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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 March 2016

I finished reading Rainy Day Sisters by Kate Hewitt.  This was a very readable book probably intended for the US market.  It is published by Penguin.  The setting of the story in an English village was interesting.  The author is very observant of people and places.

The Abbess of Whitby: A novel of Hild of Northumbria by Jill Dalladay was a book I found locally.  I decided to read it because I have been to Whitby and as a student I sometimes attended a church dedicated to St Hilda.  Is she the same person?  Yes.

This is historical fiction with some bloodthirsty scenes and the ideas of the time.  Although it is set in a much earlier (although equally turbulent) time than The Heretic, which I reviewed last year, there is a similar thread of one set of beliefs being replaced by a better one.  I enjoyed this book, which I finished reading on a train journey.

labyrinth-mockup

The Labyrinth Year by Mari Howard is the second book about the same characters.  My review of Baby, Baby was far from being a spoiler.  This second book is set almost two decades after the first.  (Baby, Baby begins in 1988 and The Labyrinth Year in 1996.)  The story unfolds from the viewpoint of the main characters as before.  The characters and the situations seemed credible.  I hope we won’t have to wait too long for the third book in the series.  They are published by Hodge Publishing.

This post will be linking with emily p. freeman’s What I learned in March.

My posts for the Blogging from A to Z in April will (hopefully) be appearing daily apart from Sundays.  Anyone else doing this?

Book review: Baby, Baby

This is a novel set in the 1980s.  Written in small sections headed by the name of a character, it is easy to pick up and put down.  It would thus be ideal for commuters on public transport!  Some of the characters are described from their own viewpoint and others from that of the author.  I didn’t find that a problem.  The main issues the characters have to face involve differences of opinion between scientific and religious viewpoints.  I found all the characters were believable.  The story gradually revealed more about each one through a plot, which did not seem contrived.  There are ten questions for book groups at the end.

The second book in the series is The Labyrinth Year.  I am looking forward to reading it.

They are published by Hodge Publishing.

(Previously published as a page on my blog, Sue’s considered trifles.)