Pamelad's 999 #2
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1. New authors.
The Blue Notebook by James A. Levine 3.5*
In A Summer Season by Elizabeth Taylor 3*
The Congo Venus by Mathew Head 4*
Vertigo by Amanda Lohrey 4*
Frozen Tracks by Ake Edwardson 4*
Unsafe Hands by Jane Aiken Hodge 3*
Jade Lady Burning by Martin Limon 4.5*
Only in London by Hanan al-Shaykh 3.5*
Summer Will Show by Sylvia Townsend Warner 3*
2. Prize winners.
A Proper Marriage by Doris Lessing 5*
A Ripple from the Storm by Doris Lessing 5*
Landlocked by Doris Lessing 4.5*
A Death in the Faculty by Amanda Cross 4* Nero Wolfe Award for Mystery Fiction, 1981
The Well by Elizabeth Jolley 3* Miles Franklin Award
Small Island by Andrea Levy 3.5* Orange Prize
A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian by Marina Lewycka 4* SAGA Award for Wit 2005
Across the Common by Elizabeth Berridge 3.5* Yorkshire Post Novel of the Year Award
Carry Me Down by M. J. Hyland 4* Shortlisted for the Booker, 2006
3. Recommended on LT.
Passing by Nella Larsen 3.5*
Agent Zigzag by Ben MacIntyre 5*
The Golden Unicorn by Phyllis A. Whitney 2.5*
As We Were by E. F. Benson 3.5*
The English Gentleman by Douglas Sutherland 3*
Dance with Me by Victoria Clayton 3.5*
Blood of Victory by Alan Furst 3.5*
O Pioneers! by Willa Cather 3.5*
Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont by Elizabeth Taylor 4*
4. Published less than 10 years ago.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson 4*
Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight by Alexandra Fuller 4.5*
The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson 4.5*
Burn Out by Marcia Muller 4*
The Brass Verdict by Michael Connelly 4*
The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly 4*
Lean Mean Thirteen by Janet Evanovitch 3.5*
Sun and shadow by Ake Edwardson 3.5*
The Silver Swan by Benjamin Black 3.5*
5. Published more than 40 years ago.
Village School by Miss Read 3.5*
The Doomed Oasis by Hammond Innes 3.5*
The House of Moreys by Phyllis Bentley 2.5*
The Blotting Book by E. F. Benson 3*
The Leopard by Tomasi di Lampedusa 5*
Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather 4.5*
Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier 3*
Lise Lillywhite by Margery Sharp 3*
Tom Brown's Body by Gladys Mitchell 4*
6. More crime.
Fer-de-lance by Rex Stout 4*
Button, Button Holly Roth 3*
Games to Keep the Dark Away Marcia Muller 4*
A Blunt Instrument Georgette Heyer 3.5*
A Puzzle for Pilgrims Patrick Quentin 3*
A Right to Die Rex Stout 4*
Slowly the Poison June Drummond 3.5*
Cry Guilty Sara Woods 3*
Ask the Cards a Question Marcia Muller 4*
7. Favourite Authors
Jane and Prudence by Barbara Pym 3.5*
Crewe Train by Rose Macaulay 4*
No word from Winifred Amanda Cross 3.5*
Keeping Up Appearances Rose Macaulay 3.5*
Paying Guests E. F. Benson 4*
Mrs Ames E. F. Benson 4.5*
Lady of Quality by Georgette Heyer 3.5*
A Few Green Leaves by Barbara Pym 4*
The Break in the Line by Berkely Mather 3.5*
8. Australia and the Pacific
Unpolished Gem by Alice Pung 3.5*
Painted Clay by Capel Boake 4*
The Voice of the corpse by Max Murray 4*
Sucked In by Shane Moloney 3*
Vertigo by Amanda Lohrey 4*
Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam by Peter Goldsworthy 4*
The Harp in the South by Ruth Park 3*
The Sentimental Bloke by C.J. Dennis 3*
Heatwave in Berlin by Dymphna Cusak 3.5*
9. Overflows and Others
The Body Shape Bible by Trinny Woodall 2.5*
Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters 3.5*
Danger Point by Patricia Wentworth 4*
Slicky Boys by Martin Limon 3.5*
Sweet Death, Kind Death by Amanda Cross 4*
The Care of Time by Eric Ambler 3.5*
The Man Next Door Mignon G. Eberhart 3*
Epitaph for a Spy by Eric Ambler 4.5*
Journey into Fear by Eric Ambler 4.5*
10. Past the Target
Republic of Whores by Josef Skvorecky 4.5*
The Pagoda Tree by Berkely Mather 3*
Escape the Night by Mignon G Eberhart 3*
Come Back Charlie and Face Them by R. F. Delderfield
The Widows of Broome by Arthur Upfield 3.5*
Tales from Two Pockets by Karel Capek 4.5*
A Travelling Woman by John Wain 4*
As a Man Grows Older by Italo Svevo 4*
Dirty Weekend by Gabrielle Lord 3.5*
Captive Audience by Jessica Mann 2.5*
Case Histories by Kate Atkinson 4*
I just started The Tree of Man by Patrick White. I'd never heard of him before. Have you read any of his books? He's Australian.
I like Barbara Pym, but I haven't read that one. I was thinking about reading Excellent Women for my book club, but couldn't find enough copies. I'm not sure why she isn't more popular.
I liked The Tree of Man, but it was very long! It just felt like it took so long to get things moving. The characters were well done.
White's The Twyborn Affair was similar. Just had to relax into it because it was slow, with so many layers of meaning. It's an easier read than The Tree of Man, though, if you're up to another White.
Loved Excellent Women. You can get it here , at The Book Depository. It's a great value online bookseller if you're in Australia because of the free postage, but perhaps not so great in the US where books are a lot cheaper.
WOW! A Fraction of the Whole is set in Australia. It's supposed to be a big one though, and you deserve some easy reads.
I don't think Pym wrote a bad book so you're off to a good start. I think she was pretty young when she wrote that one.
ETA: I've had Voss sitting there for yonks as well. Really should crack into...maybe in the dog days of summer here, winter for you.
6. More Crime category - Have you read any of the 19th century crime written by Fergus Hume? You might enjoy some of his crime writing set in colonial Melbourne.
Bonnie, A Fraction of the Whole looks good. Will order it from the library. Thank you.
mrspenny, I've read The Mystery of a Hansom Cab - enjoyed reading about the dens of vice that are now gentrified inner suburbs or housing commission high rises. Very atmospheric. I was born in Collingwood (desperate slum in Hume's time) and often stroll into the city along the streets in his book. Any of his others you particularly liked?
This year I've read a few books set in Melbourne - The Slap, The Spare Room, Cosmo Cosmolino - and have The Time We Have Taken near the top of the tbr pile.
tiffin, Jane and Prudence was just sitting there in the remainder shop, so I had to buy it. I've probably read it before, but fortunately have no memory.
Thank you lindsacl.
Thank you judylou. And that's after I snuck in all those Alistair Macleans!
Can't believe you've finished one 999 challenge and started another. Good work.
I like Barbara Pym quite a bit, but find that she writes the same kind of novel every time. Long stretches are required between each one. Still, the writing is lovely and I can fall into the world she creates quite easily.
I agree RidgewayGirl. I find Wodehouse and Georgette Heyer much the same.
Thank you LW3. Off to look for your 999 thread.
Well, I'm the exception that proves the rule then because I devoured about seven Pyms in a row and loved them. Couldn't seem to stop reading them after I found almost all of hers in a used bookshop. Agree re Wodehouse and Heyer though.
I've only read 2 Barbara Pyms and found I couldn't read any more, not because they weren't good, but because they made me feel anxious--I identified too much with the main characters.
>17: I devoured about seven Pyms in a row and loved them.
For a second there I thought you were referring to Pimm's !!
Liked Jane and Prudence but found it a bit depressing because the characters were stuck in a rut and seemed unhappy. The snobbery irked me, which is an unfair judgement because the book was set in the upper-middle class and the attitudes belonged to the characters, not necessarily the author.
You have to be in the right mood. This was the wrong book to follow The Bass Saxophone and The Shadow of the Sun.
>22: I've read a few Pyms, not all, but would say that so far I liked Jane and Prudence the least. I can see where it would be tough to follow such great reads.
Pimms and Pym: perfect! I liked J&P the least too but didn't dislike it.
tiffin, was posting simultaneously. Which Pym have you liked the best so far?
It's Pimms weather where you are. Hot rum toddy here.
> 10 Pam - I was thinking of Madame Midas which is also by Fergus Hume.
You might also be interested in The Anthology of Colonial Australian Gothic Fiction edited by Ken Gelder and Rachael Weaver which contains stories by very well known authors such as Marcus Clarke and Katherine Susannah Prichard.
I liked Excellent Women a lot. But I also really enjoyed Quartet in Autumn - I think I was in exactly the right mood for it when I read it. It's a bittersweet one too, so if you aren't in that kind of mood, I'd leave it. Crampton Hodnet was a wonderful send up of academics.
Here's my review of Quartet in Autumn:
I also liked The Sweet Dove Died - I've liked everything I've read of hers for her ability to look at the lives of ordinary people with insight and dignity. I've reviewed a few of the ones I read, if you're interested.
I have Some Tame Gazelle checked out right now, but I haven't started it yet. Not sure what it's about, but it sounded good.
Lovely review tiffin. thorold's written a good one for Some Tame Gazelle, as well.
mrspenny, yesterday I popped in to a second-hand bookshop that opened recently just round the corner, looking for Madam Midas, but left with Rose Macaulay's Keeping Up Appearances and Crewe Train instead. In a bookshop there is rarely the problem of not finding what you want, even if what you find wasn't what you were looking for.
Yet another second-hand bookshop is opening this weekend. It's becoming bookshop heaven around here.
ET attempt to fix touchstones.
Fer-de-lance by Rex Stout
The first Nero Wolfe mystery. All the favourites are here already: Archie is scooting about in the roadster; Fritz is cooking meals that would put a five-star restaurant to shame; Felix is ensconced in the orchid room; Orrie, Fred and Saul are on-call.
Is the plot important? It hangs together well enough, but Wolfe and Goodwin are what we're here for.
The Blue Notebook by James A. Levine tells the story of Batuk, who was sold into prostitution at the age of nine. Batuk learned to write during a brief hospital stay; she keeps a record of her life.
I kept reading to find whether Bartuk's awful life improved and because the author's heart is in the right place; he's donating the US proceeds to a charity for missing and exploited children.
Village School by Miss Read
A gentle story about the people in the village of Fairacre, centering on the village school. Relaxing.
Changed a category. 7. Non-fiction is now Favourite Authors.
Non-fiction can fit well enough into the existing categories.
I absolutely MUST get this book. Just love your review and happily gave you a thumbs up.
Button, Button by Holly Roth
Hascombe, a private eye for an Oklahoma insurance company, arrives in New York to investigate the mid-air explosion of an aeroplane. The main suspect is missing, but the evidence pointing to him is so obvious it looks as though he could have been framed.
A light, breezy tone makes this an entertaining read, but is at odds with the death toll.
tiffin, hope you enjoy Crewe Train. It's almost as good as The Towers of Trebizond.
The Doomed Oasis by Hammond Innes.
An adventure story set in the Arab countries. Oil, politics, a T.E. Lawrence clone and his illegitimate twins, mechanically-minded Bedouins, good sheiks and bad, and an incorruptible British solicitor.
Thirsty work. Highly entertaining.
No Word from Winifred by Amanda Cross
Is Winifred the daughter of the literary Oxford don? The don's biographer is looking for Winifred, who has disappeared. Kate Fansler, the well-bred, erudite American academic, investigates.
Entertaining as usual, but the mystery fails to grip.
The House of Moreys by Phyllis Bentley
Was looking for something brainless to read. This started off being a comfortably predictable orphan girl meets wicked cousin story, which I read happily with brain in neutral. By the time I got to the end though, I was highly irritated by its sentimental stupidity and was appalled that all the nasty characters were killed off. It is too cruel to kill people merely because they inconvenience the heroine!
Passing by Nella Larsen
Written in 1929, Larsen's novella describes three women who pass for white: Clare, the beautiful, blonde, ruthless daughter of a drunken janitor marries a racist white man who has no idea of her background; Irene, university-educated and married to a physician is a member of the growing black middle-class, and passes occasionally for convenience; Gertrude is married to a white butcher who is less concerned about her colour than she is.
Don't read the introduction first. It's a third of the length of the book, uninteresting in that dry academic way that refers to the works of people you've never heard of, and full of spoilers.
Passing provides a fascinating glimpse into a time of change in black society, from the perspective of a privileged middle-class living in a racist, separatist America. A slice of history.
3.5* I would have rated it higher but for the melodramatic ending.
Agent Zigzag by Ben Macintyre
Eddie Chapman is a safe breaker, burglar and adventurer who ends up as a double-agent, spying for Britain and Germany during WWII. Although he's larger than life, Eddie's a real person and the book is non-fiction.
Great read. Highly recommended. 5*
Keeping Up Appearances by Rose Macaulay
Daisy/Daphne balances precariously between the upper and the lower middle class. The upper-middle Daphne behaves with courage and aplomb; the lower-middle Daisy tells lies and runs away.
This book was written in 1928. I hope that British society is no longer so class ridden; the snobbery disgusted me.
Witty and entertaining, but dated and irritating. 3.5*
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
A real page turner. Will have to read the next book to find out more about Sweden's best computer hacker, the young woman with the photographic memory, Lisbeth Salander.
Took off half a star because it's about serial killers.
Touchstone now OK.
Took off half a star because it's about serial killers.
Rating a book is an arbitrary thing, isn't it? Still, I'm happy you liked it. The next in the trilogy, The Girl Who Played with Fire centers around Lisbeth and her shady past and is a bit more exciting. I'm waiting for the third on now.
Unpolished Gem by Alice Pung
Autobiography. Alice's parents are Chinese, born in Cambodia. The family lives in Braybrook, a working-class suburb or Melbourne. Entertaining in the manner of Amy Tan. Collapsed at the end when the story centred on the teenaged Alice.
The Body Shape Bible by Trinny Woodall and Susannah Constantine.
I picked this up in the remainder shop on impulse. Instead of the usual three or so body types, Trinny and Susannah have described twelve. Oprah is a cello; Judi Dench is a brick. I'd like to be a column, like Gwyneth, but it's not going to happen.
A Proper Marriage by Doris Lessing.
Volume two of the Children of Violence series, about the life of Martha Quest. Set in Rhodesia at the beginning of WWII. Martha has married Douglas, who remains one of the boys. She's living in a big suburban house, scrimping on the present to pay for their retirement, becoming more and more unhappy, but not at all sorry for herself.
Highly recommended 5*
A Ripple from the Storm by Doris Lessing
Third volume of the Children of Violence series. Martha escapes the meaningless of her marriage and becomes passionately involved in left-wing political causes, and from there a member of the fledgling local Communist party. Her passionate idealism changes to dismay as the comrades become bogged down in dialectic. Very interesting look at Rhodesian politics during WWII. Lessing's characters seem so real.
Highly recommended 5*
Landlocked by Doris Lessing
Fourth book in the Children of Violence series. The Labour Party wins power in Zambesia but iis ripped apart by the tensions between the left wing supporters of black emancipation and the right wing trade unionists who have traditionally prevented black people from training for skilled work. It's the Cold War, and the sentimental support engendered during WWII by the massive casualties of the Russian army on the eastern front has been replaced by fear and loathing. The British Army is turning Jews away from Palestine. The Americans and the British are supporting a right wing Greek Government that is murdering partisans. Martha's husband, the Communist Hess, has given up politics and is spending his time with a rich and powerful family, planning to marry the daughter.
This is a bleak book about a terrible time. 44 million people have died. The world knows about the massacre of the Jews. Hiroshima and Nagasaki have been wiped out as an experiment, to test two types of atomic bomb.
The fifth book in the series is The Four-Gated City, but I'm skipping it because I've heard that it's mystical. The Sufis quotations at the beginning of each chapter in Landlocked are quite enough for me.
I recommend the first four books very highly.
Considering reading more Nobel Prize winners for my Prizes category. Perhaps World Light by Halldor Laxness and Voss by Patrick White.
Thanks for the great reviews on the Doris Lessing books! I've got her on my list of authors I've never read but want to, and I'm glad to know more about this series.
Thanks Ivy. They're definitely worth reading. Martha is an irritating character, particularly in the first book, but you get to know her so well. The series reads as though it's based heavily on Lessing's life, so I'm searching now for Under My Skin, the first volume of her autobiography, which covers the same years.
Now reading Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight, which is also set in Rhodesia. A biography.
Followed up three volumes of Doris Lessing's Martha Quest series with another African book, Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight. It's an autobiography - the author was brought up in Rhodesia in the sixties and seventies during the war and its aftermath - written from the child's perspective. I recommend it highly.
That was book #100 for the year.
100 books -- wow! And it's not like you padded your reading with easy reads or novellas.
Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight was another great summer read!
Oops! Meant to say Congratulations on reaching 100!
Painted Clay by Capel Boake.
First published in 1917. Set in Melbourne, which is lovingly described. After a sad and restrictive upbringing, Helen Somerset gains her independence. Women's lives were hard, their only choices marriage or menial, underpaid work. The story was entertaining, and I hoped that life would work out well for Helen, but the pictures of the city and the lives of working women were what held my interest.
Games to Keep the Dark Away by Marcia Muller
I'm a fan of Muller's Sharon McCone series, so was pleased to find one on Bookmooch that I had't read.
The Boake looks interesting. I'm getting more and more impressed with the wealth of Australian lit. that exists and thank you and other Aussies for bringing it to our attention.
The Golden Unicorn by Phyllis A. Whitney
Somewhere on an LT thread I read that Phyllis Whitney wrote in a similar vein to Mary Stewart. For other Stewart fans who might be tempted, I advise caution.
Attractive orphan searches for her real parents amongst a family of wealthy ratbags in the Hamptons. Someone is a murderer, and our orphan puts herself at risk in the time-honoured gothic tradition.
ETA Just noticed tautology. Please excuse me, I am numbed by bad writing. Shall leave it there as a tribute to Phyllis.
>62: Shall leave it there as a tribute to Phyllis. And as a vocabulary lesson to those who, like me, had to look up "tautology" !! But now, having looked it up, I'm trying to find it in your post. Educate me, please !
Time-honoured tradition. A tradition is a long-established custom and it's time-honoured because it is long-established.
lindsacl, you'll see tautologies everywhere now!
Wandering nomad just popped into my head.
Pam, I do those unconsciously sometimes. If you EVER see me doing one in a review, please send me a *biff*. Thanks! Although I do think you are being too hard on yourself, as "gothic" is in between.
ah, now I see it. Thanks Pam!
Just what I need: another grammatical error to spot everywhere. As if apostrophe catastrophes weren't enough ...
Pam, I'm going to read Agent Zigzag this week. Who's Lucia? I looked back and couldn't find a reference to Lucia in the books you've read recently.
Pam, "Secret Lives" (no touchstone for it) is a hoot too. I know, the Mapp & Lucia series is THE best but these are kind of fun too.
Will check out Secret Lives, Tui - could be lucky because there were a few E. F. Bensons at the 2nd hand bookshop round the corner.
Bonnie, Benson wrote a series of books featuring Lucia. They're set in a small seaside town in England, where Lucia and Elizabeth Mapp battle for social supremacy. The first is Queen Lucia. If you like British high comedy, you have a treat in store.
Hope you're enjoying Agent Zig Zag.
A Blunt Instrument by Georgette Heyer
Light hearted crime novel from the thirties. The victim was dead before we even knew him, and he was a most unpleasant man. Characters all caricatures, but amusing.
Deducted half a star because there was a lot of fussing about with times and clocks.
A cosy, rainy day read.
Gave up on Holy Deadlock. This book helped to change the English divorce laws. Two well-meaning people want to divorce, but are thwarted by the insanity of the law that states that adultery is the only ground.
Had to stop reading because the end was inevitable and it was going to take too long to get there.
Pam, if you can find Benson's autobiographical trio of books, the Benson family WAS really interesting and you might like his take on things:
As We Were, As We Are, and Final Edition.
Also, Brian Masters' biography, The Life of E.F. Benson is interesting because it fills in the whole scenario with his siblings and parents, all of whom were quite odd.
E.F., of course, maintains certain levels of discretion and family loyalty, while Masters (although very sympathetic) doesn't have those restraints.
The Blotting Book by E. F. Benson
A crime novella. Taynton the accountant is embezzling the account of his young client, Morris Assheton, and is about to be found out because his Morris plans to marry. Taynton's partner, Mills, in an attempt to stop the marriage, slanders Morris then disappears.
The character of the greedy, self-deluding Taynton was well-drawn, but the mystery wasn't gripping.
Thanks, tiffin, for the recommendations. I would like to know more about Benson and his family.
Hmmm...finish reading the great book or do my housework? Now, that's a tough one! Not! (Why am I sounding like my sons when they were 7 whenever I'm feeling rebellious?)
I have to read those Stieg Larsson books. So sad that he died so young.
I'm glad you liked The Girl Who Played with Fire. I've heard that the final book is even better. Larsson had outlines for seven more books, but his estate has decided to only publish the ones he finished.
edited for embarrassing grammatical laziness.
Waiting eagerly for The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, but in the meantime, a girl has to read.
A Puzzle for Pilgrims by Patrick Quentin.
Sordid goings on in Mexico. One plot twist too many, unfortunately.
In a Summer Season by Elizabeth Taylor
I was hoping that Elizabeth Taylor would be another Barbara Pym, but have been disappointed. Distant and unkind.
Gosh, I really liked it. Odd how different things hit people differently. No, she definitely doesn't have Pym's humour. But I didn't pick up on the unkindness.
ETA: I haven't managed to find "A View of the Harbour" yet. Several here say it's one of her best. I wish I could find another Pym-like writer. She just knocks my socks off.
lindsacl, to be fair on Elizabeth Taylor I'll give Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont a go. Thank you for the recommendations.
tiffin, I'm looking too and will definitely let you know if I find a contender.
Just finished As We Were by E. F. Benson, which I liked because he knew the people he wrote about - Henry James and Oscar Wilde, for example.
Also read The English Gentleman - a short, quick read - a guide to the habits of the English Gentleman. Nancy Mitford did it better.
>85: Pam, if you enjoy Mrs. Palfrey you might also like the film starring Joan Plowright.
A Death in the Faculty by Amanda Cross
Winner of the 1981 Nero Wolfe Award for Mystery Fiction.
The witty, erudite Kate Fansler, Professor of Victorian Literature, investigates the victimisation of Janet Mandelbaum, Margaret Thatcher clone, and the first woman to be appointed a tenured professor in the English faculty of Harvard University.
A Right to Die by Rex Stout
A strong civil rights theme runs through Stout's 1964 novel.
Slowly the Poison by June Drummond
Hugh Frobisher falls from his horse and dies. Did his wife Alice poison him? Did she poison Hugh's brother as well?
Atmospheric crime novel set in London and Durban just before WW1. 3.5*
Good to see you Judylou.
I'm adjusting some recent ratings down by half a star - have been too generous with some of these crime novels, when I look back at the some of the ratings I've given in the past.
Cry Guilty by Sara Woods.
Art thefts, court cases, murders. All a bit silly, but quite readable.
The Voice of the Corpse by Max Murray
Guilty secrets in an English village. A wicked spinster dances with glee when when her poison pen letters hit their marks. Which of her victims bashed her head in with a blunt instrument, cutting her off in the middle of a folk song?
Light and entertaining.
Max Murray, BBC correspondent, wrote twelve mysteries, all with Corpse in the title, in the forties and fifties.
Fortunately he was born in Australia, so I have been able to put him in my Australia and the Pacific category rather than my almost full crime category.
And now you've left me hanging, wondering which one DID bop her off midsong. Hope I can find this one.
I've never heard of Max Murray. When are his books set? How many did he write?
cmbohn, he wrote twelve, as far as I can find out. I've read three - one set in Canberra, one in an English village and one in an English stately home. I picked up a green Penguin one day in a second-hand bookshop and have been keeping an eye out since.
The Voice of the Corpse might be the easiest to find because it has been reissued.
The Leopard by Tomasi di Lampedusa
Bought this for a friend so had to read it. Thought I'd read it before, but could remember only the Visconti film with Alain Delon as Tancredi, Claudia Cardinale as Angelica and Burt Lancaster as the Prince.
Historical novel set at the time of the unification of Italy.
Unreservedly recommending both book and film. 5* each.
Hooray! I don't think I've ever seen the film but I love the book. Glad you do too.
tiffin, if the film comes on at a cinema near you, be sure to see it. To watch a DVD would be a waste, because it's just so beautiful.
The Congo Venus by Mathew Head
The beautiful, blonde Liliane Morelli, naive and socially inept, scandalises the inhabitants of Leopoldville. Dr Mary Finney, her missionary friend Miss Emily, and the young supply clerk, Hooper, investigate Liliane's death.
Exotic setting in the Belgian Congo, well-drawn eccentric characters and entertaining dialogue make this well-plotted mystery a good read.
Burn Out by Marcia Muller
After surviving a bombing, Sharon McCone has collapsed into depression and lethargy. While she's resting on her husband Hy's farm, she becomes entangled in a series of murders.
Well-written, tightly plotted crime novel, well up to Muller's usual standard.
Having to get creative about the categories I'm putting these crime novels into. Considered slotting it into Prize winners on the basis of Muller's Lifetime Achievement Award from the Mystery Writers of America. Keeping that in reserve.
Having to get creative about the categories I'm putting these crime novels into.
LOL! I'm with you all the way, however you manage to cram in a few more in your harder-to-fill categories. I managed to change my categories enough in my 999, so that everything could fit in just about anywhere--except the one category I kept avoiding, and was the reason I did the challenge in the first place! What the heck, though. Isn't this your second time around anyway? :-)
My categories are so loose I could put crime novels into any of them, and probably will. There's a Shane Moloney on hand for the Australian category.
The Brass Verdict by Michael Connelly
Another good story from Michael Connelly. Plenty of twists and turns. The lawyer Mickey Haller, recovering from gunshot woundsand a painkiller addiction, inherits a big case from a murdered colleague.
Sucked In by Shane Moloney
On a cool and overcast April afternoon, a retrenched Repco salesman from Benalla named Geoff Lyons and his fishing mate, Craig Kitson, drove the forty-three kilometers to Lake Nillahcootie in Geoff's Toyota 4 Runner.
After a while though, the tone grates. Funny in parts, but I don't like Moloney's main character, the Labor Party apparatchik Murray Whelan. The political cynicism just gets me down.
Vertigo by Amanda Lohrey
A couple move from Sydney to a hamlet on the NSW coast. Such realistic descriptions of the wild weather, I experienced the drought, the winds and the bushfire with them.
Indeed it has done Pam! I read your last one a while ago now and it has remained there in the back of my head ever since.
Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather
The French priest Father Jean Latour is the first bishop for New Mexico. He brings with him his friend from seminary days, Father Joseph Vaillant. The priests of New Mexico have ministered to parishes far from the Church administrators, and have strayed from the teachings of the Church.
Fascinating story about the early days of New Mexico, when it has just become part of the US.
Highly recommended. 4.5*
Frozen Tracks by Ake Edwardson
A sad and damaged man is abducting four year olds. He does not intend to harm them, but with each abduction he is losing control. Inspector Winter and his colleagues are desperately trying to identify the abductor and find a four year old boy alive.
Another good crime novel from Sweden. Recommended. 4*
Unsafe Hands by Jane Aiken Hodge
Written in the fifties, but first published in 1997. Murder in an English village.
Silly plot. 3*
>82-86 I was thinking of giving Elizabeth Taylor a go too. I've seen the movies 'Angel' and 'Mrs Palfrey' but have yet to read any of her novels. I was thinking of starting with At Mrs Lippincote's.
digifish, At Mrs Lippincote's looks good. Found a re-release of Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont on The Book Depository, so will check on Mrs Palfrey too.
Just read Lady of Quality by Georgette Heyer and Lean, Mean Thirteen by Janet Evanovich. Two frivolous books for a cold, wet weekend. Enjoyed them both.
I read the first two Evanovich's, but then started back to school and never picked them up again. Those first two were totally fun!
A Few Green Leaves by Barbara Pym
Emma, an unimpressive anthropologist in her late thirties, rents a cottage in a Cottswald village so that she can work on an academic paper. She joins in the life of the village and rediscovers a tedious old lover.
Vaguely dissatisfied middle-class people drift through this novel. Pym is, as usual, dryly amusing yet sympathetic, and the ending is hopeful. A good Pym. 4*
The Well by Elizabeth Jolley
First book I've read by Elizabeth Jolley. Gave up half-way through because I disliked the main character and found the plot ridiculous, but returned to it and managed to finish. Not my cup of tea.
>117: interesting. Amandameale sent me a copy of The Well, and although it was dark and the main character not exactly likeable, I still liked the book!
The Harp in the South by Ruth Park
The Darcy family lives in the slums of Sydney's Surry Hills. Park's perspective jarred - too judgemental, too distant. Her poverty-stricken, warm-hearted, booze-sodden Irish people were caricatures. Interesting and entertaining read though. Would have rated it more highly, but the sentimentality made me twitchy.
Did you ever read Park's Playing Beatie Bow? That was one of my favorite childhood books.
Haven't read Playing Beatie Bow - it was after my childhood. Pleased that an Australian children's book was a favourite, RidgewayGirl.
Blood of Victory by Alan Furst
WWII spy story, featuring the emigre Russian author, Serebin. The confusion of characters and plot mirrors the moral ambiguity of characters' motives.
What I really mean is that I kept getting lost, finding that I'd read pages without remembering a thing.
Jade Lady Burning is set amongst the girls and the GIs in Seoul's red light district. Ernie and George, criminal investigators for the US army, investigate the murder of a bar girl.
Martin Limon served in the US military, including ten years in Korea.
Highly recommended. 4.5*
RidgwayGirl, I've managed to find Slicky Boys at an online bookshop, so it's now in the pile. Limon is definitely worth another try after Jade Lady Burning.
Just finished Lise Lillywhite by Margery Sharp. I discovered Sharp from recommendations on LT. British domestic humour from the fifties, lighter than Barbara Pym and less satirical than E. F. Benson. I've enjoyed other Sharps more. This one struck me as xenophobic. To behave well, you really have to be English. The French and the Polish may be quite likeable in their own ways, but their code is not the code of the English.
The book was published in 1951, just six years after the end of WWII, so I daresay there was a lot of patriotism about.
>127: Glad to hear you liked Mrs Palfrey. I thought it was quite touching.
I think you should do a Canadian authors challenge next. nudge nudge wink wink
"...say no more!" ;-) Wait a minute, that should be pamelad's line but I just couldn't resist! ;-)
I'm a lumberjack and I'm OK,
I sleep all night and I work all day.
Lumberjacks are Canadian?
Finished off another category, Published in the Last Ten Years, with Benjamin Black's The Silver Swan.
What a depressing bunch of people! Otherwise, a well-written crime novel. 3.5*
Congrats! Which category have you enjoyed the most this second time around, Pam?
Thanks Bonnie. I've scattered crime novels in every category, so crime is still my favourite genre. Otherwise, my favourite category is probably the Australian one. I never used to read many Australian authors, and I've found some good ones.
Have to get moving again on prize winners - after the Doris Lessing sprint I've slowed right down.
Small Island by Andrea Levy
An engrossing read, but I'm not quite sure about it. The characters didn't seem quite real to me.
I started it and put it down for the same reason. Must finish that one fine day.
Just got caught up with you here, Pam. What a lot of great crime recommendations I've gathered. Have you read Britannia Mews by Margery Sharp? I just read it a bit ago, and loved it.
138 - I just added to my TBR list. I love her children's books, but I didn't know she also wrote for adults.
Linda, I read Britannia Mews last year and liked it a lot. Had a bit of a binge, with The Nutmeg Tree, Cluny Brown and The Foolish Gentlewoman. Enjoyed them all, particularly The Nutmeg Tree.
cmbohn, you have some good reading ahead.
This challenge has been good for encouraging me to read books other than crime novels, but I'm still addicted. Started with private school girls called Angela, who solved crimes in between classes and lacrosse matches.
#140 I have all those Sharp titles, Pam, and am looking forward to each of them.
A short History of Tractors in Ukrainian by Marina Lewycka
Only in London by Hanan al-Shaykh
The lives of Arabian expatriates in London. The main characters are a gay Lebanese man, the father of five, a Moroccan prostitute and an Iraqi refugee, forced into marriage with a fifty year-old man at seventeen. 3.5*
Sweet Death, Kind Death by Amanda Cross
A lucky find, this Kate Fansler novel I hadn't read. Kate investigates the death of Patrice Umphelby, renowned historian and successful fiction writer, who is loved by many but loathed by the conservative faculty members of Clare College.
The Care of Time by Eric Ambler
Ambler's last book. Robert Halliday, a ghost writer with ties to the intelligence services of the US, Britain and NATO, is hired to write the biography of an anarchist, contemporary of Bakunin.
Well, hardly. Halliday romps around Austria with Berber thugs, a German hero, a US general, a mad Arab ruler, assorted television crews and a hit squad. There's a lot going on.
Across the Common by Elizabeth Berridge
Picked this up because of a blurb from Noel Coward on the front cover, "I think Across the Common is entirely good and most beautifully written. I love her subtlety and observation and impeccable characterisation..."
Louise, who is a bit of a drip, has left her husband to return to the house of the aunts who brought her up. She hopes that by gaining an understanding the aunts' history she will be able to escape her extended adolescence and become genuinely adult. There was a bit too much of "something nasty in the woodshed."
Perhaps it was excessively subtle? It may be that I was hoping for a Barbara Pym substitute and have been disappointed.
Quite liked it. 3.5*
>151 Pam, have you read Barbara Pym's Glass of Blessings? It is probably my least favourite Pym so far, but Phillip Larkin liked it and called it her most subtle novel.
Ages ago, digifish, so I'll have to read it again. A bad memory is a blessing when it comes to re-reading books.
Just finished Carry Me Down by M. J. Hyland. At the start the main character, an 11 year-old Irish boy, seems appealingly eccentric, but as we learn more about him the story darkens. Well-written and very readable. Recommended 4*
The Man Next Door by Mignon G. Eberhart
One of Eberhart's drippy orphan heroines gets caught up in treachery and murder in wartime Washington.
>153 Pam - I read Carry Me Down last year and found it absorbing from the first few pages - I particularly liked the way the author was able to create the sense of approaching disaster as the reader came to know the family and its secrets. Have you read any of M J Hyland's other novels?
The reviews here on LT of "Carry Me Down" are less than compelling. It seems to be one of those love it or hate it books. I like "drippy orphan heroines" as a line, Pam. hehe
MrsPenny, I'll look for others by M. J. Hyland. Carry Me Down is the first I've read. Any others you'd particularly recommend?
Tui, MrsPenny and I, fellow colonials, have rated it highly. Worth a look.
#157: I'd trust both of your opinions over most others. I will try to find it. Tks!
Summer Will Show by Sylvia Townsend Warner
Very pleased to have finished this book. Wordy, with pages of speechifying. I disliked the main characters.
Have given it 3* for worthiness.
ETA It's book 81!! Finished the second round.
Congrats on finishing round 2!
154 made me laugh! That's about the size of her books, isn't it?
Congratulations on your second 81! What an amazing year you've had.
And I second Laura's congratulations on your second 81--Amazing x 2!
cmbohn, Eberhart's heroines are so wet! A dust jacket quote from my 1951 edition of The Man Next Door says that Ebrerhart took to writing in self-defence because her husband's work took him away a lot and she had nothing to do!!
Thank you Laura and Bonnie.
Just finished Josef Skvorecky's The Republic of Whores. Danny Smiricky is a tank commander in the People's Democratic Army of Czechoslovakia, which is preparing for the American invasion. The Russians pulped this book in 1969, so it wasn't published in Czechoslovakia until 1989.
Not his best, but still very good. Recommended 4.5*.
ETA Just gave the Skvorecky another half-star. Have created another category for the rest of the year.
Your a dynamo!
What great books you've read this year.
An impressive accomplishment. You've read some great books and added significantly to my own TBR this year. I look forward to reading your impressions and reviews of books next year.
The Pagoda Tree by Berkely Mather
A lot happened. Ross Stafford helps a transported convict to escape the penal colony of New South Wales, travels by junk to China, where he is caught up in the opium wars, is press ganged into the East India Company army under another man's name, joins a rajah's army commanded by a giant Sikh in a kilt, saves the last defenders of a British garrison from mutinying sepoys......
The plot was ludicrous, but I kept reading. 3*
Escape the Night by Mignon G Eberhart
Two orphans this time, neither drippy. Readable, but a poor ending.
I'm wishing you some better books for the holidays! There's nothing quite like a stream of less than stellar books. They aren't bad enough to abandon, they aren't good enough to justify the time lost.
Have joined the Books off the Shelf Challenge so have unearthed Come Back Charlie and Face Them from the bottom of the tbr pile. 3*
Saving up some really good ones for the 101010 Challenge RidgwayGirl. Might start The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay now, because it's so long.
Just about to finish Tales from Two Pockets, which is excellent but has taken a while because it is short stories and I keep putting it down.
The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay is really, really good and should carry you nicely over your book slump. I suggest starting it after you've finished preparing for the holidays, however.
>173: Good advice, RidgewayGirl! That is a really good book that has been enjoyed by a lot of people with very different tastes. Well, maybe I'm exaggerating because I'm thinking of my 32-year-old son and me, and our tastes aren't that dramatically different, but still! :-)
The Widows of Broome by Arthur Upfield
A crime novel starring the part-aboriginal Detective-Inspector Napoleon Bonaparte, this book comes with an editorial note which dissociates the publisher from Upfield's attitudes to women and aborigines. His language and attitudes certainly do jar, but they belong to another time.
I chose this title because I've been to Broome, a town in the north Western Australia that's closer to southeast Asia than it is to any big Australian city. Before the tourist developments started the eighties, Broome was a wild and ramshackle frontier town. I found the depiction of life in Broome in the early fifties to be the best part of the book.
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