Apr. 30 – I have just been on a Call the Midwife binge. Fans of the TV series may recognize the name. I read all three of the Jennifer Worth’s books (Call the Midwife, Shadows of the Workhouse, and Fare Well to the East End), memoirs really, about her work as a midwife in London’s East End in the 1950s. Interesting to me, as a fan of the TV show, was all the information! I loved learning about pregnancy and childbirth, as well as the history of midwifery, tuberculosis, and the workhouse in essays alongside of stories t the people she came in contact with (both colleagues and patients). I must say, poverty and overcrowding certainly bred some interesting relationships. And it’s a eye-opener about labour! For those who like the show, you will recognize many stories and characters, just be prepared that the show does not portray everything is exactly the same.
Now on my tray: some Georgette Heyer!
Apr. 8 – Just read another delightful Angela Thirkell. I exhausted the library’s supply of Barsetshire novels but I was missing some Thirkell humour and dialogue, so I tried Coronation Summer. It’s about two young women and their adventures in London when they go up to celebrate Queen Victoria’s coronation. I loved the love-hate relationship between the two friends – spot on. Oh! And I just finished watching the mini-series Flambards based on the K. M. Peyton novels. Totally loved. I’m curious to read Flambards Divided now, which was added to the original trilogy after the mini-series, but worried that it’s going to ruin everything! According to my research, the Flambards books are hard to find in libraries but most have the mini-series.
Mar. 26 – I am in the middle of Kate Morton’s The Forgotten Garden. I am enjoying it but I find myself reading it short spurts. The multiple perspectives lends itself to a more leisurely reading experience. I am seeing some parallels with Jane Eyre. I think I may have to make some additions to “The Jane Eyre Affair.”
Mar. 13 – Started reading a new (to me) mystery author, Aaron Elkins, his “Skeleton Detective” Gideon Oliver. Gideon is a forensic anthropologist who finds himself consulting on all sorts of murder cases, all over the world. So far I have read Old Bones and Good Blood. I enjoyed Old Bones more but I like the flavour of the mysteries. Good mysteries, interesting facts about bones, lovely descriptions of excellent meals, and a laid back kind of detective whose got his life in order – not one of those messed up brooders. Speaking of…. I also just borrowed The Top of the Lake from the library and it is a terrific mini-series. I was thoroughly engrossed in the story and characters. I loved it! Thank you library for coming through for me.
Feb. 4 – I did a little Young Adult this past week. Certain reservations showed up, so I just had to read them. First off, Mouse Guard: The Black Axe. This is a prequel to the action in the earlier two volumes. It gives the story of how Celanawe became the Black Axe back in 1115. Once again, there are stunning images (the crows! the foxes!) and the world building continues, as we learn more about mice and other animals. I particularly enjoyed the ferret hall. Also, I continued the Rick Riordan’s Heroes of Olympus series with The House of Hades. It continues the familiar style and I enjoyed the character development; there was a little bit of a more serious tone perhaps. We were however, left with another cliff hanger. I just hope Nico or Frank doesn’t die in the next installment which I think it must be the last in the series.
Jan. 27 – I was intrigued by a video on the shelf called Cloudstreet, an Australian mini-series. Turns out it is one of the most brilliant things I have seen in long time, just fabulous characters and plot. Two families down on their luck share the same house and we watch their story develop of the years. I was fascinated and then riveted. It’s an adaptation of the novel by the same name from Australian writer Tim Winton. Now I definitely have to read it.
Jan. 20 – To continue my mystery run, this week I’ve read two Louise Penny’s. I have heard good things about her in the past few months but hadn’t yet read one of her novels. I read Dead Cold and A Trick of the Light and enjoyed them both. I like her detective, Armand Gamache, a quiet, thoughtful, unprepossessing man. I liked the relationships and the continuing plot that holds the series together I think more than the murder under investigation in each book. At least, wondering about Gamache’s position in the police force, the politics and maneuvering, is what got me to read the next one.
Jan. 14 – I’ve been on a mystery streak. I just finished a Daisy Dalrymple mystery by Carola Dunn. I have to say I was disappointed. It wasn’t much fun and I don’t like it when it seems like the sleuth is being purposefully dim or forgetful in order to extend the mystery. I much preferred Her Royal Spyness (similar time period, sleuth) by Rhys Bowen for a fun lady detective. I did watch a great mystery though (not counting Sherlock, which I was only re-watching in preparation for the new series which is imminent) – The Painted Lady. It’s an older one, from 1997, starring Helen Mirren as an amateur sleuth herself. It’s intricate and fast-paced and I found it quite absorbing.
Jan. 7, 2014 – A new year! I did quite a bit of reading over the holidays. I finished reading the Casson family series by Hilary McKay by reading Indigo’s Star. I don’t think it was my favourite in the series but my enjoyment level of all those books is very high. I also read The Morning Gift by Eva Ibbotson. I think I enjoyed it more than A Song for Summer. (It had an arranged marriage – I knew as soon as I read the description that it was for me.) I am also very happy to report that the library had the Orson Welles and Joan Fontaine version of Jane Eyre in. I will be able to watch it in full. I think that would make a good afternoon project for me…
Dec. 9 – Just recently read Lord of the Far Isle (or Island) by Victoria Holt, as part of my follow up to the Jane Eyre Affair reading map. I found it quite enjoyable; Holt can definitely subtly build the tension. The Ivy Tree by Mary Stewart is next in the line-up.
Nov. 26 – I finished What Did It Mean? on Sunday. I just have a share a little bit from it. I always relish Angela Thirkell’s insight into the absurdities of everyday life and conversation:
“‘Is everyone here?’ said Miss Pemberton. Those present said Yes and as the people who hadn’t yet come couldn’t say No, everyone was satisfied.”
Nov. 18 – There was a bit of a library reading lull as I read from some other sources but now I’m back at it. I am currently reading What Did it Mean? by Angela Thirkell. It’s Barsetshire, of course. This time Lydia Merton is trying to chair a coronation celebration committee and so far it seems like trying to herd cats.
Oct. 27 – Somehow this past week I have managed to do quite a bit of reading. A Matter of Class by Mary Balogh was recommended in Reader’s Advisory and I have to say it was not the typical romance. It’s almost a novella really but it has an interesting story arch and she is able to do quite a lot in few words.
Oct. 20 – This has been a busy reading week! I just read a new author, Eva Ibbotson. The marketing seems to be YA but I’m not sure about that. The book was A Song for Summer. I really enjoyed the parts revolving around the experimental arts school with eccentric staff and students alike. I think it was a little dragged out but the characters were quite well done. I appreciated a heroine who has a talent for working with her hands and making people comfortable. I think I have to read more by her to figure out what I think.
Oct. 15 – As I continue my foray into science fiction, I have just finished reading To Say Nothing Of the Dog by Connie Willis. I loved this book! It had so much that appealed to me, it was ridiculous. I particularly enjoyed the literary allusions. And, there is a great literary dog named Cyril. There is also a great literary dog named Cyril in 44 Scotland Street. Coincidence? There may be more on this later.
Oct. 5 – Finished reading I, Robot by Isaac Asimov. I haven’t taken many forays into science fiction but it was so interesting. I had no idea that the movie was based on a collection of short stories. Once again, the power of the book is proved.