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Three library books I read recently

As I didn’t review any books in April due to the Blogging from A to Z in April Challenge, and I am hoping to take part in some blog tours over the next few weeks, I have decided to catch up by posting three short reviews today.

Racing the wind by Patricia Nolan

Cover of Racing the wind

In Racing the wind: A Cumbrian Childhood Patricia Nolan recounts the story of three memorable years from her childhood in a remote village in Cumbria. I borrowed this book from the library and found it well-written and very interesting. As well as descriptions of many diverse characters, the way of life for country folk without access to most of the modern conveniences available in towns and cities is the backdrop for this memoir of a 20th century childhood.

This hardback book is published by Merlin Unwin Books and includes photographs.

The Pavilion in the Clouds by Alexander McCall Smith

Cover of The Pavilion in the Clouds

This novel by the popular and prolific author Alexander McCall Smith is not part of any of his earlier series. The Pavilion in the Clouds is set in Ceylon as Sri Lanka was known at the time of the story. It is a historical novel set in the 20th century. The twists in the story surprised me. There is mystery, deception and all the loose ends are tied up.

This book is also available as an audiobook and for Kindle.

Confessions of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell

Cover of Confessions of a bookseller

Like Shaun Bythell’s earlier book, The Diary of a Bookseller, Confessions of a Bookseller is in diary form. It covers the year 2015. Although I couldn’t keep track of the numerous characters, I found this book entertaining and informative. It is available in paperback, audiobook and Kindle.

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Book Review: How to Raise an Elephant by Alexander McCall Smith

How to Raise an Elephant was in the new books area of the local library. It was published in 2020. The following (22nd) instalment was published in September 2021.

Cover of the paperback edition of How to Raise an Elephant

As I am part way through at least three nonfiction books How to Raise an Elephant was light relief. I didn’t feel any pressure to read it quickly. This recent addition to The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series fulfilled my expectations. It was calming, entertaining, surprising and wise. The setting of Botswana was used to explore the themes of climate change and sustainability in a different context from more ‘developed’ countries. This added to the interest of the story, raising viewpoints of people, who have missed out on many things taken for granted in the West.

Although I hadn’t read the book(s) immediately before this one in the series, it was easy to follow the story. This is the 14th book by Alexander McCall Smith I have reviewed on Sue’s Trifles. My links to these reviews may be found here.

Three works of fiction

On my first visit to the public library for months I was in a hurry and grabbed two books. It was only when I arrived home that I realised one was a large print edition. My ageing eyes did not complain!

Cover of Mum & Dad. Text over vine leaves and stalks

The book was Mum & Dad by Joanna Trollope. The Mum and Dad in the title are the grandparents. There are three other mums and dads and their teenage children in the family. A change in circumstances for Mum and Dad leads to all sorts of unexpected consequences for all the generations.

It is a sensitively written book, which I enjoyed. It is also available in hardback, paperback and Kindle editions.

The next two books I read were both by Alexander McCall Smith, borrowed from the library on different days. The Unbearable Lightness of Scones is in the 44 Scotland Street series with characters such as 6-year-old Bertie and his friends as well as adults of various ages. There is a wedding, an eventful honeymoon and plenty more to keep the pages turning. There are illustrations too.

Cover of The Unbearable Lightness of Scones. Hot-air balloon, banner with title and a street with houses with 4 storeys.

Your Inner Hedgehog by Alexander McCall Smith is in a newer series – A Professor Dr Igelfeld Adventure. I haven’t read the two earlier books, but that was no disadvantage in reading Your Inner Hedgehog, which was published this year (2021). I found a hardback copy when I returned the previous books. The chapters are numbered in German with delightful illustrations by Iain McIntosh. Some unexpected events arise from the office politics in a German University and when foreign academics visit Oxford University. Romance philology (the study of words of a related group of languages rather than romantic words!) and discussions about grammar make a change from the settings (in Edinburgh and Botswana) of three earlier series by Alexander McCall Smith, which I have dipped into. I learned that der Igel is a hedgehog and Igelfeld in English would be ‘hedgehog field’, in case you are wondering about the title. The genre is literary fiction: it is not as light a read as most other books I have read by Alexander McCall Smith.

Photo of hardback copy of Your inner Hedgehog. The illustration includes a headgehog, a mortar board (graduate headwear) and a building with a tower.
Photo of Your Inner Hedgehog

Your Inner Hedgehog is currently available as a hardback or CD-audio. The paperback edition may be pre-ordered.