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What I read in October 2017

Books I finished reading in October

Books I finished reading in October

Seaside Pleasures by Ann Lingard was recommended to me on Twitter by the author after I reviewed her earlier novel The Fiddler’s Leg. The reason she gave was that it included a scene from Allonby beach, where hubby and I had joined one of her walks at low tide. It happened that I found the book in a small collection of second-hand books for sale.

It is written from the points of view of four very different characters – one from an earlier time. The author’s note explains where the story deviates from historical facts.

All the characters are changed in some way through their experiences as told in the story. There is much background information about scientific research into parasites of molluscs. The beliefs of some of the characters were important to the plot. Art and music also featured. I was pleased to recognise most of the music, which was mentioned by name. (This would not be the case with modern pop music!)

There is much to think about in this book. I could only read a few chapters at a time before I needed a break. (I started reading it in September.)

It is a well-researched, well-planned and well-written novel.

 

Surfacing by Margaret Atwood was another book I found second-hand. I picked it because I had not read anything by this well-known author. It is a book about going back to a childhood home as an adult. This particular home was in a wild area of Canada. At one point I wondered whether the story was going to become as uncivilised as The Lord of the Flies by William Golding, which I had to study at school. One recurrent theme was birth control, which was uppermost in many people’s minds in the early 1970s, when this book was first published. At times I found it difficult to distinguish between what was going on in the protagonist’s mind and what was actually happening in her life. A good book.

 

A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking was one of the non-fiction books I began reading earlier and finished reading in October. The background to why I read this and the review perhaps require a post to themselves. Watch this space!

 

The Choir by Joanna Trollope was a second-hand book from a different source. I have read some of Joanna Trollope’s books in the past. I am unsure whether this was one I had read or not. It is about politics and family life around a cathedral choir. The story is good with all the characters developing through the circumstances of their lives. It was an appropriate book for me to read this month as I had been to sing in a Royal School of Church Music (RSCM) choral event at a cathedral one Saturday. That helped set the scene.

 

The Illustrated Herdwick Shepherd by James Rebanks was on display in the public library. I have followed the author on Twitter from the time before he revealed his name (on the publication of The Shepherd’s Life). The book I borrowed uses his photos and a sparse amount of text. I read more than half of it, while I waited for an appointment. Later I reread most of it to study the photos and avoid skimming through the text. It is a beautiful book, which describes a way of life unknown to many people in cities. I live within sight of fields of sheep (including herdwicks), although I have no experience of farming.

 

Go set a watchman by Harper Lee is another book I found at the library. I did not read it immediately after publication, when there was a lot of discussion about its merits and demerits. I have read the other novel by Harper Lee, To kill a mockingbird, twice. I read it in my youth and reread it more recently. I didn’t find that an easy book to read and remember the storyline. By contrast, I found Go set a watchman intriguing, easy to read and full of humour (it made me laugh) and wisdom. Strangely the theme of a fairly young adult woman returning to her childhood home from an urban environment is the background to this book as in Surfacing (above).

 

Out of Silence by Annie Try is the third published novel by this author. It is the second story featuring the psychologist, Dr Mike Lewis. I have bought all three books. I reviewed the others here and here. I spent Sunday afternoon and early evening reading Out of Silence from cover to cover as I didn’t want to put it down. Of all the books I have read this month, this was the one which affected my emotions the most. I found it impossible to remain detached from the characters. Tears streamed down my face at two points in the story. I prefer not to read the back cover or any reviews before I read a book, so that I do not have any preconceived ideas about it. If you want to find out more before you read it (and I recommend that you do read it!) the information is available elsewhere. Annie Try’s style is very readable. The book is set in London. I have been to some of the places mentioned in it and travelled on one of the bus routes!

Links to the books: Seaside Pleasures by Ann LingardSurfacing by Margaret AtwoodThe Choir by Joanna Trollope, The Illustrated Herdwick Shepherd by James Rebanks,Go set a watchman by Harper LeeOut of Silence by Annie Try

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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.

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What I read in June 2017

I have read four books this month.  Three of them were on sale at a writers’ retreat. The fourth was a gift from a friend. I wonder whether you can work out which one that was!

Destiny’s Revenge is the second in a new series for young adults by Philip S. Davies. I have already posted a review on Sue’s considered trifles. I am looking forward to reading the third book, when it is published.

A Scargill Poetry Anthology by Helen Brocklehurst is only available from Scargill Movement as far as I know. It is a delightful booklet of poems mostly inspired by community life. I was fortunate to hear Helen read one of them.

The Gift of Peace bookThe Gift of Peace by Anne Rogers is an inspirational book published by The Leprosy Mission. It is a book of beautiful photos overprinted with quotations and inspirational messages. A book to dip into from a charity worth supporting.

 

Product DetailsA Shed in a Cucumber Field by S. L. Russell is a novel about two sisters, who have not seen each other for twenty eight years. I wondered how similar it would be to Rainy Day Sisters by Kate Hewitt. This book is a more serious read. The back story is revealed a bit at a time in dated chunks about the sisters and a third character. Strangely there is also a similar incident in it to one in the back story of the fiddler in The Fiddler’s Leg by Ann Lingard. The title is a phrase from the Bible (Isaiah 1:8). I found it difficult to put this book down.