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Three more books I read in November 2020

The books reviewed here are all fiction. One is a children’s book.

Book cover The Tiger and the RubyThe Tiger and the Ruby by Kief Hillsbery is a book from BorrowBox. The tagline is A journey to the other side of British India. It is historical fiction set mainly in India in the time of the East India Company. There is a mystery, which a relative of the main character sets out to solve a long time afterwards. I found the book interesting, but there were many snippets of history, which I did not find memorable. I found it hard to remember that it was a work of fiction. It was interesting and well-written. The story jumped from the time of the mystery to the time of the narrator, who was of a later generation.

 

Dust coverThe Tiger in the Smoke by Margery Allingham is one of the books I recently inherited. I had read it many years ago, but couldn’t remember anything about it until the very end. In the last few pages I realised that I had read it before. It has similarities to The Franchise Affair with its background in post-WWII Britain. The variety of characters and the effect of decisions made by some of them on the lives of others make a good novel. I didn’t understand all the language of the criminals apart from ‘slop’ being back-slang for police. The changes in everyday English from the 1950s to the present day are very noticeable.

The edition I read was from a book club – World Books. Its publications had a standard appearance, demonstrated in the photos. The second photo shows how a dust cover protects a book.
Spine of book with inside of dust cover

Book cover The Girl who saved ChristmasThe Girl Who Saved Christmas by Matt Haig is the second in a series, but stands alone. I had not read any of Matt Haig’s children’s books before. It is a mixture of fantasy and historical fiction. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, which I found on BorrowBox.

What I read in September 2019 (Part 1)

Early Riser by Jasper Fforde had been on my list of books to look out for ever since it was published last year. It perhaps wasn’t the best time to request this book from the library, when I was feeling mentally and emotionally exhausted. There is a lot about sleep and dreams in it; ironically in an overheated environment I kept falling asleep over it.

As Jasper Fforde is one of my (many) favourite authors I reread the book carefully before its three weeks’ loan was over. It was much easier to follow the plot the second time round. There were hints at what was going on, but with a large character cast, a complex social system, new uses for existing words and neologisms aplenty, knowing how some of the threads had been tied up helped me make more sense of the beginning. As usual Fforde has created a wealth of literature for the backstory to this novel from which he quotes at the beginning of each chapter. There are also his customary footnotes, which add to the text in an amusing way.

It is fantasy about an alternative reality. The humour is very dark in places. Readers familiar with classical literature, celebrities and books will appreciate this book better than those who are less widely read. Some knowledge of the geography of Wales might also help. I had to research some of the celebrities (i.e. ask hubby!) and probably should check some Greek myths.

Or you could just read it and use a search engine to see whether any of the character names have been recycled! Another good candidate for reading groups to discuss.

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What I read in November 2016

So far this month I have read six books.  That is perhaps too many for a single post.

The books are three I have reread, having located them on the bookshelves at home and three from the local library.

I shall review the ones I reread in this post and save the library books for next time.

Three books I reread

Three books I reread

It was a long time since I had read Puck of Pook’s Hill and Rewards and Fairies by Rudyard Kipling.

These books make a set.   In case you haven’t read them, two children in Sussex stumble upon a fairy ring on Midsummer’s Day, accidentally calling up the mischievous Puck from William Shakespeare’s play.  On different occasions he introduces them to characters from the past, wiping their memories afterwards, lest adults think they are mad!

It was possibly the third time I had read these books.   Reading them as a child I missed a great deal of the background and simply enjoyed them for their atmosphere and vocabulary.  This time I was amazed by the links with some of the books I have read recently.  I found the whole experience of rereading these two books fascinating.

Weland’s sword was mentioned in Puck of Pook’s Hill and in Edoardo Albert’s  Edwin: High King of Britain.  There is a Roman centurion in Puck of Pook’s Hill, which tied in with the book by Hunter Davies, which I read in October.  The final story in Rewards and Fairies is set in the same period as Accession by Livi Michael.  Also in Rewards and Fairies there was mention of people being brought for safety, because they were nonconformists, from the Low Countries to Romney Marsh in Kent, England.  The Heretic by Henry Vyner-Brooks is about some of these people.

I am by no means a historian.  In fact I failed my O-level in history.  However, I do enjoy historical fiction.  It is interesting to find the places where authors overlap in their treatment of the various periods.

The next book I reread was Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson.  This is another book I first read as a child.  The dust cover is missing, but I can remember the picture in some detail!  Again I must have read it more than once before.  However, only the first part of the story had really stuck in my mind.  It was like reading a book for the first time.

It is an adventure story with a historical setting.  There is a lot of background information about the Scottish Highlands and Islands.  The reason I read it was that the coach driver on the Isle of Mull (on our recent trip to Iona) had told us that we should read it.  David Balfour travels through Mull in the story, which I read with a map of Scotland to hand, so that I could follow his route on the mainland as well.  (For more of my pictures of Scotland and the Scottish Islands please consult the contents of Sue’s words and pictures.)

I was also struck by the information about Scottish culture.  The language is not simple, being a sort of Lowland Scots dialect.  Footnotes explain the most obscure words.  Coincidentally I heard a trailer for a BBC broadcast about Kidnapped.  The points which had stood out for me from the background to the story were mentioned.

I do not own a copy of the sequel, Catriona.  I read it at school, possibly in English lessons.  I have ordered a copy from the library.

These are three great classics, but not a light read.