Miss Garnet’s Angel, Salley Vickers
Every Woman for Herself , Trisha Ashley
Mr Mac and Me , Esther Freud
Jonah & Co., Dornford Yates
Adèle & Co., Dornford Yates
The Truth about Melody Browne, Lisa Jewell
And Some Fell on Stony Ground A Day in the Life of an RAF Bomber Pilot, Leslie Mann, with a Foreword by Richard Overy
Chocolate Shoes and Wedding Blues, Trisha Ashley
A Winter’s Tale, Trisha Ashley
The Berry Scene, Dornford Yates.
I had a couple of good charity shop finds; half price books which I don’t mind reading and giving away again: No room, no room! Miss Garnet’s Angel would appeal to anyone who loves reading about Venice. Julia Garnet is a teacher who’s been looking forward to enjoying retirement with her friend Harriet, with whom she’s lived for thirty years. But Harriet dies and Miss Garnet decides to spend time in Venice. She’s immediately captivated by the architecture, the art and the people. Oddly, because she’s been a lifelong Communist supporter and rationalist, she’s drawn to Venice’s churches and in particular to depictions of angels. When her time in Venice is nearly up, she discovers that Harriet’s inheritance will allow her to live in Venice permanently and she decides to do so. As a believer in angels and other mysteries I was fascinated by Julia’s researches and her reaction to her discoveries. Can the habits and mindset of a lifetime really change so quickly? The ending wasn’t exactly what I’d hoped for but it fitted very well with the rest of the story. The only irritation I felt reading this book was the constant repetition of ‘Julia Garnet’. Why not just call her Julia?
Once I’d started The Truth about Melody Browne I couldn’t put it down! Melody Browne was nine years old when her house burned down, along with most of her childhood treasures. After that she lost her memory so had no recollection of her earlier life. Now the single mother of a teenage son, she's taken on a date to see a famous hypnotist's show. She's selected from the audience as a subject and passes out. After that she starts to experience strange flashbacks. These are so vivid that she goes in search of her own past and eventually pieces everything together to find out who she really is. The hunt takes her to Folkestone and eventually back to her estranged parents. Melody finds that her whole life as she'd previously understood it was based on a lie.
I’ve read three books by Trisha Ashley this month. Every Woman for Herself I’ve already raved about. Next up was Chocolate Shoes and Wedding Blues. We’re in Sticklepond again. Tansy has been brought up by her great aunt Nan behind the family shoe shop, Bright’s Shoes. When she finds out how her fiancé has betrayed her, she leaves him and returns to Lancashire. Nan thinks, correctly, that she will soon die. The story is punctuated by extracts from interviews she’s given for a local history archive; interviews which hint at a secret in her past. Tansy decides to fulfill a dream and turn the shoe shop into one specialising in expensive and vintage wedding shoes. Meanwhile, the adjoining cottage has been taken over by a gorgeous actor, whom Tansy recognises as her first love from way back. They immediately begin quarrelling, a very good sign. Add to the mix Tansy’s stepsisters from hell, the ex-fiancé who won't give up, plus his ghastly mother, Tansy's best friend Bella who helps with the shop and several of the characters from Winter’s End for the usual happy extended family/community mix. And recipes! I loved it. After that I thought I’d read A Winter’s Tale again, to reacquaint myself with the characters. Much as I enjoyed it, I could see that Trisha Ashley’s writing has improved since that first book in the Lancashire series. When you read three on the trot, you notice certain traits common to all her heroines. They tend to be plump and to enjoy cooking and eating. They dress eccentrically; Nan tells Tansy she thought an outfit she was wearing was by ‘that Gudrun Soadastream’, so you get the idea. More often than you’d think probable, they have feckless or selfish mothers whom they react against to be exactly the opposite. It all adds to the fun. The books are full of lovely detail about housekeeping, gardening and clothes and they’re funny, too.
My bedtime reading of Dornford Yates is ongoing. Jonah and Co. is all about motoring adventures in France and Spain. I don’t much like Adèle and Co.. The girls are robbed of their jewellery again. Poor Daphne loses those legendary emerald bracelets of hers time and again. Our heroes decide to take matters into their own hands and the whole book is about how they recover the jewels. The Berry Scene, which I’m still reading, is something of a retrospective. There’s a scene from Berry’s schooldays showing that his gobbiness began young. An anecdote about Berry buying one of the new fountain pens. Rather late in the day, considering how much driving goes on in all the previous books, in this book we see the Pleydells buying their first motor car.