The Goldfinch, Donna Tartt
Restoring Grace, Katie Fforde
The Far Cry, Emma Smith. Not.
The Bleiberg Project , David Khara
The Outcast Dead , Elly Griffiths
Last Friends , Jane Gardam
Treachery in Bordeaux, Jean-Pierre Alaux & Nöel Balen
My Dear, I Wanted to Tell You, Louisa Young
Barbara’s Heroes, H Louisa Bedford
Death of a Dean, Hazel Holt
How I Live Now, Meg Rosoff
Ponies on the Heather, Frances Murray
The Forbidden Library , Django Wexler
Old Filth, Jane Gardam
I meant to review The Goldfinch, I really did, but there is so much in it that I felt rather daunted by the prospect of trying to say why I liked it so much; the moment passed and it was never done. I will just say that I was surprised that some people found the book too long or were even unable to finish it. I thought it was absolutely brilliant. After that, I turned to Katie Fforde for light relief.
I saw a grey Persephone, The Far Cry at the library and bagged it without thinking. When I started the book, the plot seemed familiar and by checking my blog I found I’d read it in 2011 and hated it. So I didn’t have to continue with it. Shows the value of blogging about your reading. Treachery in Bordeaux is another translation from Le French Book. It’s the ‘First of the 20-Book Winemaker Detective series, adapted for television in France.’ Normally I’d be thrilled to find a long, new-to-me detective series but I don’t think I’ll be reading any more of these. What could seem more agreeable than reading about chicanery in the wine business in France? Unfortunately, the mystery was not particularly interesting and I felt I needed a degree in chemistry to understand it. I don’t want to rubbish the books though; I can see that a wine buff would love them.
When huskyteer was visiting for my birthday, she gave me My Dear, I Wanted to Tell You because she’d enjoyed it so much herself. What better reason? I loved it, too. Set before and during the First World War it’s really a love story about two people from different classes whose lives are taken over by the war. Besides the ‘will they both survive the war and get together?’ question, there’s much interesting material about Dr Gillies and his pioneering work on facial reconstruction at Sidcup. I’ve just found a site about it here. (Health warning: distressing pictures.) By coincidence, just after I’d read the book Jeremy Paxman dealt with the same subject in his series about the First World War, with film of the hospital at Sidcup and a look at the archives.
huskyteer read and so persuaded me to read a book from my own shelves: Barbara’s Heroes, part of my ‘Barbara’ collection. She found it unusual and so did I. It was first published in 1908 and is a moral tale made lively because Barbara is a girl who hates dolls and girly playthings; all her heroes are soldiers. The moral is about serving by being ‘a soldier of the cross’. Death of a Dean, with my favourite Mrs Malory, was enjoyable but too short, as usual. How I Live Now, which I’m very late in getting around to reading, is just as good as everyone says it is. Ponies on the Heather was more interesting than I’d expected from a pony book author I hadn’t heard of. Instead of the usual ‘girl is forced to move from countryside (country = good) and ponies and move to town (bad)’, this heroine has no desire to leave Glasgow to live on a remote farm. She learns to love the country and is able to carry on riding and make new friends, so all is well.
After reading Last Friends I requested Old Filth from the library and it came through quickly. I think it’s a better book than the final one but I did find it slightly depressing. It’s no fun at all getting old but it’s good that an author is writing about really old people.