20 Books of Summer 2017 update

I’m doing quite well with my 20 Books of Summer 2017 list this year although I had meant to do a bit of a half-way roundup before now. I have veered slightly from the list for various reasons, but I’m still hopeful of finding my copy of Sir Walter Scott’s Redgauntlet before September. I did a fatal tidy up before some visitors arrived and now that book is lost in the stacks which is very annoying as before that I knew exactly where it was – on the floor!

1. London Match by Len Deighton
2. I Claudius by Robert Graves
3. Highland River by Neil M. Gunn
4. The Demon in the House by Angela Thirkell
5. The Dove of Venus by Olivia Manning
6. City of the Mind by Penelope Lively
7. The Progress of a Crime by Julian Symons
8. Antidote to Venom by Freeman Wills Crofts
9. This Rough Magic by Mary Stewart
10. Flowers for the Judge by Margery Allingham
11. Claudius the God by Robert Graves
12. Pied Piper by Nevil Shute
13. Miss Ranskill Comes Home by Barbara Euphan Todd
14. Katherine Wentworth by D.E. Stevenson
15. The Bertie Project by Alexander McCall Smith
16. A Memorial Service by J.I.M. Stewart
17. The Madonna of the Astrolabe by J.I.M. Stewart
18. Redgauntlet by Sir Walter Scott
19. High Rising by Angela Thirkell
20. Wild Strawberries by Angela Thirkell

Miss Ranskill Comes Home by Barbara Euphan Todd

Miss Ranskill Comes Home cover

My copy of Miss Ranskill Comes Home by Barbara Euphan Todd is a Persephone reprint and it was first published in 1946. I was surprised to learn that the author wrote lots of children’s books including the Worzel Gummidge books, but under the name Barbara Bowers.

I’ve had a few disappointments with Persephone books but this one was a real page turner, for me anyway.

It begins with Miss Ranskill digging a grave for her companion the Carpenter, they had both separately been washed up on a desert island and for a few years they had been living on fish and sea birds, keeping their fire going and building a boat, hoping to escape the island. Sadly the Carpenter died before they could set sail and it’s left to Miss Ranskill to cast herself off on her own.

Miraculously she is rescued by a British merchant ship, and you would think that her problems would be over, but they’re just beginning. For one thing World War 2 broke out while she was on the island and it has been going on for over three years. Miss Ranskill (Nona) finds herself in a totally alien society, she knows nothing of rationing and coupons, air-raids or black-outs. She’s so out of place at ‘home’ that people assume that she must be a spy working for the Germans.

As Miss Ranskill had fallen overboard from a liner (whilst trying to retrieve a hat she didn’t even like) she has been presumed dead and her will has been proved, everything is so different from what she had expected of her return. Nona’s sister seems hardly bothered by her return from the dead but the family dog is happy to see her. Eventually she does come up with a solution for her predicament, and at the same time helps others whose lives have been turned upside-down by war.

Nona Ranskill is a really likeable character and the book is very entertaining, it’s a real pity that this is the only book for adults that the author wrote. I’m now tempted to seek out he Worzel Gummidge books, I never read any as a child although I watched it on TV. Have you read any of the books?

The endpapers are from a cotton textured fabric which was designed for Helios by Graham Sutherland, and it’s called Sutherland Rose. I had no idea he had designed fabric, but I can’t say I’m all that struck on it.

Sutherland Rose

My Christmas Books

books 1

I’m thankful to be able to say that most of the gifts I got at Christmas were either books or book related, in fact I got so many I think I’ll be doing two posts on my haul.

I went a bit Dorothy Dunnett mad and decided to collect her Niccolo series, I hope I enjoy them.

As it gets towards Christmas I just tell Jack to wrap up any books that I buy in second-hand bookshops, most of the time I forget what the books are by the time it comes to unwrapping them at Christmas so it’s still a surprise, the kind I like. I really don’t enjoy real surprises as sometimes they turn into real shocks!

The Gaudy by J.I.M. Stewart
The Young Patullo by J.I.M. Stewart
The Madonna of the Astrolabe by J.I.M. Stewart
Papa La-Bas by John Dickson Carr
Black Narcissus by Rumer Godden
Mary Poppins in the Park by P.L. Travers
Miss Ranskill Comes Home by Barbara Euphan Todd
Words of Mercury by Patrick Leigh Fermor

and by Dorothy Dunnett:

Niccolo Rising
The Spring of the Ram
The Unicorn Hunt

I didn’t read the Mary Poppins books as a child and after enjoying the film Saving Mr Banks at Christmas about P.L Travers’s relationship with Walt Disney and the making of Mary Poppins I thought it was about time I rectified that and luckily I found an old copy in St Andrews.

This year I plan to concentrate on reading my own books!