I finished reading the very short and enjoyable Redhead by the Side of the Road by Anne Tyler. Nothing particularly profound or earth-shattering, but a nice light-hearted pandemic read.
I finished Murder on Washington Square by Victoria Thompson. I enjoyed it. The series is set in NYC in the late 1800s or early 1900s. The main character is a midwife named Sarah Brandt and she manages to get involved with murder investigations with a police detective named Frank Malloy.
Just finishing The Gown by Jennifer Robson and I loved the whole story ! She is a very good writer and I will be reading another of her books.
I have finished Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer. It is about two high school seniors who have lost loved ones. I'm not sure why it appealed to me so much, but I just loved it.
I enjoyed the Mr. Moto book by John P. Marquand (Your Turn, Mr. Moto) from the library e-book download so much that I looked for more, but they don't have any. I vaguely remembered that I had an old paperback and looked for it. Turns out I had two, so I'm re-reading Think Fast, Mr. Moto written in 1937 and set in Honolulu and am liking it a lot, too.
A Trick of the Dark by Val McDermid is apparently one of her 'stand alone' books and was well-written and an 'attention holder' for me. I always have difficulty with remembering who's who when I start a book with lots of characters and this was the same. Set around a women's college at Oxford University where most of the former students we meet seem to be lesbians . . . all with very high -powered jobs. Does jealousy lead to murder? Who has their eye on someone else's 'partner? Why is a Senior Fellow trying to keep her daughter away from these bad influences?
Carolyn - This seems odd, but I also am currently reading Letters to the Lost, but this one is by a different author - Iona Grey. I picked it up because I was interested in the Iona Grey book you mentioned in the June thread (The Glittering Hour), but when I saw her books on the library shelf, this is the one that drew my interest. Strange little coincidence.
Kathy, I read Letters To The Lost by Iona Grey a while ago and I enjoyed it. Do you , by any chance, have a nanny cam in my book nook ?!
Kathy, The Glittering Hour was the first Iona Grey book I've read. Odd that we were reading the same title by different authors. I highly recommend the Kemmerer book.
I finished the second Mr. Moto book late last night while listening to neighborhood fireworks going off.
Yoyobon - It is rather surprising how many of the same books we read. (Yes, I do have a nanny-cam in your book nook. Lovely little spot.)
Aha, I think I see something suspicious up in the corner!
If only........of course you know that is a stock photo and not my actual book shelf !
We can dream!
I am reading the new Simon Brett "The Clutter Corpse" featuring a new character Ellen Curtis, a declutterer.
I could do with her at my place!
Yoyo - No, I thought it was yours!
I'm reading The Glass Room, a Vera Stanhope book by Anne Cleeves. Good, as always.
Ann, I just finished The Clutter Corpse.
Carolyn, that book was a darker story than Brett usually writes, don't you think?
This new series seems to have several themes, mental health, difficult parents, troubled children and the problems for social workers with diminishing budgets. Almost Dickensian wake up calls to readers...
The Child in Time by Ian McEwan was less 'difficult' than I imagined it would be although a strange mix of story-line.
Written in the first person by a writer of children's books it opens with the disappearance of his small daughter, presumably snatched by a stranger in the supermarket. Then we learn by backwards and forwarding about his own childhood, his work on a committee studying child-rearing overseen by some sort of dystopian Govt., his publisher who seem to have regressed into boyhood (climbing trees making dens etc) long journeys by train in bad weather. It does seem confusing . . . and I only read it because my pile of books is diminishing and this one came from my now Manchester-based S-in-L's collection from his university days which he cannot pick up because of C19.
I had hopes of the library opening soon after receiving an email from the county HQ but it appears that every library will be open with 'restrictions' except ours! They have told me I still have an over-due book, although it was returned in March . . . all seems par for the course these days.
Are you able to access your libraries yet?
Vee, we are almost back to normal service at the local library after some restrictions when they reopened. I say "almost" as people are still social distancing when possible.
The whole State was doing well but recent events in the Victorian State have made us rather wary again and a big sporting event is being altered to allow fewer spectators than originally permitted. It would be devastating to have to return to some kind of lockdown after getting to the present easing.
I finished "The Clutter Corpse", rather more subdued writing by Simon Brett than his usually cosy style. Is mental health the new subject for writers? They seem to go through phases, at one time a lot of mysteries featured the same kind of subject which was the current topic.
He has researched decluttering thoroughly and I am relieved to find I am not fitting the hoarding pattern. I rather thought I might as I save shoes and clothes I no longer wear for years! I don't collect everything and hoard it though, just am loath to throw out something I once bought that might come in useful again!
Reading A Curious Beginning and enjoying it. It is book one of the Veronica Speedwell series.
I've recently read The Beast by Faye Kellerman and 11th Hour by Patterson & Paetro. I'm getting close to the end of the series by Kellerman. I think the Patterson/Paetro books about the Women's Murder Club are up to 19, so I have a few more of those to go.
Now I'm reading Murder in Brittany by Jean Luc Bannalec.
Ann, I liked The Clutter Corpse better than Brett's last few Feathering books, which I have found to be too repetitious and without much substance. I'm not a clutterer, but I also keep old clothes and shoes although I have serious doubts that I will ever wear some of them again, Who knows? My aging body may become slim and trim again. I bought a new pair of high heels for my grandson's wedding, and it was like learning to walk in them again.
I have just received The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James via library e-book and am looking forward to starting it later tonight.
Carolyn, I tried on high heels to wear with a formal long gown for a Grandson's wedding but they were too uncomfortable after years of wearing flats. I bought an outrageously showy hat instead and hoped no one would notice my feet, clad in comfortable sandals!
I agree with you about the Fethering books, they were disappointing.
Donna, have you read the Martin Beck mystery series by the Swedish wife-husband team Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo?
I ask because of your mention of Jean-Luc Bannalec's Murder in Brittany. I just finished Sjowall/Wahloo's Roseanna, the first in the Beck series (released in 1965 in Sweden and a year or two later in English translation). At first I thought Bannalec's greatest influence must have been Georges Simenon's Inspector Maigret books, and I still think they provided some of Bannalec's inspiration. But after rereading two other Martin Beck books, I see greater similarities between Commissaire Dupin of Concarneau and Inspector Beck of Stockholm. I wonder if you might think so, as well.
Now I'm starting the #2 Martin Beck in the series of ten, The Man Who Went Up in Smoke. I like these romans policiers a lot. They are a bit dated, to be sure, but delightfully so in my opinion. These books were the latest thing in contemporary style for their time. One of the amusing tidbits in Roseanna was describing the murder victim as looking a little like Anita Ekberg and a little like Sophia Loren. Another thing was Beck's daughter watching "Perry Mason" on television dubbed into Swedish.
Like Simenon and later Bannalec, Sjowall/Wahloo wrote fiction but about real places, and strict chronology was followed. That's old hat nowadays. However, I like that technique -- it keeps me happy 'looking up' places and events on the internet! :-)
Actually, in modern biographical details, Sjowall and Wahloo are no longer said to have been 'married'. . . if they ever were. Now they are described as 'partners' or 'companions'.
I like the acceptance of a significant other being described as a partner.
I recall some years ago hearing two ladies talking about their daughters and one said that her daughter had an (she paused for a moment, then said) "an um...ah" and looked awkward. The other lady said understandingly that her daughter had an um...ah too!
Frieda, I haven’t read the books you asked about. I’ll see if our library has them. I often go down the internet rabbit hole looking up places mentioned in books!
While reading The Gown I found I wanted to know exactly what Princess Elizabeth's wedding gown looked like so I googled it, printed out a great montage and laminated it for a great bookmark. I cannot tell you how many times I'd stop and study those photos to enrich the story !
I received a library notice yesterday that a copy of The Gown had became available, so I did a curbside pickup and will start it as soon as I finish Letters to the Lost. I'm getting close.
Find a photo of the gown immediately !!
I finished four of the Veronica Speedwell mysteries, A Curious Beginning, A Perilous Undertaking, A Treacherous Curse, and A Dangerous Collaboration. The fifth book, A Murderous Relation, is out in hardcover and I just broke down and ordered it. There is a sixth book coming next year, An Unexpected Peril, and I'm sure I'll get it as soon as it's out. I really enjoyed these, and I do expect to re-read them. Veronica is a fabulous character.
I've also been reading Book Girl by Sarah Clarkson. It's a serious discussion of the power of books and reading in a woman's life, and focuses on what and how to read. She includes book lists that are interesting, but also oddly repetitive. She's a huge fan of Tolkien and C.S. Lewis' Narnia, as am I, but a lot of her book discussion is heavily focused on Christian themes and is addressed to Christian readers (she includes an interesting defense of the magic in the Harry Potter books, arguing that it is not in any way anti-Christian as some people evidently believe). The book is not necessarily a perfect fit for me as a non-religious reader, but it's holding my interest and I am glad I picked it up.
I had ordered a copy of The Gown a couple of weeks ago and when it arrived I realized I had no gift for my dear friend's birthday (she's a huge Anglophile) so I wrapped it up and sent it off without even opening the cover. I'll put it back on my wish list / library list and I'm determined to get to it eventually.
Sheri - That was nice of you to send your new book to your friend as a birthday gift!
Sheri, I checked to see if our library had a copy of The Gown but no luck, nor is there one in the whole of the county system!
As our library is still not open I don't suppose I would have been able to pick it up anyway.
We seem to have a new and, I hope, temporary system in operation where by you fill in a small square within their website, saying if you enjoy war stories, cookery books, romance etc then a number of books covering those genres are collected by the staff and handed over to you at a specified time . . . that is assuming a library near you IS open . . .
Vee, our library has just partially reopened, and you can request your book online and they will have it waiting for you outside on a table at a designated time. This is a wonderful improvement over no library at all.
However, I had been getting a lot of books via inter-library loan and can no longer do that. From what I've observed, some libraries carry far more mysteries or romance novels or literary fiction or whatever genre you'd care to choose than others. My local library has a ton of literary fiction and very little in the way of mysteries, for example. I assume that because each library didn't have to have a copy of everything, each town saved money by avoiding duplication and everyone relied on inter-library loan. Sadly, that service has been on hiatus since late February. I'm really hoping it comes back soon. I'm still waiting for the last book in the Gaslight Mystery series.
I just started the Veronica Speedwell series and I absolutely love her character...so I can imagine that I'll want to read the entire series. What a treat.
Sheri, I am a fan of Veronica, too, and have read all of them so far. It keeps me on my toes tracking all the latest of all the authors I enjoy. Thank goodness for the Stop, You're Killing Me site.
I'm reading The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James. It's a flat-out ghost story, but I have enjoyed all her other books, and this one is pretty interesting so far.
Last night I finished Letters to the Lost by Iona Grey. I enjoyed it very much. A young woman in modern times happens upon a letter written by an elderly American man to an English woman he fell in love with while stationed in England as a WWII bomber pilot. The letter says if he had it to do all over again, he would never let her go. He wishes to make contact with her before he dies, and the young woman helps in the search for his lost love. It's a very touching story, and of course the modern-era woman has a story of her own to keep us interested.
In my opinion, there is... perhaps... one teeny "plausibility flaw" in the plot that occurred at the very end of the book. If anyone else reads it, I will be interested to hear if you agree.
Addition: Thinking more about that plot flaw - perhaps I'm wrong. I could easily be wrong. I am thinking of something that would likely happen in the U.S. that might be quite unlikely in England. Hmmm... how will I ever know?
I read that book in early 2018, Yoyobon has read it too. Back then I posted about something that didn't seem plausible. Maybe is not the same thing that you found. Let us know what is it...
I can't think of how to describe it without spoiling how the book ends.
I've read it, too, and haven't got a clue what you all are talking about.
I finished The Sun Down Motel, and it was a really good book if you just suspend all disbelief in ghosts. I'm now reading The Darkness and the Deep, the second Margery Fleming mystery set in Scotland, by Aline Templeton. It's good, too, but then I hardly ever meet a mystery I don't like!
***SPOILER ALERT***Letters to the Lost by Iona Grey***STOP READING NOW***
Carolyn - Sorry if we are sounding mysterious. Just wanting to make sure we don't spoil the book for anyone planning to read it.
Reader-in-Transit - I used the Garden Web Search to look for your 2018 comment about what might be implausible in Letters to the Lost, but could not find it, so please share your thoughts also.
What struck me was how quickly Stella was able to get on a plane for the U.S. Considering her background and extremely sheltered life, I couldn't help but doubt that she would have a current passport. But perhaps for people who live in England, or anywhere other than a huge country like the U.S., it is standard for everyone to get one early in life and keep it updated, kind of like we do our drivers licenses. Because if Stella had to apply for a passport to get on that plane, she would have "missed the boat" so to speak.
I haven't read this book but know what you mean about passports. It spoiled a story I read, when the character who hadn't been away from the UK for years was able to get on a plane, even a private one, in a rushed trip and probably without a passport. Her surprised daughter comments that she didn't know her mother even had a suitcase!
However, I obtained a British passport when I was 16 and continued to renew it, as they are good for ID. I don't drive and although I can get a non-driving license, the passport does well enough.
I haven't read the book so can't comment on the details of the 'plot' but if a person from the UK has never travelled 'abroad' it is very unlikely they would have a passport; they are expensive to take out and renew, plus lots of detailed forms to fill in and photos to be taken. My own passport went out-of-date so long ago that it still has the blue* cover and "requests and requires in the Name of her Majesty all those it may concern to allow the bearer to pass freely without let or hindrance and to afford the bearer such assistance and protection as may be necessary."
*The blue-covered passport was replaced by one with a red cover when the UK became part of the EU. Now we are back to the original blue.
For ID over here (as we don't have standard ID cards) most people use a driving license or just try and blag their way out of situations where ID is necessary.
Vee, is it unusual for British people not to have been abroad at least once and thus require a passport? My parents generation didn't travel much, apart from War service but my generation did, at least on a school trip. I went to visit my French penfriend in 1954 and that was the start of my love of travel.
Your mention of the blue passport reminded me that my EU one needs renewing but as we can't travel at present I might as well wait to do that. Anyway I'd need a Visa to get back into Australia, which is another fee to find if I did go overseas.
I am getting so slothful with staying at home from choice that even a trip to the City, twenty minutes away by bus, is too much a stretch at present!
Below is what I posted regarding Letters to the Lost in May 2018:
"Recently read Letters to the Lost by Iona Grey. Two storylines, both set in London, are intertwined: a wartime love story from 1943-44, and a slightly grittier story set in 2011. Even though there are some implausible things in it, I liked this book.
You read Letters to the Lost last year and you loved it (according to what you wrote back then). Though you may not remember that much about it, I'll share a couple of comments with you:
I wish the elderly couple would have been reunited earlier in life, not when Dan was about to die. You know, give them a few years of happiness. In the last chapter, it seems Stella gets to Maine a couple of days before Dan dies.
I kept wondering: who was paying the property taxes of the abandoned house in London, where Jess seeks refuge when fleeing from her boyfriend? Here it would have been appropriated by the municipal government and auctioned before Jess set foot on it.
How could Stella not inquire/forget about that house? True, she did not know that Nancy have died, but wasn't she even curious to know? It seems she didn't want to have to deal with Nancy again, but forget about a house in London... ?! "
Vee then clarified that property taxes in the UK work different than in the US:
"reader, you query the non-payment of municipal taxes on an 'abandoned' property in the UK. I'm not sure if you are referring to 'now' or some time in the past but back in the day 'rates' possibly didn't apply to an empty house, presumably because no-one was making use of the local services provided by the authorities."
I don't think the passport issue occurred to me at the time of reading the book, but you are right about it.
Annpan, I have no idea how many people have/have not got a UK passport, although I suppose the numbers can be 'looked up'.
In my own family's case my Mother took my brother and I to the US when we were very small and we 'shared' her passport. Other than that we never went abroad as a family or with school, although my parents made a long car trip to 'Europe' in about 1954 leaving us children behind. I think it was during the 60-70's when cheap flights became available to Spain etc that 'foreign travel' really took off.
Regarding your EU passport (ie the red one) If this is a UK passport, now we are no longer in the EU I suppose you will be given a 'blue one'. Are you able to also hold an Australian passport? Of course you could be like a certain Ms Maxwell and hold a fistfull of them; you never know when they might come in handy of you hope to do a runner!
Maybe I might try and pick up a cheap copy of Letters to the Lost, though 'romance' isn't my usual reading choice. From the readers comments on Amazon.uk it is something of a curate's egg. Some people drooled over it, others thought is sentimental, badly written, rubbish!
Vee, I don't know about holding an Australian passport as I am still a British citizen. I am not sure I even want a British one again as I am not planning a trip anywhere at present, even within the State. I don't enjoy travelling alone and although I went on a guided tour up North, that was years ago. I was lucky to be in a small group of pleasant people but that can be a toss-up who comes!
No, I think I shall stay home and enjoy the long caravanning trip my son and his partner are making up North, at second-hand!
Annpan, my 'travelling' is now done by remote control since I found a youtube thing 'The Man in Seat 61' in which a very practical traveller uses a camcorder to record his journeys usually by train but sometimes by boat. Pleasant to watch the scenery glide past but useful for those planning a trip as he includes handy pieces of information along the way.
The Man in Seat 61
Ann, my DH and I have talked about doing a European river cruise. The boats are small and many only carry 100 passengers. I told him with my luck it would be 99 people I can't stand LOL. He got all huffy so I amended it to 98, since I can usually stand him pretty well. :)
I've read a long string of homicide detective novels and have been feeling I need a break. I just got an email from the library that my digital copy of The Gown is available, and a few minutes later finished my latest James Patterson. What great timing!
Reader - Thanks for reposting your and Yoybon's comments about Letters to the Lost. Funny, I don't remember them at all. I suppose I just didn't pay attention since I had not read the book. But now, I'm happy to see what others thought about it.
As I was reading along, I did not think about how taxes were being paid on the house in London, but at the very end of the book, Dan was able to transfer ownership of the house to Jess in very short order before he died, and at that point, I thought, "Well I guess Dan must have maintained ownership of the house" (and thus his lawyer would have kept paying the taxes) - but that surprised me since earlier in the book, I am pretty sure the house was presented to Stella as a gift.
Well, whatever the case, I think we can all agree that although it was an enjoyable book, there were a few loose ends in the plot. And though it's a little late in the game for me, I would like for someone to buy me a nice little cottage.
Vee and Annpan - Thanks for your info about passports and taxes in the U.K. What would we do without you two? There are so many novels set in the U.K.
You're right about that discrepancy. I remember clearly he gives Stella the house as a gift, so how could Dan "transfer" it to Jess at the end? Or did he retain ownership in case Stella's husband found out about the house? That guy would have taken the house from her in a New York minute. Since it's been a couple of years, I don't remember those details.
The novel is enjoyable, and these little niggling implausibilities should not stop anyone from reading it (are we too persnickety, paying attention to them?)
BTW, another novel by the same author was published last year, The Glittering Hour. Carolyn read it recently and liked it.
I did like it a lot. I usually just read for the story and am not bothered by details that don't quite fit unless they are glaringly obvious.
I finished the Aline Templeton and started a Stella Rimington I found I had already read. I received the online copy of The Order by Daniel Silva yesterday, so that will be next up, of course, although I have two others downloaded ahead of it. I used to check out too many books in person, and now I'm getting too many on line. Fortunately, the library will only allow five downloads at a time. As they say, so many books . . .
Ann, I'm interested to know (but of course you are under no obligation to say) why you have retained British nationality. From memory, you have lived in Australian for a long time.
Kath, it is difficult to explain! I hung on for several reasons, one being that I wanted my children to have the right to stay in the UK if they wanted. There was a change of rules several times regarding work. Then I went back to the UK and lived there for 13 years until 2003. Now I am living in Perth and I shall probably stay but I still keep my British nationality. You never know!
My husband and the children are Australian by birth. Their families might be glad of the link at some time if they want to live or work in the UK. My husband was able to as his mother was Scottish and she held both passports!
In spite of living in Australia for a long time, on and off, I still think of myself as English.
Just checked the passport stats and whereas in the US 46% of the population hold a passport in the UK it is 76%.
Vee, thanks for that. I had an idea that it would be quite a high number.
Travel to the Continent is so easy, or was when I lived there. We got a freebie to go through the Chunnel to France and did it as a day return visit. It was around Xmas and I still have Joyeux Noel baubles I bought as a souvenir as well as a tripe dish to reheat in the micro-onde. A new word to me, they weren't in existence when I studied French some forty years earlier but what I could remember came in handy for that day!
The tripe was for my husband. He belonged to a Tripe Club in Australia and they had a different one at their monthly meetings. I can take it or leave it!
I am not reading new books at present as I am waiting for mysteries I requested from the library. I am dipping into old favourites and watching a sudden burst of new TV programs or newish like "Les Miserables".
I don't know how popular cruising is (or was) in the UK, but many, many people in the US go on cruises (or we did pre-virus). Within the last few years the US started requiring passports for cruising, which may be one reason why more US folks have them.
Reader-in-transit mentioned being persnickety, and I confess I tend to be! LOL Does it annoy anyone else when an author writes something like, "He picked up the empty bottle of soda"? To me it should be "the empty soda bottle". If it's empty, it's not a bottle of soda. I know....very nitpicky. :)
Donna, cruising has become very popular with the 'older generation' over here. It used to be considered a holiday for the upmarket/wealthy but its appeal seems to have widened and there appears less emphasis on dressing for dinner etc, although I understand there is still a scrum to be seated at the captain's table!
We have watched TV shows following a US cruise ship who's bemused passengers disembarked in the Orkney Islands (off the North Scottish coast). One woman remarked "So this is Dublin." Another demanded a flight down to Edinburgh having no idea it was quite a few miles away and she would never get 'there and back' before the ship left port. Many of the passengers made the most of the visit to the woollen-goods shop and the local tea-rooms and seemed to enjoy the experience and they certainly help to boost the trade of these remote communities.
I think I would instigate a short Q and A before each port so passengers had, at least, some idea of where they were going!
Vee, they do give port talks (if you choose to attend). Mostly it's letting you know which shops are recommended by the cruise line, though they do tell you about the area (while also plugging the available shore excursions).
We took a Mediterranean cruise for our 25th anniversary, and they billed one port day as Rome. The bus ride from the actual port (CIvitavecchia) to Rome was several hours and we had to leave very early in order to have any time in the city. But we did manage to visit St. Peter's, the Coliseum, the Spanish steps and the Trevi fountain.
I've just finished The Order, of course. I do enjoy Gabriel Allon. I'm not sure what I would do with myself were it not for books. I did do a little weeding this morning before it got hot, and went to the drugstore to pick up a prescription, and made a banana pudding to use up bananas that were becoming overripe, so the entire day wasn't spent reading, (But most of it.)
I've never been on a Caribbean cruise, popular in my area, saying I was saving cruising until I got old. Now a cruise ship is the last place I would want to be, and besides I can still walk!
My driver's license doesn't expire until 2022, and I don't want to pay for the new "Real ID" one until I have to, so I may be using my passport for identification if I have occasion to fly inside the U.S. or need ID for some other reason before '22.
We had booked a river cruise on the Douro River in Portugal for this summer, but postponed it for a year. We're counting on a vaccine being available by then. I don't think I want to go otherwise, assuming we're allowed in Europe at all.
Done voting on the Hugo awards, so I went back to finish The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs by Steve Brusatte. I had set it aside about halfway through to tackle the SF reading. Now it is complete. Very informative, though just a bit gossipy about the bright lights in the world of paleontology. I'm not sure how I felt about that aspect, but on the whole, I thought it was an excellent overview of the present understanding of dinosaurs, understandable and enjoyable even to non-scientists like me.
Next up for me to read is this month's book club book, which coincidentally is Labyrinth of the Spirits by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. I haven't cracked it open yet, but it certainly is a hefty volume.
After having read The Seventh death of Evelyn Hardcastle. Abrilliant mystery room, buti t is more than that , is a maze of mirrors and thefigure who is reflected always change.
Now I can finish the trilogy by Margaret Atwood. Read “Oryxand Crake” where the Snowman alias Jimmy thinks to be the last human being onearth,and he fougth about at the old times, when he used to live in thecompund, where the elite lived. Then “The Great Flood” the novel iscontemporanuos with the first, buti t is seen from the peebland point of view, where thehumble people lived. Human were toying with genetic a little too much, andsomething went wrong.
Now I am going to start “Maddaddam” (a new start) can’t saymuch because I haven’ read not even a line, but I trust Mrs Atwood.
I finished The Gown this morning and I just loved it! Being a needleworker myself, I was very interested in the work done at the Hartnell studio. Thanks to all who recommended it!
Donna, did you google a photo of the gown !? It was my bookmark :0)
Currently reading Carnegie's Maid and enjoying it.
I've also been watching Million Dollar American Princesses on Amazon Prime which kind of feeds into the story and certainly the era showing how the industrialists' endowed daughters became bartering chips.....titles for money via a big dowery.
I read my first Phil Rickman book over the last couple of days, Wine of Angels, about an English village's first female priest, Merrily Watkins, and set in the 1950s. She is widowed, has a 15-year-old daughter, and is moving into a large parish house and having bad dreams. There are past and present strange happenings including the supposed suicide of a 1600s priest buried in an old apple orchard back when the town was famous for its cider. I stayed up late last night finishing it and will be reading more of the series.
Carolyn, I was introduced to Phil Rickman's work by Dido (late of RP) who knew him and I read the first Wine of Angels book. It is set in Herefordshire a county full of apple orchards, cider-making, spud growing . . . and all things agricultural . . . and just a few miles 'up the road' from us. And many ancient churches; some pre-Norman.
I enjoyed the story although I found it a tad over-long and wondered how Merrily managed to go on with her everyday work without some respite in therapy.
I think the stories are set in the present day as female Anglican priests were not ordained until the 1990's.
Bon, oh, yes! I studied lots of photos of THE gown, as well as other Hartnell gowns I saw online. I believe he designed her coronation gown as well.
Vee, I will enjoy the Rickman books more now knowing that the setting is near you. I was probably wrong on the time of the story. It was such an idyllic place that it read like an earlier period. It was published in 1999.
I've now begun The Lady Chapel, the second Owen Archer book by Candace Robb.
From my son-in-law's pile of books, which I think were 'required reading' when he was at university I picked up Love in a Blue Time by Hanif Kureishi. A selection of short stories and not really my thing! Mostly about multi-racial characters, many of them film directors, writers etc and silly young women hangers-on. People lolling around all day taking drugs, doing sex and swearing. Most tedious; made me feel very old and in need of a sensible cup of tea.
Finally! I was able to read and finish a book. It's been a couple of months now. The book was A Children's Bible - Lydia Millett. (not a bible story book) Enjoyed this - and the fact that I could read it. Just starting The Operator by Gretchen Berg. Wish me luck to get through it. I like it so far.
I'm slogging through A Curious Beginning, the first Veronica Speedwell book. I've read about 1/3 of it. I'll try to finish it, though I don't care for Veronica at all.
I enjoyed Veronica's wit and sass.
I've started another Joanne Kilbourn book, A Killing Spring, by Gail Bowen. I really like Joanne. I like Veronica, too.
Bon, I have no problem with wit and sass, I just think it's overdone in this book.
I finished another Vera book, Harbour Street, by Ann Cleeves. I don't have very many more to go and will miss her.
Donna, lol, yes she really drives it home. I see it more as a "burning loins" sort of story where their "foreplay" of choice seems to be their sarcastic banter. After a bit I'm yelling at them " Get a room !! ".
I am going to read Good Night From London by Jennifer Robson, who also wrote The Gown.
Bon, I’m nearly done with A Curious Beginning and I‘m liking it more. I’m also reading Somewhere in Time by Richard Matheson. I read it years ago and remember really loving it, but it’s not doing much for me this time. There was a movie of it with Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour.
I remember the movie well.......I like that kind of tale .
As far as the Curious Beginning......I had to laugh because I felt the same way for the first third of the story. But once they get out of the traveling road show and on their own it's much more enjoyable. There is something about a book that involves a circus which completely turns me off. I could not read The Night Circus for that reason. I feel the same about vampire stories.
I finished The Gown a couple of days ago. (Been too busy stimulating the economy to find time to report this important news until now.) I really enjoyed it and thank everyone here for putting me on to it. None of my local friends seem to have heard of it ... until now, of course. I'll be suggesting it for my book club when we resume our pandemic-interrupted meetings. It is such a great topic to build a novel around. Kudos to Jennifer Robson for doing so.
Kathy, check out some of her other books. They sound like she has done her historical homework for those as well.
I have just enjoyed a book sent by a US friend Whisky Kilts and the Loch Ness Monster by William W Starr.
Starr travelled to Scotland to follow the route taken in 1773 by Dr Johnson and James Boswell on their tour of the country, but he makes the journey in the opposite direction (N then W) and takes in some extras locations via Orkney and the Outer Hebrides.
He has certainly studied the works of the men and consulted dozens of modern guides and gives a remarkably even-handed overview of the history of that country and the many castles and 'places of interest' along his way. I could, however, have done without any mention of 'Brave Heart' and Mel Gibson (NOT true history folks!) I think many American writers could well follow Starr's lead when pontificating about neighbouring Ireland and its history; most are so biased and reliant on folk tales.
Starr does get confused over Mary Queen of Scots death which did not take place in the Tower of London and the fact that Westminster Abbey is not the 'national cathedral of the UK' . . . it is a 'Royal Peculiar' (too complicated to explain). The C of E cathedral in London in St Paul's.
Vee, oops! I have seen a necklace in Arundel Castle that once belonged to Mary, Queen of Scots. She had a very small neck! Wasn't she supposed to be tall for a woman in that age?
I just checked, 5'11''. Yes that was tall!
My goodness, 5'11' is tall for these days let alone the 16C.
When poor silly Mary Queen of Scots met her inevitable end at Fotheringhay Castle her poor neck took quite a battering as, apparently the executioner was so nervous he made three attempts at it. And Queen Elizabeth who had refused to have her bumped off for years (they were royal cousins) once she had signed the document of execution retired to her bedchamber for several days raging at what she had had to do.
Vee, you sure know your history! I found the link about Royal Peculiars very interesting. I'd always wondered why St. Paul's and West Minster Abbey where both in London. I like the use of the word "peculiars" in this sense also.
I have started Lethal White by J. K. Rawling. It picks up right where the last one left off--at the wedding.
I just finished the entire 800 pages of The Labyrinth of Spirits, Carlos Ruiz Zafon's final novel in his quartet The Cemetery of Forgotten Books. I read it for my book club, and would not have chosen to read it on my own. I didn't love the first one,The Shadow of the Wind. Fortunately I liked this one somewhat better, maybe because I knew how dark it was going to be and wasn't caught off guard. There was enough action and a complex enough plot to keep me engaged for the entire 800 pages.
Now I'm off to something more fun, Network Effect by Martha Wells. This is the latest of the Murderbot series. If you have any interest in science fiction you would probably love these. The main character is a self-aware security cyborg with an interesting opinion of humanity and its quirks.
Carolyn, I really like the Cormoran Strike books. I am eagerly awaiting the next one!
Yet another book from Son-in-Law's stack (can he really have read them all I ask myself?) Art and Lies by Jeanette Winterson which I have found to be totally incomprehensible. I could make neither head nor tail of it so tried 'looking up' various learned remarks about it on Good Reads where it received many 5 stars.
" . . . this is not a novel but an extended riff on art, sexual realism, religion, social repression . . . " or another " . . . this is not a novel in the Aristotelian sense . . ."
It appears to be required reading set by pretentious English lecturers for students who wouldn't dare to say they hadn't understood it and might be more at home with Harry Potter . . .
As you might say in the US "Enough Already"
Kathy, re St Paul's Cathedral and Westminster Abbey . . . St Paul's is in the City of London, the oldest 'original' part of the capital whereas Westminster Abbey was built back in the day (9C?) on a swampy piece of land by the Thames a few miles upstream and was the church of the monastic community there. It grew in importance as the Royal Palace of Westminster was 'next door', which was used by Parliament in its early days. Westminster Hall, the only part to survive a fire in 18?? is still used by visiting Heads of State to 'address' the Lords and Commons and is where monarchs 'lie in State' before their funeral.
Rosefolly, I think you'll enjoy Network Effect; I pre-ordered the Kindle version, and it was one of the few books that captured my attention during the pandemic shutdown. I think Murderbot has become my new favorite series. :) I have already pre-ordered the next one, Fugitive Telemetry, which isn't due for release until next April.
I spent most of July slogging through Color: A Natural History of the Palette, by Victoria Finlay. The topic is the sources of paints, pigments and dyes for Black, White, Brown and ROYGBIV, but it's buried in 400 pages of combined travelogue and innumerable anecdotes of every interesting factoid Finlay uncovered during her research. I finished the book only out of obstinacy.
I have several library books that have sat around for the past several months, unread during my extended reading slump, but the library has reopened for limited exchanges and they are suddenly all due in a couple days, so I'm finally picking them up. Based on Yoyobon's post last March, I had requested The Uninvited Guests, which I finally read in the last 2 days - I wasn't sure where it was going and was caught by surprise about halfway through (yes, I should have known!). I also finished the book laughing. Definitely worth the time.
Next up is Ruta Sepetys' Between Shades of Gray. a YA historical novel about Stalin's death camps.
I'm reading The Museum of Desire by Jonathan Kellerman. Four people are found murdered inside a stretch limo and posed in a very strange tableau. I'm enjoying the story but there have been a couple of glaring editorial errors. For instance, the detective Milo texts his friend and consultant Alex at 4 pm and asks Alex to meet him at a witness's house. Then it says Alex arrived at the house at 2:40 pm! I guess good editors/proofreaders are hard to come by these days.
I'm reading Fatal Games by Mari Hannah. I will finish it, but it isn't my cup of tea--too brutal and graphic.
Vee...... " enough already ! " is taken from a Yiddish expression. I wonder if it's used widely around the country.
Some spoilers ahead! I bought a cheap copy of Letters to the Lost after recommendations here. Not my usual reading-fare but I felt as a first book it was well-written and held my attention and Iona Grey seems to have done her homework as far as WWII is concerned.
The main thing that bothered me was that I can't believe that a clergyman back then, even such a nasty one, would ever have married his very young skivvy from the orphanage. . .she would have been much too inexperienced to be a proper 'housekeeper' and just not the 'done thing' in those days, plus once she became the vicar's wife extra 'help' in the house would have been essential.
I felt that the mention of the conditions described in the 'mental home' into which Daisy was banished as a baby were way over the top and seemed to be more like the places we saw on TV in Romania. I'm sure no kids were tied to their beds, ignored and never spoken to . . . in fact I've never heard of the very young being put into such institutions.
Also felt that the baby produced by Nancy the racy friend, added nothing to the story and was unlikely to have been welcomed and brought up in the vicarage . . . and no mention of what became of her.
And that's enough already from me.
I can't disagree with a thing you said, Vee. It will never make any kind of "Top 100 Books" list.
We had a guest minister speak at our church once who had adopted a little boy from Romania. His story of the orphanage was heart rending, but he said it wasn't that they meant to mistreat the children. They just didn't have enough workers or supplies to do an adequate job. His son had a circle on his little bottom for months due to being made to sit on a potty for hours on end in an attempt to keep him from being in wet diapers. He went back a year later, and the child in the next bed recognized him and asked why he took his friend away. It was really a heart breaking situation.
I'm about to finish Fatal Games, thank goodness.
Carolyn, some years ago before Romania 'opened up' my brother met a group of actors from that country and showed them around the 'Shakespeare sites'. He kept in touch with a woman from the group and went over there on a few occasions. He never knew anything about the orphans but said the sense of fear was everywhere even in the countryside. On the train home just before the R border he noticed the people in the compartment becoming very nervous, an old woman folding and refolding what appeared to be dishcloths, all the elderly men twitching etc. When the customs/police came along the corridor they forced ALL the 'local' passengers out, where they stood in the snow in the middle of 'no-where'. The train went on without them leaving Ed alone in the carriage.
Good Heavens, Vee. And never to know what happened to those people. We "first world" countries really don't have a clue, do we?