Wool, Wiltshire and All Manner of Wonderful Things!

Books- August 22

When it gets hot outside in the middle of the day, I stay inside and read, before my eyes droop and I nod off. Some Good books this month, and some really good books too.

Hilary Mantel- Bring up the Bodies- Being the follow on from Wolf Hall. Wolf Hall was on the Big Jubilee Read list for 2009, but as I had read this I decided it was time for the second book in this triology. Now I thoroughly enjoyed reading of the intrigue and political machinations it took for Cromwell to dispose of Anne Boleyn, but I suspect you have to be quite a fan of all things Tudor to relish this book. Wolf Hall I loved for the feeling of menace that ran throughout . I didn’t get that in this book, which was a shame because it must have been quite terrifying to be around Henry VIII’s court. Never the less a Good read.

Dervla McTiernan- The Ruin- excellent murder mystery set in Ireland. Office politics in a police station! Most enjoyable.

Claire Fuller- Our Endless Numbered Days- I’d gone to the library for another of this authors books. I couldn’t find it, so borrowed this instead. Oh my goodness me, it is goooooooooood. So blurb on the back cover… Peggy is 8 years old when her Dad takes her to live in a remote cabin in a forest. He is a survivalist, and explains that her mother died alongside everyone else. Now they have to live off grid. How long though can they manage. The only other thing to add is that it won the Desmond Elliott prize in 2015, and is described as compulsive, dark, bewitching, scary and spellbinding. I read it over a weekend. Try it and let me know what you think.

C S Lewis- A Grief Observed- in which he analyses the grief he feels for the loss of his wife and how he views God. The thing about grief is that it’s personal, to those left behind , dependent on who they are grieving for, their personal belief system and what the circumstances were. All I know is that it hurts like crazy and that time doesn’t heal, you just have to find a new way to be and that requires effort. We all have our own singular experience. I could relate to somethings in the book, but not others, and some bits I plain didn’t understand.

Fredrik Backman- My Grandmother sends her Regards and aplogises- Going away from home for a holiday requires the packing of a great number of books. For a week less than 5 books induces panic. Which is ridiculous because I doubt I’d read more than three MAX. One and a half is more likely. So I go to the library armed with a list of authors I have liked. ( Life without lists also seems impossible , why clutter my brain with stuff that I can write down and refer to). Now I loved A Man called Ove, so funny, so this author was top of my list, and so I borrowed this book. Which I finally read at home between naps in our heatwave. Well I very nearly abandoned it, it tries very hard to be funny, and just wasn’t. Granny seemed to be a caricature and her granddaughter precocious and annoying. But… Elsa and her Granny are very close. Granny tells amazing fairy stories which tip into real life. Oh I really did not like that element either. But….Granny sends Elsa on a treasure hunt to deliver letters containing regards and apologies. And through these letters and subsequent events, you discover Granny’s past, and what was really irritating to me became in due course, something very moving. Glad I persevered. Love to know what others thought. Can’t tell you why I’m pleased I kept going because that would spoil the plot entirely. (The reason I did keep going was that I too adored my Granny).

Rachel Kadish- The Weight of Ink- my goodness me this is a marvellous book, and the first one this year I am adding to my 100 best book page . It won the National Jewish book award, and why it’s not won more awards I can’t understand. So there is a secret stash of 17th century documents found in an old house in what is now Kingston upon Thames, but at the time was way out in the countryside. These are poured over by two sets of academics, very much in competition with each other. Gradually we learn the story of who and why they were written and then hidden. Throw in religious debate, the plague, love, a kibbutz and failing health all meticulously researched and beautifully written and you have nearly 700 pages of total delight. I loved it, can you tell?

Sam Selvon- The Lonely Londoners- by total contrast, a perfect novel in 140 pages. This was featured by the BBC as one of their choices from the Big Jubilee Read. It was published in 1956 and is the story of some of the Young men who came to Britain from the Caribbean seeking their fortune in a city where the streets were reputedly paved with gold, but in reality were still a massive bomb site from WW2. The language is that of the Caribbean, standard English was ditched by the author as he couldn’t get the tone right, until he switched. The blurb on the back from the Guardian calls it ..”Unforgettable….a vernacular comedy of pathos” . What of course you have, is a group of lonely people in a strange city who come together to survive, yearning for the things they miss whilst making tbe best of the things they like. It’s a portrait of a city recovering from war, a people recovering from war, a change of culture rushing headlong to the swinging 60’s . There is racism, but an understanding also of the White working class people most effected by the changes around them. If you watch Call the Midwife you will have seen the appalling slums people were competing to live in at this time. Unforgettable are the wonderful characters that we encounter in the book. I was so reminded of John Steinbeck’s Cannery Row. The humour is the same too. I still prefer Steinbeck who is my favourite author..

Which begs me to ask Who is your favourite author and if you had to pick just one book which would it be?


Comments on: "Books- August 22" (22)

  1. I could t possibly pick a favourite book and not only one favour author either. I’ve read thousands of books and just can’t!
    I’ve added The Lonely Londoners and Our Endless Numbered Days to my TBR shelf on GoodReads. Great recommendations!

  2. Carol in Texas said:

    I think Wolf Hall is one of my all time favorite books. I loved every word of it. But I did not enjoy as much the second and third books of the trilogy, but I so enjoy British history that they were enjoyable reading. The PBS series made from Wolf Hall was excellent. Another of my favorite books is News of the World set in Texas, my home state. It is a wonderful period story beautifully written by a Texas writer. I have put The Ruin on reserve to pick up next week. I’ll see how I like a good Irish mystery. Our book club is reading The Second Mrs. Astor this month. It is interesting to read about life among the super wealthy….and about the Titanic disaster. I always enjoy reading your book reviews!

  3. That is a good number and quality of books read and recommended. I’m looking forward to doing similar over summer from the comfort of my sofa and airconditioning!

  4. Sounds like some great reads! My new favorite author is Louise Erdrich and I would read her book The Sentence over and over again. I think there is so much to get out of it each re-reading.

  5. Such great reviews. I enjoyed the Beckman too. Jane Austen is a perennial favorite. One of my favorite reads is any of M.M. Kaye’s three epic novels: The Far Pavilions, Shadow of the Moon and Trade Winds. The history, the characters, they truly come alive. Her mystery novels were fun reads and much shorter.

  6. I think I’ve read everything that Fredrik Backman wrote. I had the same reaction to Ove and was so glad I stuck with it as well. You have a really good list here. I just want more reading time.

  7. I have enjoyed Claire Fuller’s writing a lot. I also just finished The Colony which was also very good.

  8. I read (and enjoyed) The Ruin a couple of years ago……wasn’t so keen on the second one in the series though, There’s a third so maybe I’ll try that sometime.
    I don’t really have favourite authors, I seem to find an author I like then read as much of their works as I can. Having enjoyed Rebecca and ‘Gatsby’ recently next year’s quest is to read as much Daphne du Maurier and F.Scott Fitzgerald as I can find.

  9. claire93 said:

    I’m having a binge on fantasy/steampunk at the moment, and by various French authors so I won’t bother giving you names & titles ^^ However, I’m definitely going to add the Claire Fuller one to my “must read” list.

  10. Claire Fuller is a very interesting writer. I’d recommend Bitter Orange and Unsettled Ground as well. I haven’t read her Swimming Lessons yet. Favourite authors include Anne Tyler and Margaret Atwood. I’m currently doing a slow and deep read of Anna Karenina, and finding it completely absorbing – the psychological complexity of the characters is beautifully executed.

    • Bitter Orange was the one that was supposed to be in the library which I couldn’t locate. Always possible someone borrowed it after I checked and before I arrived. I agree about Anne Tyler and Margaret Atwood. I’ve read Anna Karenina a couple of times. I love authors who manage to take you right into the narrative and location. I felt very sorry for Anna.

  11. We have such different taste in books but I always enjoy your reviews. ☺️ I loved Beartown by Fredrik Backman but couldn’t get into A Man Called Ove, and I know other people have said the reverse. With regards to favourites, I think Wuthering Heights is probably my favourite book, I’ve reread it more than any other and still find it gripping because Heathcliff is such a lunatic 😂, but my favourite living writer is probably Leigh Bardugo and Ninth House is my favourite book by her. Both books are fairly atypical of my reading taste but captivated me.

    • Wuthering Heights is very good. I always liked the heroine’s name! Heathcliff is certainly complex and apparently the story of a boy being brought to Haworth from the Liverpool docks was based on a real event. Love to know what happened to him as a boy. Certainly a magnificent tale of Revenge. Just requested Ninth House, thank you for recommending it.

  12. Just ordered Our Endless Summer Days after reading this – sounds interesting! If I had to get just one book ever – that’s a difficult question – I loved Night Circus by Erin Morgenstein, so it might be that one or maybe Room With A View by EM Forster – such a romantic and proper book made me wish I lived then

    • Agree about both these books which I have read. Night Circus is outside my normal genre but I enjoyed it. Important to keep an open mind.

      • I don’t usually go for fantasy either – can’t beat a good psycological thriller on a day to day basis. I have no idea why I even picked up Night Circus and don’t fancy her next book. Weird eh!

  13. Excellent books, Cathy! I have not read that Mantel book yet, but I have it on my TBR list! My favorite author… I love Pat Conroy… especially Beach Music and South of Broad. He tells an incredible story!

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