Wool, Wiltshire and All Manner of Wonderful Things!

January books- 2020

 A mixed bag of books for the start of the year. Have you read any of these, what did you think?

Bridget Collins- The Binding- I was keen to read this book as I thought it was a novel about book binding.Young farm worker given chance of apprenticeship to a book binder.  It’s not about book binding! At least not in the accepted sense of book binding. The plot unfolds in three parts through two narrators. I found Part One completely baffling. I couldn’t tell what period it was set in, 1800’s maybe with references to factories and grime, but then the crusades? The crusade part was never explained and I think it probably meant a moral crusade but who knows? Part two was much better, and part three brought things to a conclusion. It was quite enjoyable, and that’s the best I can say. And the book binding bit- painful memories bound into a book, either to be stored safely or sold onto “gentlemen”!



Elizabeth MacNeal- The Doll Factory- A most satisfying book! Set in Victorian London Louis Frost is an artist in the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. Iris his model and pupil. Silas is obsessed with Iris and will not take No for an answer. A well written and enjoyable plot.

Neil Gaiman- Coraline- This was a suggestion for book bingo but took too long to arrive. What to say- seriously weird. Not sure what age grop it’s intended for. It’s simply told so could be an older child’s book. The library has classified it as Young Adults, which I would assume means 18-25 years, I suspect older teenager would be better-14-16. The style and content seems to be at odds. I would not be happy giving the book to a child as it is scary. In some ways like Roald Dahl, but lacking warmth. Not my cup of tea.

Claire Douglas- Last Alive- Top notch pyschological thriller, lots of twists, and I didn’t see them all coming.

Lorna Gray- In the shadow of Winter- Set in the hard winter of 1947 somewhere in the Cotswolds, Eleanor Phillips runs her own stables. One night her stable boy finds an injured and distressed man out in the felds. This is Matthew Croft her former beau in need of shelter as he flees the police who want him for murder. It has quite a slow pace for a romantic thriller, and I kept loosing the plot. Ok only.

Clover Stroud- The Wild Other- Clover , whose half sister is Emma Bridgewater, had an idyllic childhood, with her sister Nell, father Rick and mother Charlotte, in the small market town of Minety in Wiltshire. Think big kitchens, red wine, horses and freedom. This came to a crashing halt when her Mum was severally disabled in a riding accident, and spent 22 years in a nursing home, unable to properly respond to her family. Rick takes himself off to London to work and the treasured home is sold. Clover embraces her wild side with a gusto- gypsies in Ireland, cowgirl in Texas and amongst ex- soldiers in the Caucasus Mountains, before settling to a tamer existance in Wiltshire. All the time trying to cope with the loss but not loss of her mother. I’ll be honest I found the book a bit of a struggle, too many horses and I didn’t feel any rapport with Clover herself. Goodness knows how her children will cope with the revelations she makes. Anyway has anyone read this and what did you think?

As I said a mixed bag of books for the start of the year. I have a stock pile of books from the library, so have plenty to go at in February and probably into March, but I always like to know if you have read anything really good, and if you read any of my January books and if so what did you think about them?

Comments on: "January books- 2020" (29)

  1. I recently picked up The Lost Ones by Anita Frank based on your previous recommendation. Looking forward to a good ghost story!

  2. I read Coraline and I agree – not a book for a child. It still is sort of haunting to me. I do love Neil Gaiman though. I might check out several of the other books you mentioned when I am craving some fiction (I seem to be currently stuck in nonfiction!) 🙂

  3. Murtagh's Meadow said:

    I think young adult fiction is generally 12-18 years. I read some good ones recently with my kids. Louis Sacher is interesting author for this age group. in adult fiction just finished Barbara Kingsolvers unsheltered. Interesting, but found modern day part of story more engaging to read.

  4. I loved Coraline, but yes, it is very strange. I think that’s why I liked it so much though 😁. I can see why it creeps people out though. My boyfriend is terrified of the film adaptation of it 😁😁.

  5. I know I told you about the Binding and I’m sorry to hear you struggled so with it. The setting is intentionally here, not here; now, not now. It knocks sideways the readers knowledge of the world so that the more magical pieces become commonplace ….. I loved the authors ability to do that. I’ve also listened to the audio book. It is also excellent, possibly better as the reader fits the character so well. It is unabridged 🙂

    • I would have done better I am sure if I had read the jacket first, I was just confused. It did get better once I realised it wasn’t about books!

  6. I find Neil Gaiman very hit and miss, I didn’t really enjoy Coraline, but I loved Neverwhere and the Graveyard Book.

  7. Have been reading too many headlines and therefore find myself drawn to re-reading comforting books this past month, especially those D.E. Stevenson titles from Scott’s Furrowed Middlebrow.

  8. I think it was me that recommended ‘The Doll Factory’ and I offered up ‘Coraline’ as an idea for your Book Bingo so I’m glad you liked at least one of them.
    I actually haven’t read ‘Coraline’ but my daughters have and I’m familiar with Neil Gaiman’s writing which is more their cup of tea than mine I must admit – although I enjoyed his ‘Norse Mythology’ book . However, the film is really good and, yes, very scary.

  9. Coraline was one of Alex’s favourite books when she was about 10, I think. I must dig out the copy and have a glance myself…

  10. I’ve just finished listening to The Binding and I really loved it. Since it’s clearly a fantasy I had no particular expectations of it being in an identifiable historical period, so I just accepted the events and didn’t find it confusing.
    I’ve read Coraline and rather like that too; I also like the film – have you seen it? I’ve never really thought about the age group it’s aimed at, but probably 12+ and probably enjoyed by adult Neil Gaiman fans too.

    • No I haven’t seen the film, it might well be less scary than the book. I think I would have found it frightening, at age 12, which is probably why the library classified iit as young adult and not junior.
      I wonder if the Binding was better as an audio book, maybe it had some editing! It would have helped if I read the jacket before I started reading. Did you get any sense what the crusades were about?

      • I just thought that the author used the word ‘crusades’ to suggest something like the Inquisition.
        I think as a 12-year-old I would have loved Coraline! The film is quirky and quite scary, but since it’s animated, there is a clear differentiation from reality.

        • Cartoons would lend it an airof unreality which is always reassuring! An intersting interpretation for crusade to mean inquisition rather than moral crusade! I’ve enjoyed this discussion, thank you.

  11. I’ve read The Doll Factory, and liked it, but it slightly gave me the feeling of watching a train wreck arriving – I so wanted her not to do the obvious thing and succumb!

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