Wool, Wiltshire and All Manner of Wonderful Things!

Books- March 2020

Here are the books I read this month. Strange reading back on what I wrote when I finished each book. March started off so normally and ended up in Lock Down. Books I know are going to be what get me through the next weeks and months , a place to escape too, reading from my to be read pile, re-reads or ones that belong to Mr E. So expect a strange selection next month! Have you read any of my March books, what did you think?

Benjamin Hoff- The Tao of Pooh and the Te of Piglet- as recommended by Wild Daffodil in her February Yarn Along post. An introduction to the chinese philosophy of Taoism as demonstrated by Winnie the Pooh and Piglet. A most enjoyable read which I mostly understood. What I really loved was being reminded how much I love the Winnie the Pooh books and the delightful illustrations of Ernest H Shepard! And how much Mr E reminds me of Eeyore, he even reminds himself of Eeyore.

Tennessee Williams- The Glass Menagerie- I’m not quite certain what prompted me to read this play, I suspect it was mentioned in a novel.Written in the 1940s but set in the late 30s in a small apartment in St Louis. Amanda, a former Southern Belle was left by her husband to raise their two children as best she could. Her oldest child is Laura, 25 years old, slightly disabled from an illness which left her with a small barely discernable limp, but with a dreadful sense of inadequacy. She left school without qualifications and flunked secretarial college on day one. Tom is younger by two years, and is narrating the action from memory. Amanda tries to earn bits of money as a shop assisstant and tele sales person, and hankers afterΒ  the days of servants and gentlemen callers. She is worried for the future of both her children. Laura we learn spends her days walking when her mother thinks she is in college and in the collecting of glass animals. Tom works in a shoe warehouse and longs to escape and travel the world as his father is now doing. In Act One he is persuaded to bring a suitable friend home for dinner to befriend his sister, as Amanda thinks marrying Laura off is Laura’s only hope . Act Two sees the friend coming to dinner. I shalln’t tell more, but I enjoyed reading the play. For a modern audience there is some rascism , but the theme of limited opportunity is still relevant today. I think I may have seen a film version of this back in the 1960s/70s.

Stephen Palmer- The Conscientious Objector- well how to describe this book. Think H G Wells- War of the Worlds or even Dr Who, throw in the Edwardian period,Darwinism, eugenics, WW1, a village of amazon type women with male slaves, a love story, kidnap, automata,and you just about have all the characters and situations in this novel. Decidedly odd and not helped by being a stand alone sequel to a trilogy. Shame because it was quite well written I just didn’t care for it. I got to the end more from determination rather than pleasure, but if you are into Steampunk I guess this could be for you.

Henning Mankell- After the fire- My author from Sweden is the creator of Wallander, and was actually his last book. I could see that he was drawing on this and his own life experience of living in Paris. There is a fire in which Fredik looses his house and everything in it. Fortunately he has a caravan parked nearby owned by his daughter that he moves into, and luckily for him as he lives on an island, his boathouse and two boats, are fine, and the car he has parked on the mainland is also ok to say nothing of a tent and sleeping bag. He also seems to have immediate access to funds.

The theme of the book is very much about ageing, loss of friends, identity, career, and health. There is hope and new life and a sense of things going on , and the need for the old to accept that we don’t live forever.Β  The book has resonated with me, with all the upheaval from Covid 19, at a time when we are trying to move houseΒ  and are having a big tidy up ( I found the dog basket at the back of the woodshed, it has been there for 10 years and I had no idea we still had it, and a bag of my Dad’s papers which I had put there to be burnt 6 years ago, and so had to go through again), and my step brothers son and wife becoming the proud parents of a gorgeous baby girl. I too have been living with my life belonging to the past amidst the creation of new life.

Fiona Barton- The Child- cracking good crime thriller. My car had a service this month and I had a waiting appointment. Two hours passed very quickly as I got engrossed in this book. A small item in a newspaper effects three people- one woman relives the worst thing that ever happened to her, one wishes to keep her darkest secret and another who sees a good story for her and a chance to shine as a journalist. I did see the final twist coming but not too soon, most enjoyable.

Louise Phillips- The Doll’s House- Trying to read my remaining library books quickly now to get them back before any potential closure- likely because most volunteers are in their 70s. The book is a jolly good murder thriller- spotted the villian of the piece but the ending was very well handled. The book is set in Dublin, but I didn’t really get a sense of Ireland, which was a bit of a shame. Never the less a good read.

Claire Douglas- Local Girl Missing- A good thriller- couldn’t really give it the attention it deserved, tryng to read it fast before the library closed down for the duration. Well written and plotted, lots of possible villains. Worth trying if you like psychological thrillers.

Dan Brown- Origin- And this is where the UK went into Lock Down. The first book from my to be read pile was loaned to me by my son who bought the book in an airport for him to read on a long flight. What can I say- a typical Dan Brown book- religion, symbols, chasing around churches and museums, with Artificial Intelligence thrown in. Perfect escapism.

Will you be reading during the epidemic as a way of coping by escaping into different worlds?

Stay well. x

Comments on: "Books- March 2020" (46)

  1. I haven’t read any of them. Local girl missing called my attention, I’ll add it to my list. I’ve many books on my bedside table, right now I’m reading Oliver, again. I love the first one, so I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this one. I’m reading Mrs. Dalloway and a few poetry books. And I just finished the Tattooist of Auschwitz and the Silent patient. Both great!

    • I have packed my poetry books away in a box ready for the house move, I wish I hadn’t! I might have to unpack them! Oliver is a lovely story.

  2. I haven’t read any of the books you mentioned. I am quite intrigued about The Glass Menagerie. I have heard of it but didn’t know anything about it. Currently reading Mr Scarletti’s Ghost from the library about a dodgy medium in Victorian Brighton. X

  3. Murtagh's Meadow said:

    Thank you for sharing. I suspect there will be a lot more read in the next few weeks /months. Stay safe and well

  4. Books in theory are great escapism and a real godsend at this time. I however have not been able to concentrate on reading since we went into lock down. I haven’t read any of the above, but I did read Italian Shoes by Henning Mankel – his writing is a bit too dark for me and certainly to dark at the moment.

    • Henning Mankel was a bit dark and my usual detective fodder for down time wasn’t right either. I am enjoying Summer Lease by John Mortimer, a nice house in Tuscany, just what would be good at sometime in the future.

  5. I read a book or two a night, usually old paperbacks, Regency romances, scifi-fantasy, the odd social commentary about Buffy the Vampire Slayer, old literature. Life would be so dull without reading lots and lots. Oh, and by ‘a night’, I mean I often sit in bed from 5 or 7 p.m., and read until midnight or 2 a.m.

    • Now that’s reading! I tend to read in the afternoons and try very hard not to fall asleep. A chapter is all I can manage at most at bedtime. Getting lost in a good book is so helpful.

  6. Yep Dan Brown’s books, many of which I have read, seem a bit, no wait – quite a bit formulaic but they are entertaining. They other reads sound great and I remember reading the Glass Menagerie when I was in high school – it would be interesting to re-read it as an adult. I am finishing up a book about risk – An Economist Walks Into a Brothel by Allison Schrager.

    • Oh my trying to imagine an economist in a brothel! The Dan Brown was just what I needed- enough of a plot to engage me, but not enough for bafflement. Books are going to be a God send in these strange days.

      • The female economist opens the book with her research on Nevada brothel models but then progresses from there on an extensive discussion on risks and how and why we take them. If you are in a non fiction mood it is a pretty decent book πŸ™‚

  7. Haven’t read any of your list this month, Cathy. Am re-readinga few old favourites, for comfort.
    Plus, I’ve downloaded to my Kindle app several no longer under copyright books from http://www.gutenberg.org. You might have a gander over there and see if anything strikes your fancy.
    Generally, one can read from their site without downloading, or download a PDF copy. There are several different kinds of files – so, an assortment of ways to read.
    I’ve read Washington Irving’s short story, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, and adored his prose. Now reading Book 1 of Jane Austin’s Emma, with Northanger Abbey waiting in the wings. Who knows, I might get to Dickens!

    • The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is incredible and only a passing resemblance to Jonny Depp’s Sleepy Hollow, a film I love anyway. How do you like Emma? I studied it at school and still love it- the teacher used to go on about ironic wit the whole time. Dickens… mmm… some of his I love, Bleak House and Hard Times, but oh dear some are very tedious! I am enjoying my book set in Tuscany- oh for blue skies and Italian sunshine.

      • So glad you like Irving’s TLoSH! Didn’t know Depp had done Sleepy Hollow, as I’m not much of a film follower. Only on 6th chapter of Emma, and after Irving’s mellifluous prose am stumbling over Austen’s. I don’t understand some of the phraseology she uses, so at the mo it is a bit tedious. Will note out some examples, if you’d like. (I do try to keep up with current Brit colloquialisms, but Austen’s era is lost on me. And it could be I’m jus too sleepy when reading her. πŸ˜‰)

    • Del – try ‘Great Expectations’.

  8. Love the comment about Mr Eyore.
    Does he also relate to Marvin the Paranoid Android
    “Life, don’t talk to me about life”?!
    So sorry to hear of the added stress of ‘to move or not to move’ scenario. Must be so difficult to navigate.

    • Grr moving- all agreed on delay, now solicitors in discussions on how to word amendments. FFS! At least they have only got to 2 April to sort themselves out. Hard tom think of anything else at the moment! We never got into Hitchhiker so no Mr E doesn’t really relate to Marvin but I’m sure her would. Many a comment on what is the purpose…..

  9. I am currently in the middle of Belleweather…have to read it in the daytime though!πŸ˜‰πŸ˜† I have a list of possibles on my Overdrive list, so will likely check out some of those, and I think it’s time for another classic, so will have to see what I can find in audio. As for rereads, I think I shall pick up one of M.M. Kaye’s sweeping sagas. I haven’t read The Far Pavilions for a long time, and I do love that book.

    • Now a sweeping saga sounds like a good plan- maybe Gone with the Wind, which I loved when I read it, but is now out of favour re its outmoded and questionable attitudes.

  10. I haven’t read any of the above. I found myself reading a 99p Kindle offer novel called ‘The Dreamers’ a couple of weeks ago and quickly discovered it had parallels too close for comfort to the current situation – although concentrated in one U.S. town. I finished it but, as things progress in real life, I’m looking for a bit of escapism. It was good though.
    I’ve decided that rather than watch some of the newer stuff coming out on Netflix, etc. I would revisit some old favourites – currently watching ‘Life on Mars’ again and will be unearthing my ‘Sopranos’ box set. Similarly, I’m going to re-read some old favourites and might start with ‘Possession’ by A.S. Byatt which is excellent – if you’ve never read it, I think you’d like it a lot – once the libraries re-open of course. I think this ‘going back over old ground’ might be a comfort thing.

    • I agree about reading old favourites. I am finding it very hard to concentrate on anything. We have taken to watching old black and white films from the 40s to the 70s, made when life was very different. I haven’t read the A.S. Byatt, sounds like a ghost story?

      • Ahh, I remember watching old b&w movies with my Mum when I was young. The one that really stands out in my memory is ‘Angels With Dirty Faces’ with James Cagney – already about 30 years old when I watched it with her – I wet a whole face towel with my tears at the end. Have you seen it?
        ‘Possession’ is the story of two academics who follow a paper trail to research a possible romance between two (fictional) Victorian poets. it is set both in the modern day and in Victorian times.

  11. Just read Chris Bohjalian’s new The Red Lotus β€” eerily forecasting these strange times.

  12. I have both the Hoff books as I commented on Wild Daffodil’s blog. I made quite a study of Taoism at one point, I found it a lovely gentle wise philosophy. The Tao Te Ching is quite beautiful. Added Fiona Barton to my list of authors to try. I too am reading books I own but then I have so many. Reading The Lighthouse by PD James at present.

  13. I managed to take 4 books out of the library 1 hour before it closed for the duration! One of them is The Conscientious Objector, so I’m looking forward to reading that. I also have Boy Swallows Universe, which has received a lot of positive acclaim. Another is – finally! – A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, hurray, and lastly, some science fiction, To Be Taught If Fortunate, by Becky Chambers, a favourite author. I also plan to re-read all my Ngaio Marsh, Ellis Peters, Faye Kellerrman, Dick Francis, Kathy Reichs, Sue Grafton and Tony Hillerman crime fiction. Once I’ve finished those, I can start on Jane Austen, Nevile Shute, Isobel Lipman, Mary Wesley, and then, finally, my science fiction collection, very extensive. Not planning to be bored, no indeed!

    • I really love A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, think you will like it. I have just unearthed a book Mr E put in the box for a charity shop by John Mortimer called Summer’s Leave- it was turned into a TV drama, and is set in Tuscany. Just opened the cover- we bought it second hand in Thassos- our favourite Greek island. I’m pretty wired today as we still have not sorted out our non- move- seems the solicitors don’t know what to do about contracts. Great! Then the postman delivered a parcel to us meant for someone else…. I now appreciate how simple life used to be a fortnight ago. At least I don’t have time to worry about being poorly myself. Take care, x

      • Oh, you poor things, how dreadfully frustrating. To be fair, I don’t think anyone anticipated just how powerful and rapid coronavirus was going to be, and the law couldn’t anticipate this scenario. I really hope common sense and goodwill prevail, and that if you leave that misdirected parcel on your doorstep with a note, the postie will take it away again.

        • Thanks for your wise words. We may have agreed a delay of up to 6 months, reviewed weekly. I took the parcel in a bag in the car, bag and gloves remain outside. I may need a little nap this afternoon!

  14. Benjamin Hoff sure sounds interesting! I have been reading Sci-Fi (Sleeping Giants) and, over the past few days, bits and pieces of “Little Women” – again. It’s comfort reading, but I’ll start “Waking Gods” when I’m done and already looking forward to it! πŸ™‚ Stay well!!

    • The Hoff book was lovely, but I think I forgot most of it already! Little Women sounds perfect, I don’t think I have a copy though! Always the Kindle though.

      • I bought my copy last year I think – they had a special version from Penguin (paperback) which I got. It has a few short essays in the back, a glossary, and a bit of background information on the whole – not bad!

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