“An Infamous Army” by Georgette Heyer
I don’t know why I read this, I know when Georgette Heyer does history it’s dire. This was dire but if you want a blow by blow account of the Battle of Waterloo and a very annoying heroine, this is the book for you.
“Letters to a Young Mathematician” by Ian Stewart
This was foisted on me by a colleague who loves maths and I found it very interesting although the tone is a bit patronising (but the maths examples baffling in places) – it’s written as career advice to a young mathematician so, to be fair, I’m not exactly the target audience. I was particularly pleased to have an explanation of axioms, never having been satisfied with the one my maths teacher gave me at 15: “It’s something that is so obvious it has to be true”. This is both insulting and unhelpful and I’ve been resentful ever since. Until now, anyhow, thank you, Mr. Stewart, for helping me to let go.
“Isn’t It Well For Ye?: The Book of Irish Mammies” by Colm O’Regan
Somebody was bound to give me this at some point. It’s mildly funny. I can sort of identify with the Irish Mammy but at least I’ve never taken the Sunday Independent.
“Six at the Table” by Sheila Maher
I really enjoyed this. It is an account of a girl growing up in Dublin in the 70s told through her love of food. Although each individual chapter is slight the cumulative effect is quite appealing. Herself read it also and enjoyed it. I recommended it to my book club but too many of them knew the author or her husband [welcome to Ireland, we’re a small country] and couldn’t face it. One of the chapters had been read out on Sunday Miscellany on the radio and two of our number had heard it and pronounced it dull. I argued hard that it did the book an injustice to take a chapter alone but in vain. If you grew up in Ireland in the 1970s you might like this. Go on, give it a go.
“The Hundred-Year-Old Man who Climbed out of the Window and Disappeared” by Jonas Jonasson
This is Forrest Gump for Swedes. The hero experienced all the great events of the 20th century and met all the most important people. It’s all written in a rather whimsical tone. I loathed it but I am in a minority.
“Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother” by Amy Chua
This is about a very ambitious mother and her very bright daughters and the contrast between the Western and Chinese ways of doing things. I found it very entertaining. As did the Princess and Mr. Waffle. Recommended all round.
“Rebecca” by Daphne Du Maurier
I’m almost positive I have read this before. I don’t remember being so very annoyed by the narrator in the past though. Nor do I remember thinking that Maxim was a bit of a creep and that, all in all, Rebecca may have been the best of the bunch. Mrs. Danvers was a looper alright though. That remained consistent. Still, despite all the caveats, a great story. The best part for me are the beautiful descriptions of the house and surrounding countryside which, if I had read it before, made no impression on me then.
“Life after Life” by Kate Atkinson
I have read all of Kate Atkinson’s books and I think that she is a terrific writer. That said, this got off to a slow start. It’s about getting a chance to live your life again and again and doing things differently to make it better next time. It’s a clever premise and it’s very well done. While this is still a very good book, it’s my least favourite of her books after “Not the End of the World” [short stories] and “Emotionally Weird”.
“Ghosts and Gadgets” by Marcus Sedgwick
This is part of my ongoing efforts to find out what my children are reading. This is about the Otherhand Family who live in Castle Otherhand and are very odd. I found it spectacularly dull but it appeals to the children in my life. I quite liked the illustrations but that was by far the best thing about it for my money.