Bridget Jones’s Diary, Helen Fielding
Emma, Jane Austen
Blotto, Twinks and the Mystery of the Sphinx, Simon Brett
Still Missing , Beth Gutcheon
Strong Poison, Dorothy L Sayers
It’s the Little Things, Erica James
The Queen of New Beginnings, Erica James
Have his Carcase, Dorothy L Sayers
Caroline Crusoe, Mary Gervaise
Creature Comforts , Trisha Ashley
Emma, Alexander McCall Smith
Heirs of the Body (Daisy Dalrymple), Carola Dunn
The Misbegotten, Katherine Webb
I did a fair amount of re-reading last month. I don’t know why I find Bridget Jones’s Diary such a comfort read, as no one could be more different from me than ditzy Bridget. But there you go, it is. Next up was my millionth read of Emma. It’s my favourite Jane Austen novel and I was staggered anew by its dazzling brilliance and modernity. By sheer coincidence, I spotted Alexander McCall Smith’s modern version at the library. Sadly, I can’t think of a good word to say for it so will say nothing. Oh, hang on; he makes Mr. Woodhouse the most interesting character in the book. The two Dorothy L Sayers’ re-reads were follow-ups to the TV re-watching. No doubt when Gaudy Night is over, I’ll be reading that again, too.
I’m doing much better at using the library this year. There I found the most recent Blotto and Twinks adventure. I love these books, which are totally bonkers and out-Wodehouse Wodehouse in their use of language. Clever old Simon Brett. Also at the library, I picked up two fat novels by Erica James, whom I’d never tried before. I didn’t think much of It’s the Little Things; just a bunch of people and their relationships and the people aren’t very interesting. The Queen of New Beginnings was so much better it could have been by a different author.
Still with the library, I picked up the most recent (?) Daisy Dalrymple book. I love this series and Heirs of the Body is particularly good as it’s a proper country house mystery. Daisy’s cousin Edgar is approaching his fiftieth birthday before he realises he has no idea who should inherit the viscountcy. Heirs apparent appear from all over the world but who has the best claim? And which will be bumped off? Great fun, as ever. Fun is not the word I’d use to describe The Misbegotten but Katherine Webb has written yet another long novel which holds your attention because of the mystery at its heart. This one is set around Bath in the early nineteenth century. Alice (origin unknown but with a protector), is living with Bridget, whose job is to look after her, when Starling appears and they take her in: filthy, abused and generally like a little female Heathcliff. Alice is in love with the grandson of her ‘benefactor’ and he with her, but then she disappears. The other main character is Rachel, a governess who marries unwisely. Their lives become intertwined and Rachel and Starling conspire to find out what really happened to Alice. The plot is made even more complicated by forays into the Peninsular War and its horrors. A good read which I got through in one day when I was confined to the sofa.
Finally, a book I actually bought (I buy few books these days, except for the Kindle). I once had a copy of Caroline Crusoe but sold it. Seeing a nice copy in a dustwrapper on ebay I snapped it up. Quite different from how I remembered it: a family story set on the Norfolk Broads and so not Swallows and Amazons. Not only are the protagonists complete duffers where boats are concerned, they get caught up in a highly improbable kidnapping plot. Enjoyable, though. I had intended to write a whole post about Mary Gervaise but the mood passed. Perhaps I’ll get round to it later.