“The Host” by Stephenie Meyer
Don’t despise me, pity me. Very page turningy tome from the vampire queen. It features aliens which I rather enjoy. It continues to show Ms. Meyer’s disturbing penchant for violent men. Of course, the men are entirely justified in their violence and the heroines always blame themselves (none of this would have happened, if I weren’t an alien, it’s all my fault, I cut my finger – whatever you fancy yourself). Isn’t that what happens in real life in domestic violence – the abused partner thinks it’s all her fault (and it usually is a her, pace John Waters) and if only she had done something different, he wouldn’t have hit her? I didn’t like it but I still read the book in jig time.
“The Mitfords: Letters Between Six Sisters” Ed. Charlotte Mosley
This is a wonderful book. Further, if you can only read your books in fits and starts (let’s imagine, for the sake of argument, that you live with young children), it very much lends itself to that kind of reading. If you have any interest in the Mitford sisters (go on, you must have), it’s fascinating.
The editor is Diana Mosley’s daughter-in-law and it’s clear that she was very fond of her. I do find myself wondering whether that prejudices her views of the sisters who are unkind to Diana (Nancy and Jessica). Nancy appears to have been unkind to everyone from time to time and to have had a very vicious streak but it is hard to judge based on what the author herself says is less than 5% of the sisters’ output. The letters go from the early 1920s to 2003 and one of the reviews printed on the book describes this as a story of the 20th century by those who had first row seats and that is a good summary. There is though, also, a lot more domestic, mundane items and these do fill in the sisters’ characters.
Anyway, I am going to go off and reread all of Nancy’s output (now that I have a much better knowledge of who her characters are) and “Hons and Rebels” too. So this book is an extended pleasure. My book of the year so far.
“Unless” by Carol Shields
This is a beautifully written book. It’s a bit thin on plot and, normally, I would be the first to criticise this but, in this case, I really didn’t mind. It is the story of a happily married author with three children. Her life is perfect. Then her eldest daughter goes off the rails and sits on a street corner with a placard marked goodness around her neck. This is really an exploration of the state of women. As a young friend of mine said to me recently about something else “it proves that the gender debate still has legs.” It does indeed.
“Hangman’s Holiday” by Dorothy L. Sayers
My parents both like Dorothy L. Sayers and there were a lot of her books around the house when I was growing up. I tried one once and didn’t like it. My sister likes her very much and recently my aunt was saying how much she likes her. I found this slim volume in the unwieldy piles beside my bed and decided to give Ms. Sayers another go. I’m glad I did. It’s a series of short stories and I enjoyed several of them very much. A whole world of happy reading stretches before me.
“Strong Poison” by Dorothy L. Sayers
Great stuff and the contented knowledge that there’s lots more where this came from makes things even better. Lord Peter Wimsey stars as detective. All ends well. Hilariously funny in places. I suspect you would have to know Lord Peter rather better than I do to be touched though. Also, recent learning on rhotic and non-rhotic has taught me that “er” is pronounced “eh”. This has improved my reading happiness no end. Lord Peter says “er” a lot.
“Unnatural Death” by Dorothy L. Sayers
We’re on a roll here. More Wimsey.
“Excellent Women” by Barbara Pym
Gently, gloomily humourous. Some people love Barbara Pym; I quite like her despite the fact that plot is really incidental to character and detail. Genteel England in the middle of the twentieth century – all perfectly pleasant in a mild way.