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gertrude

November 2017

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reading

November Books

glassblower

In These Times, Jenny Uglow
An Eye for a Tooth, Dornford Yates
Red in the Morning, Dornford Yates
The Cornish Coast Murder , John Bude
Cover Your Eyes , Adele Geras
The Glassblower, by Petra Durst-Benning and Samuel Willcocks (translator)
Cost Price, Dornford Yates

There’s a new deal for Amazon Prime members, called Kindle First. Every month there’s a choice of free book, which can be read pre-publication. I chose The Glassblower and I loved it. It’s set in the glass blowing village of Lauscha, Thuringia, at the end of the nineteenth century. Johanna, Ruth and Marie Steinmann live with their widowed father, Joost, helping him by finishing the pharmaceutical jars he specialises in. When Joost dies suddenly, the three sisters have to find a new way of making a living.

At first they work for another glassblower in the village, for a pittance they can barely live on. They all dream of better things: Ruth of love and marriage, Johanna of a well organised business and Marie of using her artistic talents. Once she is left alone in the house Marie begins experimenting with her painting and then plucks up the courage to try glassblowing herself. Eventually some of her lovely things are bought by a certain American, Mr Woolworth, and life changes for all three women.

This book is the first in a trilogy and I shall be reading the next book when it’s out. It’s rare to read a modern book which is just a good story, without any past mysteries to be explained. I’m usually so picky about the use of inappropriate language. I don’t think people at that time used ‘even’ in the way it’s crept into speech today, as in, ‘what is even the point’, yet somehow it didn’t bother me. Nor did I care if there were in reality any female glassblowers then. I was fascinated by the glassblowing process and the lovely things the women made and wondered what the future would hold for them.

An Eye for a Tooth is a retrospective, coming between Blind Corner and Blood Royal. It was published in wartime and the dedication states that people like the Germans will never beat ‘people like us.' (!) It’s exceptionally violent. In Red in the Morning, Chandos and Mansel are in the Pyrenees again. Chandos is now married to Jenny (see She Fell Among Thieves) who is really a Jill clone. They are completely outside the law as usual. ‘You have laid hands on my wife and for that the punishment is death.’ Would you credit it? Once Jenny is safely back in Wiltshire, living her sweet, natural life, yet another beautiful woman (this time a criminal) falls for Chandos. Really, the number of women who prefer brawn to brain is remarkable. Although they are as bad as each other when it comes to killing people, i.e. they seem to regard it as a duty, I wouldn’t look twice at Chandos if Mansel were around. They return to the killing fields of Austria (easy to get away with murder there, apparently) in Cost Price. This time they are trying to smuggle some priceless jewels out of the country, pursued by both a suave criminal and ‘a boche’. In order to do this, Chandos joins a circus as a strong man and a lovely circus girl …you guessed it.

I also re-read Three Men in a Boat for light relief after my nightly dose of Dornford Yates.

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