What I read in August 2017

I mentioned in my previous post in this series that I had started reading two more books. I have now finished reading them and read another two books as well.

Good wives? by Margaret Forster is a book I recommend highly. (So much so that hubby read it and enjoyed it too!)

I borrowed the hard-back edition (pictured) from the library, where there was a display of Margaret Forster’s books. She was the wife of Hunter Davies, another author. I regret that I did not read any of her books during her lifetime.

The book consists of three biographies of woman, who married famous men. After each Forster compares her own life and views with those of the woman she wrote about. The book was well-researched and well-written. I found I could only read one or two chapters at a time in order to digest what I had read.

It contains a lot of good sense.


A Walk in the Wood: Poems by John Chambers is a self-published booklet (2010) by a member of the writing group I attend. I read it from cover to cover a few poems at a time. As I am hoping to publish some of my own poems soon I was interested to see how this might be done. A Walk in the Wood was printed and bound by MyPoetryBooks of Peterborough, possibly superseded by Poetry Now. I enjoyed these poems about nature and faith.

The third book I read was one, which I found in a second-hand book sale. The Girl on the Train: She knows you. But you don’t know her.

I had read a lot about this book as it was a New York Times #1 bestseller, but no-one I know had said they enjoyed it. It is written from the points of view of three women. There is a lot of suspense and the outcome is quite a surprise. To me the book seemed unsatisfactory in that it concentrated on the darker side of human nature with no real chance of recovery or redemption. The ending gave faint hope, but was not convincing to me.

The other book I read was one I have read and reviewed previously. Life is somewhat stressful for me and likely to become busier next month so I reread Dr Kate Middleton’s book about Stress. It has lots of useful information and there are a few people I know, who might benefit from reading it. My earlier review is here.


What I read in July 2017

I read three books from cover to cover in July. I have begun reading a book of poetry and another book, which I hope to write about another time.

The Embalmer’s Book of Recipes by Ann Lingard

I borrowed this novel from the library. It is very unusual in the choice of female main characters – a taxidermist, an academic with an unusual DNA sequence and a farmer’s wife. The author has mastered the “show, don’t tell technique” recommended for writers. The time span of the novel is fairly long and the story is developed well, with interesting twists and turns with the focus changing from one character to another. The painful subject of the outbreak of foot and mouth disease in Cumbria is included in a knowledgeable and sensitive manner. There is also plenty about relationships. The inclusion of scientific and controversial topics in a novel reminded me of the books by Mari Howard, which I have reviewed previously. Highly recommended.

The Sacred Diary of Adrian Plass: Adrian Plass and the Church Weekend by Adrian Plass

I read this book for the second time. The first time I reviewed it here. Re-reading it was a completely different experience, because I had visited Scargill House, a retreat centre on which the book is loosely based and met Adrian Plass and his real wife, Bridget. The Adrian Plass of the diary has a wife called Ann. The reason I reread it was that part of it had been read out at an entertainment at Scargill House. I realised that I had forgotten most of the amusing parts. Strangely some of the things, which made me laugh the first time didn’t seem as funny on a second reading – perhaps, because the element of surprise was missing (like hearing a joke, when you know what is coming next). It is good fun anyhow and not without wisdom.

Trains and Lovers: The heart’s journey by Alexander McCall Smith

Product Details

I borrowed this novel from the library. It is a beautifully produced hardback book, telling the story of conversation around a table on a train from Edinburgh to London. It is full of wisdom and understanding of human nature. There is also an insight into the world of art, life in Australia in earlier times and more besides. I found it hard to put down.



It is over six months since I decided on my word for the year. In 2016 my word was Rest, but I ended the year very tired!

This year my word is Trust. I wrote about my reasons for choosing this word in an earlier post.

It didn’t take me long to realise that I find it very difficult to trust God. Although I am familiar with the promises set out in the Bible and the stories of God’s faithfulness, I find it hard to believe that God is working his purpose out and knows what is best for us.

Reasons to trust God

Reasons to trust God

There are many bad things happening, according to the news media. The good things are not reported. We begin to have a skewed outlook on life, when we only think about the news (which is available to us 24 hours a day). We need to look around us and notice the acts of kindness, the people working on behalf of others, the beauty of creation. We need to go on reading about the way God has worked in the lives of other people, not just in the Bible, but through the ages and in our own time.

If I say I trust God, but expect things to go wrong (a tendency I have), what does that say about my trust in God?

Recognising a fault in ourselves is the first step towards overcoming it. As I write this, I keep remembering words from the Anglican baptism service. The parents and godparents (or the candidate if he/she is old enough) are asked, “Do you believe in God?”

The question is asked three times – once each for each person of the Trinity.

Each time the response is, “I believe and trust in him.”

Thus a distinction is made between belief and trust. Trust is action based on belief.

Another phrase from the baptism service is, “With the help of God we will.”

Trusting God involves accepting that we need his help and that it is available to us at all times and in all places. He is ready to guide us and strengthen us, if we turn to him.

Each day we face choices. How do we spend our time?  How do we deal with situations as they arise? How do we interact with the people around us? How do we react to news? By turning to God and trusting him for strength and guidance, we are able to experience his peace.

We may find that we are able to refuse to do something that we might have done from a sense of obligation in order to rest. We may find we are able to do something we had not planned, because an opportunity arose. Perhaps others see us as less predictable if we are acting out our trust in God.

One exciting thing that happened recently was that I was able to take up a cancellation on a writing weekend, which had been fully booked for months. I don’t know who dropped out at the last minute, but I enquired about space and was able to go. While it is not always a good idea to leave bookings until the last minute, in this case it worked well. I didn’t worry about whether I’d be able to go as I only knew two days beforehand that I could.

I shall try to remember that this year I am concentrating on putting my trust in God.