Victoria Wood

We have lost a number of famous (and infamous) personalities so far in 2016. Hardly any of them have been expected and it always comes as a complete shock. To be honest, I have not been deeply affected by any of them. It is a tragedy that these people have been lost to us when they brought us entertainment, music, literature and everything in between.

However, when they have formed part of your childhood, the way they featured in the background when you were growing up affects you in an odd sort of way. Ronnie Corbett, whilst always to me the lesser of the Two Ronnies, not just in size, but I remember having to sit through episodes of Sorry! when I was younger. Saturday night game shows were a staple of Paul Daniels and his magic as well, no doubt left me open-mouthed as a youngster.

But it is Victoria Wood who probably stands out for me as such a great loss. There must have been so much more to have come from her and to lose her at 62 was a tragedy.

Victoria Wood was always there on the television, I was allowed to watch whatever was on. I am not sure if I understood it, but it was hardly near the knuckle humour scattered with expletives. It was simple humour about everyday stuff that everyday people find funny and they can relate to.

It always reminds me of the humour that exists for only a special select few. There is much in my family that makes us laugh, with play on words and recalled incidents that to an outsider would not be funny at all, to those in the know though it is hilarious.

I was lucky enough to see her live twice on tour and also got to see at least three episodes of dinnerladies being recorded

The most important thing I think I realised a long time ago was that Victoria Wood did not save all the best lines for herself, she gave them to everyone else. Julie Walters, Celia Imrie, Duncan Preston, Anne Reid, Maxine Peake to name a few.

She later went onto present documentaries with her own inimitable style. Documentaries I probably would not have watched if it wasn’t for her.

Then there was the serious drama, Housewife 49, Eric and Ernie and That Day We Sang.

Yet again she could do so much, create genius and then give it to everyone else to deliver.

Then there was the music and I know this will have been shared thousands if not millions of times but of course the Ballad of Barry and Freda is amongst the most iconic.

A genius taken from us and her family much too soon.


Appointment with Death – Agatha Christie

This is one of the Christie books which was inspired by her travels to the Middle East with her husband.

We are taken to Petra, The Red City which can be found in Jordan, with the Boynton family, four children, one daughter in law and a tyrannical mother who used to be a wardress in a prison. Hanging on their coat tails for some reason is Jefferson Cope.

In Petra we meet other people, Sarah King, newly qualified as a doctor. Dr Gerard an eminent doctor in the field of psychology, Lady Westholme a member of parliament and timid Miss Pierce a former governess.

And of course there is Hercule Poirot and he has the most significant piece of evidence which he does not know at the time when he overhears:

“You do see, don’t you, that she’s got to be killed?”

The she in the case of this book is Mr Boynton. The only clue on her body is a puncture mark on her wrist. It looks like poison.

The only problem is that she was in full view of everyone at the entrance to a cave, whoever killed her would have clearly been seen by someone.

Poirot gives himself 24 hours to solve the mystery by simply interviewing everyone and piecing it all together along with the evidence he already had. Could I make the conclusion before Poirot announced it. Simply no, I have yet to be able to work a Christie out.

An excellent example of Christie’s work and one I would go to if you need a strong example of her writing. I enjoyed the references to the other cases that Poirot had been involved in and the way his little grey cells are continually working and being challenged. Crime seems to follow him around as characters comment on within the novel.

Despite having seen the television adaptation in 2008/9 with David Suchet, the book is absolutely nothing like it. The adaptation deviates far from the book, so if you have seen and not read then have no fear.

I read this novel as part of the 1938 club which is being coordinated by Simon from Stuck in a Book and Karen from Kaggy’s Bookish Ramblings

Whilst I could have perhaps chosen a book which was a bit more unique and not as well-known. It gave me the opportunity to read a Christie, update my challenges for the year and expand my Christie Reading List and remind myself why they are such great crime novels. 

I look forward to seeing what the next year could possibly be?

Have you joined in? Let me know what book you read?



Restless – William Boyd

There are many ways to win a war.

Spying it seems is one of them.

This is the story of Eva, recruited to the British Secret Service during the Second World War. She has never told anyone her story until some thirty years afterwards.

Eva thinks after all this time she is the one being spied on. Her training has stayed with her throughout her life. Will the secrets she kept during the war suddenly be told.

It is the hot summer of 1976, the heat is unbearable it is making everyone restless. For Ruth that restlessness is coming from her mother, Sal she seems to be acting oddly. When Sal hands Ruth a package, she tells her to read it. It is her story, it is her truth.

This book moves between, 1976 told from Ruth’s point of view and the outset of the Second World War in third person as we read Eva’s story. This works up to a point for me, but I did felt Ruth’s sections were a lot more jarring than those of Eva’s.

It was Eva’s story that fascinated me the most, the recruitment, the training and the truths and lies that form a spies life. This is not James Bond. This was sections within sections, not knowing who was doing what “..a small subdivision of an annexe to a subsidiary element linked to the main body”. It was all very confusing which added to the complexity of Eva’s  life.

I have to confess, I saw the television adaptation of this around two years ago and bought the book on that basis. Generally I rarely go and read the book after having watched the programme. My recollection of what happened was a bit hazy and actually I enjoyed the book. Parts of the programme came back to me, but not all and I would certainly like to watch it again, because then I think I would fully appreciate the story as all.

I did get a bit confused and lost within both narratives, there is a lot going on and this is a book you need to concentrate with. Enjoying Eva’s story made me less appreciative of Ruth’s and I think there was much to be learned from Ruth’s story.

Nonetheless an intriguing read.





Spectacles – Sue Perkins

I grew up with Sue Perkins, not actually but metaphorically. I was there when Light Lunch was debuting on channel 4, it was a must for students as it was on at about the time we got up. The beauty of the two presenters was the chemistry they had between them – these were friends just having a laugh and sharing it with everyone else.

But what about the person behind the television personality. I don’t want to say this is the book warts and all, because it really isn’t. This is a memoir, a collection of some of the more important events and some of the less ones too about Sue Perkins. She has relied on her family to help her with the book and whilst they want to be represented slightly differently, Sue just represents them as them as she does herself.

Sue Perkins is sharp with a razor wit and a humour that can be very basic in terms of the innuendos we are used to on The Great British Bake Off to the more up to date satirical humour on the numerous panel shows she has featured on. This book is very much a reflection of this, there were some real laugh out loud moments and others where my heart was breaking for Sue as she shared some of the slightly rougher times in her life so far.

It is fairly chronological but does jump backwards and forwards as happens when you start recalling moments of the past, other stories are suddenly remembered. If you can get used to that and accept that also no doubt (as the author admits herself) some of the book has been embellished or fleshed out a bit to give it more character then you will undoubtedly enjoy the book. Don’t we all exaggerate for effect?

A wonderfully funny read that was so heartfelt at the same time.

I do enjoy reading autobiographies but I am very choosy about who I read about, therefore I think if you look back on who I have read, it will surely give you a reflection of my life? 


The Killing of Polly Carter – Robert Thorogood

I am lucky enough to have received the second Death in Paradise novel via netgalley, which I was delighted to accept and even more delighted to read.

The first A Meditation of Murder sets the scene and characters for those who have not watched the original television series. This the second, I think is very much more comfortable as a novel than the first, Robert Thorogood seems to have found his writing way.

Clearly from the novel’s title we know the victim’s name, so Polly Carter’s death comes as no surprise, but what does come as a surprise as it was suicide.

Or was it?

The age-old question – Did she jump or was she pushed?

The only other person there at the time was her wheelchair bound sister, Claire. She argued with her before her fall to her death.

Her sister’s nurse, heard raised voices whilst walking back through the garden to the house.

Two other guests as Polly’s house saw the nurse in the garden. The nurse saw one of them at the window of the house.

They all seem to have alibis, therefore it could not have possibly been one of them.

But of course there is more to this death than meets the eye. We have secret tunnels, drugs, fame, affair and a yellow coat.

Of course it is all in a day’s work for DI Richard Poole, and his wonderful team, Camille, Fidel and Dwayne. They have questions which lead to other questions, they have theories that lead to other theories but in the delightful way of an old-fashioned murder mystery which I happily place this one it will all come together in the end.

The denouement of the real murderer reminds me of the gathering of all the suspects of a Poirot novel and it works, somehow the simplicity of it all works. In this novel is the added bonus of the visitation of DI Poole’s mother, someone who is only referred to in the earlier episodes of the televison series.

This book has the whole package if you are looking for a complete murder mystery novel with the added bonus of sandy beaches, blue skies a laid back way of life and a very stuffy English policeman clearly out of his comfort zone.

I am really looking forward to the third novel and the new series of Death in Paradise starts tonight on BBC 1 at 2100.

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for allowing me the opportunity to read this book. 





According to Yes – Dawn French

This is the latest novel from French and is very much the quirky Dawn French novel that you have come to expect but it is so different again from her previous two novels.

Rosie I can only compare to Mary Poppins, for reasons we are never really sure of, we know little of her background apart from the fact the she cannot have children and comes from Cornwall.

Rosie is transported to New York. By conventional transport I hasten to mention.

Rosie is placed at the Wilder-Bingham’s apartment. A prison of sorts. No laughter, no emotion and no light in their lives both from the enjoyment they could possibly have as well as the physical light from the windows in this wonderful apartment.

Rosie is different, she knows nothing of such behaviours. She is eccentric, warm and loving, showing all emotion and in her own way is teaching not just the children she has come to be a nanny too but other members of the family as well.

Rosie turns the light on for this family just as Mary Poppins did for the Banks. But that trust me is where the similarity ends – Mary Poppins, mentioned in the book ironically, would maybe not been so amenable to all.

This book is funny and warm just like Rosie and whilst I probably had to suspend belief a little in the events that happened throughout the book and the turns along the way I have to say the storyline drew me in, but most of all I was inspired by Rosie (although perhaps not all her actions) and wanted to see what an effect she would have on all of the Wilder-Bingham’s.

A good read.




My Life – David Jason

David Jason has been apart of my life forever. I adored watching him as Granville in Open All Hours, I remember being encouraged to pick up H.E. Bates Darling Buds of May, after watching him on the television. Del Boy in Only Fools and Horses keeps me laughing to this day, despite having seen them countless times and his DI Frost is always the stark contrast in which one man can play two so differing roles.

And I was fascinated as a child that he played Blanco in Porridge. A fact which I have clung onto and many times has been a godsend in quizzes and trivia. I have caught many people out with this one!

This was a book I was going to enjoy reading and so I did. I savoured everything in it. We start from the very beginning of his life, born during the Second World War and are taken on how he has made it to the man we know today.

But do we really know the man? This is a book which concentrates on his career, how he worked hard, slogged in fact to make it in various productions long before he graced our television screens. If you want a book purely about his personal life then you will be disappointed. However there is enough ‘domestic’ anecdotes to keep the book very real. Names are dropped in where they are relevant but Jason keeps it all professional. That made it a much better read in my opinion, no mud-slinging and his deep honesty when dealing with some very private problems, such as nursing his partner, gave me more respect for what he had chosen to write about and share.

Of course there are some wonderful anecdotes of a number of prodcutions and programmes he has featured in and some he has not and of course plenty about the legend that is Ronnie Barker, ‘The Guvnor’ and the poem that he sent Jason on the announcement of his knighthood is how the book ends and how I will end this review

Congratulations, Little Feed,

Her Gracious Majesty decreed

That Granville, little errand lad,

And Del Boy, Frost and others had

All served their nation passing well,

So here’s to Granville, Frost and Del!

The old ex-Guvnor’s proud to see

His comrade reach such high degree,

Knight of the Realm, and TV star

Who never thought he’d get this far.

‘Arise, Sir David,’ she will say,

The sword upon your shoulder lay.

I raise a glass filled to the brim

And truly say, ‘Good Knight from him.’


September Roundup

And yet again another month is knocked off 2015. Of course I have been reading and when I go back to work it does tend to slow down a bit, but I have made a fair good effort for September and plenty of variety too.

As you may or may not realise Cornwall has been featured heavily in 2015. I was back there with Liz Fenwick – Under a Cornish Sky* and I have to say I really do enjoy this author and have downloaded the other two I have not read to my kindle. I am not leaving Cornwall any time soon for sure.

I did not want to leave Ceylon and Gwen when I was transported away with Dinah Jeffries – The Tea Planter’s Wife*, there is something so atmospheric about the book that I could almost feel I was out there in the monsoon weather and the intense heat.

Of course I was trapped on Nigger Island with ten possible murderers in Ten Little Niggers – Agatha Christie* which is the original title of this story, but  has been changed into Ten Little Indians and then into what the majority of people will know it as And Then There Were None. I am slowly expanding my Agatha Christie reading to capture lots of her other stuff too and this is also to be a television adaptation around christmas time as well. Always good to be one step ahead.

Which is why I dug out J.B. Priestley – An Inspector Calls*. I still had the play, which I think I must have done at school as it still had my name in the front. It was one of those stories, that also my mum told me about after having seen the wonderful film version with Alastair Sim. The latest television adaption was very faithful to the book. I may write more about it soon.

There will not be a review for Joanne Fluke – Cream Puff Murder as it is one of those escapism, formulaic series of books that I read in almost great need for something fluffy and not taxing at all.

I waited patiently for Cathy Bramley – Appleby Farm* book to be published as a whole as I did not fancy reading it in parts, because I knew that I would be so immersed in the story I would be extremely impatient waiting for the next part. Which is why I am holding out for Wickham Hall.

So as September closes I am back in a dual narrative book, which I do admit to adoring and have been transported to Paris and cakes. What more could a girl on a diet need?

In one very personal narrative I am also reading about the Second World War through some personal diaries of May Smith.

*Book review yet to appear on my blog


N or M ? – Agatha Christie

Whilst this is not the first novel to feature Tommy and Tuppence Beresford, it is very much in the vain of a great Agatha Christie novel. And it is the first Tommy and Tuppence I have read.

I admit to only reading this because of the television adaptation of two of the novels and I wanted to make the comparison. Now the ‘tv’ version has moved everything along a bit and taken some liberties with children ages and the time period. However I have thoroughly enjoyed the series and sought out the books knowing full well they would be different.

They are different but being the beautiful original they were better. N or M? poses a difficulty with a synopsis and review without giving away much about the plot or the outcome. Things you should note though are the book was written during the second world war it is very much a book of its time. There are spies, there is a threat of something rather untoward, coupled with a boarding house by the sea and some rather odd guests and permanent residents of the area give you plenty of clues, plenty of red herrings and plenty of humour. There is of course Major Bletchley, a character that became the concern for the establishment when the books was published. What did Christie know in 1941 that the rest of us didn’t until much later?

Tommy and Tuppence have been looked over for this ‘War’ despite having had a fairly active part in the previous one. But they do not want to be passed over for the young ones. And they certainly shouldn’t be. This is a great read and I really enjoyed Tommy and Tuppence and will certainly read some more of their adventures.

As for the television show, it is good and the choice of David Walliams and Jessica Raine, was a good choice and I hope the BBC recommission it as well.

What did you think of the programme? Have you read any of these stories?

Books · Jottings

August Roundup

So that is it then, August is done, the last bank holiday (before Christmas) has been and everyone senses a new start as we move into Autumn. A bumper month of reading as always, due to time spent away from work.

Sadly work starts again today, but I am hoping to comfort myself knowing I can come home to a good book or two.

And I read a good book or two in August. Where to start?

A book that has August in the title of course, Angela Thirkell – August Folly. I am starting to enjoy these sojourns into a gentle world and I am hoping to venture there again soon.

I know where I want to go again and that is to Tindledale, I caught up with Alexandra Brown – The Great Village Show and which I was part of such a village, but then that is the beauty fo a book to be able to take you to another place and experience it all and escape.

The sea was a major feature of reading. Veronica Henry – High Tide* is the latest novel from this author and will be published in late september. You will have to pop back and find out what I thought about it.

The best place to pop into on the beach is Fern Britton – The Beach Cabin, a short story from this author that takes us back to Pendruggan where many of her books feature now. The cabin is a place which is going to soothe the problems between Ed and Charlotte as well as their children. You can escape everything at the sea it seems.

Emylia Hall – The Sea Between Us is a book which warranted more than five stars, it is a wonderful read and another book which features Cornwall which has dominated my reading very much in 2015. It is a highly recommended and commended book!

Not Cornwall this time but Wales, in the shape of Malcolm Pryce – Aberystwyth Mon Amour*, a rather if not very quirky private detective story set at the seafront of Aberystwyth. Private detectives and there variants also featured with Rhys Bowen – Royal Blood, Lady Georgiana, 34th in line to the throne is despatched abroad to represent the Royals at a wedding, she walks into a rather odd set up.

Even in Agatha Christie – N or M?* we are staying at a seaside boarding house during the second world war. I am not sure the coast is where I want to be when the invasion could only be days away surely?

When you are wandering along the seafront you often spot a dog or two. Cressida McLaughlin – Raincoats and Retrievers* has to walk the dogs in Primrose Terrace whatever the weather.

Of course you do not want rain if there is going to be a wedding. But then Katie Fforde – Wedding Season* shows you that whatever the money you can anything for a wedding. Flowers being one of the most important things, Ella Griffin – The Flower Arrangement* has it covered for all events. Again whilst Cornwall has been a bit of theme so far in 2015, flowers have also featured as well. This is a wonderful novel and an author I hope to return to.

I do not know what it is that appeals to me about books from Irish Female authors, but like the former I also found myself with Sheila O’Flanagan – Things We Never Say* which had been languishing needlessly on my shelf waiting to be read.

Something I return to all the time is watching TV Gold in the shape of Open All Hours, Porridge and Only Fools and Horses. The main reason apart from them being excellent programmes is David Jason – My Life*. An insight into how this young and cheeky lad got to be one of the most recognisable television icons of my lifetime and maintained such a large amount of privacy that it should be respected.

You cannot go through life without making a few mistakes and you certainly learn from them. In the case of Paula Daly – The Mistake I Made*, I made a mistake and I have learnt from it. But what was the mistake, you will have to read the review to find out.

Holidays are about indulging and I have done plenty of that. Another is t hark back to a time when I read a jolly good saga and I have found these again with Dilly Court – The Beggar Maid it has kept me up late into the night because I was so absorbed by it all.

As the month closed, I was in the lovely position of being able to start a new book…….. so much choice……

How was your August?

*Book review yet to appear on my blog.