Tuesday, 7 January 2020

My Life (maybe) according to the books I read in 2019

My Life (maybe) – according to the books I read in 2019

Describe yourself

How do you feel?

Describe where you currently live

If you could go anywhere where would you go?

Your favourite form of transportation is

Your best friend is

You and your friends are

What’s the weather like?

Favourite time of day

If your life was a book

What is life to you?

Your fear

What is the best advice you have to give?

Thought for the day

How would you like to die?

Your soul’s present condition

This is a fun idea I saw first on Joanne Baird’s Portobello Book Blog

Thursday, 2 January 2020

Nine in December

I read nine books in December, squeezing the last one in on 31 December between dinner and waiting for neighbours to arrive to see in the New Year.

Meet Me at the Museum by Anne Youngson
Read for book group. A contemporary epistolary novel – yay! Hope this will start a new trend for them. Here, a developing relationship is told in letters/emails between a Norfolk farmer’s wife and a Danish museum curator. Very enjoyable. If I had a quibble it would be that their voices sounded too similar. Anders’ first language isn’t English so it makes sense that his writing style would be formal (eg no contractions like ‘I don’t’ rather than ‘I do not’) but that was the way Tina wrote too – I think she might have sounded more colloquial.

With all the election hooha some escapism was called for and I found it in Georgette Heyer, in three comedies of errors read in quick succession which did the required job admirably: Sylvester, Bath Tangle and Black Sheep.

I can’t understand why Andrew Davies et al don’t make films/tv adaptations of her books instead of continually rehashing Jane Austen (marvellous though she is). I reckon Sylvester, Duke of Salford, could give Mr Darcy (marvellous though he is) a run for his money.

A Clean Sweep by Audrey Davis
A fun cast of characters – fifty-something widow Emily, her daughter Tabitha and various of their friends and acquaintances and their romantic mishaps. This is the first and probably the last romantic novel I’ve read in which the hero is a chimney sweep but as he is a hunky twenty-something (with clean finger nails) what’s not to like? I liked Meryl too and her generous, optimistic nature (and penchant for Abba songs). A warmly written rom-com.

The Librarian by Salley Vickers
I have read two other books by SV, liked one, didn’t like the other. But this appealed to me: set in 1958, a young woman, Sylvia Blackwell, takes up a position as children’s librarian in the market town of East Mole. Her attempts to enthuse the children with a love of reading are hampered by the antagonism of the bullying (male) librarian but she has some successes particularly with her landlady’s awkward daughter and her neighbours’ bright son. However, some of her other relationships events aren’t so happy and events conspire against her. Loved the period detail; not sure about the ending.
I appreciate the timing for this book with the scandalous closing of so many libraries and school libraries all over the country; sadly, Salley Vickers is probably preaching to the converted here in trying to convey their importance.

Bought at Edinburgh Book Festival about eight years ago and just got round to. In summer 2010, SA (since he wrote this he has become the Poet Laureate) walked the 256-mile Pennine Way the ‘wrong’ way ie north to south. He sang, as it were, for his supper along the way, giving poetry readings in exchange for accommodation and food. It doesn’t sound like a walk in the park, crossing lonely fells and climbing hills, mostly against the prevailing (howling) wind. Just the thing to read when you’re wrapped up warm at home.

Christmas at the Beach Hut by Veronica Henry
’Tis the season … to read a Christmas novel. Not that a beach hut is the obvious place to go at Christmas time but this was a very superior one with a wood-burning stove, beds and washing/toilet facilities. Lizzie is feeling overwhelmed, not only with Christmas stuff but also with her recent redundancy and impending empty nest plus her tricky relationships with her mother-in-law and her husband’s first wife, so she runs away to the seaside where she meets others seeking escape for various reasons. A page-turner, as usual, from this author.

Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell
For children of all ages. KR has been on my radar for a while; this is the first one I’ve read but it most definitely will not be the last. Baby Sophie is rescued from a shipwreck; she has been tucked inside a cello case. As the years go by she is convinced, against all the evidence, that her mother survived the wreck too. Sophie's search takes her and her wonderful guardian, Charles, to the rooftops of Paris. Absolutely magical writing – a lovely note to end my reading year on.