“Privileged Lives, a social history of middle-class Ireland 1882-1989” by Tony Farmar
I enjoyed this very much although it’s more of a book to dip into than read straight through. It tries to give an overview of middle class lives in various years: 1882;1907;1932;1963 and 1989. I kept poking my husband and reading him out interesting bits. It is full of detail and incident entertainingly retold but the focus is almost entirely Dublin and it fails to give a larger picture of what is happening in the country. That limitation aside, there were parts of this book that were really entertaining. In ways, the format worked well, giving a sweeping view of what was happening at various points but it didn’t really allow for a narrative so you did feel as though you were jumping about with no over-arching theme (other than lives of the middle classes and that is a bit too broad to do the trick). Still, well worth a read.
“TJ and the Hat Trick” by Theo Walcott with Paul May
Daniel was so entranced by this that I had to try reading it. Herself was quite sarky saying “With Paul May what, if anything, did Theo Walcott add?” But, you know, ghostwritten or no, I thought it was a grand little story for the seven year old football lover in your life. Maybe not so engaging for the 44 year old mother of three but it’s a big ask to engage both. Although, Dan is really enjoying “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” so it is possible to appeal across a wide spectrum of ages.
“Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn
When I reserved this in the library, they said that I was 28th on the list. When I eventually got it, I was bitterly disappointed. It’s a detective story about a guy whose wife disappears. It’s dull. It’s a bit like “Rebecca” without any of the atmosphere or clever parts. Alas.
“Death of a Gossip” by MC Beaton
Last time I read one of these, I swore I would never bother with another but I picked this up in my parents’ house as I needed something very undemanding. It worked. It is very undemanding. It’s the story of a local policeman in a small Scottish town where the murder rate is through the roof [one per book]. I am sure that people from the Highlands actually feel faintly ill when they read these books. However, they are written to a formula and we all know what we are getting into before we start and, in that way, they are rather calming. I might try another.
“The Last Hero: A Discworld Fable” by Terry Pratchett, Paul Kidby (Illustrator)
Yes, I am now reading picture books, your point? Actually, I found the pictures a bit distracting; they didn’t do it for me. And neither, regrettably, did the book. I am a big Terry Pratchett fan but this is not one of his happier works. Even if does have pictures.
“High Rising” by Angela Thirkell
These is a social comedy written and set in the 1930s. I found it great fun – nicely written and gently amusing. Did I welcome the fact that the character known as “the incubus” was Irish and had a mother stashed away in County Cork? Not entirely perhaps but I rose above it. She reminds me a bit of Stella Gibbons and Barbara Pym but not as sharp as either; a much more restful read though. Delighted to see that there are 28 of these books in the series (this is book 1). I intend to read them all. How wonderful to find a new writer to enjoy and see that she has a hefty back catalogue.
“Wild Strawberries” by Angela Thirkell
Not as good as the first one, I fear, but still very funny in parts. The characters are, I think less good, except for the saintly Lady Emily who is hilarious. Still looking forward to reading the remaining books in the series.
“War Horse” by Michael Morpurgo
Found this on one of the children’s bookshelves and decided to give it a go. It’s about a horse that takes part in the first world war told from the horse’s perspective. It’s a bit sentimental; at least one tear for every chapter. I think that you really need to be a child – or possibly a film director – to appreciate it.