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.