Toast , Nigel Slater
The Book of Stillmeadow , Gladys Taber
Spies , Michael Frayn
Fatal Remedies , Donna Leon
Love Without Wings , Ruby M Ayres
Pirouette , Noel Streatfield as Susan Scarlett
Birds of a Feather, Jacqueline Winspear, audio CD
The Encircled Heart , Josephine Elder
Countess Kate , Charlotte M Yonge
Swan Feather, Lorna Hill
The Mystery of Mrs Blencarrow, Mrs Oliphant
Farm School Trilogy, Josephine Elder
Exile for Annis,
Cherry Tree Perch,
Strangers at the Farm School
The Crowded Street , Winifred Holtby
Paris Imperfect, Susie Vereker
The Rough Collier, Pat McIntosh
Crossed Wires, Rosy Thornton
Birds of a Feather, by Jacqueline Winspear, which I listened to rather then read, didn’t make much impression but I may try more about Maisie Dobbs. Pure coincidence that I then read another book with feather in the title, Lorna Hill’s Swan Feather, one of the later books in the Wells series. I had a sudden yen to re-read it as I’ve always liked it, in spite of Vicki’s precocious behaviour. I like poor Sylvia and her mother living in Coggs Road as much as the ballet detail.
The Mystery of Mrs Blencarrow by Mrs Oliphant is in a Persephone book which was lent to me. I read this story at a sitting and enjoyed it. Mrs Blencarrow’s secret is pretty obvious from the start; the mystery lies in how she will get away with it. An interesting if melodramatic example of how easy it was for a woman, rather than a man, to be ruined socially and how little right she would then have even to see her own children. Much more fun was Paris Imperfect by Susie Vereker. Love the cover! It’s refreshing to have a light-hearted, romantic story set in Paris rather than the Cotswolds with urban sophistication replacing love around the Aga. Susie is very good at terrifying Frenchwomen. Edit I could have put that better. I mean, of course, that she describes them well.
I thought I’d read all but the first of Pat McIntosh’s Gil Cunningham series until I saw The Rough Collier at the library. Gil and Alys are staying with his mother but there’s no peace for an investigator. When the peat diggers discover a leathery body, the modern reader recognises it at once for a ‘bogman’ who will have lain there for many years. Not so the superstitious locals, who immediately assume it’s the body of a man recently disappeared. Once Gil looks into the affair he finds several other murders: are they linked? Each book seems to focus on a particular trade and here the colliers’ life and the management of a mine come under the spotlight.
I loved Crossed Wires by Rosy Thornton, liked it better than More Than Love Letters. Mina lives in a council house in Sheffield and works in a motor insurance call centre. Peter is a geography don at Cambridge. Both are bringing up children alone. An accident involving Peter’s Land Rover gets them talking and from the start they are attracted. But how will they ever meet? The story is told with a wealth of topical, convincing and sometimes amusing incidents. Real life (real meaning difficult) with romance, and so much more intelligent than most love stories.
In other news, my total expenditure on books last month was 50p. This must be a record.
Current reading: A College Girl, Mrs Vaizey, on the Kindle and Moonshine by Victoria Clayton, from the library.