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gertrude

July 2018

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reading

The Pleasures of Mrs Malory's Company



I only discovered Hazel Holt’s Mrs Malory mysteries a couple of years ago and immediately became frustrated. Libraries keep books for a very short time these days, so I could only borrow the most recent titles. Second hand copies are very expensive (there must be a large secret fan base) and I’ve never seen one in a charity shop or SHBS. Then last Saturday I had a piece of luck. A dealer in paperback books at the market is happy to look out for books for customers. ‘Who was it you wanted? Hazel Holt? I’ve got one.’ I determined to buy it, even if it was one I’d read, because these books are keepers. I handed over a pound for a rather tatty paperback and went away feeling pleased. Imagine my delight when I got home to find that Gone Away is the very first book in the series!

You can enjoy the Sheila Malory books whichever one you choose to dive into but it was a treat to meet all the characters for the first time. Mrs Malory has only been widowed for two years, so there’s a lot more about her husband Peter than in the later books. Son Michael is still at Oxford; friend Rosemary’s daughter Jilly hasn’t yet married Roger, her nice policeman; ‘old Mrs Dudley’, Rosemary’s mother, starts as she means to go on: unpleasantly. The whole Taviscombe set-up is there, ready to be developed. Sheila begins her productive co-operation with Roger and those important characters Foss and Tris, rule her life (they are very long-lived for pets, thank goodness).

This book is full of the details that have made me enjoy the series so much. One is Sheila Malory’s love of Charlotte M Yonge, which I share:
my mind began churning about again, so I took up my familiar, blue-bound copy of Pillars of the House and lost myself, at last, in the myriad complexities of the Underwood family, until the small print caused my eyes to close and I finally fell asleep.
The very same edition most of us will have! The books work because Mrs Malory, although Oxford-educated and ‘literary’ (she writes) lives in the place where she was brought up, as do many of her old friends. They form an unwitting spy network and it even helps to have had the same milkman for many years. There are just two problems with these books: they’re too short and there aren’t enough of them.

Comments

These sound good! I just checked our public library catalogue after reading your post and they have quite a number of her books, but sadly not the first one. I think I'll have to try some other avenues, as I prefer to read series in order ;)
They're for you if you like what are called cosy murders.
Oh you lucky person, they are so hard to find! Especially the first, I tried hard to find a copy. I would love to have them all, they are such perfect comfort reading.
It was serendipitous! I'd love the lot, too. I was shocked to see what people are asking on Amazon for this first book in the series.
Oh wonderful! What a good find. I read them in order as they were published in the US but am not sure if they did them chronologically or if some were missed so will have to beg a browse of it to see if it's one I recognise. Not that it would matter anyway, I can always re-read the Hazel Holts!

What a good friend you are finding me the John and Mary today! Feel we've both had great buys!
You were onto these and the Daisy Dalrymples in the States long before I became aware of them here. Both great series.

You bought it then? Good! Hope you're pleased with it.
This sounds like a lovely series, and I'm interested in the Yonge, too. Ah, well, onto the list they go.
I'm sure you'd enjoy all the descriptions of Mrs Malory's life: her pets and family, charity work, meals out, all the gossip. I find the books very soothing.

(Anonymous)

Hazel Holt

I feel both delighted that you have 'discovered' Hazel's books and privileged that Hazel is actually a friend of mine. Her books are a delight and, as I said in my most recent review, Tris and Foss must be the oldest pets in literature!
Margaret P

Re: Hazel Holt

Long may they live!

(Anonymous)

early Mrs Malory books

The first four Mrs Malory books (Gone Away, The Cruellest Month,The Shortest Journey & Uncertain Death) are being reprinted later this year by The Coffeetown Press in Seattle USA. They will be available on Amazon US
Hazel Holt
PS So glad you like them!

Re: early Mrs Malory books

Thank you! I've given up hope of getting a matching set; I have a complete mish-mash of hardbacks and paperbacks.
PS Huge fan and as you see, so are my friends!

Edited at 2010-05-15 03:50 pm (UTC)

(Anonymous)

Hazel Holt

I took the liberty of mentioning to Hazel that you had so kindly reviewed her books. She has replied to me saying that her first four books: Gone Away; The Cruellest Month; The Shortest Journey; and Uncertain Death are being re-printed by The Coffeetown Press who recently published Hazel's book My Dear Charlotte (not a Mrs Malory mystery)and Hazel says they are available on from US Amazon (www.amazon.com) She is also delighted to know her books have been reviewed on this blog!
Margaret P

Re: Hazel Holt

I'm glad you did that as it must be pleasing for her. By coincidence, a couple of days later Letters from a Hill Farm also wrote about Mrs Malory.

(Anonymous)

SUCH a nicer cover than the US version called Mrs. Malory Investigates. Again you and I are on the same wavelength - I just wrote this week (the 13th) about two Mrs. M. books and offered a giveaway of the first one. :<)
I know, I read your post and was struck by the coincidence!