The Body on the Beach, Simon Brett. First Fethering mystery.
The Third Miss Symons , F M Mayor
Caddy’s World, Hilary McKay
A Sister Called Mary, Eileen Collins
Hothouse Flower, Lucinda Riley
Saffy’s Angel, Hilary McKay
The Novel in the Viola, Natasha Solomons
Emotional Geology, Linda Gillard
Styx and Stones, (Daisy Dalrymple), Carola Dunn
Noah’s Compass, Anne Tyler
The Beekeper’s Apprentice, Laurie R King
Damaris at Dorothy’s, Elsie J Oxenham
One Good Turn, Kate Atkinson
Just Patty & When Patty Went to College, Jean Webster
I couldn’t possibly resist a book with the cover of A Sister Called Mary. I have a weakness for rather bad evangelical books and this didn’t disappoint. Mary lives with her brother Rex. Although she works full time she also does all the housekeeping while Rex loafs around. She falls for a nice man but feels she can’t leave Rex (who’s about twenty five!) as she promised their mother to look after him. Just to complicate matters, her friend Anne has an inexplicable pash on selfish Rex but never does anything about it because he’s not a Christian. A near-fatal illness and a conversion later, the two couples are united. Phew! One odd thing: Mary Lamb is a heroine to this Mary. What? I’d have thought Charles was the hero in that relationship.
Happy re-reads of Saffy’s Angel (to follow Caddy’s World) and the Kate Atkinson books after watching Case Histories on television. I think I enjoyed the Jackson Brodie stories even more second time around. I rather like the Fethering mysteries and was pleased to find The Body on the Beach, which is the first in the series. It was useful to meet Carol and Jude for the first time and find out how they started investigating together. I know the area described in the books very well, which helps. I shall be rather cross though if Simon Brett ends this series without telling us more about Jude. Her mysteriousness is getting tiresome. Another lucky find, at a church fair, was Styx and Stones, the very Daisy Dalrymple mystery I lacked for a run of the first eight books. Now I’m up to speed but there’s plenty more to go.
The less said about the best selling Hothouse Flower, the better. Don’t get me started on how much is wrong with it. It seems incredible that such tosh gets published while a writer as good as Linda Gillard has to turn to self publishing. Her Emotional Geology, newly available for the Kindle, is set in the Scottish Isles and has a bi-polar heroine, so it’s not a comfortable read. Unfortunately I couldn’t take to the hero. I do still strongly recommend House of Silence, which I loved. I love Anne Tyler and Noah’s Compass is yet another quietly beautiful book by her. This one is about a retired teacher, his ex-wife and children. Not exciting but as always has believable characters whom you care about.
My only girlsown reading last month was Damaris at Dorothy’s by Elsie J Oxenham. I’ve had this for ages and only just got round to reading it. It starts so promisingly as a school story, with Pip travelling by train to her new school, St Dorothea’s. As soon as she meets a fellow pupil the talk is a confusion of different coloured dresses, girdles, hat bands, form Colours etc. EJO must have been obsessed by this sort of thing. At school, of course, each girl has at least two and possibly three different names. These are the kinds of things I find most irritating in EJO’s writing but worse is to come. Because Pip lives in the Lake District the Ellerton girls, Rachel and Damaris are expected to look after her. Damaris leaps in efficiently but Rachel is mooning around missing her best friend, who has left the school. Too, too sick making IMO especially when Damaris defends her, saying she’s a better person than she, (Damaris/Damson/Dammy/Marry) is. ‘Deep’, you know. It’s no good, I shall never like Rachel, who ends up in later books as ‘Guardian of the Abbey’, going about in a ridiculous robe. I found the book so tedious I decided to cash in on its scarcity and sell it.