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January 2019



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November Books

A much shorter list this month; a good thing, due to not being flaked out on the sofa, ill.

Welcome to the World, Baby Girl!, Fannie Flagg
The Lost Art of Gratitude , Alexander McCall Smith *L
Corduroy Mansions , Alexander McCall Smith *L

Adventure on Ponies, Eileen Meyler
Discovered by huskyteer in a charity shop. I’d never heard of this book, a late reprint of a 1959 title, with an unpromising cover. To my surprise, I enjoyed it a lot, especially as it’s set in Corfe so has lots of local interest. I then found that it’s the third of seven books about the same family, so I’ll look out for the others.
It seems old fashioned even for its time. There are four Elwood children; their father is a soldier (Colonel Elwood) and often away. They live in Westchester, which I take to be Winchester and have a holiday cottage in Corfe. The family is looked after by Nan and Miggy the cook. When they go to Corfe, Mrs Hayward next door ‘obliges’. In spite of all this they are an agreeable lot. Johnnie is the main character, a Katy Carr-ish sort of girl, careless of her appearance, heedless and rash, often regretting her bad behaviour. At the same time she’s very romantic; she enjoys reading The Wide, Wide World and listening to sentimental old songs enjoyed by Miggy, like Just A Song At Twilight. I liked these touches.

Freda C Bond
The End House,
The Lancasters at Lynford,
Susan and Priscilla

Howards End is on the Landing , Susan Hill *L

An Expert in Murder, Nicola Upson
Dramatist and crime writer Josephine Tey becomes involved in a murder case. Strange format in which some real life characters (Josephine Tey) are named, while others (John Gielgud) are thinly disguised. I found it rather slow and was irritated by a couple of anachronisms. It’s promising, though, and I hope the author will write something better.

Magic Flutes, Eva Ibbotson
Vienna and Eva Ibbotson, what better combination? Sadly, I was disappointed in this compared with others I’ve read. Tessa, princess of ancient lineage but republican at heart is obsessed with music and works herself ragged for an opera company. Guy, Tyneside foundling and self-made millionaire is obsessed with a beautiful but money-grubbing woman. These two are obviously made for each other and it’s only a question of how it can be brought about with so many stumbling blocks in the way. I found the book plodded to its conclusion and the antics of the ramshackle International Opera Company were straight out of Bullet in the Ballet. It’s also a good example of having it both ways. She may be a democratic little republican but it’s Tessa’s birth and breeding which score.

After the Armistice Ball, Catriona McPherson
At last I’ve read the first in the Dandy Gilver series and it didn’t disappoint. I’ll be comparing this with Mrs Tim of the Regiment by D E Stevenson, my current bed time reading.

Blood at the Bookies, Simon Brett

I’ve read a lot of M C Beaton’s Agatha Raisin books, finding them silly but light, easy reads which work well as a series. People have told me the Hamish Macbeth books are better, so I wondered whether to invest in this great offer from The Book People. Now that I’ve read Death of a Scriptwriter*L, I don’t think I’ll bother, just get them from the library when I can.



Dandy Gilver novels (and others)

I have read the first three of the Dandy Gilver series and I enjoyed the first and third but not so much the Burryman's Day (I've not checked my spelling of this, so please excuse me if I have it incorrect.)
I have tried the first of the Simon Brett series about two amateur sleuths (whose names are long forgotten) and thought it worse than the Agatha Raison novels. If you want cosy crime, there is none better than Hazel Holt.
I read almost to the last few pages of the Nicola Upson ... it had had good reviews and so I thought it must just be me who thought it wasn't up to scratch. I think she has writing potential, but this one fell just short of the mark (sorry about the cliches!)
I have enjoyed three of Eva Ibbotson's novels but recently I think she's been writing mainly for young adults (teenagers, mature 12 years olds, etc)
Howard's End is on the Landing ... this is on my List but I've ordered several books from Abe and Amazon so I mustn't be too hasty!
Margaret P

I do agree with you about Magic Flutes - lovely as it is, it feels a little formulaic compared to her other YA ones. Never mind, she still manages to charm me. Yeah for the Dandy Gilver novels so cleverly written!
I'm relieved that you agree about Magic Flutes because I know how much you like Eva Ibbotson's books. The Dandy Gilver books are certainly impressive. Let's hope there'll be lots more!
I read 'After the Armistice Ball' last month, too, and I have to thank you for recommending this series. It's been quite a long time since I've found a satisfying mystery novel, and it's such a treat that there are more to be enjoyed.
I'm so glad you liked it! They're really cleverly written, I think.
I've just binge-read the second and fourth Dandy Gilver books and loved both (got to find the third now). What really pleases me is that I know that, like the Mrs Mallory books, I am going to want to re-read them. I was a bit underwhelmed by Upson, but I'd try another, I think.
Definitely keepers! I've bought the first Dandy Gilver book after reading two others from the library and I intend to get the rest.