So July was very HOT. In the end I did what I do when we go on holiday to Greece. I read, in the shade.
Laurie Lee-A Moment of War- Being the third book in his autobiography Red Sky at Sunset. An account of the months he spent in Spain trying to fight for the Republic during the civil war. he seemed to spend a lot of time in jail under suspicion of being a spy for France, and all because he had spent a few days in Morocco on holiday and his passport had the stamps to show it. Franco was supported by Hitler who launched airstrikes on Spain from Morocco. Apparently as a try out for the Luftwaffe and the bombing campaign they subsequently launched on Britain. I don’t like war books really, but this was quite interesting , showing how ill-equipped the republicans were and how they lacked leadership, and how the powers that be didn’t really know how to utilise all the volunteers that came to help the people in the war. I ended up having to do a bit of research around the civil war to make sense of the book. If you are interested in such things then it is readable. If not , stick to Cider with Rosie and As I walked out one Midsummer’s Morning which are a delight. Talking of which( Cider with Rosie) I reckon if I read a book three times it certainly qualifies as being in my top 100 books.
Sara Gruen- Water for Elephants- Several people recommended this book to me via the blog.For that a big thank you. I would never have chosen this book myself. The cover with its woman in a green sparkly dress and the blurb on the back would have completely put me off. If I hadn’t paid £1 to reserve it I would probably not have even borrowed it. But I had and I did, and was very pleasantly surprised to discover it was really good and an enjoyable read, if you are lurking inside hiding from the sun. Thus proving that you really shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.
So what have we got. A vet, living in his nursing home age 90 or is that 93, he can’t really recall remembers the days he spent in a circus. The portrayal of old age I found rather good. The memories of the circus were heart breaking in many places. Different times and different attitudes to disability and animal welfare. But the story is gripping and there is a rather nice love story too.
Thanks everyone who recommended this, you were right it was an enjoyable read.
Susan Hill- The Travelling Bag- a very good selection of five ghostly short stories. I had already read the last one which has been published as a novella. The other four were really very good indeed. The first one would have totally freaked me out had it happened to me. The second one was sad but excellent. The third- Alice Baker was my favourite. If you like ghost stories, this book is for you . Proper old-fashioned scary tales.
Joanna Cannon- Three Things About Elsie- 1, She is Florence’s best friend. 2 She always knows what to say to make Florence feel better, 3 is harder to explain. Florence lives in what I take to be an extra care home, she has her own flat. Her friends Jack and Elsie also live there. Florence is becoming forgetful and is frightened of being asked to move to Greenbanks. A new resident arrives and Florence thinks she knows him , but he is supposed to be dead. Jack, Florence and Elsie have a mystery on their hands. I am not going to say much more. This was a really good read, the mystery kept me hooked, perfect book for those days when the heat melted my brain! Really enjoyed it, and reckon you might too. And Ms Cannon describes the book as a love story to Whitby. What more do you want?
Even these get a mention!
Tess Gerritsen- Playing with Fire- This was recommended to me by a few of you, and I loved it. A classical piece of music, a mystery story, the holocaust , Venice and a jolly good read. I found the first chapter a bit disappointing, in that the plot is set up quite quickly, but you need the background information up front. When the story moved to Venice it got better. There were a few sentences which I want to quote as they were used in the Holocaust presentation I was part of at the start of this year, and makes you think! It was a surprise to see them in context, as I hadn’t really registered where they had come from.
On board a train…….”.. imagined fields and farmlands beyond the window, small villages where lights glowed in houses and families sat at supper tables. Did they hear the faint clack of the train passing by? Did they pause, forks halfway to their mouths, and wonder about the people aboard the train? Or did they simply continue with their suppers, because what went on beyond their walls was none of their concern, and what could they do about it anyway? This train, like all those before it, would move on, so they break bread and drink wine and carry on with their lives. While we pass by like ghosts in the night”
Maya Angelou- Gather together in my name- The second book of her autobiography covering the years when she has her toddler to look after, and is only 19 when the book ends. She falls in love, runs a brothel, is a waitress, nearly joins the army, takes drugs, becomes a prostitute, managers a cafe, her son is kidnapped. And all written beautifully. Another good read.
Marghanita Laski- Jane Austen and her world. Last week I stumbled on a Future Learn course on Jane Austen, just 3x 3hours worth, free and available till the 27 August. I couldn’t resist. It is totally fascinating. I have just started the last of the three blocks. Inspired by the course I dug out this book which I have had since 1978. I know that because I bought it through a book club when we lived in Munich. I had not read it since. It’s a super book, and has so many pictures in of family and places that Jane Austen knew. I have now found lots more books about Jane Austen to borrow from the library. The course by the way had me recalling the book Lynne recommended How to read like a Professor, in the case of Jane Austen, how she uses education and attitude to books to establish character.
Lots of lovely books this month. Have you read any good books this month that you would recommend please? Or have you read any of these? Are you a Jane Austen fan? Do tell please.