The Lantern – Deborah Lawrenson

Where do you start when trying to review such a book as The Lantern. Well at the beginning but actually with this book the beginning is the end to which we  need to keep on reading to get to where we join the book and in particular join one of the major female characters – Eve.

Eve is swept off her feet by a very charming older man Dom, he has his past as she does and secrets but all that matters to them both is the here and now, and that here and now is swept up with them being together and finding themselves buying a run down house in the South of France at the height of summer.

The house has its history and that is weaved throughout the book as alternating chapters (in the main) and take us to Benedicte who has her own story to tell in the same house that Eve has chosen to live in.

The plot hints at whether, their lives will intertwine and while Benedicte keeps seeing people appear in front of her who she is unsure of, Eve keeps smelling the perfumes which she cannot recognise but why? And does the house hold the key to unravelling both Eve and Benedicte’s story. Only by reading on will you find out.

As gradually Eve and Dom settle to restoring this run down house, their future together looks like it is crumbling instead and when those early heady days of a relationship seem to be over, Eve starts to look more closely at Dom and his past, what exactly is he hiding and more importantly why? Then a local woman mentions something which turns Eve into detective and this tests her faith and trust in everything.

Benedicte is along and isolated in the same house as Eve but many years previous. Her past seems to be reappearing and she cannot see why. Is it a form of punishment for a decision she once made or for all the decisions she should have made?  As she looks back and sees what may have happened under tragic circumstance do her own decisions hold the key to the future happiness of Eve and Dom? Will Benedicte then become more at ease for the rest of her days?

Lawrenson takes you to a place where you can fill the sun on your back, the mist as thick as fog, the perfume of the lavender it all comes off the page and with such beautiful prose, the book I felt enveloped me in a place where so little appeared to be going on, but so much had and was to come. I was hooked and after a wobbly start I had to keep turning the page, some things surprised me some things didn’t.

I acknowledge the striking similarities of Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier which many reviews have picked up on and which the author herself reflects on as she  has based this novel on several events in her own life,; buying a house in Provence which need work doing on it.  It is the suggestion of the unknown and the not known that Lawrenson handles so eloquently can we really know someone, can we really see something, can we smell something or is it all in the imagination and our mind is playing tricks on us? This book suggestions all these questions but not all the answers.

Deborah Lawrenson is a new author to me and if this is the standard of her writing then I am off to find more books by her. I admit to have a bit of a wobbly start and did think what is going on these opening pages make no sense. I felt I had come into the story after everyone else. How glad I am I persevered as I relished every page and the descriptions, the colours, the senses are captured so much 

Blackberries crisped on dying brambles and fungus jutted like trays from the trunk of the big garden oak, hard to the touch and caked with ants…

The river, crashing white over mossy boulders, took on the opalescent green-blue of a mallard’s head in the stiller reaches. 

These I just picked at randomly by reopening the book, the way to find out more is to go and read it!

If you have read any others by this author let me know where I should venture next. 


The Surgeon – Tess Gerritsen

I have come rather late to the party in terms of Tess Gerritsen and the Rizzoli and Isles books. I wanted to see what I was missing and I can see I was missing something good and also that I was entering a new reading genre for me by these books.

Jane Rizzoli is the only female cop in the Homicide department of the Boston  Police Department. (I waited to see where Isles would come in, but I realise now that it is in subsequent books – no matter). She comes across as hard, the only female with something to prove not just to her male colleagues but her family as well. One colleague Thomas Moore is different and he can see that Rizzoli is a good cop although very wary of her, and her partner Barry Frost is the only one who can cope with patience her own personality.

All of the department are brought together when three women are assaulted in rather a gruesome tortuous manner with some sort of message in the mind of the perpetrator. One of them for whatever reason survives – Catherine Cordell who two years later is still suffering when a copycat killer suddenly appears in Boston.

It is up to the homicide department to try and piece together unrelated links and information and see if they can catch the criminal before any more women die. The perpetrator has one thing in their sights – Catherine Cordell and she is pivotal to the whole investigation.

This is page turner of a book and I was hooked pretty much straight away. This is not a genre I would have chosen and the attention to detail is paramount to making this believable and genuine. That kept me going throughout the book, I did feel lost at points with some of the technical jargon both medical and police procedural but I think that was because these are set in America and I had to skew my brain to accommodate it but actually I think by keeping going all of the loose ends literally tied into place and I could see what a fast paced thriller this was and I cannot wait to devour the next.

If you like a dose of both medicine and crime then I feel this series of books is a must read.

Me I am always late, I have read reviews of these books on other blogs and thought that perhaps that this is not for me. I am not one for such graphic gruesome books and when they are set in America I somewhat think they will be rather vapid and actually no good. How wrong I was with Tess Gerritsen. She now has a new fan and I am glad I have a few now to catch up on. 

I am also wondering why on earth I decided to read this book  now. For that I do not know the answer to, I was after something different I suppose and thought perhaps this would fit the bill. It did and I am intrigued if there are any more authors out there who I have been avoiding for unknown reasons that I really should be reading? 


Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte

Where do you start reviewing a book which has been published since 1847 and has been written about countless times, I do not think I am going to say anything outstandingly new about the plot of the book, but I think what this review will hopefully do is give you my thoughts on how i felt about a book which I have only just read for the first time. I know many have read this years but I have only just recently started back with the ‘classics’.

My Synopsis –

Jane Eyre is an orphan, who has been unfortunately left with her Aunt who despises her especially since she is stuck with her when her husband dies . Jane causes enough upset that her Aunt sends her off to Lowood School where after a period of time at the school and her education, becomes a teacher there and subsequently goes to become a governess at Thornfield Hall. Here she meets Mr Rochester, and after a period of time and upset she finds her self out on her own she finds herself in the company of St John Rivers and his sisters, Mary and Diana. Jane’s fortune is suddenly changed and she hears a voice calling her from her past and she returns to a very different Thornfield Hall.

I had to write some sort of summary about the book as a whole, as I felt I was not doing a proper review otherwise!

My Thoughts –

I loved Jane Eyre, and wondered as I read it why I had not read it years previously, but I am a great believer that books sometimes just fit at the right time in your life. I was more prompted to read it following another film of the book which was released in 2011.

I had this in mind when I was reading it, and obviously can see what was missed out, added in etc but also I had other recollections of the 2006  BBC production which featured Toby Stephens and also a black and white film that my mum was watching one Saturday afternoon and when I asked about it, it was at the point of when Thornfield Hall was burning down, she roughly explained the story with much emphasis on the ‘mad wife – Bertha’ in the attic. Just doing a bit of research sees that it was the 1943 film with Joan Fontaine and Orson Wells. I forget how old I was at that point. Something must have stuck in my conscious about it but it was not until now that I decided to read it.

There is something so single-minded and determined about Jane, that I was reminded of myself in some ways (not being a orphan, or a governess ) but that is her personality – she has spark, opinions and not afraid to answer back and put her view-point across. And when you recognise that at the time of the book it would have been unheard of, it was a delight to me that she found a sparring partner in the shape of Mr Rochester.

My bride is here…because my equal is here, and my likeness. – Mr Rochester

(Rochester) Always portrayed as dark and brooding, I think that comes across in the novel and he is singly determined in his love for Jane. What puzzled me was why, knowing that Bertha was alive and well did he carry on with such a folly as marriage to Jane? I believe that his passion knew no bounds in his case and that nothing ever got in his way.

Jane’s determination with St. John Rivers, who as a character infuriated me to the extreme, as he had no passion at all. So moralistic and religious to that point of extremism. When he proposes to Jane, it is merely what I felt was expected of him, he has no love for her, in fact I think he was incapable of loving anyone other than himself because no one would be as suitable. Jane’s refusal but an acceptance to go to India as a sister was not ‘suitable’ for St. John Rivers.

At one time or another I am sure many of us have had to give up someone we love for whatever reason, and I admire Jane for her strength and resolve to cope with such matters. But in her heart she still held Mr Rochester close whilst she was on her journey away from him, one that would eventually draw her back

Perhaps you think I had forgotten Mr, Rochester, reader, amidst these changes of place and fortune. Not for a moment. His idea was still with me, because it was not a vapour sunshine could disperse, nor a sand-traced effigy storms could wash away; it was a name graven on a tablet, fated to last as long as the marble it inscribed. The craving to know what had become of him followed me everywhere; when I was at Morton, I re-entered my cottage every evening to think of that; and now at Moor House , I sought my bedroom each night to brood over it.

Like all good books I seem to like, there is always the character of the building within. Here in Jane Eyre we are welcomed into three, first Lowood School then as Jane moves on to Thornfield Hall as her arrival as governess and with the curiosity of who owned such a place

…the driver got down and opened a pair of gates; we passed through and they clashed to behind us. We now slowly ascended a drive, and came upon the long front of a house…

…I followed her across a square hall with high doors all round… she led the way upstairs. The steps and banisters were of oak, the staircase window was high and latticed; both it and the long gallery into which the bedroom doors opened looked as if they belonged to a church rather than a house.

Thornfield is closed up, only partially breathing life in it and I feel with the arrival of Jane it is somewhat shaken into wakefulness and needs to show its purpose, even more so with Mr Rochester resident. As Mrs Fairfax says “it is a pretty place; but I fear it will be getting out of order…great houses and fine grounds require the presence of the proprietor”.

Before returning to a very different Thornfield Hall there is stop at Moor House where everything is rather insular and it is the activities of the inmates of such a residence that are more interesting than the positions and place of such a house. Jane’s home in the cottage that comes with the Village school is brought to life with such warmth and excitement that as Jane tells you in her tale,it is her first experience of something which is hers and formed around her. As we all start off in our homes, we seem them take shape to suit our personality, interests and thoughts that they become an outward picture of ourselves. And we remember the days when we did not possess all that was necessary to make it ours.

when I at last find a home, – is a cottage; a little room with whitewashed walls and a sanded floor…went to my door, and looked at the sunset of the harvest-day, and at the quiet fields before my cottage…My cottage is clean and weather-proof; my furniture sufficient and commodious. All I see has made me thankful, not despondent. I am not absolutely such a fool and sensualist as to regret the absence of a carpet, a sofa and silver plate…

I went many months without much furniture in my spare bedroom and a television the size of a postage stamp, on a wobbly table until such times that I could improve my lot. Those times are with us all.

Penguin English Library Edition - published in 2012.

I got quite a lot from this novel, as you can probably tell from witterings if you have made it thus far. However there were passages and some of the wording and dialogue which has passed me by. My lack of understanding the French spoken is apparent. My schoolgirl french has seemingly left me.  It was at time like this I felt a fraud and inferior and that I should not be reading a book of such quality. Then I remembered who I was reading about and actually there are times when Jane’s has similar thoughts and feelings but finds her way through it all. Just like I have with the book.

I also doubt my imagination – in the sense that because I have watched many adaptations that I have already formed pictures of the places, the scenery, the characters et al that I do wonder if I have spoilt the enjoyment of the book in any way. I have always been a book before the film sort of gal! What I do know is that I will read this book again and I am sure have very differing views of the whole process and perhaps enjoy it even more.


French Lessons – Ellen Sussman

Paris, a French Language School, three French tutors and three very different American Students.

Chantal, Nico and Phillipe are the tutors. Chantal is going out with Phillipe, who in turn basically seeks out sex with anything female, including his students.  Nico seems the more mature of the three but he has also slept with Chantal, in an obvious revenge tactic on Chantal’s part.

Josie, a french teacher back in California has left her job when she falls in love with the father of one of her students. Circumstances mean Josie has to face up to her future nad grieve for a past that did not really belong to her.

Riley, a wife transported to Paris because of her husband. She has alienated herself completely by not getting involved with anything remotely French including the language. Even her children are more adept than she is.

Jeremy, who would rather be at home in America than in Paris has french lessons as a mere diversion and for something to do whilst his wife, an American movie star is filming her latest film.

The structure of the book I thought was clever this is just about one day in all of their lives. First the introduction to the tutors and their some what incestuous relationships, then each character and their tutor in turn, at the end of each what can only be described as a short story is finished they are all watching the same scene unfold in Paris. Then with a final denouement with the tutors again.

However the author has not pulled it off in my opinion, they are simply three short stories which perhaps work on their own as they all deal with love and grief with differing impacts and meanings but other than the fact they all end up at the same place in Paris, watching the set up of the filming on the river Seine there was no other connection for me.

This novel could have been so much more, and although I did enjoy the setting of Paris and  it was beautifully described, which if you have read about this author you will know that she has spent a lot of time in Paris and therefore had ‘insider’ knowledge it really did not enthrall me at all and left me feeling rather bored and uninspired.

Like other reviewers on Amazon, and I am slightly pleased that I only spent £1 on this book. I know I would have felt cheated by paying anymore. It is a shame when a book disappoints and it often makes me really think long and hard about the review because I want to be fair but I have to admit that the book was just not for me. 


Educating Jack – Jack Sheffield

Jack Sheffield’s books have a formula and for me that is what makes them great easy reads and the newest book Educating Jack was just the same. It follows the same structure as previous novels, each chapter covering a time period through the school year, starting September through to the summer holidays covering scholastic tales. The most wonderful things about school life to teachers, pupils and parents are covered, the wonder Christmas parties, school trips and the lovely rhymes that I remember singing whilst skipping. I remember the words, but it is years since I did any skipping!

It is six years now since Jack came as headteacher to the Ragley School and now those who were new when he was are off on their new adventures to senior school. So it is somewhat a poignant novel more so by the inclusion of lots more details about the personal lives and loves of the characters that make up the wonderful village of Ragley on the Forest where the school is based.

With the cliff hanger ending from his previous book life is certainly fragile and this book shows it all, and opportunities must be taken no matter what the future hold, especially when the world is changing around the characters. The country was still basking in the glory of the war in the Falklands but there was a more pressing problem on home ground with the possibility of striking miners, Mrs Thatcher has a new war to fight. Choice for television entertainment went mad with a fourth channel to watch.  A future king had been born, everyone could now watch their weight when coke went ‘diet’ and “police in Gwent announced they were to cease their campaign of stopping drivers and giving them pens for good driving”.

Vera decides that she must seize the opportunity of happiness away from the vicarage and her brother and brings her marriage forward to Christmas, and what a lovely setting that it is. Jack and Beth now married are celebrating their first Christmas together with an extra special present for them both. The other teachers, Ann, Sally and Jo are looking forward and back with significant age birthdays, DIY disaster husbands and a new career which will during new challenges.

Educating Jack has everything you want for a good read; the familiar characters are back you feel like you are standing in The Royal Oak with everyone else. I felt this book was more emotional than the others, it feels like Jack has settled into his life both personally and professionally but with the advent of cutbacks, new curriculum changes, standards and tests to meet perhaps the education world is something which is going to change beyond all recognition. How will the delightful little school at Ragley-on-the-Forest manage?

Thank you to the lovely Lynsey Dalladay of Transworld for sending me this review copy. I had the feeling that perhaps this book was going to be the end of this series, but I am reliably informed it is not.  To catch up on the previous novels please see my last post about Jack Sheffield

I love the social history elements of the book which I have mentioned in the past as history is my thing, but also is the added bonus that what is being talked about I can remember because of my age. It seems such a long time ago on the one hand, the other I cannot believe in some cases how things have changed but still we are griping in the collective sense of ‘we’ about such similar things. 

My memory was jogged with this book as well. Some of the books I have to use at work are rather old and antiquated, especially the old account ledger books, and go back to the days before £2 coins and some of them pre date 20 pence pieces. Upon showing a new member of staff how to fill the book in, I explained that she would have to write the value of 20ps in the other currency column. Explaining that we have not always had 20ps, her reply

“what do you mean we have not always had 20ps?”

“No, they have only been around since about the early Eighties”,

“But we have always had 20ps in my life”,

(rather annoyed) “Well my life has been longer than yours and I can assure you that we have not always had 20ps, in fact I remember halfpennies and pound notes”

“What do you mean, halfpennies what good were they. And pounds come in coins, what good was a pound note?” (I chose not to respond any further……and thought why did I not tell her to order the more up to date books!)

That is why I have loved this book, it has brought back some great memories even if it did make me feel slightly old! 


A Scandal in Bohemia – Arthur Conan Doyle

I am perhaps a bit late in mentioning this short story by Conan Doyle but my reason for reading it was I had watched the TV adaptation that was out on 1 January and also watched it again a few days after as came across it again and felt it was worth a second look. I am so glad I did, these adaptations with Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman are excellent. Traditionalists will say the have played fast and loose with the stories but I think they are excellent and it has done something which was make me go and read the story.

Dr Watson is married and calls in on the off chance to see his old friend Holmes. Whilst there a masked obviously wealthy client visits Holmes asking for some help, the masked man is unmasked by Holmes when he categorically says he knows who he is – King of Bohemia.

Upon his revelation the King has got himself into a bit of bother with a lady, (in the loosest sense of the word!) and there is photographic evidence to prove such which could affect the impending betrothal of the King to a young princess.  In steps Sherlock Holmes in his attempt to recover the picture in his own way with some help from Dr Watson. Within pages the problem is solved and the King can be married without any skeletons falling out of the closet and the lady the so called Irene Adler remains untarnished. Holmes has actually been outwitted by a women and he will need to have a souvenir of this outstanding occurence. What does he choose?

A Scandal in Bohemia is the first short story to be published in The Strand magazine and was published in 1891.

Move forward 120 years and Bohemia has become Belgravia and the BBC have stuck loosely to the story – still the incriminating photos but for technology’s sake now held on a mobile phone, there is a royal element but rather than a King it is a (female) member of the current Royal Family. We never find out who even though Sherlock works it out.  The location of the photo in both (before realising it is on a mobile phone)  is the same and the discovery of such matches. Then the story is fleshed out to clear up the cliff hanger from the end of series one and also the government plot with Holmes brother Mycroft involved in something ‘big’ which Sherlock decipher. By the end of the programme everything makes sense.

I hope some of you have seen it and the following two episodes. I may well venture to read some more Holmes as I found it quite funny and witty, more so when you can see that they have kept this element in the tv series. The TV series also pokes fun at the books and the images of Holmes through the years, for that I refer you to the famous hat –

Perfect! I hope they make more of these, the BBC at their best (for a change)

Books · Witterings

Acquisitions #1

I cannot believe that I have yet to talk about the book I was lucky enough to get at Christmas and those that I chose to buy. A real vast range of books when I think about it.

From top to  bottom

Pam Ayres – The Necessary Aptitude. Funny lady and Christmas would not be Christmas without a decent autobiography. There were not many to choose from this time round I felt.

Gervase Phinn – The Little Village School. Gervase tries his hand at fiction as opposed to the wonderful recollections of his previous books.

Sinead Moriarty – Me and My Sisters. Sinead’s latest novel, cannot wait to start it.

Bobbie Darbyshire – Love, Revenge and Buttered Scones. Not sure why I picked this one, I think it might have popped up on an Amazon recommendation and thought I would give it ago, then again it could have been another reason.

Caitlin Davies – The Ghost of Lily Painter. A spellbinding novel which combines rich writing with a sinister period in London’s history – According to Amazon.

Graham McCann – Only Fools and Horses. Non fiction about one of television’s best comedy programmes. As you can see from the bookmark I have already started it!

Being off meant I was poking about in lots of charity shops as you can sometimes pick up some little bargains.

Mary Stewart – Thornyhold. I have seen lots about Mary Stewart on all the blogs I read and so wanted to join in and see what I was missing out on. So therefore when I saw this recent edition it just said buy me and read me!

Suzzane Arruda – Mark of the Lion & The Serpent’s Daughter. Came upon this by chance, picked up from the cover and realised they were a discovery of some more murder mystery, described as Miss Marple meets Indiana Jones. Anyone read these before?

Sebastian Faulks – A Week in December. It is a long time since I have read anything by Faulks and fancied to give his latest book a go.

A holiday for me would not be a holiday without a visit to a bookshop, my local Waterstones to be precise. This is the first time I had been since the new management had got rid of all the 3 for 2 offers and I was rather intrigued. There was a good selection of books on offer, books from 2011 and before as well as some new ones plus plenty on sale it being that time of the year.

I aimed for some authors I had not heard of before and some I had but not read and I knew I was hankering after at some point.

Stella Gibbons – Christmas at Cold Comfort Farm. This was a sale book, and again had been seen on many blogs. I want to read Cold Comfort Farm as I remember watching the BBC programme when I was young and loved it, but never got round to reading it. Perhaps I need to wait until next Christmas though to read it?

Paula McLain – The Paris Wife. I bought this before it became a Richard and Judy book, which means it will obviously be a cover that we see a lot of in coming weeks. I picked it up because it has Ernest Hemingway in the Jazz Age in Paris. This book might lead to other more interesting reads.

Sherryl Woods – The Inn at Eagle Point. Followers of this blog know that I read Debbie Macomber and this I spotted on Amazon as a recommend because they are of a similar ilk to Macomber. Always good to try something new but in a familiar genre.

L R Fredericks – Farundell A debut novel, which sounds interesting and is the beginning of a series where the characters will feature again.  Set after the First World War and features a ‘big’ house which always captures my attention.

Sinclair McKay – The Secret Life of Bletchley Park. I visited Bletchley Park back in November 201o and loved it, I wanted to read more and I did get a book whilst I was there, which I cannot seem to find (I think it has got to my mums) but it did not go into much depth. I am hoping that this book does.

Normally I only go in Waterstones about three times a year but with the changes in there I can see me popping in again and well that will go against my challenge to not buy any books I have got some points and a they gave me a card to get stamped once spent £50.

I am intrigued as to how many books I will get this year, as I have more than enough to keep me going for a while.  Just have to wait and see, I think I set myself this challenge and the real challenge is how long does it take before I break this challenge!

Anyone read any of these? Not wishing to brag about what books I have acquired as I realise sometimes these posts can be like that. I just want to share with other readers what books are out there in the hope of inspiring some others to buy and look at or share with me if they have read then. I pick up many ideas for books this way from other bloggers.


Call the Midwife – Books and TV

I have scheduled this post today, to coincide with the premiere of Call the Midwife on BBC One tonight, Sunday 15 January at 2000.

The BBC press release:

Call the Midwife is a moving and intimate insight into the colourful world of midwifery and family life in 1950’s East London. We are introduced to the community through the eyes of young nurse Jenny Lee as she arrives at Nonnatus House to live and work as a midwife alongside an Order of Nuns.

They have adapted the wonderful books by Jennifer Worth into what is an ideal sunday night tv drama in 6 episodes. I came across these books by pure accident I seem to recall and have read all three.

It has given me a chance to go back and reread my reviews of the books

This is a book not just filled with stories of midwifery and tales which will make your eyes water but of something else. This book is a social historical account of what life was like in Fifties East London. The social change that was happening seemed to be slow, slums which were condemned for demolition were still fully occupied and life both new and old continued in them.

Worth brings a human side to these problems and starts at the beginning of her midwifery career as a 22 year old in a convent for her training. Do not be fooled, this is not something out of the ‘Sound of Music’ these Sisters were committed and dedicated not just to their religion but to their job and the looking after of others, whether with training the non Sisters to be midwifes or out of the kindness of heart.

My full review for Call The Midwife can be found at the link – Review

The second book takes you on a different journey and you are not getting a regurgitation of previous told tales which sometimes can happen in memoirs

In the second of Jennifer Worth’s memoirs of working in post war London, you are not getting the same as her first book Call the Midwife. This is a good thing.

We have moved on from the stories of births and babies, though they are still present but onto three main tales all related in some way to the Workhouse. If you know very little about workhouses and your only experience of them is seeing Oliver Twist asking ‘for more’ then this book will give you all the grim details, descriptions and stories about what went on. Remember they were there to help people, a very primitive form of social care.


A great second book, and so good to know the characters and place but to have a completely take on life there in nineteen fifties and before. Three stories that make you realise what has changed and also what has not, you learn something along the way.

My full review for Shadows of the Workhouse can be found at the link – Review

Finally there is Farewell to the East End  and the full review can be found here – Review

Farewell to the East End is the third and final `Midwife’ book by Jennifer Worth. She has excelled herself again with stories of the East End of London, their inhabitants, their births and deaths as well as the tales of her colleagues especially the Nuns. Fans of Sister Monica Joan will not be disappointed.

I have tried to avoid regurgitating the stories featured in this book into the review, lest you will not go and buy the book and enjoy them yourself. There is a sense that the end is coming for the area that Worth works in, the convent and the Nuns who reside and work there and Worth’s fellow midwives are moving on in different parts of their lives. Although the end it is now fast becoming the beginning of the next adventure for them all.

Her final book which deals with dying and death is called ‘In The Midst of Life’ I have yet to read, but it is on my shelf and I think it will be a fitting end to a very worthy (no pun intended) series of books. Some memoir type novels have a way of not telling you anything and I have experienced that greatly recently with Below Stairs and My Lady’s Maid. Worth’s novels are actually so much about social history, medicine, disease, social comment, class systems, progress and life and I have yet to find any similar novels that have lived up to the high standard of these.

I was sadden when I started reading more about this programme that Jennifer Worth sadly died in May 2011 shortly before filming began, although according to the press pack released by the BBC she gave guidance and her blessing to the project.

I am hoping that the BBC do it justice and with Heidi Thomas as the screenwriter (she adapted Cranford) and a very stellar cast we should not be disappointed.  If you wish to read more about the production, costumes, cast please take a look at the press release.


Agatha Raisin and the Terrible Tourist – M.C. Beaton

Agatha Raisin has a determined personality and  cannot see when all around her is saying don’t do it, he does not love you she steam rollers ahead in the pursuit of what she wants, something that probably made her one of the best PR people around. But since her retirement it does not work anymore but that does not stop Agatha trying.

Following on from the last book (you do not need to read them in order as the book stands alone happily on its own and mentions everything you need to know) Agatha is still pursuing James who has taken himself off to Cyprus, where they would have been on honeymoon if it was not for the probable of Agatha’s husband turning up just as she was going to get married.

The snob in Agatha immediately comes out as soon as she lands at the airport, it is too hot, everyone is too laid back for Agatha’s liking and when she joins a tourist boat ride she is joined by some other English people – a rather eclectic mix of class and status, Olivia and George, Harry, Rose and Trevor and Angus. Agatha’s interest is piqued and what brings these people together, then one of them ends up dead.

With the help of James, who seems somewhat annoyed that Agatha has found him, they start to get involved in an investigation which the Cypriot police are not too keen on and neither are the others. Agatha wants to know what they have to hide, but when her own life is in danger she wishes she was back in the sleepy village of Carsley.

Presumably to give Carsley a rest from Agatha, M.C. Beaton transports her to Cyprus and also turns this book into a tourist guide to the island. In some ways for me this made the book not as good as previous ones in the series. Nonetheless it would not stop me reading more. Great bit if escapism and a good one if you want to take a book away on holiday.

These are nice short books around 250-275 pages and I am enjoying them as I read on in the series. It also amazes me that I can dislike a character so much as James Lacey. I know that it could seem like Agatha is the one to dislike and there are times when I do, but there is something about James’ aloofness, arrogance, obnoxiousness (not a real word I know) and the fact that he seems to be getting nowhere with his supposed history book he is writing that makes me want to scream. I really hope he gets his comeuppance and the beauty is I have lots more books to find out whether he does or not! 

Cooking · Witterings

Collective Nouns

What is the collective noun for Gingerbread Men? A glut? An army?

This is my second attempt, I made some last year that I did not take a photo of but also when thrown out to the birds even they did not eat them. (Note – the birds in my mums garden. I did not lob inedible malformed gingerbread men out of my flat window. Think of Health & Safety!)

However, new recipe and new food mixer (Christmas Vouchers) this is the result. My cutter I think makes them, too fat looking and I admit that some are thinner in terms of thickness than others. The recipe says it makes 20 I got at least 35, probably would have had more if I did not eat the mixture. I am going to get a new cutter, a small one so that I can get lots and lots out of the mixture and that way not feel so guilty about eating them. They were delicious and perhaps needed to be more gingery according to my dad. So I am going to make another batch at some point. I did not decorate them with icing (also noted by my dad), I was so pleased that they actually worked and looked reasonable and were edible I just did not ice them. I did not want to run before I could walk, or should that be “Ice before I could cook”?

All suggestions for collective nouns welcome. In the meantime just for fun here are a few other collectives (?):

  • A stack of librarians
  • An expectation of midwives
  • A flush of plumbers
  • A body of pathologists
  • A yearning of yesterdays
  • A break of winds

Words and the English language is just simply marvellous!