Books

The Pirates! in an Adventure with Communists – Gideon Defoe

There is a lot that the Pirate Captain has done so far in his travels, he has faced Moby Dick and also rescued and sailed with Charles Darwin. Of course there has to be some inevitability that he will meet Communists. It is such a varied life that the Pirate Captain leads.

On their way to London, to buy a new suit for the Captain, the whole crew seem to get into some sort of bother. The Pirate Captain is arrested for being Karl Marx, it is quite obvious that he isn’t as his beard is far superior to that of Marx. But it leads to the possibility that these communists are caught up in some sort of plot and being blamed for everything.

The crew move to Paris, where the sample the delights that the city has to offer; splitting up they simlutaneoulsy experience the Mona Lisa

“It lacks a certain something”, said the pirate with gout.

Some went to see Madame Tussauds;

“Do you suppose they have nipples?”, the pirate with a peg-leg wondered out loud. trying to peer down Nell Gwyn’s top.

The rest went to see the Folies Bergere;

“I heard that they don’t wear any knickers when they do they cancan!” said the pirate with rickets.

In the meantime the Pirate Captain starts to help Marx so his name and that of the communists is not blackened. They all need a plan.

“…you see this is why it pays to think plans through past the very first bit. Really that’s what distinguishes  “a plan” from “running about in a flap”.”

Somehow this motley crew of pirates and their Pirate Captain, live to fight another day.

These books are funny, they are wry and have a historical slant to them. Sometimes a bit near the mark if you are letting youngsters read them, but that said they would probably not get the references at all. Anything you may not be sure of, Gideon Defoe gives us footnotes. If you want something that is light and not demanding then this is the book for you. I am not a fan of comic novels, but these really hit the spot and I cannot wait to join the Captain Pirate for more adventures soon. And of course the final philosophical word should go to the Pirate Captain ” Life is like a big shanty. Everything will be fine so long as everyone sings in harmony”. How true that is and how it applies to so much.

I do so enjoy these books and I haven’t even seen the film yet of the first adventure. I think this is as close as I am going to get to a comic and illustrated novel at the moment. I look forward to reading the next one, Napoleon and the Romantics. They also are books which look good on a shelf together. 

Books

October Roundup

Someone pinch me – I think I have missed October. It seems to have gone by in a flash and I have been busy with trips to Knitting and Stitching shows, Guildford Book Festival as well as work. It has never been a dull day and whilst I do not enjoy sitting in on disciplinary, return to works, etc I have enjoyed the challenge. But then I have enjoyed winding up the grandmother clock that sits in our foyer (it has somehow got to be my job) as well as being Princess Anne and ordering snowballs! Variation and the ability to be able multi task and drop from one thing to another is paramount in my job, even more so in October. Please let November be a quieter month……

But as for the reading this month, variation still has to be the key, but it has taken a rather easy read, know what you are getting kind of stance. And not a crime book in sight!

Familiarity although they say it breeds contempt it actually brings joy and this is why I have read two Joanne Fluke novels this month Cherry Cheesecake Murder and Key Lime Pie Murder. In quick succession as well, which I seem to do with the books. They are great cosy crime and just what you need when the brain is somewhat stretched to capacity.

Whilst knowing what you are getting can be a good thing, sometimes you also need to have a laugh and this is where Gideon Defoe – The Pirates in an Adventure with Communists* came in. I do heartily (said with a ooargghh pirate voice) recommend these books both for adults and children alike. An adventure with a few life lessons thrown in for good measure that you don’t even realise it.

If you want even more of a laugh then I can certainly recommend anything by Gervase Phinn. His autobiographical tales of a Yorkshire School Inspector have made me howl laughing on more than one occasion. The Little Village School* is his first foray into adult fiction and I was worried that perhaps it may cause me to become complacent because I had heard the stories before and they were just being regurgitated into a fictional form, I was much mistaken. This was a book which had a good storyline and I actually did not want to finish it. My Book Club choice for October and one that actually went down very well.

I could have stuck to tried and tested authors this month, but I did branch out with a few that I have never read before. First up was Milly Johnson – An Autumn Crush. A book I picked up in a charity shop and it had been on my shelf for a while and I thought as Autumn has now dawned it might make an appropriate reading start. I enjoyed it and can see why Milly is a much desired author and I have another author who no doubt I can turn to when I just want to read and close the book, having enjoyed it but not necessarily need to think about it any more. Believe you me there are times when you need that with a book.

Sticking with new authors, The French House – Nick Alexander* was another book I had acquired (I think as part of a goody bag) and had been languishing on my shelf for a while. I was expecting something and had made assumptions about this book, and whilst I got some of what I thought, it did really surprise me. Sometimes it pays to pick randomly off your shelf.

Laurie Graham – At Sea*. Was both a random choice, in terms of buying the book. I was intrigued by the blurb but also the fact that I was seeing her at the Guildford Book Festival Readers Day (more about that soon I promise). I did not start the book until the morning of going and could not read much on the train as I felt rather motion sick. However, the writing and the story line was rather fascinating and I really enjoyed it. Surprising as I had one of her books on my shelf many many years ago and tried to read it and just could not get into it. The book got given away, I might just have to revisit that book at some point.

There was a book this month that I did pick up and put down and it will just be a book that is not going to be and that is Half Blood Blues – Esi Edugyan. It just was not working for me and I have read something lovely reviews on the book. I tried with it and realised that no, I had to put it down. I really could not get my head around the writing and the language used in the dialogue and so it has gone on another journey. I am slowly learning that you have to do that with books and not be afraid to.

When it comes to sorting out books and passing them on, I go through stages of sorting and either selling, donating to charity, passing onto friends when it looks like the books are going to overtake my flat. I am very lucky that I get sent quite a lot of review copies and for that I am much grateful, but I do have to have a purge and pass on those I can because I know I am never going to read them. Amongst this latest task I came across Janey Fraser – Happy Families* and had to make a decision yes or no. I decided yes and within a few days I had read the book and so that is another one off the pile of review books that I have read.

As the month of October closes, I have picked up the November Book Club choice which is Barack Obama, Dreams of My Father. A very different book and one I would not have chosen, so far it is fascinating. I wonder what other fascinating reads November will bring me?

*Book review yet to appear on this blog.

Books

Jane and Prudence – Barbara Pym

Jane was at Oxford, she studied English Literature and had an interest in the metaphysical poets. She went back and taught at the college she was taught at herself before she then went and married Nicholas and becomes a clergyman’s wife.

Prudence meets Jane when Prudence comes to Oxford. Despite the ten-year age gap, they become friends. Prudence is not married, and Jane thinks she should be before it becomes to late and she goes into a rapid decline towards spinsterhood. But Prudence enjoys her life and her own space, company and flat in London. Only when she goes to visit Jane in her village, does she perhaps feel that she is missing something.

This is story of nothing, which actually means it is about everything. Village life after the war, gossips in the village commenting about the new Vicar’s wife (Jane), the widower next door who treated his wife badly, the friction on the parish council, the threat of other religions which might call the villagers to their place of worship and of course the romance for middle-aged women.

I loved Jane, she came across as scatty, as if she did not care what she looked like (I don’t think she did), who seemed unable to do more than spread butter on bread and had a way of saying the right thing but at the wrong time. She was living her life through Prudence and her love affairs but also now through her daughter has she went to Oxford and started to study the same subject as her mother.

Prudence, on the other hand was not so nice, she had developed a hardness about her. Perhaps because her objects of affections were on occasions unattainable. Her position seems to be everything to her, she works with two colleagues who spend their time talking about what time they arrived at work and therefore what time they should leave, and whether the tea was going to be delivered on time. Much beneath any of them to go and make the tea themselves.

This is my first Pym book I have ever read. It captures something about the middle classes, after the war and has observational humour that resonates even today. A gentle read, an escape into another world that was not that long ago and I loved it.

I am not sure who out in the blogging world nudged me in the direction of Barbara Pym, thank you anyway. I have expanded my reading further and will certainly look out for more of her work – any suggestions are most gratefully received. 

My edition had an introduction by Jilly Cooper (the author is not relevant) but I chose to read this once I had finished the book as I felt it would have coloured my view on coming to the novel. It was the right thing to do, I could then go back and agree (or disagree) with some of what was said and picked up on. These additions to books are very good, but I am very wary about delving into them before or during the reading of the actual novel itself. 

I do so love a village tale that is based so much on observation and also there was some elements of myself I scarily recognised in a couple of the characters! That cannot be good surely? 

Books

Very Good, Jeeves – P.G. Wodehouse

There comes a time where only Jeeves and Wooster will do. You need to know very little about these two apart from Bertie Wooster’s schemes will fail and it is Jeeves who will silently pick up the pieces and put everything back together in the correct way.

In this book which contains 11 short stories which are linked by the fact they refer back to previous events, but they contain enough background to be able to understand the current story. They are a great introduction to Jeeves and Wooster and Wodehouse writing as well as the characters of Bingo Little, Tuppy Glossop, Bobby Wickham and the various aunts who are the scourge of a family according to Bertie.

There is some wonderful observations dispensed by Bertie at the pen of Wodehouse which I think is what makes these books so enjoyable, light and humourous;

on describing Tuppy’s new love…..”be an upstanding light-heavy-weight of some thirty summers, with a commanding eye and a square chin…I don’t know why it is , but women who have anything to do with Opera, even if they’re only studying for it, always appear to run to surplus poundage.”

on encountering a policeman….”when a sudden bright light shone upon me from below and a voice spoke. “Ho!” it said. It was a policeman. Apart from the fact of his having a lantern, I knew it was a policeman because he had said ‘Ho!’….evidently policeman are taught this as part of their training. And after all, it’s not a bad way of opening conversation in the sort of circs in which they generally have to chat with people.”

There are lots of little snippets like these two throughout the book and they form part of the stories as the book bounces lightly on in the adventures of Wooster and the Very Good, Jeeves.

A one for Jeeves and Wooster fans, and for those who want to put their toe into the Wodehouse water and see whether it is for them.

I so wish I had not got rid of all my copies of Jeeves and Wooster novels (yes I really did!) as they are just a joy to read. I have only kept to Jeeves and Wooster mainly because of the excellent programme with Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie which led me to the books when I was in my late teens, early twenties. I need to branch out a bit more and did so last year with a Psmith novel which crossed over with Blandings, so it is back to Blandings I must go. 

Books

Could It Be I’m Falling In Love – Eleanor Prescott

Meet a cast of characters who you might just recognise – a washed up TV weatherman famous for getting it spectacularly wrong. A politician who was involved in scandal. A former model whose assets were well-known by all. A male pop idol, who sang cover songs in white vests. A child author whose novels were brought to the big screen. A footballers wife. A TV soap bad-boy. An  actor whose rom-coms made money on his name alone and finally a young ladette who had a rather brash approach to interviewing and being seen.

Meet, Terry, Cressida, Sue, Woody, Holly, Chelle,Simon, Austin and the main protagonist of this novel Roxy. They have all been drawn to Lavender Heath and Woody who seems to be the leader of this rather interesting self help group of former has-beens is trying to get them all to see life goes on and can be very fulfilling, away from the glamour and the spotlight.

It is Woody who is the most secure of the group, he has embraced life as a window cleaner, and whilst he runs the gauntlet of bored housewives trying to bed their once famous window cleaner he likes nothing more than cleaning windows with them old white vests. But it is Roxy’s presence in the group that starts to change the dynamics of everything.

Roxy cannot understand why they seem so comfortable in their life now, especially Woody who she is so trying hard not to love – do they not want to be famous and well known any more. Roxy does and she is trying hard, as we can see throughout the book to put herself back out there. Trouble with Roxy is that she may not have changed her unique selling point but the type of celebrity world that is out there now is very different to the one she started in. So she turns her efforts to everyone else.

With a bit of coaxing, she manages to draw Sue out of her black self imposed uniform and her reclusive house, Terry suddenly seems to be more interested in fashion when it is thrust upon him, Cressida is learning more about the world and also perhaps a hair cut could help things along and Simon’s cooking skills could be another opening. But Austin’s reluctance to remain sober, Holly’s rather nervy attitude and Chelle only interested in making her husband jealous, it is going to prove a tough job.

But fame comes at a price, and as the book goes on, the media seem to have taken a huge interest in Lavender Heath and exactly where are they getting all their information from – especially the accurate information. It may seem that one of the group has been helping themselves to titbits and letting the world know everything.

This is a novel of it’s day. I am sure there are plenty of real life celebrities which we could name that fit into the stereotypical characters that the author has created. I wonder who she had in mind for all of them? And I bet as the days go and fame being so fickle, these names change as often as the daily headlines. It shows a rather desperate side of fame and whilst I disliked the character Roxy because of her rather arrogant and blunt attitude, I felt that someone should have taken her to one side and explained that she had to move on with her life. It took a long time for her to work that out – it became in parts frustrating. Roxy did not take the hint that was glaringly obvious from the first pages. The paparazzi werent interested and neither was I, and I wavered whether I would finish this book as it was too Roxy dominated. However, as I learnt more about the other characters, Roxy became less of an irritant and I progressed with the book.

A diverting novel, but more for a younger female reader than myself, it did not have enough strength in the overall story for me.

This is Eleanor Prescott’s second novel. I have her first on my shelf and I am after reading this a bit reluctant to pick it up. Sounding very snobby, as I was reading I was thinking to myself that those people out there just like Roxy are going to love this book – they will not realise that actually they are being sent up in their portrayal. I have vision, of older teenage girls all giggling about reading a book like this and not seeing the point of how life can change you for the better and for the worse, and that perhaps being famous is not the contentment that you are really after – I have suddenly got very old!! 

Books

May Roundup

Well another month of reading done and yet again here I am reviewing what I have read in a month. A month where the weather has been interchangeable, work has been rather challenging and very tiring and it has felt like at times, I have not had time for reading. But I must have done as I have read 9 books!

When times are tough and when I want to read and need something less challenging I turn to what I know and that is where good old Agatha Raisin and the Fairies of Fryfram by M.C. Beaton* come in to play. Agatha is character you love to hate and you just want to read more about what she is going to get herself involved in next.

At other times I want to get into a story and be immersed by it and its characters this came with a new author for me this month with Rosie Goodwin – Home Front Girls. This has got be immersed back in my love of historical fiction which has sort of dominated by month reflecting back. I know I am going to read more Rosie Goodwin in the future.

From the Second World War and 1940s Coventry with Rosie Goodwin, I was then taken to 1950s Brighton with Sara Sheridan – Brighton Belle, which is the first of her Mirabelle Bevan series of books and encompasses that histroical element with a smattering of crime and thriller. We are also introduced to Vesta Churchill, a young black woman who helps Mirabelle which introduces the topic of race relations. Which then took me neatly across the Atlantic to 1960s America and The Secret Life of Bees – Sue Monk Kidd* and the American South and another conflict of whites and blacks being more than master and servant and certainly not friends. This was my book club choice for June so I am a bit ahead of the game having read it. May’s choice took me right back to England and back about 30 years to the 1930s and Monica Dickens – One Pair of Hands. Life of a servant is more fun so thinks Monica who has a life of a lady living upstairs not down. These are her rather amusing anecdotes as a life as a cook general going back to life in society when she frankly gets bored or fed up.

Society and doing the right thing jumps to post war Britain, the country is still reeling from the war, mourning for a king and welcoming in a new age and a new queen. It is 1953 and Maggie Joel introduces us to The Second-Last Woman in England*. Hopefully thanks to the publishers, Maggie Joel will be answering some questions about her novel and herself towards the end of June to coincide with the publication of her book.

So whilst history has dominated with a smattering of crime in a lot of these books – the only direct crime genre book I have read in May is Niamh O’Connor – Too Close for Comfort*. The third in her Irish Female Detective DI Jo Birmingham.  Niamh O’Connor draws on real life events which have dominated the news headlines and the actual newspapers in recent years, making it a book of its time.

Another one of those books of it’s time I think falls to Eleanor Prescott – Could It Be I’m Falling In Love*. A celebrity fuelled, twitterfest, email correspondence way of telling an okay story , similar to reading those well known celebrity magazines at the hairdressers!

The final book I have to mention is Kathy Lette – Love is Blind. It is not a book of it’s time, it is not historical in its setting, it has no crime in it it is just simply a shorty story, a quick read if you will to get others into reading that would not have normally picked up a book before. It does though come under the category of an author I have never read before and will be reading some more of I am sure!

So that was May, in fact as the final hours ticked away last night I picked up a book to read, that I have to say I gave up on after 30 pages (Farundell – L.R.Fredericks), it just was not doing it for me and I feel rather rash in doing so but I realise that sometimes you have to be  when there are so many other books out there (indeed on my own shelves, bedside table, floor, kindle..) waiting to be read so I have picked up a cosy crime novel of Joanne Fluke and go in to June seeing what else it might bring me!

* Book review yet to appear on this blog

Books

Book Club #12 – One Pair of Hands – Monica Dickens

This book club was the anniversary edition! It was a whole year since we first got together and from Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier we have come right round to Monica. Monica Dickens and her memoir – One Pair of Hands.

It was a book which I think everyone enjoyed. It made most of us laugh. K was amazed at her complete inability to cook despite saying she could whip up a soufflé at the drop of a hat. W mentions the amount of crockery she was breaking, and as L said, it was probably costing her more in replacements than in wages. K – she was good at doing nothing and getting all the work done by everyone else, even the Hoover sales man who kept coming back to see Monica and doing a lot of washing up! Perhaps that was to save even more plates being broken?

It was a humourous book, that we all agreed was well written but there was no story – and as C says but not in a detrimental way quite a forgettable book. At times you thought that you were going to get a bit of a story happening, especially when an ex boyfriend shows up – but you turn the page and nothing. Just the next lurching and messy disaster in the kitchen to get through. A book that was a pleasant diversion and made a change but it would have been nice we decided if we had more descriptions of the houses she worked in, their structure, layout, the furnishing and more about the other servants she encountered too.

As I said, Monica was playing at being a servant, she felt that those ‘downstairs;’ were having more fun than she was. But the fundamental difference being when she was bored with it, she could go back ‘upstairs’. All of us if we had a choice would certainly like to lie ‘upstairs’! Working downstairs would have been a long hard slog, especially if we had someone who had his finger permanently on the bell summoning us, and if this meant entering that rather smelly room, where Mr Parrish was languishing or perhaps that is festering in bed! Made W cringe! L as a dog owner, was rather aware of what would happen when Mr Parrish dog was given the failed crème brulee, it was going to come back at some point.Although written well, K says it was not quite up to her great grandfather’s standard of writing, but I suppose that would be a lot to live up to and the constant comparison pressure would be a headache.

One Pair of Feet, Monica’s experiences at being a nurse during the Second World War is being reissued in December and whilst I don’t think there would be a rush from all of us to buy and read it, there is a perverse interest in whether she treats patients the same way as cooking!

It really did not matter if you had not finished the book, as there was no ending or twist to spoil it. A book which you can pick up and put down and know exactly where you were.

So there you go, a whole year of book club and I am so pleased that it has kept momentum, despite illness, holiday and life getting in the way, we have read a great variety of books and everyone is enjoying it which is the key thing and we have lined up at least the next four books as well. It certainly helps with having questions, prepared and I have a standard set which I can use for books which don’t necessarily have questions so that helps discussion. This book I don’t think could even fulfil those questions, but that is the type of book that it was – a memoir perhaps makes a difference to the way discussion can go?

I will endeavour to try and continue to write the reports on my book club, as it is great way to consolidate all that we talk about and I hope if you read my blog you are enjoying it too.

Books

One Pair of Hands – Monica Dickens

Monica thinks those downstairs have more fun than she does in her life upstairs so she wants to find out if this is true. In some ways she is conducting an experiment as she embarks on a life as a cook-general. Her decision is simply laughed at by her family and they seem to tolerate her rather mad scheme of going out to work.

And Monica does go out to work as a cook-general, she does the cooking rather by luck than by skill.

The cleaning by only moving the dust around from one place to the other and around the static items.

Taking dogs out simply involves letting them out of the door in the vain hope that they come back.

Serving at dinner to listen in on the conversations.

Running the household accounts mainly from her own money and wages as she seems to go through a lot of eggs, especially for Crème Brulee, then the eggs went through the dog quickly!

Avoiding ‘upstairs’ boyfriends from the past whilst she is playing at being downstairs.

Answering an enormous amount of bells being run as she speeds from downstairs to upstairs, often changing uniform as she goes.

The washing up, when there is crockery to be washed up and that she has not previously broken.

To having fun, mainly by enlisting anyone that happens to cross her path to enable her to get away with doing half of these tasks!

And when Monica has had enough or a term at a place comes to an end, she has the luxury of retreating back to her ‘upstairs’ life.

None of this is fantasy, although I am sure some is elaborated for literary effect but Monica Dickens uses this book, written over 70 years ago, to chronicle the humorous events of her foray into the working life of the working classes. It was the beginning of the 1930s and there is still very much the class divide. The First World War has had an impact but the Second is a few years off yet to make the largest change to life in domestic service and women working. Monica is bored, with the life she is leading and wants to do something even though financially she has no need to, the result of which is this book.

This book is well written and I think describes life in service well. But it is worth remembering that this is a snap shot of around 18 months in the late 1930s and although you could say Monica was perhaps playing at the role, she does it with such aplomb and good humour that you start to believe that she was born into the life….that is until she agrees to do a dish she has no idea how to make and breaks the dish she wants to serve it on……

This was a pleasant diversion of my reading and I am glad I have read it. It did make me laugh in many places, especially when she was fed up with everything she just quit to the way she roped in the man selling Hoovers to help her with things like the washing up! It harks back to an age where someone came very day to your door to see what you wanted from the baker, the milkman, the grocer. We can still have such things delivered to our doors – but it is all done so impersonally with a click of a button on the website of the shop that sells the bread, the milk, the groceries.

This book was reissued with a new cover, because of the fascination with all things upstairs and downstairs, because of the programme of the same name and of course Downton Abbey. I am glad because I would never have come across the book if it was not for that and also hearing Katherine McMahon recommend it at last years Guildford Book Festival. Her experience as a nurse are written down in One Pair of Feet which is being reissue by Virago Modern Classics in December 2013. 

It was also my book club book for May and I will be reporting about that on another post. 

Books · Jottings · Witterings

April Roundup

You can tell when it is holiday time from work for me – the reading rate increases rather quickly. Then I went back to work and all of a sudden I am a few days late in doing my April roundup – I have been so tired as work is increased due to contract changes (that I won’t bore you with) that I was mainly arriving home,eating, reading and then sleeping. Time was simply running away with me. However, with restorative cup of tea and a few hours in the sunshine I am able to catch up! Hello all followers, do feel free to comment.  I have been reading blogs, but apologies if I have not commented for a while.

So what did I read in April, well whilst I read a lot, the variety has been vast but some of the subjects of a similar theme and even title!

Cosy and familiar were the way forward and I spent some time with Katie Fforde – Love Letters and Trisha Ashley – Good Husband Material. I find these books such a tonic and am completely captivated and absorbed by the stories, thank you to both authors.

Cosy remained with crime as I read another Daisy Dalrymple story, this time book 6 of the series with Carola Dunn – Dead in the Water*. I suppose you could say they are cosy historical crime, as they are set in the 1920s but the remind me so much of Jeeves and Wooster that they are good escapism. I am not sure whether you would put Agatha Christie – A Caribbean Mystery* as cosy crime, as I think of these books as more traditional classic crime from the golden age. I was slightly disappointed with this book I have to confess, it was just not right taking Miss Marple out of the country village setting for me. However, it was a passable read and ticked another book of the list of challenges for 2013 as did the Daisy Dalrymple one. Sticking with crime, but certainly not the cosy sort was Cath Staincliffe- Bleed Like Me. The second in her Scott and Bailey prequel novels, based on the television series of the same name on ITV. A book with three strong female characters, who you would think would be jostling to take centre stage, but not one of these women ever seems to dominate more than the other, no doubt down to Cath Staincliffe’s excellent writing.

Ironically enough Strong female characters can be covered in the next two reads of April but rather in a tongue in cheek manner! First up we have the third (and maybe final?) part of Paul O’Grady’s autobiography – Still Standing: The Savage Years. Not as laugh out loud funny, as it covers some rather dark issues which are generally glossed over by some. What it did do was tell a few home truths and what it was really like at the time of developing the character Lily Savage, who I only knew from television. Another character that I have only just picked up on, from the television is that of Agnes Brown, from the TV series Mrs Brown’s Boys. Actually The Mammy by Brendan O’Carroll is the inspiration for the programme and well if you know who Brendan O’Carroll plays it all begins to make perfect Irish sense.

And now for something completely different, when I went to Wales to meet Wendy Jones – The Thoughts & Happenings of Wilfred Price, Purveyor of Superior Funerals.Wilfred’s tale was a quiet, gentle one with some rather sobering consequences.Deception and love can make rather odd bedfellows. A debut novel from this author, that I think will gather more momentum, it is certainly a word of mouth book. Another word of mouth book or in this case – drawn in by the cover was Adrienne McDonnell – The Doctor & the Diva* is also a debut novel. It is set in places that were described beautifully, the heat of the Caribbean,  the snow of the American winter, the ruins of an European city but it lacked something int he characters. It did pique my interest of reading more historical fiction again, which I think has been rather lacking these last few months.

The beauty of book blogging, besides getting to share my love of books,and make lots of friends is also picking up on new books and authors from the review copies that are luckily enough to be sent to me. This was where Polly Williams – Husband, Missing* comes in. It arrived, it looked promising, but it got on the pile to read at some point, not on the pile that I know I will never read. However, when I saw the review of the book by a fellow blogger and tweeter Dot (@Dot_Scribbles) and the fact that she had devoured it in almost a day I knew it must be worth a look – so it got to the pile by my bed. She was right, and I devoured it in a couple of days and was hooked by a rather sad case of as the title says – a husband going missing, suddenly and unexpectedly. You could say it was romance, you could say it was a thriller, but it was just a jolly good read!

So April ended with me reading Sara Sheridan and Brighton Belle – I am back on the cosy historical crime train as I chug my way into May.

* Book review yet to appear on this blog

Books

Agatha Raisin and the Witch of Wyckhadden – M.C.Beaton

Agatha is beside the seaside but I don’t think she likes it! Murder follows her around as any fans of her will know. Hiding until her hair has grown back after her escapades in the last book and licking her wounds of love as James Lacey continues to ignore her and Sir Charles just uses her. Agatha thinks that by coming to Wyckenhadden she will escape such complications.

However, needing to escape from the hotel as she suddenly feels very old amongst the permanent residents who seem to have decided to see out their days eating huge meals and playing scrabble. She heads to a pub meets a man and thinks perhaps being his wife might be a better idea. To aid matters she goes to the local witch and not only buys a potion to speed up hair regrowth but a love potion. Trouble is the witch ends up dead, and I can bet you can guess who found the body.

Agatha becomes embroiled yet again in a murder case and she blunders about in her own way trying to find the real truth about the residences of the hotel, whilst trying to make up her mind about whether the love potion is working or not. Then there is trying to keep her name out of the papers and her reputation in tact.

Agatha is a rather sad figure in this novel. I did for a little while start to feel sorry for her she may seem hard faced and arrogant but actually she ultimately wants to be loved. It is the one thing that she has never been able to put any public relations spin on and get results. She seems to be going the wrong way about it and once back ensconced in Carsley it seems that love is ultimately going to avoid her again.

Although as you come to expect with these delightful novels, there is a murder (or two) this one was very much showing us more of Agatha’s character and how perhaps we should like her a bit more and perhaps not laugh at her. It won’t last long I am sure as you move onto the next book in the series.