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
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.
Since our local library closed, I have been making fleeting visits to one in the town I visit once a week. All the books I have read in May were borrowed from the library.
Miss Carter’s War by Sheila Hancock would make a great Reading Group book. It is set in the years following the Second World War, but includes flashbacks to Miss Carter’s wartime experiences. Although it is a work of fiction, the changes in attitude and culture following WW2 and throughout the lifetime of the heroine are seamlessly woven into the story. Sheila Hancock does not pull her punches and gives much food for thought.
Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey Another member of the writing group I go to had also read this book recently. We agreed that it deserved the prize it had gained for the author and the best word to describe the book was “unsettling”.
The story is told through the eyes of a forgetful elderly lady. Her earlier memories are clear, but she is easily confused.
The Careful Use of Compliments by Alexander McCall Smith
This is Alexander McCall Smith at his best. Isabel Dalhousie is a delightful character and the twists and turns in the plot of this book are highly amusing. I do not usually bore hubby with the details of books I have read, but I told him this entire story as he drove me into the town to return these books!
Still Alice by Lisa Genova
I found this book, which had been recommended to me by a friend, on a display at the library for Alzheimer’s awareness week. Although the subject matter is disturbing, this book is a page-turner. It is a well-researched work of fiction. Like Elizabeth in the book mentioned above, Alice experienced tragedy early in life. (The cover of the book I read had a different image.)
I thoroughly recommend all these books. (This post is now linked to http://emilypfreeman.com/lets-share-learned-may-2016/)
In 2015 I read at least 22 books. (These are the ones I read from beginning to end.) I have been reading others, but have not yet reached the end. There are some I don’t count. For example I use some Bible reading notes, New Daylight from BRF and I study the Bible privately and with others. Last year the ladies’ Bible study group used Be that girl by Charlotte Gambill. It is a book I recommend. The Bible passages are mostly not well known and the videos reflections are inspiring. I took away from the course at least one idea or resolution. “Own your zone!” (Take responsibility for your immediate surroundings.) There are also cake recipes, although some of these caused practical problems for those members, who baked.
I finished reading another book after Christmas. The author’s writing was familiar to me from her contributions over the years to New Daylight. Finding Myself in Britain by Amy Boucher Pye is a delightful book. It is entertaining and revealing. Readers on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean may understand each other better by reading this book about living in England. There are also recipes handed down in the author’s family. I do not usually try out new recipes, so I cannot say whether they work or not! Judging by the way the book has been edited and produced, I expect they have been tried and tested before publication.
Although I used to read crime fiction years ago, I have not enjoyed this genre recently. (In the past I read many of Agatha Christie’s books. Other authors I read and enjoyed include Patricia Highsmith, GK Chesterton (Father Brown), Ruth Rendell, PD James, Ellis Peters and Dorothy L Sayers.) I read one book in this genre during the year, which I found disappointing.
I have already written about some of the books I read last year:-
Also in December I read another book by Alexander McCall Smith, The Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party. Although it involves detective work, being in The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series, there are no dead bodies.
I have already linked with emily p. freeman for a What I learned in 2015 post, but I am also linking this post.