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January 2019



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March Books

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
More about John & Mary, Grace James
Bertie Plays the Blues, Alexander McCall Smith
The Enchanted April , Elizabeth von Armin
A Perfect Proposal, Katie Fforde
Penelope Goes to Portsmouth, M C Beaton
Isa and May, Margaret Forster
A View of the Harbour, Elizabeth Taylor
Wait for Me!, Deborah Devonshire
London Under , Peter Ackroyd
The Adventures of John & Mary, Grace James
Kisses on a Postcard, Terence Frisby
The Matchmaker , Stella Gibbons
John & Mary Detectives, Grace James
How to be a Woman, Caitlin Moran
Still reading: Murder at Mansfield Park, Lynn Shepherd

Probably the most looked-forward to read of the month was Bertie Plays the Blues. I think the Scotland Street series is my favourite and it never disappoints. More light reading with Katie Fforde and M C Beaton. Beaton’s indefatigable matchmaker Miss Pym is busy again and as usual the author piles incident upon incident. Never a dull moment but I prefer Agatha Raisin.

Isa and May is a far more serious book. Isamay, named after her two grandmothers, is writing a thesis on the importance of grandmothers. She searches for real life examples and struggles to conclude just what exactly it means to be a grandmother. Then she finds mysteries about her own Isa and May which challenge everything she’s learned. I found this started slowly but got more interesting as the family secrets started to come out. From ‘how to be a grandmother’ to How to be a Woman. After reading Caitlin Moran’s book, I’m none the wiser. As you’d expect from a Fleet Street Polly Filler, a better title would have been, How to be Me. I’m not sure I’d let a young teenager get her hands on this book, although it’s quite funny in places.

A View of the Harbour was a re-read for me and it was completely different from how I’d remembered it. It’s set in a decaying seaside town and the first view of the harbour is the reader’s, who sees all the characters, as in a film, before knowing them. It’s quite clever but not one of Elizabeth Taylor’s best books, in my opinion.

Two lots of memoirs. First Wait for Me! by the formidable dowager. I admire her stoicism and her loyalty but confess the book filled me with unworthy class hatred. (It’s the way all her friends were the funniest, cleverest, most beautiful etc. people on earth.) I can’t understand why so many people in the blogosphere are infatuated with the Mitford sisters, even those who were unrepentant fascists. In a publishing world full of misery memoirs, it was a pleasure to read Kisses on a Postcard, Terence Frisby’s account of how happy he and his brother were as evacuees in Cornwall. They were lucky enough to be placed with loving people and had a wonderful time enjoying the countryside. Very refreshing.

I’m rather plodding through Lynn Shepherd’s Murder at Mansfield Park. It’s cleverly done but takes far too long to get to the murder. The author has used Jane Austen’s characters but changed their personalities, which gives a Wonderland effect. Things liven up considerably when a ‘thief-taker’ arrives from London to investigate and that’s just about where I’ve got to now.



March books

I felt exactly as you did over Wait for Me! and actually gave up on it towards the end, I'd had enough of how poor they were in their castles. I think Terence Frisby would be right up my street, so must (again!) investigate that. Didn't manage to read the Elizabeth Taylor, that was returned to the shelf but I couldn't quite bring myself to take it to the charity shop ... I've yet to read one of her books right through, I find them just a little tedious. But I shall certainly read the Margaret Forster, one of my all-time favourite novelists. She couldn't write an iffy sentence if she tried.
However, read a few Agatha Raisin and then wondered why I'd wasted my time, they were just so silly, not particuarly funny I thought. E F Benson's Mapp & Lucia books so much better for comic writing. Favourite book of this little pile _The Enchanted April. Bought the DVD recently and thoroughly enjoyed it ... again!
Margaret P

Re: March books

So glad you agree about Wait for Me!. Money was tight? Pull the other one!
The Enchanted April is lovely, isn't it? My favourite book by Elizabeth Taylor is A Game of Hide and Seek.


I have the Postcards book on order.
I sometimes think of having a little MF marathon. I think the only book I've ever read is the one about that poor mother visiting her awful children - wait I'll go look up the title... The Travels of Maudie Tipstaff. But I think about her, and I am always interested in her books when I read about them.
The only thing that has bothered me about Scotland Street is Bertie's age. I get it that he's a genius, but he just seemed too young to me in the early books. I haven't read any for a while so maybe things have changed a bit.
Although Bertie is so clever, he still has a childish lack of logic about things. In the latest book, he and a friend plot to get him adopted because he's so tired of his mother.