callmemadam (callmemadam) wrote,

October Books

First, many thanks for all the get well messages, which were much appreciated; sorry if I haven’t always replied. The Clarithromycin seems to be kicking in and I'm better enough to post. I think at least two other people on my Flist are taking the same thing? This is the unhealthiest autumn for a long time. Anyway, Wolf Hall and much .

The Little Stranger, Sarah Waters *L

The Lost Garden, Helen Humphreys*L

Their Finest Hour and a Half, Lissa Evans *L

Highland Fling, Katie Fforde
I’ve read better books by Katie Fforde but it was still entertaining.

Lucky Him, Richard Bradford *L

A Winter’s Tale, Trisha Ashley *L

The House That is Our Own, O Douglas. Bedtime reread

Lucky Jim, Kingsley Amis. Still makes me laugh out loud.

The Burry Man’s Day, Catriona McPherson *L. The second Dandy Gilver novel. I love these books. Dandy’s maid Grant is wonderful as ever and I was glad when co-investigator Alec arrived on the scene. There really is a Burry Man tradition. I’ve always been terrified by the Green Man and the picture here of the Burry Man really gave me the willies!

Sarah Morris Remembers, D E Stevenson. A lucky find recently of a title I hadn’t read. I do regret having had so many and got rid of them! Rather downbeat for this author and I had trouble getting through it.

Happy Returns, Angela Thirkell. Reread entirely while eating lunches. Not one of her best but I read on. How did she do it?

The Closed Book & other Stories, Dorothy Whipple
I don’t usually enjoy short stories but loved this book.

Jennings’ Diary, Anthony Buckeridge. Another reliable laugh out loud read. ‘Mr Wilkins Missing Link’; sinister Selbanev; Retrac Retsim. Ha ha ha!

The Fingerprint (Miss Silver), Patricia Wentworth. How lucky that I still have plenty of these to read.
The Gazebo (Miss Silver), Patricia Wentworth.
These two are 1950s stories and I liked them because 1) they were set in a gossiping female environment 2) Miss Silver arrives early in the story. I get irritated by the way Frank Abbott always goes for the wrong suspect, for Miss Silver to prove him wrong. How did he stay in his job? Most of my copies of Miss Silver books are old paperbacks with browning pages and small print so it was a pleasure to read these modern ones.

Ballet Shoes, Noel Streatfeild. After watching the TV film yet again. There’s so much wrong with the film but it’s still a comfort watch for me.

Agatha Raisin and the Wizard of Evesham, M C Beaton. He’s a hairdresser!

A Dream of Sadler’s Wells, Lorna Hill
Veronica at the Wells, Lorna Hill
Oh, Sebastian!

Agatha Raisin and the Witch of Wyckhadden, M C Beaton

Fletchers’ End, D E Stevenson
Another lucky find. I much preferred this to Sarah Morris. It’s a sequel to Bel Lamington and describes how she and her new husband buy a perfect old house and do it up. Lovely.

Wolf Hall, Hilary Mantel *L
I started this, then half way through it became too heavy to read lying down so I abandoned it. Temporarily? I haven’t decided.

In case anyone doesn’t yet know, this is the story of the rise and fall of Thomas Cromwell. It’s very well written, flows along and gives a good feeling of the period. I really hate that it’s written in the historic present tense (or present historic, if you prefer), a trend with all modern history reporting which I deplore.

The point of view of the book is rational and Protestant, with Cromwell as a man we can understand, although he does seem over-talented. This Cromwell who could do anything reminded me of Frank Zappa’s Studebaker Hoch, who was rumoured to be able to write the Lord’s Prayer on the head of a pin. Thomas More is portrayed as a fanatical madman, which I rather like (R W Chambers must be turning in his grave). Hilary Mantel is very good on the workings of government when not just favour and promotion but life itself depend on the whim of a man with absolute power; Henry VIII might as well be Stalin. This book should be compared not with The Tudors or The Other Boleyn Girl but with The Thick of It or A Very British Coup. Tudor government: ‘It seems immoral but we have to please the French king.’ British government today: ‘It seems immoral but we have to please Barrack Obama.’

So will I pick it up again? I’m not sure there’s any point. Where is this going, exactly? I *know* the story, I know just what will happen, every Act of Parliament that will help it happen. So what can it tell me that’s new? For people who love long historical novels, this is a cracker. For myself, I think I’d rather burrow around in Tudor state papers.

Speaking of long historical novels, there’s one which gives a completely contrasting view of the Reformation. It’s The Man on a Donkey by H F M Prescott, about that doomed rebellion the Pilgrimage of Grace. It centred on York and interestingly Mantel has Cromwell regard Yorkshire as a place of savagery. I won’t actually recommend the book as I read it when I was at school and don’t know what I’d make of it now.
Tags: catriona mcpherson, d e stevenson, h f m prescott, hilary mantel, patricia wentworth
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