New to me books

Books Febrauary 2019

Nine more books entered my house the other day. I say that as if they did it of their own volition, bursting in the front door like gatecrashers, but I must admit that it’s entirely my fault that my TBR piles continue to multiply. A visit to Edinburgh’s Stockbridge area usually leads to me buying more books although my pre-Christmas visit was disappointing, if I’m remembering correctly. I made up for that this time.

Anyway I bought:

The Cheval Glass by Ursula Bloom (1973)
Send a Fax to the Kasbah by Dorothy Dunnett (1991)
Dolly Dialogues by Anthony Hope (1896)
Excellent Intentions by Richard Hull (1938)
Master and Commander by Patrick O’Brian (1970)
Secret Water by Arthur Ransome (!939)
The School at Thrush Green by Miss Read (1987)
Summer at Fairacre by Miss Read (1984)
The Sleeping Army by Francesca Simon (2011)

2019 February Books

It’s quite a mixture. I had thought that Dorothy Dunnett had only written historical fiction but Send a Fax to the Kasbah was contemporary in its day. The blurb on this book says: This highly pertinent look at the world of big business in the last decade of the twentieth century presents Dorothy Dunnett at the very top of her form. Mind you, as it was first published in 1991 and uses the word ‘fax’ in the title it will probably seem quite historical now.

To me Anthony Hope was the author of The Prisoner of Zenda and I had never heard of Dolly Dialogues but it seems that it’s an amusing read – so I could use it to count towards the humorous classic in the Back to the Classics Challenge. I bought this one for £2 but people are asking silly prices for it on the internet.

I always buy British Library Crime Classics when I see them in secondhand bookshops, sometimes the cover is the most impressive thing about the books. So far the mysteries have only been about 50% good and I’m left thinking that there must be better crime classics which are more deserving of being reprinted. I think that Excellent Intentions will be a good one though.

Master and Commander is the first in a series of books by Patrick O’Brian. I believe they feature the ship HMS Surprise, that’s mainly why I want to read the series as one of my ancestors was transported to Australia for sedition (it was a fit up!), and I just recently discovered that he was transported there on The Surprise.

The Sleeping Army is aimed at older children but it is described by Jacqueline Wilson as ‘a wildly original, rollicking twist on Norse mythology.’

The Miss Read books are for when the news is driving me crazy and I can’t settle to read anything that might not be a nice gentle read. The blurb says: ‘She conjures up scenes of thatch, hollyhocks and lovable eccentricities which the world recognises as the epitome of Englishness.’

Have you read any of these ones?

Christmas with Miss Read

I’ve only read a few books by Miss Read although I’ve been familiar with the books for donkey’s years. In the past I had to censor books from the library for my mother-in-law and her mother as they were very genteel ladies and easily shocked, but I knew I was on safe ground with Miss Read books and I could safely give them to my m-i-l, who had led such a sheltered life that she was over 60 before she realised what the ‘eff’ word actually meant!

Anyway, I decided to read this omnibus of Christmas and winter season books and short stories to try to get me in the mood for the festive season. They’re all from her Fairacre series and mainly revolve around the village school and although I always thought of these books as being twee in the extreme, the storylines often deal with quite serious subjects, such as disturbed children from dysfunctional backgrounds. In fact they are good depictions of the life of a teacher, as of course teaching is just one part of the job, they end up being unpaid social workers and nurses too. The novels and stories span the years from 1949 – 1979.

In a way these stories did help me to get in the mood for Christmas, which is just as well as it’s very soon now. They are well written and observed from Dora Saint’s (Miss Read) own experiences as a teacher, but I think they’re seen as being quite lightweight when they aren’t really. It’s what I call (I just typed that and realised that it makes me sound exactly like Miranda Harts’s mum! ho hum) – it’s what I call Waltons Syndrome, as The Waltons was a by-word for schmaltz and sentimentality when in actual fact if you ever watched it you’ll realise that it was far more realistic than that. The family members were often at daggers drawn and even Grandma and Grandpa were more often than not at war with each other and wouldn’t even be on speaking terms.

I read this as part of Judith@ Reader in the Wilderness Christmas Open House If you click the link you’ll see some more Christmas book post links.