I read seven books in April.
Hygge and Kisses by Clara Christensen
Bo is in a relationship – or is she? And she’s just been made redundant. So when her flatmate Kristen suggests Bo have a holiday in Kristen’s native North Jutland off she goes. She meets an annoying girl who calls everyone Babe, and a new love interest, and she makes chocolate muffins quite a lot. And that’s about it. ‘Bo’ is short for Boughay, apparently a family name but we’re given no clue how to pronounce it – Buffy? Boogie? I’m afraid I found this book ‘bo’ – short for boring.
The Button Box by Lynn Knight
Bought in the bookshop of the V&A in London and it kept me excellent company on the train all the way home to Edinburgh. Lynn Knight tells the story of three generations of her family, and the larger story of women at home and in work from the Victorian age to the 1960s, through the clothes they wore and the clothes they made. A book you definitely want to have a print copy of so you can admire the buttons on the cover.
The Bookshop of New Beginnings by Jen Mouat
Loved this! The characters have such depth – we are shown their back-stories which flesh them out and perfectly explain their contemporary situations and personalities. The opening of a (second-hand) bookshop is always going to be a subject that appeals to me, and I also loved the setting of the Solway Firth, a part of Scotland that is not as well-known as it should be. The descriptions, while not overdone, make it sound absolutely beautiful.
In the Blink of an Eye by Ali Bacon
Really enjoyed this book set in Edinburgh in the days of the early photography pioneers, in particular D O Hill. I was sent an advance copy to review on the Capital Writers website. You can read the the review here.
Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie
Read on Kindle for book group; this has been long/shortlisted for the major literary prizes. A Muslim family find themselves divided by radicalism and politics. Told from several viewpoints, the siblings’ stories give more insight than any news report can, and make a gripping read.
Mrs Pargeter’s Public Relations by Simon Brett
Simon Brett was the keynote speaker at the Scottish Association of Writers’ Conference this year; he is extremely funny. He is also a very prolific writer. Mrs Pargeter is one of his sleuths, a most original creation. She is wealthy widow, on the right side of the law, which is more than can be said for her late husband. This means she has all sorts of experts who will come to her aid in an instant – safe crackers, bodyguards and so on. A hoot.
Lilian Boxfish Takes A Walk by Kathleen Rooney
This I just adored. It was inspired by a woman who was the highest paid female in American advertising in the 30s.
Now aged 85 in the 1980s, Lilian is at a bit of a loose end on New Year’s Eve. She’s been invited to a party that won’t start until midnight and although it is in an unsalubrious part of New York (more dangerous then than now for the late-night wanderer) she decides to walk there. As she travels through familiar and unfamiliar areas, she meets and charms a variety of characters, and she recalls her life. It’s a potted history of her beloved city as well as of Lilian herself. The book is cleverly constructed; I loved the writing and Lilian herself is an inspiration. Go read!