The Book of Nightingales , Richard Mabey
Kate and Emma , Monica Dickens
The Girl Who Wouldn’t Make Friends , Elsie J Oxenham
Robins in the Abbey , Elsie J Oxenham
Always Right, Niall Ferguson
The Corpse on the Court, Simon Brett
Dandy Gilver and a Bothersome Number of Corpses, Catriona McPherson
Clever Girl, Brian Thompson
Wonder Hero , J B Priestley
More than a Game , John Major
Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
The 7th Woman , Frédérique Molay
The Burgess Boys , Elizabeth Strout
I seem to have reviewed most of the month’s books already, which saves me a lot of time now. Non-fiction first. Always Right by Niall Ferguson is a Kindle Single which I borrowed from the Kindle Users’ Lending Library. The person who was ‘always right’ is Margaret Thatcher and Ferguson is at pains to point out how sickening this is for her left wing critics. I found the book astonishingly sloppily written considering the author’s credentials as an historian; it’s unlikely to win many people over to his way of thinking. Brian Thompson’s Clever Girl is the autobiographical sequel to Keeping Mum, which I still haven’t read. It sees the author through National Service, Trinity College Cambridge and marriage. The account of serving in Kenya during the Mau Mau Uprising (as it’s commonly known), is a Waugh-like mix of bizarre characters, incomprehensible orders and general chaos. It’s the most interesting part of the book. I couldn’t warm to the writer, unfortunately.
I caught up with two murder mystery series thanks to the library (which also supplied Clever Girl). The Corpse on the Court is the latest Fethering mystery and just as good as the rest. Simon Brett takes Real Tennis for his setting, so if you read this you’ll learn (perhaps) what’s meant by the dedans and other arcane terms. This book differs from the others in that Carol and Jude each tackle a different case. Carol is miffed that Jude’s new lover takes up all her time, so she investigates a missing girl. Jude is on the scene of a death at the court, which she finds suspicious; she even has to consider her boyfriend a suspect. In the end, it turns out that the two cases are connected. Very entertaining, as always. I’ve been going off Dandy Gilver but found Dandy Gilver and a Bothersome Number of Corpses better than the last Dandy book I read, with the added interest that it’s set in a girls’ boarding school. It’s all rather bonkers and improbable but I still like Alec.
After watching the BBC programme about the Netherfield ball (I can’t believe the ball was actually that grand), I had to read Pride and Prejudice again. Shock, horror, I found the first part of the book had many longeurs, notably in the conversations which take place when Jane and Elizabeth are staying at Netherfield. I thought that if I were a literary agent I’d be marking the book, ‘very promising’. Once I reached Derbyshire, where my favourite scenes take place, I was totally onside again. P & P is still far from being my favourite Jane Austen novel; I think her mature powers are best shown in Emma, a much better book.
Currently reading: True by Erin McCarthy. Another from NetGalley, this is a pretty explicit NA (New Adult, new genre) novel about a college student who wants to lose her virginity. But only to the right man, in the right circumstances, which makes her something of a freak in her dorm.