August Roundup

Yes it is round up time again. Please bear with me reader as I have got through a lot of books in August. Weren’t holidays just made for reading?

Where you can start with this mammoth month of reading? I think there is something for everyone here. Let’s start with crime and if you are going to start with crime then you need to start with Agatha Christie – At Bertram’s Hotel where I stayed for a couple of days. I was surprised by this book, mainly because the Geraldine McEwen TV adaptation was so way off the mark, that I was reading something that was new. But the Joan Hickson version (which I recently re-watched) was right on the mark and even quoted lines from the book. Another one to tick off my Christie reading list.

Cosy reading can be found with the delightful Daisy Dalrymple in Carola Dun – Styx and Stones*. I cannot believe I have got to book 7 but I flew through this book really quickly and I have to say that it was one of the best so far. Daisy and the author have settled into their relationship well. Talking of author’s really getting along with their characters, then I think delightful is a word I would describe Flavia de Luce in Alan Bradley – A Red Herring Without Mustard*. I had not picked up one of these for a while and I realised once I got going with this book how wonderful not just Flavia is but her perfectly annoying perfect sisters and the way she shows up all their idiosyncrasies makes me smile. The rest of the time Flavia is just stumbling over bodies and helping solve cases – oh and being 11 that is quite an achievement.

With all that cosiness of murder I needed something perhaps a bit more meaty. The book you could say that is in contrast to them is Louise Levene – Ghastly Business. It was not quite murder it was more about the people who are there to clear up afterwards and find the answers. Those answers were found in the mortuary and with autopsies, and it was Dora Strang who I met in this book. Excellent read.

So crime is sort of covered, but the key thing to all those crime novels I have read in August is that none of them are set in the present, I have skittered about all over decades, and so in some ways they have fulfilled the wonderful love of history that I have. But for historical fiction this month I have to go back centuries not decades to Philippa Gregory – The Red Queen and there was plenty of murders then too! I am loving this series of books and was very impressed by the adaptation on the television and especially the portrayal of the Red Queen.

Coming a bit further forward from the fifteenth century to the nineteenth century and I went to see how it all worked below stairs  with Jo Baker – Longbourn. This book is very recently published and I was part of the blog tour too. If you don’t know where Longbourn is or who resides there then you have clearly not read Pride and Prejudice (which I haven’t- which is whole other story). This is the story of the servants given a voice by the author who looked after those dratted Bennet girls. We have a fascination with everything below stairs and this taps into that but also into the world of Austen. I wonder if Austen ever considered those servants when writing her eponymous work?

Holidays are a great time for having fun and visiting places that you have not been before? Perhaps you want to jet off to somewhere warm and then stay in a villa, deep in the Italian countryside. I did with Rosanna Ley – The Villa*. Except in this story this was not a holiday but a legacy that the main character had to fulfil. But then if you cannot go abroad perhaps something a bit closer to home would be ideal. Especially with the weather we have been having of late. Good idea – then come with Carole Matthews – A Cottage by the Sea*. This is an author I have seen on the shelf in the bookshop and some blogs and never bothered to pick up and read. I now have a back list as long as my arm to get through.

Perhaps all you can afford is a day trip to the seaside. Well perhaps pick a good day and then make sure you grab something to eat whilst you are there. I recommend visiting Abby Clements – Vivien’s Heavenly Ice Cream Shop*. I am not a fan of ice cream generally – unless it comes with a cone and a flake so this opened my taste buds to something very different. Now if you cannot shake that holiday mood off and feel that you could live where you have visited then perhaps you need to read Tessa Hainsworth – Home to Roost* where she just does that. Takes her 2 week holiday in Cornwall and makes it a permanent 52 week residence. This is the third novel/travelogue/biography (not sure where it should be pigeon holed genre wise) that she has written and perhaps satisfies all those that want to have a go but not brave enough?

When you are on holiday perhaps like me you want something fairly easy to read. I think this is where Judy Astley – I Should Be So Lucky* comes in. A pleasant diversion and ideal when you want to rest the old brain cells for a while or two. Plus you might discover a new author just like I did with this book. Not a new author was Sarah Rayner – The Two Week Wait and I had had this on my shelf for a while and as I was trying to read some of my older books on there, I picked this up because I enjoyed her previous one. This was very different and actually it was a book I picked up because of the author not the topic. I would not have picked it up otherwise.

I do re-read books but not very often and those I have read again have been childhood favourites or ones that I have never blogged about before. This was the case with P.G.Wodehouse – Very Good, Jeeves* I know I must have read it before and I have watched the TV programme countless times, but sometimes there is just a need for something so frivolous as Bertie Wooster and you have to indulge and I did. I so wish I had never given my copies of those books away, I think I nearly had all the Jeeves and Wooster books too? The whim of youth.

Reading less recently published books has become more a thing with me as my reading (and blogging) goes on through the months and years. I think I have missed out on many authors and want to right that wrong, if it is a wrong, perhaps it is just an oversight. I did that with two books in August – Barbara Pym – Jane and Prudence*. A simple village tale in some ways and I have always loved those and Mary Stewart – Touch Not the Cat*. A mystery tale featuring a big house and I have always loved those too! I have decided that you come to certain authors at certain points in your life and they just work, they just fit and you know that it was at that time you needed to be reading their work. So it matters not a jot if you come late to the party, at least you got there.

Then there is Grace McCleen – The Land of Decoration* which I cannot put into any sort of category. It was my book club choice for September and was a book I had avoided because I thought “nah, just not for me”. I enjoyed it more than I thought I would, was quite moved by it and it made me think quite a lot too. It will be interesting to see how our group likes or does not like the book.

So this reading rate will certainly dip in September as work starts again and the days are filled with that. It will take a while to get into a reading pattern, so it might be the right time to tackle some less taxing books, but then again I have so many to choose from that I simply cannot make my mind up what to read first in September…….

*Book review yet to appear on this blog.