Pollyanna, Eleanor H Porter. I watched the Hayley Mills film on TV so thought I’d read the book again. I have to say Pollyanna is more irritating in the book than on screen.
The Kindly Ones, Anthony Powell. Half way through! Will I make it? Edit. After reading other books I went back to it and was quite pleased to catch up on what the characters were up to.
Nicholas Nickleby, Charles Dickens. I’d read this at least twice before but not for some time. What a gallop! And when you reach the passage of quiet reflection at the end you feel, phew! as if you really have lived through all those experiences with Nicholas. This is why it made such a superb stage production for the RSC, back in 1980. Reading it, I was struck by how, at moments of high drama, the characters launch into impassioned speeches which are quite outside real life and very different from the way they speak at other times, which couldn’t be more natural. It occurred to me (not very originally) that these speeches were as if designed for the stage. After finishing the book I turned to Peter Ackroyd’s splendid Dickens biography to see what he said about this book. Surprise, he picks up on this theatricality and says that the theatre permeates the whole book.
The Children in the Square, Pamela Mansbridge
Pamela Mansbridge is one of those second or third rank authors for children whose books I rather enjoy. The setting is usually homely, the characters middle or lower middle class and there is usually a lot about houses, which I like. Nothing happens to these children which couldn’t happen in real life; perhaps a little dull but sometimes dull is nice.
The Carols Explore, Freda C Bond
Freda Bond wrote four books about the Carol family and this is the only one I hadn’t read before, although it’s been on the shelf a while. This one was published in 1949 and set in blitzed London. Although there are complaints about rations, the characters are far from deprived. The Carol parents are theatricals, so keep odd hours and depend on faithful retainer to keep the household together. In these Easter holidays two cousins arrive to stay, setting up a nice contrast between the Carols, arty and what the cousins call ‘Bohemian’ and the huntin’ shootin’ fishin’ cousins. How to keep six children occupied while cramped up in a flat? They have a competition to spot anything in London to do with kings or queens. This leads to some interesting exploring, a lot of comment on blitzed buildings, much bus and foot travel and a lot of eating out. Luckily, money is not a problem for them.
The Pure in Heart, Susan Hill. My first Simon Serrailler novel and I want more! Pity I started out of order as I didn’t realise the books form a series.
Miss Silver Intervenes, Patricia Wentworth
Miss Silver Comes to Stay, Patricia Wentworth. I find the Miss Silver books variable but I liked both these 1940s ones.