Again, I’m not giving a complete list of what I read last month. I’ve already written about A House in the Country, by Ruth Adam. My bedtime reading still consists of re-reading Miss Read. What can you say about the books except that each is exactly like the last, even repeating the same anecdotes? The vicar must be the longest-lived incumbent ever and Joseph Coggs the boy who spent longest in a village school. I’m currently on Farewell to Fairacre. I don’t like this one much because I hate to read about Miss Read having strokes. I can take any amount of horrors in books which are very different from these, but I suppose, as with some children’s books, where I don’t want the children to grow up, I want Fairacre to be the same forever.
I read three Jeeves and Wooster books, an omnibus 99p bargain for the Kindle.
I laughed out loud and occasionally re-read a paragraph just to enjoy Wodehouse’s inimitable, felicitous turns of phrase.
June was a Crime Classics review month. I was sent A Time to Die by Hilda Lawrence and this is the review I put on Amazon.
A Time to Die is the latest offering in the Crime Classics Review Club and I read it thanks to Agora books. It’s the second Mark East book and at first I was confused by the setting (a holiday resort) and the large cast of characters. An apparently good and harmless woman is first missing, then found murdered. This leads East on a trail which leads to a lunatic asylum. He plays his cards close but is desperately trying to protect a child he believes to be in danger. She is, and the ending is very tense. Curiously, I’d previously read Lawrence’s Death of a Doll and found I could remember it in some detail but that Mark East had made absolutely no impression; I couldn’t even have told you it was ‘a Mark East mystery’. So, for me, Hilda Lawrence wrote good mysteries starring a private investigator with no personality.
If you like creepy mysteries, I can recommend The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell. Libby was an adopted baby and believes herself to be an orphan. When she turns twenty-five, she learns that she has inherited a house (Cheyne Walk, no less!) and goes to look it over, planning to sell and be financially secure. Then she learns the history of the house; how, twenty-five years ago, three bodies were found in the house, assumed suicides, while in another room there was a baby, clean and well cared for. Of course, Libby wants to find out the truth but is someone watching her? Could there be someone actually hiding in the house? Just when you think the mystery is cracked, there’s another twist and you find you’ve got it wrong. The ending is unsettling because there’s still unfinished business and the person involved seems untrustworthy. Brrr.
Another newish book (and, I now see, another Richard and Judy choice) was The Love Child by Rachel Hore. This has rather a hoary plotline. A young woman from a ‘good’ family is forced by her parents to give up an illegitimate child for adoption. We then follow the lives of mother and daughter, wondering if they will ever meet and if they do, what the consequences might be. I like Rachel Hore’s earlier books much more than I do her more recent efforts.
Much of my reading time has been spent on Andrew Roberts’ 1,000-page biography Churchill: Walking with Destiny. Churchill’s life was so long and so action-filled, that he doesn’t become Prime Minister until about a third of the way through the book and Roberts doesn’t hang about; he fairly whisks us through history. I still have a way to go.