callmemadam (callmemadam) wrote,

May Books

Not many books this month and the one on the left is what I enjoyed most. I love Sandi Toksvig but I didn't much like Whistling for the Elephants or Flying Under Bridges, so this one was a joy. It is set in a remote Italian village where a bunch of wild eccentrics gather at an art school. Frances is not really there to paint but to investigate, rather reluctantly, the tragedy of her early childhood in that same village. Full of jokes but also sad and you really want to learn the truth. And I will tell you what. I bet you anything Sandi has read Saffy's Angel by Hilary McKay.

Publishers are nuts. On the back cover, Toksvig's book is described as 'rip-roaringly funny'. As I said, there are plenty of jokes but there's a much darker thread in the book as well. The same goes for Margaret Forster's have the men had enough?, advertised as 'excellently funny'. There is a lot of humour in the book. Grandma, the central character, is very funny but as the story is about how her family cope with Grandma's senile dementia you would hardly call it a load of laughs, although a good read. Reminds me of when we went to see a production of The Seagull. It was billed as a comedy and half the audience walked out during the interval.

Forster's novel the memory box seems based on such a good idea. The heroine's parents have both died and at last she is going to open the box which her birth mother put together for her before she died. Unfortunately I found it extremely slow and repetetive and was constantly muttering 'Get on with it!'

Kate Adie's excellent Women and War I have already written about. Also read Charlotte Fairlie by D E Stevenson. I can see why this is one of her most popular novels as I enjoyed it more than most. I fell with glee upon another Isabel Dalhousie novel by Alexander McCall Smith, The Right Attitude to Rain. How wise he is to spare us any details at all of the moment when at last- No! I won't spoil it. For bedtime comfort I am reading all the No.1 Ladies Detective Agency books straight through in order. Lovely.
Tags: margaret forster, mccall smith, reading, sandi toksvig

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