callmemadam (callmemadam) wrote,

December Books

I found it hard to settle to a book this month and rejected several I started until I began re-reading Our Mutual Friend. Then I didn’t want to do anything else; played havoc with my knitting, as I haven’t learnt to knit and read.

Mrs Tim of the Regiment, D E Stevenson
Spilling the Beans, Clarissa Dickson Wright

I then started an Inspector Singh novel by Shamini Flint but it didn’t grab me.

Suzette Wins her Way by Mary Louise Parker. I picked this up at the market for 50p; it’s exactly the kind of thing I never find in SHBSs or book fairs any more. There’s a feud at Nordenham Manor School between the nice girls of Dormitory 10 and the nasty ones of Dormitory 7. Seven’s leader is Evangeline, who is constantly sneering at Honor, one of the nicest girls in the school, because she is a foundling, rescued at sea and adopted by the headmistress. New girl Susan Brown , known as Suzette, beguiles the school with her Irish charm and skill at tennis, then sets out to help Honor find out who she is and at the same time do down ‘Vangy. There are some very detailed accounts here of tennis and cricket matches which are a huge yawn and some odd slang: Leslie bowled a slower ball than usual and Muriel foozled it badly. Foozled?

Suzette Wins her Way was published in 1947 but reads more like a school story from the 1920s. This copy was given to ‘Joan’ by her Grandma for Christmas 1947. Had Granny been on the ball, she could have bought her Wish for a Pony by Monica Edwards. As I’m always pointing out, this book is startlingly modern compared with so much that was being published at the same time.

I forget what gave me the sudden urge to read Murder Must Advertise yet again; it’s one of my favourite Dorothy L Sayers novels. I’ve been assured in the past that all the detail about life in an advertising agency is still absolutely true today and for many readers the office scenes are the best in the book. I find the Harlequin thread way OTT and for most of the read I’m longing for the cricket match, which for me is its highlight.

ITV 3 recently showed the 1991 TV series of The Darling Buds of May by H E Bates. This starred David Jason and launched Catherine Zeta Jones on an unsuspecting world. I loved the first series but not the later episodes ‘based on the characters created by…’ I really wanted to read the first book again and luckily found a copy in a charity shop. The Darling Buds of May was first published in 1958. It’s a complete contrast to all the ‘angry’ books which were about to be published, presenting an idyllic rural Kent with a main character, Pop Larkin, whom one ought to disapprove of yet loves for his kindly nature. For me the book is in the tradition of the anti-bureaucratic English, as seen in the 1949 film Passport to Pimlico. H E Bates wrote four more books about the Larkins. The last one, published in 1970, was a mistake, I think, because the author seems to have developed a conscience about Pop’s high lifestyle and punishes him for it. No! Let’s keep our fantasies.

I found Love, by Elizabeth von Arnim, a very strange book. It was published in 1925 and was apparently based on a true incident in the author’s life. A young man of twenty five falls passionately in love with a forty seven-year old woman, not seeming to appreciate how much older she is than him and not realising that she has a married daughter. The twist is that the daughter, still in her teens, has married the local clergyman, who is her mother’s age. The ill-matched pair defy convention and the fury of son-in-law Stephen to marry. The heroine falls in love *after* the marriage and her desperate attempts to ‘stay young’ are very sad. Men come out of this book very badly: impetuous, selfish young Christopher; self-righteous, selfish Stephen; selfish dead husband George who made a will which left his wife poor and his daughter rich. You might expect the message to be that love is possible at any age and that people should do what they please but in fact the author seems to be saying that a relationship such as this can never work. Perhaps her view was the result of bitter experience.

Christmas at Nettleford by Malcolm Saville. I read this every Christmas! Imagine a time when a week before Christmas is 'much too early' to be writing cards and the postman calls on Christmas Day? It was 1953.

Diary of a Nobody, by George & Weedon Grossmith was the choice for The Cornflower Book Group last month. I didn’t read it for that reason, just because I love it to bits and do read it at least once a year.

Our Mutual Friend, Charles Dickens. Terrific stuff!

Is anyone else attempting the normblog literary quiz? Oww! The last few questions I haven’t got are doin' my 'ead in!
Tags: charles dickens, diary of a nobody, dorothy l sayers, elizabeth von arnim, girlsown books, h e bates, virago books

  • The Man who Died Twice, Richard Osman

    Whoa, Richard Osman has certainly moved up a gear in this second instalment of The Thursday Murder Club Series. With twenty-million pounds-worth…

  • Today’s book bargain

    Never tried Robin Stevens’ books about schoolgirl detectives Wells and Wong? Now’s your chance because the first book in what has now become a…

  • Crime Fiction Round-up

    I’ll start with the best, although it won’t be out until August. I enjoyed Ambrose Parry’s first two books about Dr Will Raven, practising…

  • Post a new comment


    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded 

    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.