Fall of a Philanderer, Carola Dunn
Gunpowder Plot, Carola Dunn
The Bloody Tower, Carola Dunn
The Black Ship, Carola Dunn
Sheer Folly, Carola Dunn
The Brontë Plot, Katherine Reay
Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons
Anthem for Doomed Youth, Carola Dunn
A Youthful Indiscretion, Elizabeth Edmondson
US, David Nicholls
Gone West, Carola Dunn
Finding Philippe: Lost in France, Elizabeth Edmondson
comments )

Murder on the Flying Scotsman, Carola Dunn
Damsel in Distress, Carola Dunn
Lois in Charge, Bessie Marchant
Chris in Command, Irene Mossop
Hazel, Head Girl, Nancy Breary
Dead in the Water, Carola Dunn
Margery Merton’s Girlhood, Alice Corkran
The Exciting Journey, Norman Dale
Rattle his Bones, Carola Dunn
To Davy Jones Below, Carola Dunn
The Case of the Murdered Muckraker, Carola Dunn
Boys of the Valley School, R A H Goodyear
Mistletoe and Murder, Carola Dunn
A Question of Inheritance, Elizabeth Edmondson
Die Laughing, Carola Dunn
A Mourning Wedding, Carola Dunn

Not very exciting, as I’ve written about several of these books already. No literary fiction at all this month; I’m right off it and preferring familiarity and reliable entertainment. Today I received this month’s offer of a free book for the Kindle. Six choices and every one seemed utterly depressing.

Plate from Hazel, Head Girl

The oldest book (by publication date) which I finished recently was Charles Lamb’s Last Essays of Elia. I still can’t make up my mind about Lamb. Some of his writing is delightful; so whimsical and opinionated, that you have to love him. But his style is so convoluted! It seems old-fashioned for its time (he died in 1834) and he’s harder to read than, say, Boswell, who was writing much earlier.

I then jump to 1928 and As Far as Grandmother’s which, as reported earlier, I was lucky enough to find at the market just when Edith Olivier had swum into my ken. I enjoyed it very much and would like to find more books by her. It deals with three generations of women. ‘Grandmother’s’ is where grandmother lives, within walking distance of her daughter’s house. Grandmother is a person who always gets her own way through sheer force of personality. Her daughter escaped by eloping, then living in a nearby cottage. She gets her own way by lying on a sofa and being so apparently passive and delicate that no one dares cross her. That leaves our heroine Jane, stuck in between the two. Which path will she follow? It’s interesting to find out. This is exactly the kind of book which Persephone might publish.

Let’s move on to O Douglas and Unforgettable, Unforgotten, another market find. This is a memoir of family life rather than an autobiography and much of it deals with her brother, John Buchan. It’s interesting to note how the family lives in a fairly humble way then, through John’s success, get to move amongst the great and the good. I do recommend this to anyone who likes O Douglas, because it shows how much her writing was based on her own experience. In her introduction, she writes that all her books are about remembering happier times, which must account for the comfort factor so many people find in her books. When I’d finished this, I re-read Pink Sugar. It was a good choice because the writer Merren Strang who becomes Kirsty’s friend, shares many characteristics with O Douglas and writes the same kinds of books; books which don’t dwell unnecessarily on unpleasant things, or ‘slime’ but cheer the reader.

When cornflower mentioned H E Bates recently, I remembered that I had an unread book by him on the shelf: The Feast of July. This is a book club edition with a pretty cover, shown above. I think it was another market buy. This is an historical story, set in the Midlands in the nineteenth century. The way the characters speak and the descriptions of local trades are slightly reminiscent of George Eliot. All the descriptions of the countryside are lovely (Bates was good at that) but the heroine, Bella, somehow fails to satisfy. Deserted by her first love, she goes in search of him, only to find another. It’s an interesting story but we don’t really know Bella any better by the end of the book than we did at the beginning.

One Last Summer, by Aubrey de Selincourt is the only children’s book I’ve read lately and was, wait for it, another lucky find at the market. Published in 1944, it’s the fourth book about the Rutherford family, who are all mad keen on sailing. This is a holiday adventure involving wrecks and local mysteries. The Rutherford parents are quite casual about leaving the children to their own devices and they seem to sail or camp as they please. There is some depth to the characters; the reader is bound to find Robin and Elizabeth (the sensitive, thoughtful ones), more attractive than the other two. I’d previously read one other book in the series. It didn’t make me want to collect the lot but they are essential reading for anyone interested in children’s books published in the 1940s.
reliable reads and new books )

Bridget Jones’s Diary, Helen Fielding
Emma, Jane Austen
Blotto, Twinks and the Mystery of the Sphinx, Simon Brett
Still Missing , Beth Gutcheon
Strong Poison, Dorothy L Sayers
It’s the Little Things, Erica James
The Queen of New Beginnings, Erica James
Have his Carcase, Dorothy L Sayers
Caroline Crusoe, Mary Gervaise
Creature Comforts , Trisha Ashley
Emma, Alexander McCall Smith
Heirs of the Body (Daisy Dalrymple), Carola Dunn
The Misbegotten, Katherine Webb
opinions )

Lord Roworth’s Reward, Carola Dunn
The World of Arthur Ransome , Christina Hardyment
A Room Full of Bones, Elly Griffiths
Dying Fall, Elly Griffiths
The Brother of Daphne, Dornford Yates
The Third Wife , Lisa Jewell
Captain Ingram’s Inheritance, Carola Dunn
Striding Folly, Dorothy L Sayers
The Vet’s Daughter, Barbara Comyns
Blood Count, Robert Goddard
A Place for Us Part 1, Harriet Evans
The Courts of Idleness, Dornford Yates
a few comments )

May books

Jun. 1st, 2014 11:52 am

Miss Jacobson’s Journey, Carola Dunn
The Garden Plot , Marty Wingate
Berry & Co., Dornford Yates
The Roses of No Man’s Land , Lyn Macdonald
We Made a Garden , Margery Fish
I Murdered my Library, Linda Grant
And Berry Came Too, Dornford Yates
Meatspace , Nikesh Shukla
Sing for your Supper, Pamela Frankau
The House That Berry Built, Dornford Yates
thoughts )

Speaking from Among the Bones, Alan Bradley
The Dead in Their Vaulted Aches , Alan Bradley
Life After Life , Kate Atkinson
Valley of the Shadow, Carola Dunn
Kipling, 100 Poems Old and New, ed. Thomas Pinney.
Queen Camilla, Sue Townsend
Object Lessons, Anna Quindlen
The Old-Girl Network, Catherine Alliott 1994
Stage Blood, Michael Blakemore
opinions )

Bertie’s Guide to Life and Mothers, Alexander McCall Smith
The Hollow Hills , Mary Stewart
A Mystery for Ninepence, Phyllis Gegan
Turned Out Nice Again , Richard Mabey
Hidden Lives A Family Memoir, Margaret Forster
The Perfect Present, Karen Swan
Manna from Hades (Cornish Mystery 1) ,Carola Dunn
This Rough Magic, Mary Stewart
Ribbons and Laces, Ruby M Ayres
thoughts )

just a few

Thanks to The Book People's bargain prices, I’ve been having a lovely time reading the whole series of Daisy Dalrymple novels straight through. I love the covers, but the blurbs do the books no favours.
‘For fans of Dorothy L Sayers’. Not. There is no comparison.
‘Well heeled Daisy…’. Not. The whole point about Daisy’s life is that she is trying, in the early 1920s, to be an independent working woman. Her brother, heir to a viscountcy, was killed in the First World War. Her father died in the Spanish flu epidemic, and the title and Daisy’s childhood home went to a cousin. Rather than live with her mother, the Dowager, or with the cousins, Daisy sets up in Chelsea with her equally well connected friend Lucy. Daisy writes, Lucy is a photographer.
’Flapper’. Not. Throughout the series, Daisy laments the curvaceous figure which means the straight up and down styles in fashion can never suit her. She buys her clothes in Selfridges’ bargain basement, drinks little and rarely goes to parties.

In the very first book, Death at Wentwater Court, Daisy has been commissioned by a Country Life-type magazine to write up the house. An unpopular house guest is found dead, Daisy’s photographs of the scene suggest murder, and so Daisy begins her habit of ‘falling over bodies’. Her great gift is that, thanks to her ‘deceptively guileless blue eyes’, people are always happy to confide in her. She’s just as good at talking to servants as to the aristocracy. The policeman called in to investigate is Detective Chief Inspector Alec Fletcher of Scotland Yard. He’s often asked to take on this sort of case because he’s educated, well spoken and able to get on with upper class types without being overawed by them. Daisy’s first impression is that he is ‘scrumptious’. Aha!

The growing relationship between Daisy and Alec is just as interesting as the murder stories. She is smitten but wonders if he’s really interested. He worries about whether the daughter of a viscount can marry a middle class widower, ten years older than she is and with a daughter he dotes on. Daisy infuriates Alec by so often being on the scene of a murder and by her ‘meddling’. Even more infuriatingly, Daisy is often right in her judgements of character and her insights into what might have happened. Daisy is annoyed whenever she feels her input is undervalued. Both characters are so jolly nice that it’s a pleasure to read about them. The stories are a mixture of the macabre and the domestic. Some mysteries are better than others, but that’s true of most detective series. I find these books very enjoyable light reading and say, ‘Hurrah for Carola Dunn’.

Guns in the Gallery, Simon Brett
Magnificent Obsession , Helen Rappaport
The Black Ship, Carola Dunn
The Fountain Overflows, Rebecca West
Prelude to Terror, Helen MacInnes
Hasty Death, M C Beaton
Chronicles of Carlingford: The Rector and The Doctor’s Family , Mrs Oliphant
The Old Wives’ Tale , Arnold Bennett
The Dream House, Rachel Hore
The Nine Tailors, Dorothy L Sayers
The Memory Garden, Rachel Hore
Faulks on Fiction, Sebastian Faulks
thoughts )

June Books

Jul. 2nd, 2011 11:40 am


The Body on the Beach, Simon Brett. First Fethering mystery.
The Third Miss Symons , F M Mayor
Caddy’s World, Hilary McKay
A Sister Called Mary, Eileen Collins
Hothouse Flower, Lucinda Riley
Saffy’s Angel, Hilary McKay
The Novel in the Viola, Natasha Solomons
Emotional Geology, Linda Gillard
Styx and Stones, (Daisy Dalrymple), Carola Dunn
Noah’s Compass, Anne Tyler
The Beekeper’s Apprentice, Laurie R King
Damaris at Dorothy’s, Elsie J Oxenham
Case Histories
One Good Turn, Kate Atkinson
Just Patty & When Patty Went to College, Jean Webster
thoughts )

March Books

Apr. 1st, 2011 04:01 pm

Rattle His Bones, Carola Dunn
Mariana, Monica Dickens
Cranford, Mrs Gaskell, free Kindle download
Peggy and the Brotherhood, Elsie J Oxenham
The Camp Mystery, Elsie J Oxenham
Phoebe Deane , Grace Livingston Hill
Letters of a Woman Homesteader , Elinore Pruitt Stewart
The Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party, Alexander McCall Smith
The Crow Road, Ann Cleeves
The Dark of Summer , Eric Linklater
Back to Bologna, Michael Dibdin (Aurelio Zen mystery).
My Last Duchess, Daisy Goodwin
Sheer Folly (Daisy Dalrymple), Carola Dunn
Mrs Harris Goes to Paris & Mrs Harris Goes to New York, Paul Gallico
The Eagle of the Ninth , Rosemary Sutcliff
The Silver Branch, Rosemary Sutcliff

thoughts, long )

Damsel in Distress, a Daisy Dalrymple mystery, Carola Dunn
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
, Mary Ann Shaffer
Pink Sugar, O Douglas
A Swarm in May, William Mayne
Choristers’ Cake
Cathedral Wednesday
One Day, David Nicholls
Dead in the Water, Carola Dunn
Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand , Helen Simonson
The Sweetness and the Bottom of the Pie, Alan Bradley
The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag , Alan Bradley
Agatha Raisin and the Day the Floods Came, M C Beaton
Overture to Death , Ngaio Marsh
Charlotte Fairlie, D E Stevenson
Watching the English: The Hidden Rules of English Behaviour, Kate Fox
thoughts )

Nothing but light reads this month.

A Blunt Instrument, Georgette Heyer. Unfortunately I guessed the solution to this one pretty early on in the book.
Penny Plain, O Douglas. She is incomparable for reading in bed.
The Dangerous Islands, Ann Bridge
Beswitched, Kate Saunders
Emergency in the Pyrenees, Ann Bridge. Julia is now married to Jamieson and the fool packs off his wife, six months’ pregnant, to a remote house in the Pyrenees. Author and reader curse his idiocy and unfortunately I had to abandon the book because I couldn’t bear to read about Julia’s problems (more would be a spoiler) while feeling ill. Don’t read this if you’re pregnant. So snuck back to the ever-welcoming safety of
Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding. Watched the film, again, as well.
Bridget Jones, The Edge of Reason
Duplicate Death, Georgette Heyer. Reuses the Kane family characters from an earlier novel.
The Double Comfort Safari Club, Alexander McCall Smith
True to the Trefoil , a celebration of fictional Girl Guides, edited by Tig Thomas
The Torso in the Town, Simon Brett. Another case for Carole and Jude and I’ve obviously read several since this one came out. It doesn’t matter where you pick them up, though.
Detection Unlimited, Georgette Heyer. The last of the ten I bought and probably the least good.
more books & Wishing for Tomorrow )

Bury Her Deep, Catriona McPherson
Penelope’s Prefects, Judith Carr
I Capture the Castle, Dodie Smith
The Case of the Missing Servant, Tarquin Hall *L
Death of a Village, M C Beaton *L
Death of a Dustman, M C Beaton *L
Juliet, Naked, Nick Hornby
Mrs Malory and Any Man’s Death, Hazel Holt
Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
Going Dutch, Katie Fforde
Death at Wentwater Court, a Daisy Dalrymple Mystery, Carola Dunn
The Winter Garden Mystery, Carola Dunn
comments )



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