The Champagne Queen , Petra Durst-Benning. Out on 20th September.
E F Benson re-read:
Lucia in London
Mapp & Lucia
Trouble for Lucia
Autumn: An Anthology for the Changing Seasons, ed. Melissa Harrison. Just out.
The Dancing Floor, John Buchan
Trio , Sue Gee
St. Simon Square , Frances Hamilton
The Little Shop of Happy-Ever-After, Jenny Colgan
She Shall have Music , Kitty Barne
The Lark in the Morn , Elfrida Vipont
The Lark on the Wing , Elfrida Vipont
Arsenic for Tea , Robin Stevens
Jolly Foul Play , Robin Stevens
Death in the Dentist’s Chair: A Golden Age Mystery, Molly Thynne. Out 5th September.
The Lake House, Kate Morton
Autumn is my favourite season, so I was delighted when Elliott and Thompson kindly sent me Melissa Harrison’s new anthology to read. I wrote about Spring here. I didn’t read Autumn straight through, but dipped into it for bedtime reading. There’s a lot of poetry in this one, some of it hard going. Why pick Shelley (that tedious West Wind) rather than Keats? OK, Keats is the obvious choice but also the best (and referenced by the editor and others). There’s a new-to-me poem by John Clare which I liked very much and G M Hopkins’ Hurrahing in Harvest. I found the ratio of new to old too high. Just me, but I’d rather read Gilbert White than some modern trivia about blackberrying. Horrid of me, but I couldn’t help being reminded of Sir Humphrey Appleby’s assertion that ‘the only people who care about the countryside are middle class people in towns, who don’t have to live there.’ Contradicting this completely, one of the best things in the book is an extract from Nan Shepherd’s The Living Mountain, which made me resolve yet again to read it. Autumn is a pretty book with something for everyone inside.
More goodies from Dean Street Press. On 5th September they’re bringing out all six ‘golden age’ detective mysteries by Molly Thynne, an author I’d never heard of. They kindly sent me Death in the Dentist’s Chair to read. As one who dreads the dentist I found the title off putting but fear not, this is no Marathon Man. We meet the urbane amateur detective Constantine, a rich elderly man (sometimes referred to as ‘the old Greek’) with exquisite taste and a gift for lateral thinking. He is friendly with Inspector Arkwright and helps him with the two nasty murder cases in the story. Highly unlikely that Scotland Yard inspectors would share their secrets with outsiders or ask for help but in these old golden age mysteries they were always at it. An enjoyable puzzle.
The publishers recommend The Crime at the Noah’s Ark, ‘a Christmas mystery from 1932 in which a number of travellers are forced by a snowstorm to take refuge in a rural inn over the holidays - with entertainingly murderous results.’ I’d like to read this, as the Noah’s Ark Inn is where Arkwright and Constantine first meet. When I looked up these books on Amazon, I read that they could be borrowed by Prime members from the Kindle Lending Library. Mysteriously, that option has since disappeared.
I had a little Lucia fest, just because. I’d had The Dancing Floor lying around for ages and at last picked it up to read. I found it slow going at first but soon got drawn into it. It’s great stuff but I can’t see it being a favourite. The Little Shop of Happy-Ever-After is good fun. A funny book about a book-mad woman. What’s not to like? It includes some trenchant criticism of the changes being made to libraries. The Lake House is just like Kate Morton’s other books. If you fancy a book which is 600 pages long and moves backwards and forwards in time to solve an old mystery (the disappearance of a young child in the 1930s), this is for you. Perfect holiday reading. Query: how many modern books can you think of which involve an old house in Cornwall and a lost garden? Answer: rather a lot.