Singin’ in the Rain

My most favourite film – ever is Singin’ in the Rain. 1952, Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds and Donald O’Connor. It tells the story how the talkies came to Hollywood and pokes fun at the industry.

Obviously I never saw the film first time it was released but something in my childhood must have ingrained this film and the music into my head. I was taken at a very early age to see Tommy Steele and Roy Castle at the London Palladium in 1983, I can remember being sat quite high up and was apparently more fascinated with the orchestra and the tube ride there than I was the show. However, something must have stuck as I was bought the video and promptly wore that out. Thank goodness for DVDs.

12 years later in 1995 I got the chance to see it again, this time directed by Tommy Steele and starring Paul Nicholas in the lead role of Don Lockwood.

Some years later I cannot remember the date and I am back at my local theatre The Mayflower, Southampton for another production of my favourite show. As a fan I went to the matinée performance only for the water to cause a short circuit and so I had to go again three days later on Saturday.

The cinema did something marvellous in 2002, celebrating 50 years of the film, got a reprint of the film and I got to see it on the big screen as it was meant to be seen.

And still the film/musical is my favourite and whenever it is on the television I will watch it annoying those with me, as I am always preempting what is going to be said and I was conscious of that when I got the chance to go and see it again at my other local theatre Chichester Festival Theatre. I am lucky enough to live 20 minutes from two of the best theatres in the country.

Singin’ in the Rain 2011 style was fantastic. Yes they played a bit fast and loose with the film. A couple of extra songs, one for Don and Kathy when she first meets him and a song for Lina Lamont – why? Cosomo Brown does not run up the wall as he does in the film, which I show below for your pleasure if you wish to partake in making them laugh!

Also as Lina Lamont is exposed at the end of the film, they did not sing Singin’ in The Rain which I was a bit disappointed at, but that was soon forgotten as a whole cast ensemble did the title track again as the rain came down once more! (splashing the audience, some of who were not amused. Do not sit in the front row then!)  They had real fun you could see that and has the three main leads took their bow, the others absolutely soaked them. What a delight!

This was an excellent production, and is worthy of the reviews I have read and the standing ovation it got as well.  It is allegedly going into the West End, and it deserves it if it does. The three main leads, I would say are not that well known, the names might ring a few bells and I had to do a bit of research. Adam Cooper who plays Don Lockwood, was the older Billy in Billy Elliott, the scene at the end with Swan Lake – that was him! Scarlett Strallen who plays Kathy Selden (sister of Summer who I am seeing in Top Hat in a few weeks time) was Mary Poppins, in Mary Poppins on the stage. A show I never got to see and I wish I had because that is my second favourite film. Sandra Dickinson (used to be married to Peter Davison) and Michael Brandon (Demspey and Makepeace) I did recognise.

A lovely afternoon out on a Sunday, a rare occurrence for a theatre, but it was delightful sitting on the grass with a cup of tea in the sunshine, waiting to go in and know that you were going to enjoy the show no matter what! They should prescribe it on the NHS.


The Weed that Strings the Hangman’s Bag – Alan Bradley

What do you get if you mix any of the Enid Blyton mystery solving children, with a dash of the country lady that is Miss Marple, well Flavia de Luce of course! Expect that with Flavia there is also a degree of suffering in her childhood which is perhaps not reflected in any of the aforementioned characters.

Flavia is back in the second of Alan Bradley’s books The Weed that Strings the Hangman’s Bag. She still has to put up with her older sisters; Daffy with her nose permanently in a book and Feely with her nose permanently at a mirror. Neither of the sisters seems to have much care for Flavia and they chip away at a rather fragile Flavia who despite her 11 years is still somewhat innocent of the world.

“Although I had a sketchy idea of what went on between two people having an affair, I did not actually know the precise mechanical details”.

Everything in Flavia’s mind can be broken down into details, into its basic elements and she continues to seek solace in her laboratory where she experiments and learns about poisons that probably most poisoners do not know about. So when a murder happens in front of her eyes, her brain goes back through all the basic elements until a conclusion can be drawn.

The death at a puppet performance of Jack and the Beanstalk by a famous puppeteer echoes a death of a small child some five years earlier in the village of Bishop Lacey. But how does a travelling showman such as Rupert Porson come to have been in Bishop Lacey before this terrible event? Mad Meg of the woods is convinced that the devil took the child. Grace Ingleby the boy’s mother has been grieving every day since he was found hanging in the wood. And exactly why does Cynthia Richardson think is going on in the village parish where husband is vicar?  Plenty of plot lines and thoughts to follow and when you think you have solved the puzzle, another piece does not fit. Eventually Flavia seems to outwit Inspector Hewitt her adversary from the previous body she had found, and through her encyclopaedic knowledge of chemistry she saves one of the key witnesses.

All the characters from the first novel are back in this second instalment, besides Flavia’s sisters there is her father still trying to come to terms with being widowed in house with 3 girls and keep everything and everyone from going to financial ruin. Dogger the faithful retainer remains in the background but you can sure that when his mind is up to it, he can see and hear what he needs to be able to help Flavia move that little bit closer to the truth. Mrs Mullet, the daily cook and housekeeper who is a budding Mrs Malaprop and makes me chuckle with her observations on recent village events.

 “…like I said, nobody knows for sure. They had what they call an ink-quest at the library – it’s the same thing as a poet’s mortem”.

This is a lovely book, if a book with a murder can be described as such. It has the period charm of a Blyton story and the village setting of a Christie but when you have a bright young flame such as Flavia then it takes on a whole different meaning. Here is a girl that is trying to find her place in life, without the help of a mother long since dead and with two sisters who but are only interested in themselves and a father who is trying his hardest to do what, still remains a mystery to me as a reader. Flavia is a lost soul, and when you read this book and its predecessor then you feel that you have perhaps made Flavia’s life a little brighter because it will have brightened your own.

Books · Witterings

Step away from the books…..

I am off from work on holiday and as is my want at these times I like to have  a book buying splurge! (Ignoring all the other books I buy through the year!) I enjoy spending an hour or so wandering around my local Waterstones who when I was in there had a very large extensive 3 for 2 which helped me out somewhat.

There is something peaceful about being in a bookshop, and I just love being amongst the books, looking at all the wonderful covers and recognising books being discussed on blogs as well as books I have read as well. It is only then do I remind myself that I have read quite a bit.

So the photograph, and the two piles – as you look at it the pile on the left are books by authors I have previously read and know what I am getting from these authors. From top to bottom

Marcia Willett – The Summer House. It is a while since I read one of her novels but have always enjoyed them.

David Nicholls – Starter for Ten. Cashing in on the popularity of One Day, the other books are prominently displayed so time I found out if One Day was a one off kind of novel.

Veronica Henry – The Birthday Party. Read two previous novels by this author and still not quite decided about them. Very much Chic-Lit though.

Kate Atkinson – Behind the Scenes at the Museum. I have read all of her Jackson Brodie novels and now want to complete the back catalogue with her stand alone books. I just hope this is better than Emotionally Weird which I did not enjoy.

The pile on the right. These are all books by authors I have never read before. Again some have been seen around the blog world and prominent in reviews etc. Some were simply because the cover jumped out, then the blurb satisfied me, then the first couple of pages drew me in. So again from top to bottom

Sue Welfare – The Surprise Party. Warring sisters, who arrange their parents 40th Anniversary party but is their family that idyllic?

Sara Sheridan – The Secret Mandarin Set in London in the 1840s and also China. Since reading The Sandalwood Tree I have rather a passion for these types of novels.

Lizzie Enfield – What You Don’t Know You have everything, husband, children, home but then someone you would not expect to like a very plain man would you?

Amelia Carr – A Song at Sunset World War Two Love Story

Adrienne McDonnell – The Doctor and the Diva First Novel, turn of the 20th Century in Boston, Caribbean and Italy.

Maeve Binchy – Minding Frankie Well known author whose books I have never read. This one is going to rectify that.

Sue Monk Kidd – The Secret Life of Bees Pitched as good as The Help by Kathryn Stockett. Mid Sixties in America and race attitudes and issues.

Emma Henderson – Grace Williams Says it Out Loud Short listed for the Orange Prize, thought I would give it a go.

Then I could not help myself and ordered some books from Amazon, mainly due to cheer me up because of a couple of recent events. It will cheer me up even more now to be reading all these books as well. It could have been worse, I suppose I could have hit the chocolate.

And again from top to bottom

Sarah Challis – The Garden Party Have read other books by this author and so I am relatively sure of what I am getting.

Susan Hill – Howard’s End is on the Landing I have been debating this for a while and I thought after seeing some reviews I would give it a go.

Deborah Lawrenson – The Lantern A modern day Rebecca. As Rebecca is one of my favourites I will see.

L.C. Tyler – The Herring Seller’s Apprentice Jane has reviewed many of these books on her blog and as I do like crime and quirky detectives I thought I would try the first book. Something makes me think I will be hooked!

Rosie Thomas – The Kashmir Shawl I was shallow enough to fall in love with the cover. On reading about the book it is based in Wales and India and having read many books like this in the past, I look forward to how this story unfolds.

Essie Fox – The Somnambulist Again this is a book picked up from reading many blogs and I do not want to be left behind!

Looking at the books, a lot of parties to go to! I also think there are some similar themed books there. Have you read any of these books, any I should read before something else.

What has arrived on your bookshelves lately?


Recipe for Life – Nicky Pellegrino

Alice is escaping her life, well she is trying. After a horrific night where she is raped, she drops out of university and moves to London and tries to find what it is she wants to do. All the time avoiding being on her own at night where she lives with her friend Leila; going back to Charlie who dumped her before that fateful night and now realises the mistake he made. Alice then blots out the days by working every hour as a chef in an Italian Restaurant where she meets Tonino.

Tonino gives her the opportunity to go to Italy to learn about cooking from his parents who run a little trattoria on the harbour in Triento . Here she discovers not just more love of food but the source of the fresh ingredients, picked straight from the ground, caught fresh from the sea. Different dishes for differing seasons not the monotony of the same dish day in day out as at the restaurant.

To make everything alright and for Alice to feel safe, Leila her friend comes with her to Italy, as her mother has bought Villa Rosa a wonderful house where she wants to paint the sky. This is where Babetta has lived all her life and she tends to the gardens of Villa Rosa

“Villa Rosa was so beautiful…The house was so simple really but it had gardens that tumbled in terraces all the way down to the sea.  Its back was to the mountains and it faced a little courtyard with a pomegranate tree in the middle.”

Babetta feels life her life is closing up all around her. There seems no purpose anymore in tending the Villa Rosa gardens when it is not occupied or even her own garden. Her husband, Nunzio is slowing closing up and does not talk anymore just sits in his chair on the terrace and looks out to the sky. The arrival of Alice et al wakes something in Babetta and slowly she changes her life but remembers all the time that all this happiness can be taken away so quickly and tries to despite the language barrier communicate this to Alice who she falls into a comfortable gardening relationship with.

This story is the perfect sunny escape for a summer read. It is touched with the love of food, of friendship and of romance. In alternating chapters between Alice in the first person narrative and Babetta in the third person the story weaves itself together, at times I did wonder how everyone was going to be linked but it happened so naturally, it grew as the vegetables in Babetta’s garden did.

This book reflects that it is okay to be you but do not try and waste it being something you are not as the only person you are cheating ultimately is yourself. Nicky Pellegrino’s love of food comes through in this book and in the previous ones I read. So much so that you find yourself wanting to get up in the middle of night after reading it and starting cooking!

Nicky Pellegrino has also written Delicious, The Italian Wedding, Summer at Villa Rosa and her latest novel The Villa Girls. 

The two linked books are to my Amazon reviews and they all feature hot sunny places with delicious food to be enjoyed on or off the page. I get the impression from the lack of reviews that perhaps Nicky Pellegrino is not so well known. I hope anyone reading my blog perhaps gives her books a go and passes them on to someone else to enjoy as well. If not well I will indulge quite happily on my own. 


House of the Hanged – Mark Mills

Tom Nash has a past and for the last sixteen years he has managed to avoid it but suddenly one summer in 1935 in a small village on the French coast whilst his friends and the only person he is close to, his god-daughter Lucy are visiting it comes back to haunt him in a rather dramatic and life changing way.

Someone tries to kill Tom. Every instinct that Tom thought he had buried suddenly comes screaming to the front and the book continues apace filling in the gaps of how Tom comes to be where he is now. We know from the beginning of the book that we are dealing with the secret intelligence service of more than one country at the end of The Great War. However, disruption and revolution seem to brewing in Europe and suddenly a 16-year-old grudge needs to be settled.

Tom suspects everyone and no one and as the book continues we see him analyse all those around him as he tries to come to the right conclusion before it is too late. His life is now in someone else’s hands and he does not like it. Who has let slip about his past and now wants to threaten everything in his present?

This book very much reminded me of James Bond novels. Probably more the films than the actual novels, as I could visualise how it could all be played out on screen. Mark Mills leaves nothing to chance and gives us full descriptions of the assassins and all those possible suspects. The little tricks, nuances and skill are there whether it comes from Tom or from one of his associates. The reader is given all the facts and then has to come to a conclusion. I was slightly confused by the beginning of the story and did reread a couple of times, to get the characters in place in my mind but once I had done this the book flew along as I wanted to get to the outcome. I guessed one part correctly but admit to being slightly confused by the plot, this I am sure was the intention because by the end I had it all organised in my mind.

I have read all previous Mark Mills’ books and I have to confess I rank this up there with The Savage Garden and is one of his stronger novels. If you like a historical setting and background, a mystery, some spies and intrigue and a sprinkling of 1930s Europe society then this is an ideal book.

Thank you to Amazon Vine for allowing me the opportunity to read this book. 

I have read all of Mark Mills novels though not in the order they were published. I first came across The Savage Garden thanks to Richard and Judy book club. I then read The Information Officer and subsequently his first novel The Whaleboat House. All have completely different storylines, plots and cover differing eras. I confess as I mention in one of my reviews that had I read The Whaleboat House first, I would never have picked up another book by Mills. In which case I would have missed out on some rather good books.

According to his website, his fascination with the 1930s which the House of the Hanged is set in could see another book featuring some of the characters. Quite possibly you may well have hit upon something there Mark and I do hope you choose to take up the mantle.

Books · Witterings

Organising and Counting

Inspired by Jane’s post on bringing order to her bookshelves. I decided it was time to tackle my own bookshelf – not to actually put any order to it.  If I took a  picture of my bookshelf one week and then I did the same the following week it would never look the same, as I pull books off the shelf and have a few for selecting what to read next then I put them back however I can and so books that were at the back come to the front. They go from being horizontal to vertical to back again. It is a never-ending task but one I secretly enjoy.

What I have been do is organising my ‘to read’ and ‘read’ books on Goodreads. I thought I was on top of adding books on when they arrived and dating when I have read them. Then again……

So I found my trusty book which I have been using for a while after trying varying different books to find one that suited me the best.  And meticulously went through and made sure everything was up to date – now I think it is or at least I hope it is. Although I now have decided I need to buy some sticky notes to mark as dividers in my book to make things a bit easier to flick backwards and forwards to. I have a list of books that I have read from around Aug 2007 when I first became serious about writing book reviews for every book I read.

There are some other dates much earlier scattered in the book which I picked up from Amazon when I perhaps was just putting my toe in the water come reviewing and when I was getting my reading/book mojo back as well which had been on holiday whilst I was at university.

I also have lists in the book by author as well, so I can see which books I have read of a particular series and which ones I have not read. Read in pen, too read in pencil. This needs a bit of a tidy up as well. As I am lazy and just write over the pencil in pen. So on my shopping list with sticky notes for markers is an eraser as well.

There are many books I have listed on Goodreads that I know I have read but cannot remember when I read them, these are mainly whilst I was going through a ‘aga saga’ phase – Mary Jane Staples, Pamela Evans, Joan Jonker et al. It is a while since I have read any of their books but I wanted to record them both in my book and on Goodreads for posterity.

I have updated all the ratings on there so they should match with my Amazon reviews. To be honest though I do not think seriously a lot of the time on how many stars to give a book. It is a gut reaction most of the time.

So I am now updated, well I have just bought some more books and they will need to be added, but perhaps I can be a bit more up to date and together for a little while at least it sounds great!

For those who list statistics as I do on occasions –

  • In 2010 I read 29392 pages.
  • In 2010 the longest book I read was Marian Keyes – Rachel’s Holiday (640 Pages)
  • So far this year I have read 20794 pages  and still counting
  • So far this year the longest book I have read is Jo Nesbo – The Redbreast (656 Pages) I wonder if I will read a book longer than that in the rest of the year?

Plus this blog is now a year old! My first post was on 14 Aug 2010, so I have just passed that landmark. Thank you to all who stop by and say hello and comment. And thank you to all who just stop by I pass on my kindest regards. Hope you are enjoying it so far……

Books · Crafts

Laura’s Handmade Life – Amanda Addison

Laura Lovegrove has moved to Norfolk with her husband Adi and two children Lilly and Daisy because of Adi’s job. In terms of their finances everything is now suddenly becoming much harder one of the main reasons for the relocation.  Laura is trying to fit into life in the country and nothing is going to plan.

Laura is trying to be a good wife but her husband Adi is withdrawing further and further away from her and she does not know why. Isolated in a village where she is slowly starting to make friends means she has no one to talk to and ask for advice then someone from her past turns up? Will he make her see what she has been missing?

Laura is trying to be a teacher at the local college and in terms of her pupils she is succeeding. From the college point of view and her boss she is somewhat lacking in preparation, avoids health and safety rules and lets the pupils craft and art just come from their hearts.

And Laura is trying to just do that, work with her crafts from her heart. Her heart lies in vintage fabrics and fashion , and her passion if not obsession for these causes much sadness in her life but it takes a long time and a near disaster for Laura to realise that perhaps vintage does not have to remain that be brought up to date. And so begins the new life for Laura.

This is a debut novel and in the main taps into the chick-lit market even more so if you are a fan of crafts, there are plenty of ideas that jump off the page and the descriptions of colours, textures and projects will hail any crafter. However the story is rather weak in parts and it was a struggle to read in parts. Adi is a very one-dimensional character and his rather annoying attitude never really making his mark in the book or with Laura. If it was me I would have quite happily strangled him with a vintage frock! More could have been made of the teacher side of Laura’s life as this did have some very funny moments.  For me this book needed a bit more polishing, in sewing terms the tacking stitches could still be seen and that made me cringe at parts. However, I will pick up her next novel which is currently in progress.

I admit to falling in love with the cover of this book it would be great to have a touchy feely version with all the fabrics on it. I really want to make some bunting, but I never seem to have the time amongst all the other things I make.

The book has references to all the stitches that can be used at the beginning of each chapter (as well as patterns at the end of the book) and this brings a homely comfortable feel to the book. The novel did not really live up to that, and some areas were coasted over too much which would have made better reading e.g. the students at the college Laura teaches in. Other areas were too much e.g. the yurt was not properly explained and I had to look it up as to what it was and then only did I understand the relevance to the novel. So much more could have been made of this and brought in line with the craft element of the story.  This is where the novel fell down for me, but not so much that I can say I did not enjoy it. 

I will read the next novel (working title Laura’s Handmade Christmas) because I feel that there is more to come with this author. I also think that reading about her background on her website, there is some probably autobiographical elements throughout the book which does draw me in. Perhaps a more craft related book might be the way for this author to go rather than novels?


The Tapestry of Love – Rosy Thornton

Catherine, now divorced with grown up children Tom and Lexie, a sister Bryony a workaholic lawyer  and a mother who sadly has Alzheimer’s and is in a nursing home makes the decision to move to France. Not to a bustling city or town but a very small rural community with very few people where Catherine is exposed to the elements and the landscape which she uses for own new start.

Catherine hopes to create some sort of business working with fabrics and threads and sells to the locals, in the markets, with special commissions where she can cover furniture and make curtains. Her house Les Fenils is the place to do it and whilst she settles to this work and establishes herself in the community. The community also help establish her as a local. Neighbours help where needed, inform of flooded telephone lines, drop off produce and advise on when to plant and when to harvest. As Catherine settles in to her new surroundings and the seasons, she encounters Patrick Castagnol her nearest neighbour further up the mountain than herself. A strange sort of friendship develops and goes away when her sister Bryony arrives. Bryony is suddenly on a second visit wanting to escape from the ‘rat race’ as she can see the benefit this life is having on her sister. Does Bryony have the right sort of self sufficient personality to cope with such isolation and peace? Can Catherine hold on to the idyll that she has created and not let anyone interfere?

Rosy Thornton has created a wonderful book, with such a rich description of the surroundings, the seasons and weather that you actually can hear the heavy rain as it resonates all the way round the valley that Catherine is in. In stark contrast the heat has the same oppressive effect as described when Catherine adjusts her days so she is working at the coolest point outside and retreating somewhere with her tapestries when the heat becomes too much.  Rosy has brought to life a landscape from the page with words but also with her descriptions of the tapestries which I can actually feel from the descriptions of colours and silks.

All the characters are well rounded, with probably the exception of Bryony who has something artificial about her, although I think this adds to her character flaws and I sense a sibling rivalry between them both throughout the book which is never quite settled. The book is gently paced and has you turning the page to see what happens but also to just enjoy the experience along with Catherine in her new community. Towards the end of the book, I had a horrible feeling that Catherine was going to give up all that she had and make a change to this life which I had fallen in love with; I had to keep reading until I knew everything was going to be alright. If you pick up this book you will want to know as well.

I received this book directly from the author Rosy Thornton for which I thank her but it has not influenced my review. 

I will be honest here as I was with Rosy that I had tried to read one of her previous novels Hearts and Minds and had given up on it. I was rather lost with it and felt it was not a book for me. I therefore picked this one up with a little bit of trepidation. Was I going to like it? And was I going to upset the author if I did not?

I think hopefully you can tell from my review that I liked the book. Something about it appealed to me, in fact many things about it appealed to me. The crafts stuck out and being someone who does a lot of stitching, knitting and other craft things I could relate to what an achievement it is to see something come to life but also a dream of being able to do it for a living. When you first start out with a blank canvas and lots of colour and no pattern it is daunting (although I do love a pattern!) but soon it begins to over take you and then something appears and time has passed and you have forgotten many things that were bothering you in the first place. That for me is the joy of being creative.

Reading also gives me that joy and this book also allows that passage of time and forgotten problems. I was in love with the place and could have quite happily up sticks and gone out for a few weeks to just be. Although I would have lasted less than 5 minutes because my French is somewhat non-existent. However the ideas give you that little bit of pleasure and keep dreams alive. 

I have certainly got the stitchy bug again since reading this book! It was on a little break I feel. I am so tempted to do some tapestry as well! What I also have the bug for is more of Rosy Thornton’s other novels and I will go back and read the one I abandoned. 

To learn more about Rosy Thornton see her website here or on Facebook.


The Sandalwood Tree – Elle Newmark

Evie and Martin through Martins job recording the experiences of Partition move to India from Chicago, America. A cultural move and in some ways shock for all concerned as they both seem to be trying to move from on the past.  They are in the centre of where the future is happening in India, as Partition is brought forward.

Martin recovering from the Second World War and the atrocities he saw, haunts both him and Evie for most of the book until Evie finally finds out what happened and they slowly start to build their lives again but not without own potential personal tragedy first.  Martin does not want Evie and their son, Billy to experience life in India too much; he wants to cocoon them from everything. Evie has other ideas.

When cleaning in their little bungalow provided for them, Evie stumbles across some letters, some are unreadable but there are enough words on one to piece together a story of something similar to what Evie is feeling at the moment. At this point the book reverts back 100 years or so to the time around of the Indian Munity of 1857. Felicity was born in India and although educated for a greater part in England has returned to find herself a life, but not one expected of her by her contemporaries of the Victorian Period. Felicity wants to be herself, and causes scandal along the way. Her childhood friend who she grew up with Adela left behind in England wants the same, but she has differing feelings to those expected of a woman of her time and when a potential scandal at home needs to be hushed up, Adela finds herself joining Felicity as a member of the ‘fishing fleet’ – women sent to India to find a husband where men outnumbered women 5 to 1.

Evie is drawn to these two lives from the past, as she discovers that they are in their own way trying to fight a partition of love and land when tensions in India grew. These ghosts of the past fulfil Evie and she starts to piece together the past and when it starts to infiltrate the present the two stories are finally combined.

This is an excellent book and if you love the combination of history, and two stories running concurrently but inextricably linked then this is certainly the book for you. The history of India is explained and Elle Newmark really gives a sense of the time and place both in the mid 19th and 20th Century. Whilst being a historical novel, it is essentially a love story for all the characters as well as the love of the country which is being torn apart with people being misplaced.  It has an echo of the troubles that still affect this country some years later and is as relevant today as then.

Newmark has certainly researched her subject well, including in her notes at the back of the book regarding visiting India. From this firsthand knowledge she brings to each page, the colour and vibrancy of the place despite conflict. The tastes and the smells of the land, the seasons and the weather and the relief felt when the rains started and I was the locals who worshipped the ground when the rain fell. I could feel how uncomfortable the humidity and heat which essentially held the humidity and heat of the storyline throughout the book.

There is so much more that this book says and covers, the only way you can find out more is to actually go and read the book.

I could have gone on quite a bit about this book because there is so much to mention;

  • British rule and the lifestyle that sprang up in the time of The Raj. Social places, movements and expectations where  little part of Britain was transplanted in India, retaining everything and not becoming involved in any of the local customs, food or people.
  • Victorian Morals and Standards. The relationship that was developing in the ‘Victorian’ part of the story did shock me, not through any prudishness but it was something I was not expecting. In turn that made the story richer and page turning. Once in India, the shock tactics were there in some respect more for the time than for me reading it in the 21st century.
  • The book contained quite a few words which were slightly lost on me and I would have liked a bit of an explanation in some cases. However upon reflection it added to the richness and mystery of the place.
  • If you have read books by Julia Gregson, Lucinda Riley, Kate Morton then this book is for you it draws upon lots of themes which have featured in these novels. I recommend them all and this one.
  • A common recurrent conversation in the book “Death steals everything but our stories.” “Our stories are all we have”. Reflecting on these statements makes me think as a voracious reader some days stories are all I have but also how much I have learnt from so many people when listening to many stories.

Check out the author’s website Elle Newmark. Sadly Elle passed away in July 2011. She has left us two books this one and her first novel The Book of Unholy Mischief (The Chef’s Apprentice in the US) . The book discussion questions make for very interesting reading, and I would be happy to discuss any of these questions with any readers if interested.

I read this book as part of The Transworld Book Group Reading Challenge. 


Agatha Raisin and the Potted Gardener – M.C. Beaton

Mary Fortune is new in the village of Carsely and she does everything to involve herself in village life. She is beautiful as well as being able to bake cakes and likes her gardening and plants and becomes involved one of the local societies; The Horticultural Open Day. Everyone in the village likes Mary and she seems to fit in really well.

But someone does not think she fits in to anything apart from a plant pot and that is where Agatha Raisin finds her. Annoyed by Mary’s comments to Agatha and Mary’s supposed romantic entanglement with James Lacey, Agatha’s neighbour. Agatha along with James sets out to find if Mary Fortune was as nice to everyone else in the village or was Agatha the only victim of Mary’s tongue.

As they both uncover a completely different side to Mary they begin to piece together the pieces of the puzzle that led to her being murdered and finally work out who the culprit is. Along the way village life continues and Agatha wants to still ingratiate herself into village life and decides to involve herself into the Open Day as well with as little effort as possible. Little does Agatha know that she is trying too hard and she has already been welcomed to the village in their own unique way. They all expect her to solve the case, despite the detective Bill Wong advising her not to and we can be rest assured that she will and she will make us chuckle along the way as she adjusts to her new life and she acquires some rather eccentric ways, thoughts and manners and her amazing bluntness.

A great escapism read that does not take long to finish, but is a joy to read and is part of an excellent growing series.

I am rather new to Agatha Raisin but I am enjoying them immensely. Agatha is so blunt that it makes me cringe but I love it! I have the next 7 to read on my shelf and will slowly work my way through and then carry on past that as I know there are many to read, up to number22!  I could read the next one now but I feel that I am diluting my reading when I read book after book of the same series. 

How do you feel about reading books in a series? Can you read them one after the other?