Log in


October 2015




RSS Atom
Powered by LiveJournal.com

Previous 10

Oct. 8th, 2015


National Poetry Day: Light

They are all Gone into the World of Light

They are all gone into the world of light!
And I alone sit ling’ring here;
Their very memory is fair and bright,
And my sad thoughts doth clear.

It glows and glitters in my cloudy breast,
Like stars upon some gloomy grove,
Or those faint beams in which this hill is drest,
After the sun’s remove.

Henry Vaughan

There’s lots more. I’ve always loved the line, ‘Like stars upon some gloomy grove’, which is why I picked this poem (or part of it).

Oct. 1st, 2015


September books

Murder on the Flying Scotsman, Carola Dunn
Damsel in Distress, Carola Dunn
Lois in Charge, Bessie Marchant
Chris in Command, Irene Mossop
Hazel, Head Girl, Nancy Breary
Dead in the Water, Carola Dunn
Margery Merton’s Girlhood, Alice Corkran
The Exciting Journey, Norman Dale
Rattle his Bones, Carola Dunn
To Davy Jones Below, Carola Dunn
The Case of the Murdered Muckraker, Carola Dunn
Boys of the Valley School, R A H Goodyear
Mistletoe and Murder, Carola Dunn
A Question of Inheritance, Elizabeth Edmondson
Die Laughing, Carola Dunn
A Mourning Wedding, Carola Dunn

Not very exciting, as I’ve written about several of these books already. No literary fiction at all this month; I’m right off it and preferring familiarity and reliable entertainment. Today I received this month’s offer of a free book for the Kindle. Six choices and every one seemed utterly depressing.

Plate from Hazel, Head Girl

Sep. 30th, 2015


A Question of Inheritance, Elizabeth Edmondson

I loved the first Very English Mystery Book , A Man of Some Repute, so I was delighted to find the second one was available from NetGalley. As soon as the story moved to the castle, I felt at home and among friends. I do love series (Daisy Dalrymple, Sidney Chambers) where each book contains a new mystery but at the same time follows the characters’ lives chronologically.

A Man of Some Repute ended with the Earl of Selchester’s mysterious disappearance explained and a hint that the inheritance of the castle might not be as straightforward as it had seemed. A Question of Inheritance opens with the current earl and his daughters travelling to their new home. He’s American, a scholar, and thoroughly nice, yet a series of potentially fatal ‘accidents’ suggest that someone has it in for him. Money-grubbing Sonia is also on her way to the castle, hoping to bag for herself some pictures which have been stored in an attic and never included in an inventory. Hugo has a new job investigating the possible involvement of an English officer in getting works of art out of Europe at the end of the war, as part of a deal getting new identities for former Nazis. A nasty, immoral business but is it connected to the castle? A murder gets Hugo, Freya and Georgia sleuthing again and Hugo has need of his old contacts and remembered tradecraft.

We’re not talking John le Carré here; I’m not suggesting these are very serious books about spies but the author makes the whole post-war atmosphere very convincing and a culture shock for the Americans. I couldn’t wait to start this book and read it far too quickly. Luckily, I see no reason why this series shouldn’t run and run. There are obviously more unpleasant things to be discovered about the late earl and have Hugo’s unorthodox investigations lost him his job? I can’t wait to find out.

The book is out at the end of October. Many thanks to NetGalley for giving me the chance to read it early.

Sep. 28th, 2015

school stories

Children’s books round up

Chris in Command, Irene Mossop (1930)
Hazel, Head Girl, Nancy Breary (1952)
Margery Merton’s Girlhood, Alice Corkran (1888)
The Exciting Journey, Norman Dale (1947)
Boys of the Valley School, R A H Goodyear (1925)

I’ve read several old children’s books this month, so here’s a little chat about them.

When I read Lois in Charge followed by Chris in Command and Hazel, Head Girl, I was going to say, ‘What a bossy lot!’ It turned out though that Hazel wasn’t bossy at all: in fact, not bossy enough. I must here fess up and say that I don’t much care for Nancy Breary, or find her books hilariously funny. She’s one of several authors about whom I disagree with Sims & Clare, much as I admire their book, kept permanently by my desk. In Hazel, Head Girl, Breary makes use of the well worn plotline of two schools merging, with resultant feuds and jealousies. Mill House and Dewpoint combine to form Hessington. The girls are determined to hate each other and stick to the habits (and uniform) of their old schools. Hazel, from Dewpoint, has been appointed head girl before term starts. Some people think this is because she’s a heroine. (She took over the controls of a plane after the pilot had a heart attack and landed it safely!) Unfortunately for her, Vice Captain Lydia (from Mill House), is determined to oust her and become head girl herself. Hazel doesn’t take a firm enough line over this rebellion and nasty Lydia nearly gets her way. The juniors are fiercely partisan and a bunch of silly little idiots. As so often in school stories, the girls seem to run everything, with teachers and lessons completely ignored. Hazel bravely struggles on, trying to persuade the girls to give their loyalty to their new school and become Hessington girls.
the restCollapse )

Sep. 26th, 2015

school stories

Winifred Darch

I commented this morning on Furrowed Middlebrow’s blog about how much I like Winifred Darch’s books, which Scott has been reading. So here, for no reason at all except that I like the covers, are some pics.

moreCollapse )

Sep. 21st, 2015


Another book bargain

Today’s Kindle 99p deal is Code Name Verity which is brilliant if harrowing.

Sep. 20th, 2015


Spider season

Quite thick fog this morning still hasn’t quite dispersed. Lots and lots of webs in the garden but this one is the most perfect.

Sep. 18th, 2015


It must be Autumn

Cotoneaster, Berberis, Pyracantha, Hypericum androsaemum (awful weed, IMO), Virginia creeper (I think). I even found a few hedgerow blackberries.
Tags: ,

Sep. 17th, 2015


Today’s Kindle deal is …

The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert. I liked it very much.

Also on offer is Mr Mac and Me, which I didn’t like at all.

Sep. 7th, 2015

school stories

Lois in Charge, Bessie Marchant

It’s ages since I read anything by the prolific Bessie Marchant, famed for giving her heroines a hard time in exotic locations. In this book, Lois lives on a coffee plantation in Brazil. From the start it’s difficult to work out all the complications of her family with its half sisters and a stepbrother who really isn’t. A friend tells Lois that she’s never known such a muddled up family. I eventually worked it out like this. Mrs Scarsdale had a son, Jim, and another child who died at the same time as his father. She then married Mr Murray and they had three beautiful daughters. When she died, leaving her girls very well off, Mr Murray married the governess and Lois is their daughter. It’s heavily pointed out several times that Jim is ‘no kin at all’ to Lois, and you can guess why.

Unlike her sisters, Lois is not beautiful (they call her Cinderella) and she knows she’s not very clever, either. She is however very practical and quite a feminist because she wants to work (this book dates from 1919). She’s annoyed by Jim’s critical attitude to her working on the ranch and seeming to want women to be merely ornamental. ‘She tried to imagine a world peopled only by ornamental women, but failed so utterly that she had to fall back on the other side of the picture, and imagine for herself what the world would be like if every girl and woman lived up to the capacity within her, and tried to do her very best in the situation in which she had been placed. But the situation was too Utopian even for the fertile fancy of Lois;’

All is not well amongst the coffee growers because of the evil Black Hand Gang, which blackmails ranch owners into handing over considerable sums of dosh and killing them if they don’t oblige. Jim has his own ranch up river from the Murray’s and suddenly disappears. Lois, who has helped her father for so long that she knows a lot about plantation work, steps into the breach and starts to tackle the manager, whose cruelty to the workers appals her. She finds that Jim has had a warning letter from the gang, which explains his disappearance. She is convinced he is alive but fails to see what is blindingly obvious to the reader but which I won’t reveal. If you can look beyond some of the racial attitudes and snobbery in this book, it’s rather a good read about the triumph of hard work and common sense over idleness and frivolity.

Previous 10