Books

The First Casualty – Ben Elton

From the cover and the blurb, you know that this is a book about the First World War. You also know that Douglas Kingsley, our detective is being sent out to Ypres to investigate a murder.

All of that in itself, makes for an interesting read but the book starts so far away from it that you begin to wonder quite exactly how all the pieces are going to be woven together. Douglas Kingsley objects to war. Objects so vociferously that he ends up a prison. He ends up being the victim of violence by those who he previously caught and no one can possibly understand the reasons behind his objections. Kingsley cannot understand the legalised violence of war.

There are some dark forces at work everywhere, even during the war and Douglas finds himself knee-deep in war when he never asked to be.

Using the clear logic that he tried to fight his case for not fighting, Kingsley begins to piece together the death of an Army Officer and published poet. It seems that the war cannot cover up murder. But then Kingsley has to reconcile himself that there is murder all around him, but dressed up in a uniform and covered in mud. Elton leaves nothing to the imagination and described the sheer horror that these soldiers had to face on a daily basis. At times it was squeamish but it really leaves you with an impact when as readers none of us have any first hand experience of it. If the book be commended just for that alone it is a worthwhile read.

This was a book which took some time to get going, the murder is not as you would expect at the beginning but half way through and it seems the pace changes once this has happened, because for so long I could not possibly see where any of this was going and therefore had to keep reading.

This was my first experience of reading Elton’s books. It was well written and did not put on any rose-tinted spectacles to cover some of the nastier elements of war and death. I thought it was a good book to introduce many people to the use of World War One in fiction and also that of using such an event to base, what is also a crime novel as well.

This was my book club’s choice. We thought we should be reading some World War One fiction during the next four years as part of our commemoration.  It was a completely random choice on my part and one that I am pleased about.

I have never read Ben Elton before but of course loved Blackadder goes Forth which is set in the trenches, which he co-wrote. (ironically I disliked the first three series) He could well have just taken that from the screen and turned it into a novel, but he has not and that has made the book for me a much richer experience. I could certainly see though this book on the screen, it reads very much like that, but perhaps that is because of Elton’s knowledge and experience in that particular field. 

The question I am currently asking myself is whether I would read any more of his novels? I am not sure is the answer, so if you have read any and can recommend then please let me know. 

 

Books

The White Woman on the Green Bicycle – Monique Roffey

George and Sabine have a rather odd marriage. There is three people in it. The other woman is Trinidad. Not a third person but the actual country.

When George and Sabine Harwood make the move to Trinidad in 1956, they were only meant to be staying for a minimum of three years which was as long as the contract George had with his company. George falls in love with Trinidad  immediately and begins a love affair with the place from the moment he steps off the boat. Not only is this an island vastly different from the England he left in the mid 1950s but he is more of a ‘someone’. He is important, he can buy land, mark his territory make his way further up the class ladder in this small place. George was never going to be that in England.

Sabine cannot reconcile herself to this place, so different from home. She feels so far away and is permanently hot and is counting the days down until she can return to the cool place of England and not worry about who she speaks to and can be friends with. Sabine is trapped in a place where she cannot speak her mind. The only way she can be free is to get on her bicycle, green and go down meet George from work or simply to try and escape the island which has taken her husband.

The locals all know the White Woman on the Green Bicycle.  One day Sabine stumbles across a gathering of locals who all seem to be enthralled by one speaker – Eric Williams. Sabine learns that he is the leader of the new national party and becomes obsessed with him. His values and his ideals, not in a sexual or romantic way. She wants answers to issues which she feels strongly about, those which affect her maids. People it is frowned upon for her to associate herself with.

Sabine decides to write to him, to explain it all. But she does not send the letter. Sabine continues to write over the years and never send the letter, simply keeping them until one day George finds them.

George sees his future in Trinidad. Sabine does not and this third person drives a wedge between them and it is never resolved. We know this from the very beginning of the novel, as it starts at the end. An interesting concept which I was a bit wary of. You know what happens but how is the author going to take the reader back to the beginning and guiding us through to what we already know in the first few pages.

I struggled with the first 200 pages of the book, all from George’s point of view. I did not warm to him as a character and found his attitude racist and he gave the impression of being a white man there to save the country despite the major changes that were happening. He could not see the change.

Past this we are taken through the rest of the story with Sabine. A character who was really struggling to be heard and seen by her husband. She can see the changes and wants to move away from them, back to a safe environment. However, she cannot do anything to convince her husband and I felt let down by her that she could not make the journey away on her own. Whilst Trinidad held onto her husband, Sabine held onto George and was not prepared to let go.

A different book from what I normally read, I wasn’t sure what I was getting with it and although the story was rather boring in parts, I learnt a lot about Trinidad and the political and colonial history of the place from these two ex- pats. It intrigued me that we had the ending first and I wanted to see how that was going to work out. It worked but perhaps not with the impact it could have done. The language is colourful and in keeping with the culture, my technique is to try and hear the words, so I can get more of an idea. This worked sometimes, but not others and I felt I was reading and had no idea what was being said. These are all minor personal preferences.

The book is perhaps bit too long and unless you have a particular interest in colonial history then this may not be the book for you.

I read this for my book club. It was a random choice which I had seen pop up now and again. However, many members are struggling with it and I can see some not finishing it. I have encouraged them to get past the ‘George’ section as I felt the book got better past there. I know the languages is a struggle for some “Let de dog go bite it,nuh,den dey go see somptin”. It takes a few rereads and not even then did I get it all. Much more difficult than The Help and some have commented on the fact it is similar to The Secret Life of Bees that we have previously read. 

I look forward to our discussion – I venture it could be a short one! 

Books · Jottings

June Roundup

I am a bit late with my June Roundup post, normally I have written it just before the month turns into the next one and it is scheduled ready to go but June has been a busy month at the weekends (which is generally when I write posts) so this is why some of you who have been waiting with baited breath have had to wait until this weekend!

A female author dominated month by accident than design or choice.

Short stories are a great way to keep reading when your concentration is not up too much but you still want to read something worthwhile. Fern Britton – The Stolen Weekend reintroduced us to characters who first appeared in Hidden Treasures and also feature in her new novel A Seaside Affair (which I have just picked up for a bargain on Kindle!). I am really looking forward to spending my summer with Fern and these characters.

Short stories but not in kindle form come with a  crime novel and rather an intriguing one too. Catherine Aird – Henrietta Who? Is a book recommended by my mum who remembers reading it a long time ago. You think you know who you are and then a tragic accident means you are grieving for those you have lost but also your lost life as well. This was the only touch of crime that has featured in June.

Although some may say war is a crime of sorts. I picked up Elizabeth Speller – The Return of Captain John Emmett* because it has been on my shelf for a while and also I am going to see Elizabeth Speller talk next weekend. Only right that I should at least have read one of her books. This book has stayed with me and as of yet I have actually not got round to writing the review. It is about the First World War and the return of any soldiers and the effects that the war had on them and returning to a normal existence. However past events seem to take over the mind and perhaps there can never be a normal existence again. I am intrigued as to where she takes her main character in a subsequent novel.

History is always a great background for a book and The White Woman on The Green Bicycle – Monique Roffey* was a book which covered the history of Trinidad and was all very new to me. I knew very little about the country and through George and Sabine Harwood I learnt a lot more. This was the July choice for Book Club and as of this post I am the only one who has finished it. I look forward to seeing if anyone else gets to the end, as they were struggling with the language and dialogue of the characters.

Another kindle read was Undertaking Love – Kat French which I chose on a whim. I was a little disappointed with this book but it satisfied the need of reading something even if it was a bit forgettable. I was also left feeling a bit meh with Abby Clements – Amelia Grey’s Fireside Dream*. Clements is a relatively new author and she is I think still developing her style, I must read her Christmas novel at some point, though middle of July might not necessarily work.

A new author for me and a new concept/idea as well. Harriet Evans – A Place Like Us* is the first of four parts that I have got the opportunity to read and introduces me to Harriet Evans who I have never read before and the Winter family who have secrets and pasts that they all wish to keep hidden. The first part has left me wanting more…..

June was busy for the wonderful idea of #bookaday which was started the lovely people at Borough Press and I challenged myself to this – and actually managed it! I hope you enjoyed the round up posts I did on here if you are not a twitterer. Doubleday is doing it for July, but I think that might be a bit too much for me!

Of course I have mentioned 6 in 6 and will get it posted some time in July. Don’t wait for me if you have already got your post ready to go. All I ask is that you refer back to my blog and let me know as well, so I can come and visit and wave! I am just contemplating mine……

So June was a fun packed month, with hen weekends, literary events and work! I am hoping July will bring a rest but I fear not…..

 

Books

The Rosie Project – Graeme Simsion

If only finding love was as simple as filling in a questionnaire – well for Don Tillman he thinks it is. For everyone else in his life, they know it is not. That does not stop Don.

If he can filter out all the time wasters, those who drink excessively, smoke heavily and can’t function without some sort of structure and timetable he thinks he might be onto the right person. In walks Rosie, who drinks, smokes and can just disrupt all plans at a moments notice. Rosie is everything that Don does not require but she does require some help.

Rosie wants to find out who her biological father is and to do so without them knowing, she needs DNA and she needs to get it tested. Don is a geneticist and can do such things. He is drawn to help Rosie and becomes involved in what he calls the Father Project and puts his so called Wife Project on hold.

Although a predictable outcome can be foretold, by simply reading the blurb on the back of the book. How we get there is the most amusing tale I have read for a long time. I could so relate to Don’s logic in some matters and at the same time, could find some of his actions amusing. I never felt as I was reading this book, that I was laughing at Don more with him. The author must be laughing with us, as to call a professor ‘Don’ and his friend in the same field ‘Gene’ must mean something on a very different level. Don’t try too hard and wonder what it is, that is not the point. Accept it all when reading this book.

The author is  hoping that readers can see the funny side of how ordinary life is. The situations are not complicated or uncommon, they are simply happening all around us and are everyday in fact. However to Don they are a challenge.

All the supporting characters were well rounded and played an important part. Claudia and Gene were the couple that Don was perhaps aspiring to be in without all the issues that he could see were challenging their relationship. The situation that Don and Rosie get themselves into whilst serving cocktails was funny as is the insight into Don’s brain as he meets people and assess them;

“At Yankee Stadium we got beer and hot dogs. A man in a cap, estimated age thirty-five, estimated BMI forty (i.e. dangerously fat), sat beside me. He had three hot dogs! The source of the obesity was obvious”.

I think we should be grateful that Don ever vocalised these thoughts.

There are so many ‘moments’ of clarity for the reader and the characters that this really is a great novel and one to enjoy. It does sometimes come across as a screenplay, but it was written originally for the screen, but then adapted into the novel. And for all Don and Rosie fans, of which I am now one, a sequel is out towards the end of 2014.

This was May’s book club choice and it went down an absolute storm with everyone. Everyone had read it, loved it and were very much impressed. It  was interesting to see what two of our group thought, as they both have children with very similar autistic problems such as Don had. They both could relate to it in a very different way and could see the laughter on very different levels. It made for interesting discussion and I know we will all be clamouring to read The Rosie Effect out September 2014.

 

Books · Cooking · Crafts · Jottings · Knitting · Witterings

Numbers

I could have done an A-Z of general stuff and chit chat before, but my head seems to be full of numbers at the moment and not just work related either.  So here are a few, numbers…

1 Mile – before number 2 came about I managed to shave just under a minute of my time. I had built up to it all week and I was very pleased with myself. I better say that I mean my swimming! 64 lengths is a mile.

2 Colds/cough in the space of 2 months. This is very unlike me. The latest one has left with me with a croaky voice, I sound worse than I actually feel. My sinuses were visible apparently and my ears blocked. Which made me grumpy because I was not well enough to go swimming.

3 Episodes of Jamaica Inn, I sat through them all, with the sound up, I did not get as far as the subtitles, it never occurred to me but I was disappointed with the BBC. I know this was such a long time ago now, but it still bugs me, because I really think this may have put people off reading her work.

1 weekend to go until we get another bank holiday. I really do think this country needs a couple more spread throughout the year, movable perhaps depending on when Easter falls. I cannot wait for a lie in or at least to get up and make a cup of tea and go back to bed with my book!

Apparently I am currently 2 books behind with my reading to aim for 100 this year. I am not overly worried as there is always going to be more time to read when the World Cup Football starts. I have also just finished writing 2 reviews and I have 2 more to do.

Take 3 Hollywood actors and just watch this – I love it .

finished shawl for my mum which I have been knitting and I have yet to blog about it. I promise I will do it soon.

2 knitted toys made. Another one started. I seem to be on a roll and it means I have not been picking so my weight is going down.

weeks since I baked anything. Although I have made some jelly sweets,but that does not count.

I have not done any stitching for ages which I must rectify. I have been out twice to dinner, both times to cracking restaurants. I spotted myself on the Antiques Roadshow. I am off out to another NT Live production. I have a 13th birthday party to attend, a picnic, a hen weekend, a colour run, a Summer Ball. I am booked to go to some events at the West Meon Literary Festival in July. Then further afield there is my sojourn to a spa in August, tickets to see Jeeves and Wooster at the theatre in November.

So much going on and do you know what – I am loving it! Life is too short and remembering the young Stephen Sutton who lost his battle with cancer this week, life is also precious and fragile. Enjoy every bit of it.

Books

April Roundup

I am here I promise, it may look like I am not especially as there has been hardly any jottings posts, but I am reading, it just seems to be taking a bit longer to write about the books, especially when I have been out socialising (what a bind) and obviously working (double bind). However I am here now with my roundup of April’s books.

Old and New in many ways for reading this month.

I started the month, finishing Santa Montefiore – The Summer House. An author I have read before and I was not quite enamoured with this book as I have been with her others. I still enjoyed it despite the fact I realised I had an actual copy of the book bought, and I had downloaded it onto my kindle. I need to somehow sort out what I have on my kindle to read, just in case I do this again……actually I did do it again with a Santa Montefiore book…. (Shakes head!)

I tend to jump around from reading actual books and books on my kindle, depending on my whims and fancies – but I was on my kindle to read Trisha Ashley – Finding Mr Rochester, her new short story with a taster of her next book, which is already out by the time you read this. I must get a copy but I know if I do I will want to read it straight away.

Wanting to read Katie Fforde – The Perfect Match was another book, especially as it is her latest and I was lucky enough to get a review copy (onto my kindle). I enjoyed this book, but not one of her strongest novels if you have never read any of hers before.

Continuing on the female author of women’s fiction theme, I picked up another Jill Mansell to read Rumour Has It*. An author I discovered last year and one where you can enjoy the books, they are not great works of literature but they give you that lovely feeling whilst reading, preferably on the sofa with tea and cake. Or in my case when finishing it, a box of chocolates. Let us not even mention the diet!

And then I come on to Rosie Goodwin – A Mother’s Shame which was a wonderful book. I was absolutely lost in the story which captured you from the beginning, a real saga of a novel. This author is another I have discovered thanks to the lovely publishers that send me books. I am so grateful for introducing them into my life.

Sticking with feisty females, I come to the second book of my book clubs choice for April which was L.M. Montgomery – Anne of Green Gables. An interesting choice by on the group, considering she likes some pretty horrific type of novels! Dear Anne was such a chatterbox and gave me a headache at times, but I did enjoy it, but actually wish I had read this book whilst I was a child. I am sure being an adult as spoiled it, as  you already have life experience and much of your imagination is taken up with the minutiae of life.

I suppose Anne of Green Gables in some way could be a piece of historical fiction I did read books which were not set in the present day. Carola Dunn – Rattle His Bones is a Daisy Dalrymple book and is set in the 1920s, although the topic was a bit dry for me, it was nice to catch up with Daisy and her penchant for being at the same place as the odd dead body or two!

More crime in the past from the wonderful James Runcie – Sidney Chambers and The Perils of the Night. Sidney Chambers is now heading out of the Nineteen Fifties and headed into the Sixties, and his religious life seems to be in stark contrast to the crimes he finds himself helping to solve. This is a book not full of dead bodies, but covers many criminal activities.

In the year which commemorates the 100 years since the outbreak of First World War and 70 years since D Day, I wanted to read as much as I could around these historical events. A bit of light hearted humour but with an undercurrent of seriousness with Monica Dickens – One Pair of Feet* which follows on from her forays into domestic service and took us into nursing with some rather interesting and amusing stories set to the backdrop of the Second World War.

Martin Davis – The Year After* was an author I have not read before and I picked the book up as a random choice in the bookshop. It is excellent and although not set during the war, it concentrates on the aftermath. Those that returned from the war to those who have lost someone who will never return.

Last mention for the latest Belinda Bauer book The Facts of Life and Death simply because it really does not fit neatly into any of the categories of books that I have read in April. It is crime, though not historical, it is a female author but certainly in the cast of women’s fiction. It is simply an excellent novel which is a step away from what she has written before and was a thrilling, dark read and one I do recommend.

So phew, that was April, eleven books I think! I have read some for my challenges, I am roughly on plan for 100 books and I have read some cracking good books. As the month finished I was reading a book which was another book that you cannot put into a neat genre category, but come back and find all about that if you can.

I probably don’t say this often enough, but if you do pop along and read my blog, thank you and I hope you enjoy what you read. I do read your comments.

Now let us get on with the May reading shall we?

 

Books

Anne of Green Gables – L.M.Montgomery

Have you met Anne before? If you have, then you know exactly what this book is going to do. If like me this is the first time of meeting Anne, despite some vague recollection of a television programme whilst growing up then you are in for a delight.

Anne Shirley, the chatterbox redhead arrives at Green Gables and into brother and sister, Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert lives. They were expecting a young boy to come and be some sort of help to them on their farm. There seems to have been some sort of mix up and the hard hearted Marilla wants to send Anne back.

But as Anne infiltrates both Green Gables and Marilla’s heart with her constant chattering and wildly imaginative stories it seems Anne has finally found her home and people to love her.

We see Anne moved into her late teens and develop and grow away from the imagination that captures her and us as readers at the beginning of the story. She gets into lots of scrapes along the way, “There’s such a lot of different Annes in me. I sometimes think that is why I’m such a troublesome person”. Some of them are quite funny when you read this with an adults point of view and life experience but it is such a gentle book you escape into this past age, where everything seemed to be simple and joy was found in the most simple things.

I confess it did take me a while to adjust to Anne’s constant chatter and I did want to strangle her on occasions for her chattering but actually if you look past this, Anne is a girl who is struggling to come to terms with growing up and realising the responsibility that comes with being an adult, “That’s the worst of growing up, and I’m beginning to realise it. The things you wanted so much when you were a child don’t seem half so wonderful to you when you get them”.

I surprised myself by enjoying this as I thought I was going to get something overtly twee and over the top. I only wish now I had read it as a child because I know I would have enjoyed growing up with Anne.

This was a choice for my book club. Out of all of us, only one had read it and had recently devoured them all and was shocked to know we had not read them. Which is how we came to choose the book, we needed two book as we had a break in March as one of our members was busy having a baby. 

I am not sure if I will continue to read more about Anne, I did look up exactly what happens to Anne in subsequent novels to get an idea, but I feel I have been cheated by not reading them as a girl. As an adult I am sure they will not feel the same. 

Books

The Midwife’s Confession – Diane Chamberlain

Three women brought together in friendship. They can trust each other. In fact they can trust each other with their own children. But do they know each other?

Diane Chamberlain introduces us to Tara, Emerson and Noelle. Then she shocks them and the reader with Noelle’s suicide (this is mentioned on the blurb on the reverse of the book).

Tara and Emerson are left reeling, as I was as a reader. Suddenly as a life is extinguished, the two women seek solace in each other as they try to piece together who Noelle was. But then they knew her, so it should not be too hard should it?

This is as much as I can say, without actual giving away vital plotlines and ruining the book for any potential reader. What I will say this is a book which reflects very much on the differences in the mother and daughter bond that there is. Is it something which can hold together or can it be wrenched away from you as soon as your back is turned.

As Tara and Emerson learn about Noelle, they also learn a lot about themselves as mothers and ultimately their daughters, respectively Grace and Jenny. Grace and Jenny learn as much about the past and their mothers as they do about each other. The world suddenly seems a strange and frightening place without the support of your mother. This is a truth test on the state of friendship between these women separated by generations.

The book progress in each chapter with flashbacks to Noelle, we can form a picture of her from beyond the grave if you like. We try to understand all her actions and her reactions to events. In the ‘present’ chapters we see how Tara and Emerson as well as some other characters tell their story and learn piece by piece the confession. This technique gives you perspectives and a well rounded picture of events. For me it is a great way of getting to the heart of the story, but whilst I thoroughly enjoyed it and was drawn into the web of lies which were beginning to unfold I actually did not like any of the characters. They were not badly written in my opinion, and I am still trying to work out how I can like a book,  but not like the characters? There may not be a clear cut answer for this.

This is a book of strength, the strength of the ties that bind, mothers and daughters, friendship, love. The strength of trying to hold everything together when there is a stronger force at work trying to ruin your life. The strength of the twists and turns kept me wanting more and it is all packed into a relatively short book, where it could have laboured for many more pages, building and building but Diane Chamberlain’s writing has not needed to do this.

This was a book club choice. Chosen by me opening just one of my newbooks magazines at a page and  seeing what book was on it and then selecting that. It is more of a fateful choice as one member of my book club is actually a midwife…….. I cannot wait for this particular discussion. 

 

 

Books

March Roundup

I know I am going to be repeating myself and if I went back and looked at previous March roundup posts, I bet I still say “we are a quarter of the way through the year already”. And so we are and it seems that my reading for this month has taken an all female turn looking back on who I have read. Familiar and new, reliable and breath taking probably sums up some if not all of the books I have read in March.

Familiar with M.C. Beaton – Agatha Raisin and the Case of the Curious Curate. When you need a bit of reading therapy these are the books for you. This is certainly one of the stronger Agatha Raisin stories and I can certainly see how they have grown since the early books.

Another one is Debbie Macomber – The Shop on Blossom Street* I am familiar with her Cedar Cove series and completed the final one of those last year. Debbie Macomber has written a lot so I wanted to read even more and I have read one of the Blossom Street series 4 years ago so I knew this was the place to go and visit. Even more so as the shop on Blossom Street is in fact a wool shop (yarn in American). What better for a knitting fan! Having read it, I really want to crack on with the others now and debating whether I will have to do a reread of the one from 4 years ago.

Back to a Catherine Cookson-esque author with Elizabeth Gill – Snow Angels. This is where I was affected by social media. I picked up the recommendation to read Elizabeth Gill’s new novel last year by another favourite of mine Trisha Ashley. When I asked what else I should read of hers she suggested this one.  And so whilst it was on offer on kindle I purchased it and now I have read it.

Finally for known authors was Natasha Solomons – The Novel in the Viola*. I had this on my shelf (3 years) for a while and picked it up following reading one of her other novels. It was a gentle book (as was Mr Rosenblum’s List) and won  which explored some interesting concepts and took me back to some history which I knew very little about. It is always a joy when reading something through Historical Fiction takes you on another journey of discovery.

Although I wallowed in some Agatha Raisin this month, I was introduced to Kate Shackleton in Frances Brody – Dying in the Wool. Another female private detective, this time after the First World War, widowed and living in Yorkshire, where her father is also in the police force. This is the first in the series and I am interested to see how it will develop. Similar  in time period but not in class I suppose to Daisy Dalrymple, but somehow tackling some much different people.

As part of my 2014 challenges to read books off my shelf I picked up Tasmina Perry – The Proposal. This was sent to me back last year from the publisher and I have a few other of her novels waiting to be read. I had an idea of what I was going to get from the book which is why I think I had not got round to reading them in any great rush. They say don’t judge a book by its cover – so that is a timely reminder as the book was great and I am looking forward to reading her other work.

Then there is the book club choice – Diane Chamberlain – The Midwife’s Confession*. Another new author and whilst I am not overly keen on American books as they can sometimes come across as too wishy washy and over the top. This was neither. It was a page turner – and I want to say more and I cannot because to do so would ruin it for everyone. I cannot wait to talk about the book.

And as the month closes, I am reading the second choice for book club which is Anne of Green Gables, one I have never read, which I am enjoying, which has surprised me. I do have another one on the go for when dear Anne gets a bit too talkative and that is Santa Montefiore and The Summer House. I am hoping that April will bring not just a few brighter days but also lots more reading.

*Book Review yet to appear on blog.

 

Books

February Roundup

Another month gone and well into the year, February always goes quickly, but then I suppose being the shortest month it is bound to!

A mixture of reading, mainly because it has taken me until near the last few days of the month to settle down and embrace the reading. Routine has probably set in now with work and I have really enjoyed the books I have read. This month was lacking in crime and thriller, probably a good job really as the book club choice was Pierre Lemaitre – Alex which was an excellent read and one that kept me reading when I should have been sleeping. I had no idea where it was going and it was one of those books where actually you change your mind so clearly and definitely about a character that it is going to surprise you – and it did not disappoint. It was also a success with book club to.

I needed something to cheer and cleanse the brain after reading Alex, so I went back to the old faithful of Maureen Lee and read her latest paperback novel – Flora and Grace. Not one of her strongest but just the restoring faith sort of story that just carried you along. It is an almost annual ritual reading one of her novels and long may it continue.

Another book to cheer the soul for February (it has needed some cheering) is Katie Fforde – Highland Fling*. This one takes us to Scotland with a failing business and a grand house. Plenty of cooking and food and mysterious men to gives us and the main character an adventure. I am slowly working my way through Katie’s novels and thoroughly enjoying them.

Alexandra Brown – Me and Mr Carrington*, is whilst a short story and the only one read on my kindle this month is the stop-gap between her debut novel and her second which was release at Christmas. It reminded me of the characters and kept me i contact with the series of books that the author is developing.

You could also say, I have embraced further short stories with P.L. Travers – Mary Poppins Comes Back*. It has taken me a whole month to read this particular book, the second in the Mary Poppins series and it is part of an omnibus book which I cannot cart around anywhere. So I am confined to reading it at home. Although there is a common thread through the tales, they can all be read as independent little stories and all I can say is Mary Poppins is nothing like Julie Andrews!

Two new authors this month and both dealt with war in some way. Mary Fitzgerald – When I Was Young* is a novel that I am struggling to describe. It was both moving and romantic, it dealt with the aftermath of war and the long-term effect it can have on those around them. Love is the only thing that can hold an eclectic mix of people together.

The book of the month, and certainly one that will be the book of the year is Anna Hope – Wake*. This novel from a debut author deals with the return of a soldier from France to take his position in Westminster Abbey in 1920 in the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The same time that The Cenotaph is officially revealed as a permanent reminder of the loss of war. Whilst this major national event is building, three women are awaken to the reality of what has happened to them after the guns stopped firing in 1918. This is a must read book, even more so in this the hundredth year of the outbreak of the First World War.

Some great books and some tried and tested favourites, and that is what reading should all be about. New discoveries and old favourites. There will be more of the same in March I can be sure of that.

*Book Review yet to appear on blog.