Thursday, 13 March 2014

Six in February

I finished only six books in February, partly because I've started a very long one which will appear in March’s list.

 Janie Steps In by Elinor Brent-Dyer
I needed some respite from large book mentioned above so grabbed this which I hadn’t read in years. It’s a kind of precursor to the Chalet School books – here the future Chalet School pupils are very young. It’s not very good (no plot to speak of, far too many characters and some very irritating baby-speak) but it’s interesting if you’re a CS fan, which I am, to see the lucky little girls who will one day have wonderful adventures in the Tiern See washed down with lots of Kaffee und Kuchen
E B-D must have written her books with an A-Z of names by her side, to christen all the babies her heroines produce so effortlessly and so regularly. By the end of this book Janie has five children, the oldest aged eight. If remember rightly, Joey, young sister of the Chalet School founder, went on to have eleven including triplets and two sets of twins. She also found time to write novels. Hah!

The Cleaner of Chartres by Salley Vickers
Read for book group.  A large cast of characters centred around Agnes, one of whose jobs is to clean Chartes Cathedral. A fairly gripping read which fizzled out – the ends tied up in a thirteen-line Afterword as if the author had run out of ink/paper/steam.

Churchill’s Angels by Ruby Jackson
The first in a series of novels about the experiences of four young women in the Second World War. This one concentrates on grocer’s daughter Daisy and her dream of being a pilot. Look forward to reading the other titles and finding out what happened to Daisy’s twin Rose and their friends Grace and Sally. A page-turner.

The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides
The second-last of my Christian Aid books from last year's sale. Brilliant – took ages to read because it takes concentration. The story of the five fascinating Lisbon sisters – as you can tell from the title none of them reach the last page alive but the journey there is evocative, dramatic and surprisingly funny. Very interesting from a writerly perspective: the way it is told is unusual, maybe unique, in that it is first person plural, from the viewpoint of a group of unnamed teenage boys recollecting the sisters twenty years after the last death.
I haven’t seen the film Sofia Coppola made of it but am keen to do so now.
Also loved his The Marriage Plot which I read last year.

The Setons by O. Douglas
Yes, I know I’ve read it forty-four times before, but I’d had a bad day, I’d just finished The Virgin Suicides and I didn’t want to start something new late at night. I thought I’d read just a few pages of O. Douglas’ pre-First World War novel – based very much on her own family (her brother was John Buchan) but ended up reading it the next few nights too.

Longbourn by Jo Baker
Book group read. Below stairs in the Bennett family household. Terrific homage to Pride & Prejudice – it could stand alone but knowing what was happening ‘upstairs’ gave an extra layer of enjoyment. Great characters with their own stories, and very vivid writing. Loved it.
I’ve really enjoyed the dramatisation of P&P on Radio 4 the last three Sunday afternoons and have come to the conclusion – notwithstanding Colin Firth, in a wet shirt (see picture below) – that I prefer to read or listen to all things Austen rather than see someone else’s visual interpretation.


  1. Interesting choice and comments, Kate. Loved the chalet school books but can hardly remember them now! I really enjoyed Salley Vickers before so this is one I must look out for. Haven't read The Virgin Suicides but enjoyed the film many years ago. Glad you like Longbourn as that's one I want to read.

  2. Gosh, you've been really busy, Kate. I'm trying to read one historical romance a month for the challenge on Herding Cats, Anna cade's blog. I'm reading my March one now, but might look to Longbourn for April. It looks like fun.