The Day of Small Things, O Douglas
A Sweet, Wild Note: What We Hear When the Birds Sing , Richard Smyth
Constable at the Double, Nicholas Rhea
Summer at the Comfort Food Café , Debbie Johnson
Sunshine at the Comfort Food Café, Debbie Johnson
The Age of Wonder. How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science , Richard Holmes
Agatha Raisin Pushing up Daisies, M C Beaton
The Summer Seaside Kitchen, Jenny Colgan
Nigel: my family and other dogs, Monty Don
Jane’s Parlour, O Douglas
Constable at the Double was my book of the month from the Ipso Crime Classics advance readers’ club. I’ve never watched the TV series Heartbeat, which was based on Nicholas Rhea’s books, so thankfully I have no comparisons to make. I confess that I struggled to get through the first chapter, as the story was told so slowly and lengthily. I persevered and what kept me going through the two books in this volume was the eccentric and tough nature of the North Yorkshire people Rhea worked amongst. As a young constable, he was given a huge amount of responsibility. It’s interesting to see the kind of work he was required to do on his trusty motorbike, with no concern at all for health and safety. His use of ‘ladies’ rather than ‘women’ (e.g. ‘lady motorists’) grated on me, as did his telling us whether or not the ladies he met were pretty. He was very young at the time, so might be forgiven. Many people seem to enjoy these books, which they imagine to be about a gentler time. If you were expecting something like Miss Read or James Herriot though, you’d be disappointed.
Agatha Raisin Pushing up Daisies I read in a day while recovering from a visit to the dentist and as a break from the Holmes book. I can’t help liking Agatha. The Summer Seaside Kitchen was another quick read. It’s about Flora, who lives on the fictional Hebridean island of Mure with her farming family. After the death of her mother she returns to her job in London, determined never to go back. Then her boss, Joel, on whom she has a massive crush, has legal work to do for a rich client on Mure and sends Flora up there because of her local knowledge. It’s all a trial to her, returning to her squabbling brothers and depressed father. Can you take the girl out of Mure, though? Some people on the island believe that she’s a selkie and so belongs there. Then troubled Joel turns up and is unwillingly attracted to both Flora and the island. This is probably the book by Jenny Colgan which I’ve most enjoyed. The kitchen? Flora is a brilliant cook when she uses her mother’s recipes and starts up the café of the title. Anyway, put Tea Shop, Bakery, Cake Shop and variations in a title these days and you’ve got a best seller.
Writing Nigel: my family and other dogs was money for old rope for Monty Don. Write a chapter about dogs, their characteristics and habits, follow it with a chapter about the garden to please the plant lovers and continue until you’ve written enough for a book. I like Monty well enough but do find him a little self-obsessed.
The two O Douglas books I’ve read over and over. They are perfect for reading in bed.