“An Utterly impartial history of Great Britain” by John O’Farrell
Funny. Accurate, I am sure. I have now almost entirely forgotten all the details. So it was good that I enjoyed it as I read it because the improvement in my historical knowledge is nil.
“The Moonstone” by Wilkie Collins
Um, very famous and an early example of the detective novel but, if you ask me, only alright and not half as good as the “Woman in White”. Apparently its fame is in part due to the fact that it features opium addiction and was written by an opium addict. Those Victorians.
I enjoyed this quote on page 488 of the edition I read, plus ça change and all that.
“In our modern system of civilisation, celebrity (no matter of what kind) is the lever that will move anything. The fame of the great Cuff had even reached the ears of the small Gooseberry. The boy’s ill-fixed eyes rolled, when I mentioned the illustrious name, till I thought they really must have dropped on the carpet.”
“Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day” by Winifred Watson
Heartwarming, entertaining republication by Persephone Press. Life has been cruel to Miss Pettigrew. It perks up when she falls into (what her clergyman father would almost certainly have considered) a depraved circle.
“Consequences” by EM Delafield
If you have read and reread “The Diary of a Provincial Lady” and all of its sequels and you love it, approach this book by the same author with EXTREME caution. It is a very good book. It gives a very clear account of the misery of depression. But wryly humourous? Frankly, no. Set your expectations to extreme, relentless misery.
“Sense and Sensibility” by Joanna Trollope
I quite enjoyed this. It updates the Jane Austen classic and uses the same plot and the same characters. I went back and re-read the original afterwards and I was very impressed by how very closely the Trollope version stuck to the Austen novel. What was intriguing was how this was entirely a Joanna Trollope novel; her voice, the characters, the situations, everything.
“The Buried Giant” by Kazuo Ishiguru
I quite enjoyed this in a mild way. It has divided reviewers. It’s about two Britons going on a quest in a magical post-Arthurian Britain. Harmless. Not as good at all as “Never Let Me Go” though.
“The Secret Place” by Tana French
I think Tana French is a wonderful writer. This is another detective story set in Dublin. This one revolves around a murder in a girls’ boarding school. I am not normally a great fan of the detective novel but I plan to read everything this author has written.
“A brief History of the Smile” by Angus Trumble
I was a bit disappointed by this. It does what it says on the tin. There is an original angle on history, there is lots about art but yet, I found it a bit dull. Also the black and white illustrations in my edition were not great for looking at the reproductions of art through the ages.
“Us” by David Nicholls
I know lots of people were enchanted and delighted by this novel but I was not. I found each of the three main characters very annoying and tedious in their own particular ways. It follows a family on a Grand Tour of Europe, father, mother and son about to leave for college. I did not like the characters and the plot left me cold. It’s very readable, I suppose. For my money, his best novel continues to be “Starter for Ten” which combines excruciating embarrassment and hilarity.
“Solace” by Belinda McKeon
I didn’t really expect to like this book, but I did. It’s a bit overwritten (you know the kind of thing, nobody ever hops up and opens the door but walks through the treacly sunlight filled with dancing dustmotes to answer the insistent tolling of the doorbell). The author patronises her main characters a bit. But, that said, it moves snappily enough. Though there are some strands that could usefully have been got rid of (what was that philosophy lecturer doing?) I was engaged and interested. I was genuinely quite shocked by the twist in the middle and that was really well handled as was the aftermath. I would definitely try another.