even though I have them all already, just because they looked so beautiful and I fancied a re-read of a nice pristine set!
Mine was in a box set of reprinted green mystery Penguins by different authors, but I might have to invest in more Fen!
I only have two Crispin books, I think, and am quite tempted by the Book People set. I got the Josephine Tey set when I suspect I actually had all of them, definitely 6 of the 8, which I've mostly given away to two people also on this list (Genny and Heather).
I'm reading Ali Smith, There But for the.
None of my unread books is holding my attention, so I have retired to my Soviet-issue fainting couch and am rereading all of Jane Austen's novels. To complete the picture I am delightfully clad in the altogether and one of my gorgeous English hats. I feel so chic ;-)
#190 - My what an image! : ) I will be re-reading Northanger Abbey this month. Hope you enjoy your Austens.
For my month of re-reading - I am reading Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen - how could I have forgotten how funny she is? - I'm loving it.
It's got to one of those times when I realise I'm reading far too much at once... His Monkey Wife by John Collier, A Leaf from the Yellow Book, about George Egerton, Portrait of a Family (wrong touchstone, sorry) by Richmal Crompton, But Gentlemen Marry Brunettes by Anita Loos, What There Is To Say We Have Said - letters of William Maxwell and Eudora Welty, and A Favourite of the Gods by Sybille Bedford. And those are just the ones I am actively reading, not the others I've had on the go for years!
#198 - you can borrow with pleasure - but I was going to leave reading that till after the 20th July when I've broken up from school so it may be my last read of July. Is that too late then for you?
Finished the Jane Austen novels. Rereading in a desultory fashion Edith Wharton's The Custom of the Country called to mind by my desultory reading of To Marry an English Lord - history lite, Wharton and James are much better on the subject. Just finished The Glass Demon - read in a nondesultory fashion. Not great literature but a page turner. And read The Bell at Sealey Head (fantasy fiction - fun if you like that sort of thing). I am having a difficult time finding a book that holds my attention. I think I am just tired. We have had a house guest for ten days, ten days of unremitting (and all day) shopping on the part of the aforementioned house guest. I never want to see the inside of a shop again. The weather has been hot. I just want to sleep.
I need start reading serious fiction again, but I find my will is weak. Thus far, this has not been my most intellectual reading year.
I'm reading and loving Anne de Courcy's The Viceroy's Daughters. and I know I'll have to read her biography of Diana Mitford next, most likely followed by some Nancy Mitford.
As there is a Re-read Challenge ongoing at the same time as Orange July, I am opting to reread some of my Oranges. On my list at the moment are:
Five Quarters of the Orange,
Black and Blue,
The Secret Life of Bees,
The Time Traveler's Wife and
There will be others but I've not chosen them yet.
>202: I love Patricia McKillip, and The bell at Sealey Head was a good one. Mind you, I would buy her books just for the cover art!
Another Calvino - Mr. Palomar - review here:
Started To Bed with Grand Music this morning. So nice to read good, clean prose again.
Finished To Marry an English Lord. My recommendation ... read Edith Wharton instead. You'll get the picture.
Last night in bed I began The Return of Captain John Emmett. It is about the aftermath of 'The Great War' within a few families and I am quite liking it.
I'm reading and enjoying The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff -- simply pleasure and upstate NY.
@209: I started it this morning and I'm more than halfway through already. The foreshadowing is a little too blatant in places but I keep turning the pages anyway, wondering what exactly Deborah's next adventure will lead to.
Jane, I have yet to read *Monsters*, but I was carried away with Arcadia, which I lucked into from ER. Upstate NY again and wonderful, wonderful writing!
215, 216 -- Just finished it -- thought it was great fun.
217 -- Lizzie D -- Actually, I bought a bargain edition of Monsters after I read the review of Arcadia -- now I'll have to get a copy of that one too.
Looking for sex. That's my July reading. Actuallly, it's Ali's July rereading challenge and I went way back to my 12 year old self to reread King's Row by Bellamann. And, boy, was there sex! From awkward first times to the sister town trollops to frigid wives to incest to hypocritical ministers and miscegenation. At 12 I totally missed the homosexuality of an important minor character. There were also sadistic doctors, two mercy killings, and an insane asylum hovering about the town. All this activity happens in a small Missouri town of 1890 to 1902. And for all the action there isn't one description of a naked breast! Was it worth a reread....definitely, yes.
And yesterday and today I reread Great Gatsby. I love this book and this time I really enjoyed the humor in Nick's wry description of Gatsby's party guests.
Am about 90 pages into Captain from Castile by Shellabarger, still on the sex search. So far, not much but my bookmark is Tyrone Power as Pedro de Vargas. Now that's sexy!
I got my kicks from " historical" fiction because, as a good catholic little girl, I could justify the books as educational! I think the first modern setting pot boiler I read was Peyton Place which actually was a lot like King's Row but much more graphic and not nearly as interesting to me. I am really enjoying these rereads. About the only book that I had a negative reaction to was Gone With the Wind. I LOVED this book as a kid. I tried a reread two years and couldn't finish it.
@219: To Bed with Grand Music is loaded with sex. I finished it during my lunch hour today and was somewhat surprised that a book with such a promiscuous heroine managed to get published in 1946.
@219 See if you can get your hands on a copy of Angelique by Sergeanne Golon. That one had steam rising from the bindings.
The Angélique series is rare and expensive these days. Forever Amber might be easier to find.
I read all of the Angelique novels! Steamy, indeed. I loved her second husband Phillippe.
To return to more innocent reads (!!) I started revisiting My Friend Flicka as bed time reading last night (tonight?). Last time I read it, I was the age of the protagonist. Now I'm the age of his parents! Not entirely true ... he's only 10 in Flicka, but I have the trilogy to read in one go (BLISS).
I am in need of a comfort read - so last night I went to bed with Dead man's Folly by Agatha Christie - I adore AC wh I first read when I was 11 and can re-read them happily ( I always forget whodunit anyway) This is one of the books that has Poirot working alongside Ariadne Oliver - who is a thinly disguised representation of A C herself.
#219 If you can't get Angélique you might like Juliet Benzoni's Catherine and Marianne series. I read them avidly as a teenager. They're historical so educational, too. ( I still have copies of all three series!)
This is so thought provoking! I used to sit and read Agatha Christie while my sister devoured the Angelique books. I remember her loving Phillipe as well.
I re-read all my Christies a few years ago. Dead Man's Folly is a personal favorite.
When it comes to steamy novels, I read plenty but they were mostly throwaway crap like Harold Robbins. In my mid twenties, at the absolute height of my radical feminist stage, I secretly read True Romance magazines, which I justified because I got them from my then mother in law. Do they still even publish those? They could be very steamy.
I did a bit of research on the Angélique series. It turns out the last one to be translated into English, Angélique and the Ghosts, was only the first half of the original French version, which explains why it was such a disappointment. Also, there are three more books in the series which have not been translated in to English: Angélique in Québec, Angélique: The Road of Hope, and Angélique Victorious.
Oh, I LOVED Angélique as a teen! I was very hopeful that they might have put the series on Kindle, but no - it's wildly expensive as Andrew says. There's always Katherine and the other Anya Seytons!
Yes, a few months ago I was feeling nostalgic and wanted to reread the first one. I was shocked to see a paperback copy going for $42 on Abebooks. They're still available in the original at fairly reasonable prices, so I might consider those at some point; German translations are the cheapest, but I had to read the third volume in German and didn't enjoy it as much. Still, we were living in a podunk little village in Schleswig-Holstein at the time and the nearest place to buy books was the stationer's, where they had three or four spin-racks of paperback books. I considered myself lucky that Angélique and the King was one of them.
I just read a very lovely Edgar Allan Poe called The Journal of Julius Rodman which is an unfinished hoax tale of the first man to cross the Rocky Mountains. It was a great read and very evocative of the undiscovered landscape of America - made me think of Isabella Bird's A Lady's Life in the Rocky Mountains which I very much loved too.
(small review here:
Gosh, there is a sex bit in My Friend Flicka (marital sex, quite sweet) which I swear I never noticed as a child/teen. Hm. Will reveal all in my review later this week!
#235> Really?!? Wow! I totally missed that as well! I also read through an embarrassing number of "historical" novels as a teen, as well as James Michener--lots of steamy scenes there too. Right now I'm thoroughly engrossed in Charlotte Bronte: A Writer's Life, by Rebecca Fraser; you inspired me to re-read Jane Eyre, but then when I went to the shelf I decided to finally delve into this biography instead. It's excellent, and very well-written!
A friend of mine believes that the only reason Charlotte Bronte married Arthur Bell Nichols was because it was her last chance to find out what sex was like before she died. My friend has a rather black sense of humor sometimes.
I'm reading a second novel by Sophie Duffy, This Holey Life - Vicky is a reluctant curate's wife, struggling to come to terms with various things, when her obnoxious brother turns up on the doorstep. Her first novel was (and still is) a cheap Kindle download (UK) and I really liked it - this one is a review copy from Amazon Vine.
I'm really enjoying A Card from Angela Carter - it sounded a bit barrel-scrapey, but it absolutely isn't. A really clever way to write a little tribute/recollection.
>235: I do remember Rob and Nell having a passionate, if tumultuous, marriage in the Flicka trilogy, at least on rereading.
I'm reading Her fearful symmetry, which is quite good so far. It's set in and near Highgate cemetery, which is somewhere I've always meant to visit.
>240: I've been eyeing that up for a while - may well put it on a future Crimbo list if it's that good!
>243: Persephone books publish Saplings, and Margin Notes Books published The Whicharts a couple of years ago. And Greyladies Books have reprinted some of the novels Streatfeild wrote under the pen name Susan Scarlett. I should think that all are availble through amazon, although they may be a bit pricey.
Saplings is fantastic! I kept wanting to yell, "Listen to these children!" Really fine adults are caught up in the war and are too preoccupied to notice how the children cannot cope with the times. What seems so trivial to an adult (having to wear the wrong school uniform or having to share a bed with an evacuee) is an unfair tragedy to a nine year old. Streatfeild certainly could write children.
That's more or less what Party Shoes is about. The tragedy of having a pretty frock in wartime, no where to wear it and being liable to out grow it in a few months. When I first started reading the book I was thinking, "you know, people were out there dying" but she really does draw the whole picture. Huge events occur alongside minor ones.
Yes, but in the US people don't use the word frock for dress. I agree otherwise about the titles but clearly the publisher felt that putting "shoes" in all the titles established a theme.
I loved the shoes books when I was in grammar school -- so exotic (to an American kid) and fascinating.
In one of Connie Willis's time travel books she uses the title Murder in the Calais Coach (by Agatha Christie) as a plot device in the lead up to D-Day. Apparently this was the American title for Murder on the Orient Express. However the book is set in England during the war, and the time travellers are all British, so why didn't someone point out to her during the editorial process that this title would've been meaningless to everyone involved. Or perhaps they did and it was left only in the American edition?
When I was little, fancy dresses for little girls were referred to as frocks. Streatfeild's adult fiction - the out of print books - are hard to obtain and terribly expensive.
Currently, I am reading Kokoro by Natsume Soseki.
The English books I read as a child were full of words I didn't understand, like frock, jumper, ironmonger. I just skipped right over them. (Actually I picture an ironmongers as something like a blacksmith, very outdoorsy, with a forge. I was so disappointed when I found out it was just a hardware store.)
> 235 / 236 the sex scene in pony book extraordinaire, My Friend Flicka, is now revealed on my blog ... http://librofulltime.wordpress.com/2012/07/19/book-reviews-19/
Ooooerrr - that's a bit unexpected in the middle of a children's book!!!!!
>252: I've read several reviews by British readers pointing out numerous similar errors in Blackout and All clear. I haven't yet read them myself, but hope that enough feedback got to the publishers so they could make corrections in the paperback edition.
>256: Lovely post! I've always thought that the Flicka books are only classed as children's books because of the young protagonist. They really have enough emotional weight and (as I recall) complex prose to hold a lot of appeal for adults, beyond just nostalgia.
Oh yes, they are actually quite a lot about the mum and dad's marriage (esp the later volumes) and certainly have a lot of adult themes in them. That's why they're so good. The thing is, that scene is so subtle that a child or even teenager reading it will not notice - as I demonstrate - as it's very cleverly woven in. Rob gets naked later on, too ... in a PADDOCK!
OK, show of hands....how many of us just clicked over to our public library's website to put a "hold" on a copy of My Friend Flicka????
Claire - it did not ruin the books for me. I just ignored the wrong bits and kept on reading because the books were otherwise so damned good. But the reference to the Christie book had me stumped. Had I somehow missed one of her books? Was there a 'lost' Christie novel waiting out there for me? Sadly, there was not.
I've finished another book! A Stallion Called Midnight by a new pony author who is writing some good books! The link won't work; I've only just added it, though ... review is here if you're interested as I don't know how people will find it otherwise! http://librofulltime.wordpress.com/2012/07/21/book-review-a-stallion-called-midn...
Nope! Just some light and well done romance in this one! But I will read more Mary O'Hara soon and there is all sorts in there (I seem to recall).
I'm re-reading Villette by Charlotte Bronte it is longer than I had remembered, and also I think rather "harder" than Jane Eyre which I have read 3 times and Shirley which I have read twice. I first read Villette a long time ago - I loved it. Still really enjoying it though flicking to the back for translations of long bits of French is making it a slow read.
>271: at first glance I thought you were responding to my message #270 ... yikes.
>265: It is in my library under the original title, Midnight on Lundy. I enjoyed your review; now I must go and read my copy!
I'd never read her before. My library doesn't have her novels, only the collected short stories, and I'm not a huge fan of short stories. However, I'm glad I did read it, in the end. The fairy tales alone are worth it.
I just finished The Last Picture Show and that was ruder than I remembered, too ... why do I keep bowdlerising my book memories?
Finished Gail Jones's Dreams of Speaking last night -- what a gorgeous writer. This was first of her books that I have read, but it won't be the last.
For Ali's reread, I finished Captain from Castile by Shellabarger and was pleased that although he wrote a great adventure about the conquest of Mexico, he did not gloss over the destruction of the native culture and his characters were three-dimensional. And there was sex, but not as graphic as the pony sex!
Yesterday I read Heyer's Pistols for Two. Wonderful short stories. No sex but one story had a passionate kiss in the middle of the Great North Road and another had the heroine being the prize in a game of dice. The hero transports her to an inn but, alas, passes out in a drunken stupor before anything interesting occurs.
#276> I love Linnets and Valerians--it's such a sweet, good story! I received my copy years ago as a prize for a story contest in Cricket magazine, which makes me think even more fondly of it. :)
Yes, I liked it better than The Little White Horse, though it has some thematic similarities.
Last night, exhausted from moving house, I decided that Mrs. Harris Goes To Paris would be a brilliant way to unwind. And how right I was! What fun the book is so far.
>252 I had trouble believing that Murder in the Calais Coach was an American title although I didn't really doubt that Barbara is right. "Coach" just sounds so much more British to me. Apparently, they changed it so that nobody would confuse it with Graham Greene's Stamboul Train which had been published in the US two years earlier as Orient Express. Who knew?
*Mrs. 'Arris* brings back great memories!
My current novels are The Floating Book about a German printing the poems of Catullus in 15th century Venice and A Trip to the Stars about...well, I'm not sure what it's about yet, but I think I like it. Good summer reading both of them!
Back to my re-reading again now - with Secret Histories: finding George Orwell in a Burmese teashop which was sent to me by the lovely Kaggsy (there is a long story about how I used to have a copy of this - stupidly gave it away - wished I hadn't and have been looking for a cheap edition ever since) so glad to have the chance to read it again now as I read Burmese days by Orwell recently.
I'm almost finished with Letters from Iceland by Auden and MacNeice (which is much odder than I'd remembered) and will be starting Nicholas Negroponte's Being Digital on the bus into town today - a favourite from years ago and it'll be fascinating to see how many of his predictions have come true. I'm having a bit of a non-fic fest at the end of my Month of Re-reading, after I realised I'd stuck to fiction thus far.
I just finished a reread of Hickory Dickory Death by Christie. This was major disappointment. I suspect Christie was trying to be relevant by setting her mystery in a London hostel in 1955. Problem was too many clues, too many characters, too much conversation. In this one, she doesn't play fair when she reveals an important fact about the murderer, which if known earlier, would have pinpointed the guilty student immediately.
I don't know about you, but I tend to find the later Christies less successful. You're right to pick on the modern settings - with her style and her detectives, the modern elements just don't work in my view - she's much better in a setting she feels more familiar with and I found that once she got into the 1960s the contemporary elements jarred even more.
Not only that, Karen, but she was getting old and pretty much running on fumes by then. I have read them all for loyalty's sake, but her earlier novels are much, much better.
I'm the same - I've read them all but it's the early ones I return to.
Just finished reading Beryl Bainbridge's Injury Time and I now know why I don't like "black comedy". As far as I can tell the two main characters die violently in an abrupt ending and I can't understand anything funny about that. I'm off Bainbridge also. I always speculate that authors who write very casually or worse comically about graphic violent death have never experienced it in real life.
Kay - I agree. Bainbridge was not an easy read for me either. I persisted because so many people urged her on me and but she was always more of a duty read than anything else. Her mentor, Alice Thomas Ellis, writes in a similar, but much kinder vein, and I enjoyed her books more.
Just started a re-read of The Death of the Heart by Elizabeth Bowen - haven't got very far as I have been out all day walking and am now glued to Olympic swimming, but I think I might love it - can remember nothing of it though.
I needed a quick read before taking something longer on the train on Tuesday, so I just picked H.E. Bates's The Triple Echo off the bookshelf.
I'm fifty pages into Not That Sort Of Girl by Mary Wesley. I really enjoy this author.
297 - When I saw your comment on that on my blog, I realised I couldn't at all remember the ending of Injury Time! It sounds as though it were ambiguous... I shall have to have a flick through again.
I do love dark humour sometimes, but not too dark... well, death is less dark than torture to me, for example. I wouldn't be able to read that under any circumstances. I suppose, since I've never really experienced grief, I don't know how my reading will change when I do.
My latest three are The Last Picture Show, Northanger Abbey and Exchange - adding the reviews on LT now or pics on the blog here http://librofulltime.wordpress.com/2012/07/29/book-reviews-20/
The Death of the Heart is one of my all time favorite books. Its poignancy touches my heart. Some day I'll reread it and hope I enjoy it as much as the first time.
Looks like I will be reading Good Morning, Midnight along with Diary of a Provincial Lady. Talk about opposites. But I got the Jean Rhys for a friend and when I flipped through it this evening, I noticed that none of the French was translated. My friend doesn't speak French, so I'm going to make her a glossary before I give her the book.
In July, in addition to catching up with Hilary Mantel's Thomas Cromwell, I reread Thomas Hardy's Jude the Obscure (which I first read when I was 16) and Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, which I first read in my late-20s. Two books from opposite ends of the 19th century, both of which are deeply concerned with the theme of marriage, and both of which really benefited from a second, more mature reading. I hated Jude the Obscure the first time I read it; I found it fascinating this time. I loved Pride and Prejudice the first time around; I still loved it, but had a deeper critical appreciation of it, this time.
>308 oh, that bodes well for when we get to Jude in Ali's Hardy Reading Group - now I've read all the others so far, I didn't feel I could ignore it, but I was dreading it ...
I recently 'discovered' the work of William Maxwell; I LOVED 'So long, see you tomorrow' which recreates the world of childhood and harks back to his own loss of his mother when he was a child.
'The folded leaf' has similarities in tone but is a tale about growing up and accepting changing relationships with your friends. Both recommended.
>311: I also just discovered Maxwell through So Long, See you Tomorrow. What a wonderful book.
Love Maxwell. I recommend Time Will Darken It if you liked So Long, See You Tomorrow, also set in a small Midwestern town.
I am dipping in and out of The Frozen Thames by Helen Humphreys. Listening to another Jo Nesbo thriller (from Norway), and reading Beyond the Occult by Colin Wilson. In between I am doing housework, DIY and watching the Olympics - or at least those events that interest me: gymnastics, swimming and track of field, none of which I could do even if you held a gun to my head. Watched the vaulting last night and thought I'd be like the character in the Mr Belvedere movie - 'Break my back on the way up and my legs on the way down'.
I have both those collections of correspondence too, Simon. Wish I could just quit this pesky working-for-a-living gig and spend my time reading my books!
Thanks for recommendation, LCanon- will add it to my list ! I've just finished a recent Virago: 'Apology for the Woman writing' (Jenny Diski) in which I totally identified with the lead character (bookish young French lady in 16th century who went on to edit Montaigne's Essays) in which she says : 'the more she read and the more Latin she learned, the more it seemed to Marie that an entire and good life might be spent in the company of books. Any other of the few possibilities open to her would be an interruption to her reading...She resolved to be neither a nun nor a wife. She could see nothing wrong with just reading books'
What else I'm *not* reading: Good Morning, Midnight. I finished the glossary this afternoon, and gave it to my friend along with the book. She was quite pleased.
323: Interesting, I'm not sure I'd expect the bio of such a bleak writer to be enjoyable. My mum once asked her dad for reading suggestions when she was a bit down and he suggested Miss Lonelyhearts (rather odd suggestion if you ask me!)
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