The last morning of November
The Town in Bloom , Dodie Smith
Crocodile on the Sandbank, Elizabeth Peters
Thursdays in the Park, Hilary Boyd
Madensky Square, Eva Ibbotson
Clouds of Witness , Dorothy L Sayers
Royal Harry, William Mayne
Shrinking Violet , Karina Lickorish Quinn
The Secret Keeper , Kate Morton
The Ghosts that Come Between Us , Dr. Bulbul Bahuguna
Re-reads: several books by Posy Simmonds plus The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole and Pink Sugar by O Douglas
This month has been heavy on free or bargain books for the Kindle. Crocodile on the Sandbank, by Elizabeth Peters, is the first Amelia Peabody mystery. The redoubtable Miss Peabody sets off for Egypt, determined to prove that women can be serious archaeologists. Luckily she has the money to make this possible. There is a mystery and a villain but the plot matters less than the characters. Great fun. There are three more books in this bundle offer and I’m looking forward to reading them some time. BTW don’t read the Amazon resumé as it contains a shocking spoiler. Hilary Boyd’s Thursdays in the Park was recommended by Susie Vereker. It features an older couple, which is refreshing, and is modern and believable. At 20p, an absolute bargain.
Yet another Kindle deal, Madensky Square by Eva Ibbotson. I don’t know what I expected but it’s quite different from her other books. Susanna is a successful dressmaker with a salon in Madensky Square. She dreams of dresses; makes dresses so beautiful that wealthy women seek her out. From her windows she observes the life of the square. (I love the idea of this sort of town living; see also Arnold Bennett’s The Old Wives’ Tale.) It seems all very quiet and pleasant but Sanna turns out not to be the demure creature she at first appears and she has a surprising secret life. Loved it.
I picked up William Mayne’s Royal Harry at a charity stall and read it for the first time. By an amazing coincidence, I was in the middle of it when I was notified of a comment on a post I wrote about Mayne when he died. The writer claimed that the mysteries in Mayne’s books (and Royal Harry is very mysterious) were somehow linked to Mayne’s attitude to girls. So I read the second half of the book more closely, looking for signs of this but failed to find any. It’s beautifully written; Mayne could describe in one paragraph a scene which lesser writers wouldn’t manage in pages. Perhaps we should stop thinking of him as a children’s author.
Once I had Adrian Mole on the Kindle (another deal) I couldn’t resist reading it yet again and it still makes me laugh as much as ever. My current bedtime reading is a non fiction book about the history of peanut butter (review to come). I read a chapter of that on the Kindle, then turn to my old copy of Pink Sugar for a final chapter. I can read O Douglas over and over again without getting tired of the books and they are perfect for bed or illness.