What I read in December 2019 (Part 1)

This post includes just one book review. December is always a busy month.

New Boy by Tracy Chevalier

I have read and enjoyed a number of Tracy Chevalier’s books. They are all very well-written. One I wished I hadn’t read was Virgin Blue, because of the unpleasant subject matter. Had I turned to the back cover of New Boy before I began reading this library book I might have been put off. However I noticed after I had begun it that it said on the back that it was a retelling of Shakespeare’s Othello. If you like a happy ending…

…I was reminded of The Lord of the Flies by William Golding, which (unfortunately) I had to study for a school exam and When he fell by Kate Hewitt, which has a similar setting and some other similarities.

The story is very well told with clues to the characters in Othello in the choice of names. It is a fascinating book. There are resources for book clubs on Tracy Chevalier’s website.


M is for Mechanic

Once again I have picked a theme for the A to Z Challenge. This time I aim to entertain rather than to educate. My theme is careers or occupations. I begin with a piece of creative writing.

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Michael and Michaela are mechanics. They are often considered to be angels like their namesake, St Michael. When stranded motorists see the van of the rescue service approaching, they breathe a sigh of relief. Nowadays computer technology has made it easier for the cause of a breakdown to be diagnosed correctly. However mechanics still need to be able to change a wheel in the event of a puncture. For some strange reason they find that there are more call-outs in extreme weather conditions – in summer and in winter.

Further reading: In Shakespeare’s play, A Midsummer Night’s Dream the following workers were known collectively as mechanicals – carpenter, joiner, weaver, bellows-mender, tinker and tailor.


Wheels were invented a long time ago. There are references in the Old Testament to carts and chariots. Mechanics would have built them and kept them in working order. When the people of Israel were fleeing from Pharaoh in Egypt they were followed by Egyptians in chariots. Exodus 14



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.