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Posts tagged ‘Susan Hill’

March Books- 2019

Lots more good reads this month, including two new authors for me, and two favourites.

Peter James- You are dead- A new author for me who has written a lot, so that’s good news. A who done it. Well crafted although the perpetrator is rather weird as is his mode operandi.  A tad gruesome, but I shall look out for him in the library.

Tracy Chevalier Remarkable Creatures- Ms Chevalier is one of my favourite authors.  If I find a book by her I will read it, and I found this whilst doing the shelving in the library. It tells the story of Elizabeth Philpot and Mary Anning, and I bet you never heard of either of them, and shame on us, well me anyway. Elizabeth Philpot moved with her two sisters to Lyme Regis in the early 1800s. They originally came from London but on the death of their parents and the marriage of their brother and sister, there was insufficient family money to maintain them in London, so to Lyme Regis they came. One sister Louise became interested in gardening and botany. Margaret loved socializing but also made hand creams, to great acclaim. Elizabeth became interested in fossils, in particular fossil fish. Looking for them on the beach she met and befriended Mary Anning. Mary Anning was a top-notch spotter of fossils and made a living with her family selling the curios. In time she started to discover “monsters” which were snapped up by collectors. Mary was extremely knowledgeable about the fossils she found. Now  have added this book to my top 100 books , and here’s why. The collectors of the fossils assumed not only ownership of them but also the credit for discovering them. Mary was treated as a kind of  servant! papers were presented by collectors at the Geological society to which women could not even enter. Ms Chevalier makes the point that quarrymen Subsequently found the fossils but who knows their name? Anyway Mary Anning did get some recognition during her lifetime and in 2010 the Royal Society listed her as one of the ten top women to have contributed to scientific knowledge, a  little patronising but better than nothing. I think girls should read this just to let them know that once women really had so few opportunities in life and they should value education and the chances they enjoy. If the Handmaids Tale warns us of a possible future this book reminds us of what was. and apart from anything else the book is set in lovely Dorset at the time Jane Austin visited Lyme and indeed patronised the shop of Mary Anning’s father. A good read. Here’s a link for more information on Mary Anning

Susan Hill-The Beacon- Another of my favourite authors. A short book. A small isolated farmhouse in which May and her mother live. First we read May’s story and then we read of the book her brother Frank wrote describing their childhood and that of their brother Colin and sister Berenice. Oh my the web of lies and the damage done! A good read.

Patricia Highsmith- Carol- now a film with Cate Blanchett. This was written in the 1950s and originally appeared under a pen name such is the controversial theme of the book. Today it reads very tame indeed. Therese has a temp job one Christmas in a department store, carol is a customer to whom she is drawn. The first part of the story is her getting to know Carol and the end of a relationship with Richard. Carol is going through a bitter divorce and custody battle. Carol and Therese take a road trip. Custody battle lost because of Therese. Will they give each other up. Too be honest I found it a bit tedious, but I read to  the end. Of it’s time.

Kate Ellis- Walking by Night- A new author for me, gleaned from a fellow book loving blogger. A who dun it, of the best order. Set in York, and most enjoyable. Lots of easy to identify places and the only annoyance is why make the streets and landmarks so easily identifiable and then change the names, just so irritating. But I shall read more by this author. A good read to end the month.

Have you read any of these and did you enjoy them? Would you have been annoyed by name changes to a very familiar city, or is it just me?

Please tell me about anything you are reading and please feel free to leave a link to any book related post you have written.


Five Favourite Reads from 2017.

It’s usually hard to choose a top five favourite reads from the last year , but in 2017 five books made my top 100, so the task is easier.

5 Susan Hill- In the Springtime of the Year – an early novel from this author. A very young bride looses her husband in a fatal accident. Deals with the themes of grief, survival, but I loved it for its lyrical qualities in describing the countryside.

4 Joanne Harris- Blackberry Wine-an utterly charming book in the vein of Chocolat. Young boy Jay befriends an old man Joe, an ex miner, a whizz of a gardener, herbalist and wine maker. Years later Jay writes a best seller based around Joe. Then Jay moves to France, nearly spoils the idyllic life he finds there and discovers his soul.

3 John Boyne- A History of Loneliness- Irish catholic church, the abuse of power and the dangers of submission and wilful delusion. Excellent.

2 Ian McEwan- Atonement-  1935, a single very hot and languid day which takes half the book to describe, ends in a crime. Part two concerns a group of soldiers trudging towards Dunkirk in WW2. Part three, a London Hospital coping with the returning soldiers, so powerfully written. Part four- how it all ended. A very good read indeed.

1 Gerald Durrell- The Corfu Trilogy The trilogy of books on which the TV series The Durrells was based. I read this on holiday in Greece during  the” 30 days wild challenge ” in June. The books are laugh out loud funny. The nature content is superb but it must be remembered that the book was written in the 1930’s and Gerald was a naturalist, not the conservationist he is portrayed as on the telly. This was the perfect book to read in June, on holiday during the challenge. It was very Funny, and my absolute number favourite from last year.

Does anyone else have an absolute favourite book they read last year? I love suggestions for a good read as you know.

Books – July 2017

I have recently begun a short online course run by Edinburgh University through Future Learn. You can do this course for free but I am giving serious consideration to paying over hard cash for an upgrade to give me unlimited access to the material, as I have enjoyed the first week so much. It’s called “How to Read a Novel”. Which you might think was self-evident , but I have realised that by rushing from story to story I am missing out in so much more. The last book I read this month was the Joanne Harris, I list them in the order that I read them, I just feel now that I want to re read this book, to see how she managed to send me off in the wrong direction. Anyway there is still time to sign up for this course, as it is only 4 weeks long,  the second week only just started, and you can still access week one. Here’s the link. Future Learn, How to Read a Novel

John Updike- The Afterlife- A collection of short stories and a book from the heap. An author one is supposed to like, but to whom I did not warm. The writing is good, and I had a sense of place which to me is important, but not a sense of love for place. The stories all concern the end of things, life and relationships between lovers, married couples, parents and children. The stories were all too realistic of the futility of us all, and so I found it rather depressing . The only one I really enjoyed was called A Sandstone Farmhouse, which had some warmth in it.I would love to know what others think of this author. I have another in the heap by the bed of his called The Farm, which concerns the same farmhouse and people so that is a relief! I think it will be a while before I get round to reading it though.

I am nearly coming to the end of my heap challenge and I figure if I read 1.25 books from the heap I will have finished it, as long as I don’t add to it in the meantime. Just why am I compelled to buy more books when I have a very good library to go too?

The rest are Library books.

Susan Hill-  A Kind Man- a short novel, beautifully crafted as ever. Similar setting to other books she has written, just wonderful. Themes again are life, love, birth, death, illness etc. Superb, just try one of her books for me.

Linwood Barclay- Broken Promise- big thanks to the blogger(s) who recommended this author to me. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, the first in a trilogy. Basically a returning to his home town journalist investigates the mystery of the angel who gave his cousin a baby.

Robert Harris- Conclave- An interesting and enjoyable read, as the Cardinals are locked in Conclave for 72 hours whilst they elect the next Pope. A disappointing end, which I won’t give away here, but if you want to know more, please look in my Page above on Books. Be interested to know if anyone else has read this one, and for their thoughts.

Joanne Harris- Different Class. Two narrators, one a former pupil and one a teacher ,relate a past event through the changes a new Head is making to an old style Grammar School. Described as a masterpiece of misdirection by Val McDermid, I can only agree.

So have you read any good books recently. I keep a note of recommendations for my trips to the Library, so look forward to reading your comments.

June books.

It seems that June was a good month for reading, lots of really good books. And one gone from the heap by the bed. And something more for the 30 days wild challenge.

Alan Bennett- The Lady in the Van- extracts from his diary concerning Miss Shepherd who parked her camper van in his garden and lived there for the next 20 years. Also a film of the same name with Maggie Smith. (One from the heap by my bed).

Tracy Chevalier- The Virgin Blue- a thoroughly good read, which reminded me a lot of the books by Kate Mosse. Set in France and Switzerland. across two time periods, highlighting the religious conflict between Catholics and Huguenots.  One of the best books I have read this year.

Ann Cleeves- Cold Earth-she never disappoints, one from the Shetland series

Gerald Durrell- The Corfu Trilogy- My reading matter on the Kindle on holiday in Greece. Fitted in perfectly with my Go Wild Challenge. The books formed the basis of The Durrells, a TV programme. The books were very funny indeed and had me laughing out loud many ,many times. Lots of natural history , but, the Durrells lived in Corfu in the 1930’s when the attitude to natural history is very different to what it is now. The TV series completely changed this aspect of the book. Gerry in book raids birds nests for eggs, steals baby birds to hand rear, steals a tortoise egg and blows it for his collection, mounts butterflies and moths etc etc. Never the less a really good read and perfect for this holiday whilst taking the 30 days wild challenge.

Susan Hill-From the Heart-Really enjoyed this book, my favourite this year, so far. Set I think in the 1950’s and covering topics of female education, the love that dares not speak its name, birth and adoption.

Susan Hill- In the Springtime of the Year- This was written in 1970, and so is an early novel from this author. I found it languishing in the Yorkshire section of the Library, no idea why, it seems wrong as most people wouldn’t look in Local History/ walks/ countryside for a novel. I am so glad I found it lurking there. The protagonist is a 19-year-old bride. The book themes are love, grief and survival. I would guess the setting is between the wars or immediately afterwards. The writing is sublime, the lyrical quality of the descriptions of the countryside are beautiful. I loved this book, so much so it makes it onto my top 100 list. The best book, even better than the previous one, this year.. so far

I kept a diary during June for the 30 days wild challenge. I was no way as thorough as I was when I kept this nature diary for three school terms aged 11, eventually winning the nature diary prize which was open to the top two junior years. Mum kept it safe for me and it is rather a lovely thing to have and to look back on, during June.

So anyone read any good books lately? I am re reading The Mayor of Casterbridge on the Kindle. I studied it for A levels, and I must admit it is far more enjoyable to read for pleasure than to read for an exam.

After thoughts. Just want to say a big thank you for all the encouraging comments on Friday’s post. I am down in Wales at the moment, visitng my Mum and brother and feeling proud of myself in a B&B . Mr E is at home doing chap things, mowing the lawn, setting up minature railways at an agricultue show and going to car boot sales. He lent me his internet gizmo and after some effort tonight I have managed to get it working, ALL BY MYSELF, hence this post at a late hour by me. Had a super day today with Mum and brother who ( brother and sil that is, not mum) , has just moved into a new house but new bedroom furniture not yet delivered, hence the B&B. What I am really wanting to say is that I have spent the day watching buzzards and red kites. No photos, but what a way to end the 30 days wild challenge with. And there is hot chocolate to drink in the room. Hurrah.




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