Miss Treadway and the Field of Stars, Miranda Emmerson
Will be reviewed January
Mystery in White, J Jefferson Farjeon
The Crime at the ‘Noah’s Ark’, Molly Thynne
All Balls and Glitter. My Life by Craig Revel Horwood
The Week Before Christmas , Freda C Bond
High Rising , Angela Thirkell
Christmas at High Rising , Angela Thirkell
The Late Scholar, Jill Paton Walsh
The Girl Before, J P Delaney
A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
Christmas at Nettleford, Malcolm Saville
The House on Bellevue Gardens, Rachel Hore
Murder of a Lady A Scottish Mystery, Anthony Wynne
The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris, Jenny Colgan
Craig Revel Horwood’s book is very frank and for me contains TMI about certain aspects of his life. To quote the first words ever spoken by Craig on Strictly (according to him; I didn’t watch), ‘Dull, dull, dull.’ Yes, for someone who’s led such a wild life, CRH has managed to write a surprisingly dull book. It livens up when he gets to Strictly, when he has some interesting things to say. He ends the book by saying that his life certainly hasn’t been ‘Dull, dull, dull.’ Indeed!
Why do I fall for it every time? Reading the latest Wimsey book by Jill Paton Walsh, that is. I never like them. In The Late Scholar Peter, now Duke of Denver, returns to Oxford with Harriet to investigate a series of murders at a college for which he is now, as part of his ducal title, Visitor. It’s awful. Peter has become an old bore. The murder methods have been lifted from earlier books (to be fair, this is part of the plot). The book is full of sentimental tosh about Oxford which could have been lifted from any guide book and tarted up. Worst of all, there’s no sense of period. It’s 1953 but you’d never guess.
I’d previously read a sample of The Girl Before, which I wrote about here. I really wanted to know what would happen so seized the chance of reading the whole book when it was offered by NetGalley. There are many twists and turns but, as so often, the ending is not quite as creepy as the earlier clues suggested. J P Delaney is a pseudonym, apparently. The film rights have already been sold even though the book isn’t out yet. Obviously about to become a bestseller but I wouldn’t buy it for myself.
The cover blurb for Rachel Hore’s The House on Bellevue Gardens describes it as ‘(her) most compelling book yet.’ Least compelling, more like. It’s a pleasant story but very slight compared with some of her earlier books. I also liked The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris less than others I’ve read by Jenny Colgan. Can I possibly have been grumpy in December? Colgan’s book owes a lot to Nancy Mitford. Not in style, because it doesn’t come near, but in finding everything in France (food, clothes, weather), superior to anything English. I did quite enjoy another British Library Crime Classic, Anthony Wynne’s Murder of a Lady. A locked room mystery with a lot of highland superstition thrown in.
There’s no need to say anything about A Christmas Carol or Christmas at Nettleford, as I read them every year.
I thought I’d kept quite careful records of everything read in the past year, only to find that nothing adds up! So these are rough figures and you must add ‘about’ to each one.
I read 142 books. Of these, 100 were by women and 39 by men. See what I mean? I read 59 dead tree books, 64 Kindle books and 16 on the iPad.
Here’s a few books I’ve particularly enjoyed this year with links to my reviews. I doubt you’ll find any of these in the usual end of year round-ups but I liked them. I haven’t counted re-reads.
The Lubetkin Legacy , Marina Lewycka
Trio , Sue Gee
The Secrets of Wishtide A Laetitia Rodd Mystery , Kate Saunders
Sandlands , Rosy Thornton
The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 83 ¼, , Hendrik Groen
Rush Oh! , Shirley Barrett
American Gods , Neil Gaiman (this is currently 99p for the Kindle)
The Dark Circle , Linda Grant
Winter , ed Melissa Harrison
Today Will be Different , Maria Semple
A Chelsea Concerto , Frances Faviell