The Poppy Factory , Liz Trenow
Diamond, Jacqueline Wilson
Dangerous Lover, Sonia Deane
Summer of Love, Katie Fforde
As Berry and I Were Saying, Dornford Yates
Saving Grace , Jane Green
It Started With Paris, Cathy Kelly
Where did August go and why did I read so little?
Diamond is described as ‘From the world of Hetty Feather’. I found it very disappointing, and I usually enjoy Jacqueline Wilson’s books. If you want to know about the hardships of life in a circus or travelling show in Victorian England, you’d do better to read Mrs Walton’s A Peep Behind the Scenes.
Dangerous Lover (1954) was part of a haul of romantic novels I acquired a couple of years ago. This is a Mommy Dearest novel, very melodramatic. Clare and Keith fall in love but his mother has other plans for him and does everything she can to destroy the relationship. Keith is so stupid that he can’t see her for the evil, manipulating woman she is and attributes all her ploys to her kindness and generosity. This makes the reader very impatient with him. More romance with Katie Fforde and Summer of Love. I soon realised that I’d read it before but, strangely, I could remember the plot about the older woman in the book and her romance, but my mind had gone blank on the young heroine. Not one of her best.
Still reading my way through Dornford Yates at bedtime and as he wrote a book a year, these reports will be appearing for some time. As Berry and I Were Saying is a memoir which mixes real life and fiction in a strange way. The device is that Boy and Berry reminisce (about the good old days compared with the present, natch), with Daphne and Jill as eager listeners and prompters. In this parallel universe Boy is Dornford Yates and his yarns about famous criminal cases he’s been involved in are true. Likewise the references to his books: Boy wrote them but it’s Dornford Yates talking about his writing methods, which books he considers his best and so on. Occasionally, when he mentions a character in a court case, one of the ‘girls’ (they must all be ancient by now) will say, ‘You put him into such and such book.’ Boy will reply that he has based characters on people he actually knew and that everything he wrote is true to life, even if it never happened. Despite the author’s expressed hope on the cover blurb that the book is ‘never dull’, there are pages of longueurs. Yates was a good hater; Boy is as critical as ever of anyone fat, Jewish, ‘Boche’ and now, since the end of the Second World War (which he calls the Second Great War), French! He has no higher praise for a man than to say that he ‘was of the old school’. Hmm. I see that in spite of all this criticism I’ve found more to say about As Berry and I were Saying than about any other book I read last month. No wonder Dornford Yates was once so popular.
It Started With Paris, will be published next month. Review to follow soon.