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What else I read in February 2017

I bought another book in February – The Shadow Doctor by Adrian Plass.

The day it arrived (hand-delivered by the lady, who manages a local bookshop) I was struggling with my health. I needed a book to read, while I rested. This book seemed to be just “what the doctor ordered” if you will excuse the pun. In other words the act of losing myself in a story and considering the way that the characters in the book interacted with one another for the greater good, was just what I needed.

It is not a comfortable read in some ways. Adrian Plass has a knack of making people look at things from a different angle. While he has a reputation for writing humorous books, this perhaps does not come into that category. Some of the early reviews of this newly published book give the impression that it was not what the readers expected.

One of my favourite books by Adrian Plass is An Alien at St Wilfred’s. There we learn that Hartley (whom some might describe as inadequate) is the most important person in the Church of England. The Shadow Doctor helps us to understand, who the most important person in the world is.

Not all the background to the Shadow Doctor’s modus operandi is explained. That is not a problem to me. It allows me to fill in details from my own imagination or to take on trust that only the important elements of the story need to be told.

It is a book I shall almost certainly read again one day.

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What I read in February 2017

This post coincides with World Book Day UK and is the next in my regular series about books I have read.

In February 2017 I have read and enjoyed four books, three novels and one children’s book – dare I say classic? The novels were all well-written with keen observation of human nature and the dynamics of interpersonal relationships. (The children’s book had a lovely example of generosity.)

I bought a second hand copy of The Queen’s Fool by Philippa Gregory from the ongoing used book sale at the local parish church. Although this is not the first in the series of books about the Tudor court, I found it easy to read as a stand-alone story. It opens in the reign of Edward I and continues through to the end of the reign of Queen Mary. The storyteller is a fictitious character – the Queen’s Fool. This is a mass-market paperback and a real page-turner.

Following on from Winnie-the Pooh I read The House at Pooh Corner from the same volume. I did not possess a copy of this as a child, although I did read a library copy. The stories are less familiar to me than those in the first book, but equally delightful.


I bought a copy of Trying to Fly by Annie Try. I reviewed her earlier novel, Losing Face last year. Trying to Fly is well-written and easy to read. The story drew me in from the first page. It has a similar flavour to the Evie Adams books by Mel Menzies, but in this case it is not the therapist, who investigates the mystery. I read it in a single day at a time when it was not easy for me to get out – an important concept in the book. The strap line is Haunting Memories arouse a dormant mystery. The mystery is intriguing and the plot is well-constructed. I am looking forward to the next book from Annie Try, due to be published in September.


I also bought a copy of the third in the Tales from Goswell series by Katharine Swartz. Her earlier books The Vicar’s Wife and The Lost Garden are also mentioned on this blog, which incidentally now has 600 posts. The Second Bride is written in the same style as the two earlier books with chapters alternating between two parallel stories set in different centuries.  With rather small print and around 350 pages I finished reading it the day after I bought it! There are questions for book groups at the end. The Tales from Goswell series seems to be going from strength to strength. The stories in this latest book involve the tensions of blended families and have unexpected twists and turns.

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What I read in January 2017

I finished reading three books in January. I recommend them all.

The first book was a Christmas present. Landmarks by Robert Macfarlane is a fascinating book. It was conceived as a response to words about the countryside being omitted from a children’s dictionary to make space for technological vocabulary. As well as being a book about words, this is a book about books, about authors and about the countryside. The paperback edition I read included additional glossaries of words, which had been sent to the author following the publication of the first edition. I was interested to spot the name of an acquaintance, who had presumably added to the list of words, in the acknowledgements. I hadn’t heard about this book before I received it, but in one of those strange twists in life known as synchrony, just after I had read it I learned that there is to be an exhibition at Wordsworth House, Cockermouth from March to September this year, called Wild Words. It takes its inspiration from this book and has been guest-curated by the author.Landmarks by Robert Macfarlane

 

The second book I read was The Kill Fee by Fiona Veitch Smith. Having enjoyed the first of the Poppy Denby books, I was keen to read the second one. It is a good read. The author has added a disclaimer about some historical inaccuracies. I suspect there may be others, but the story hangs together well and is a page-turner. I read it in a day, while suffering from a sore throat. The title is rather unusual, but its significance is revealed in the story.

The third book was one, which I have read many times. Winnie-the-Pooh is a classic children’s story. I read it aloud from a compendium of A.A. Milne’s writing for his son Christopher Robin (Winnie-the-pooh the complete collection of stories and poems). The book has coloured illustrations by E.H. Shepard. Those, who are only familiar with the Disney cartoon versions of these stories, are missing out on subtleties of language and the coloured sketches.