I read six books in September.
This Must be the Place by Maggie O’Farrell
Two pics for this title – the jacket and the lovely binding underneath.
I’ve liked all of Maggie O’Farrell’s books – but while I’ve found them page-turning and engaging while reading them, apart from The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox I haven’t thought about them much once I’ve finished them and in retrospect can’t really distinguish one title from another. I do hope that doesn’t happen with This Must be the Place because I absolutely loved it and a few weeks after finishing it still think about the characters as if they were people I actually knew.
I saw her at the Edinburgh Book Festival this year – before I bought the book. Chicken and egg – I’d like to have read it first so that I could appreciate what she said about it more, and maybe have had a question to ask her myself.
Casting Off by P I Paris
Set in a Highland Care Home, this explores some serious issues in a truly laugh-out-loud way. When the residents are told that their fees are going up by an exorbitant amount some of them take it upon themselves to raise money in a variety of ways – and, despite the cover picture, it’s certainly not all about knitting egg cosies. As the publisher’s blurb has it, this is Calendar Girls meets The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. See a post by the author on this blog.
Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella
Sophie Kinsella’s first book designated for Young Adults and as warm and funny as her readers, including me, will expect. Actually any of her books could be enjoyed by Young Adults as well as by Old Adults … but this one has a teenage protagonist. I liked that she was called Audrey – I think it’s odd that the name is not more popular given the iconic-ness of Miss Hepburn.
Courting the Countess by Anne Stenhouse
Lady Melissa Pateley has been virtually abducted by handsome Colonel Harry Gunn – for her own safety because Melissa has been left a rich widow and there are those, including Harry’s deranged cousin, who would like to get their hands on her fortune – and on herself. Melissa and Harry develop a relationship but then he discovers a family secret which could put paid to that continuing. The story takes place against the backdrop of beautiful Regency Edinburgh. A great read. (Check out Anne Stenhouse's previous Regencies including Bella's Betrothal also set in Edinburgh.)
Fashion on the Ration by Julie Summers
I saw this exhibition when I was in London last year. The make-do-and-mend ingenuity shown by women during the Second World War was light years away from popping down to Primark – silk underwear made out of maps issued to RAF pilots, coats made out of blankets, a duster as a headscarf, earrings from shattered aircraft windscreens …
The many fascinating things I leaned from the book included: to save cloth that could be used for uniforms men’s trousers could not have turn-ups; you’d slide off a chair when you wore a parachute-silk dress; shortage of elastic meant knickers had to have buttons; there were no extra coupons for maternity clothes. This would be a terrific resource if you were writing a book/story set in the 40s.
And – not exactly a book, but well-worth mentioning – I read the summer issue of Slightly Foxed ‘The Real Reader’s Quarterly’. Great writing and a lovely line-drawing-illustrated production. I bought it in the wonderful Topping bookshop in St Andrews and am thinking of subscribing (Santa, if you’re reading this … )