“The Cuckoo’s Calling” by Robert Galbraith
“The Silkworm” by Robert Galbraith
These are books 1 and 2 in JK Rowling’s detective series. I really enjoyed both books and I think that they are very well plotted and competently written. For my money, book 1 was better than book 2. Book 2 was a bit flabby and overlong. Nearly 500 pages for a standard detective novel is just too much. The first novel is set in the world of celebrity models and the second in publishing. I can’t say I know a lot about either milieu but the first struck me as more authentic. Still, the relationship between the two main characters is really well done and engaging. I will read book 3 when it comes out.
“Death of Yesterday” by MC Beaton
“Death of a Bore” by MC Beaton
Don’t judge me. These are exactly the same as all the other Hamish Macbeth books. Therein lies their charm, I suppose.
“The Farm” by Tom Rob Smith
This is a story written by a man with a Swedish mother and an English father about a Swedish woman who is married to an English man and has an English son. Are you still with me?
The narrator’s Swedish mother may be losing her mind. His parents have emigrated to Sweden after a life in England and his Swedish mother begins to disintegrate. It’s unclear whether the story she tells her son is the result of a disordered mind or whether there is something more sinister afoot. The author manages this really well and it is very difficult to know what is real and what is imagined. I thought the denouement was very clever and satisfactorily explained the story. It is also very competently written. Thematically, it is a bit grim, though, and I am not entirely sure I can say that I enjoyed it.
“How to be a Heroine” by Samantha Ellis
The author talks about some of the books that formed and shaped her as a reader and more generally. If you are a reader and were a reading child, it’s very interesting to see some of your old favourites taken by the scruff of the neck and analysed in detail.
“Greenery Street” by Denis Mackail
My kind sister-in-law gave me a present of this in the Persephone Bookss edition and I was charmed. It is a lovely novel about a young married couple in their first home. The couple are singularly ineffectual, always running out of money and live in fear of their maid whom they call “the murderess”. All their crises, however, are minor ones and happily resolved.
I discovered on reading the introduction that Angela Thirkell, whose books I like very much, was the older and much loathed sister of Denis Mackail. Apparently she was by far the stronger personality of the two. I can see that as there is a sweetness in “Greenery Street” which is entirely absent in Thirkell’s work.
“Love Nina” by Nina Stibbe
This is a very entertaining read but might possibly be even more entertaining, if you were intimate with literary London in the 1980s. Unacquainted as I am with London literary figures, it still made me laugh. Also, Alan Bennett is a lovely man.
“Look Who’s Back” by Timur Vermes
The conceit of this novel, which was a best seller in Germany, is that Hitler wakes up in modern day Germany. Everyone things that he is a Hitler impersonator and he becomes a media darling. It has some very clever and amusing pieces like when Hitler tries to set up an email account (“Adolf Hitler” – No that’s gone – “Reichstag” -That’s gone too – and so on) and when he visits the neo-nazi offices. Quite daring overall, as well as funny, and interesting.
“Raising Steam” by Terry Pratchett
A new Terry Pratchett novel, but not a very good one. Half a loaf is better than no bread. Steam comes to Discworld.
The Other Family by Joanna Trollope
Daughters in Law by Joanna Trollope
Some friends recommended Joanna Trollope. I hadn’t tried her stuff before but I now think I will be reading them all. These are both clever, readable stories about the trials and tribulations of the middle classes. Not a huge amount happens but it doesn’t matter.
“Summer Half” by Angela Thirkell
Another Angela Thirkell came into the library, rejoice with me. I enjoyed this as I have enjoyed all her stuff. She has some pretty odd ideas about teachers though.
“The Rosie Project” by Graeme Simsion
Another very enjoyable read. A man on the autistic spectrum meets a disorganised girl. It is, as the reviewers say, laugh out loud funny. Recommended for a summer read.
“Five go to Smuggler’s Top” by Enid Blyton
I read this in honour of my trip to Rye. A terrible mistake. George is undoubtedly the most annoying character in fiction. Her and her stupid, bloody dog. Not a childhood favourite I should have revisited.
“Fatherland” by Robert Harris
A friend recommended this and I enjoyed it. It’s set in a 1964 where Germany has won the war. The impact of this and the likely nature of the Greater German Reich is really cleverly imagined using the example of East Germany and Russia, I imagine. The book is essentially a police procedural about a lone good cop solving a mysterious murder but it is the context which makes it both clever and memorable. I would read another of his books but I think I would need to be in the whole of my health to do so. The author is very clever and it shows just a little too much.