This is the book which I should have taken with me on our recent jaunt in the north-east of England.
It’s a book of 49 short stories by Saki and I know that a lot of people just don’t like reading short stories but after the disappointment of The Man Who Was Thursday by G K Chesterton, this was just what I needed.
The cover has this comment by Graham Greene: “They dazzle and delight” – and I agree with him. Saki had a great talent for writing entertaining and funny stories which are sometimes only two and a half pages long but it’s amazing what he was able to do with so few words.
It’s a shame that even although he had suffered from ill health his whole life and he was 44 years old, he still felt the need to join up during World War 1 to “do his bit” and of course, he didn’t survive.
He was born in Burma as his father was in the Burma Police, but as you can imagine, with his real name being Hector Hugh Munro there is obviously a lot of Scottish blood there – another Celtic storyteller!
I was lucky enough to be given a copy of The Gathering Night by Margaret Elphinstone for my birthday. This photograph of me reading it in our garden makes me look a bit weird I think, worryingly my husband thinks I look normal in it.
I was also given The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher by Kate Summerscale which is about a true murder mystery which took place in 1860 and inspired Wilkie Collins and other writers.
Last but not least is a lovely book, Plants in Garden History by Penelope Hobhouse. It’s beautifully illustrated if you like plants, flowers and garden plans.
I can’t resist visiting second-hand bookshops which are quite thin on the ground in this area but when I was in St Andrews I bought myself:
Hungry Hill by Daphne du Maurier as I am trying to read all of hers.
Moonfleet by J.Meade Falkner. It’s a classic tale of mystery and adventure in a Dorset smuggling village. For some reason I love smuggling tales.
The Best of Saki (Hector Hugh Munro) who was killed in the trenches in the First World War. It’s a book of short stories.
Last but not least School for Love by Olivia Manning. I’ve been meaning to read more of her books. I read and loved The Balkan Trilogy and The Levant Trilogy. The BBC serialised The Balkan Trilogy as The Fortunes of War in 1987 starring Emma Thompson and Kenneth Branagh. I think anyone interested in WW2 would love these books.
I was given lots of DVDs by Duncan and I was especially pleased to get The Shipping News. I read the book recently and was so immersed in it that I really missed it when it was finished, so now I can revisit the story via the film. It’s too soon for a re-read.
So, as you can see I was a very lucky birthday girl and that TBR pile just keeps growing.