June began with Mary Hocking reading week; I had already read one book the last week of May, so I kicked June off with the second of my two Hocking reads The Hopeful Traveller, a sequel to A Time of War. It was so lovely to stay with the characters I had just spent time with in the previous novel. Mary Hocking week was a great success from my point of view, I so loved seeing everyone’s posts and chatter about it. From one reading event to the next with Summer will Show for Sylvia Townsend Reading month. That was a big complex novel set during the French Revolution of 1848. Next I finished All Day Long by Joanna Biggs – which, I began reading during May, a fascinating portrait of Britain at work in the twenty-first century, set against a backdrop of the economic downturn. After which I got down to The Silver Spoon (and two short interludes) for my Forsyte saga reading, I gobbled them up, as I seem to have done with all the Forsyte books once I have picked them up. I have though, abandoned my chunky big paperbacks in favour of my kindle, and will continue to read my Forsyte books on it as the print size is much more comfortable. A Persephone book is always a treat to read, and Heat Lightning was a lovely book, a slow, thoughtful read, peopled with believable, complex characters, the quiet drama unfolding over one, hot sultry week. Mr Harrison’s Confessions by Elizabeth Gaskell, a book so full of charm it can’t help but be a huge hit with anyone who loved Cranford. It is in fact referred to as the prequel to Cranford, despite being set in a different place. Circles of Deceit by Nina Bawden, is a novel of family fractures, a theme Bawden always wrote about so well, I always enjoy her writing, and this novel is particularly astute. Watership Down was read for a book group, though unfortunately I missed the actual meeting through work related exhaustion. On Sunday I finished Road Ends by Mary Lawson, a lovely novel set in Canada and London, by the author of The Other side of the Bridge (review to come) in which she has created another memorable family. I have finished the month reading Elizabeth and her German Garden (for book group 2), a book I am very overdue in reading. At the time of writing, I am still reading that and naturally liking it very much. So as well as the end of June, that all also brings me to the end of my list for #20booksofsummer part 1.
For #20booksofsummer part 2 I have decided (possibly foolishly) to go for broke and choose all remaining twelve books.
The more observant among you will notice there are not twelve books in the obligatory book pile photograph. Three of my chosen titles are on my kindle, and one book is not out yet – I await its arrival with baited breath. The majority of the titles on the pile, that I don’t have to read for book groups, are books that I have had tbr for ages. I very strongly resisted the urge to read the books I have bought very recently. I now feel quite excited about reading books I had almost forgotten I had got.
So on #20booksofsummer list part 2 are:
Swan Song – by John Galsworthy
The Hundred Foot Journey – by Richard C Morais – for book group 1
Stranger in the House – by Julie Summers for book group 2 (non-fiction, stories of the men returning from Second World War)
Go Set a Watchman – by Harper Lee (on pre-order it should arrive the middle of July)
Ordeal by Innocence by Agatha Christie
The Mill on the Floss – by George Eliot (a re-read)
The Rising Tide – by Molly Keane
The Bay of Angels – by Anita Brookner
The Hopkins Manuscript by R C Sherriff – it was a review from Karen that made me really want to read this and I have now had it ages.
West with the Night – by Beryl Markham (non-fiction and another re-read)
Holiday – by Stanley Middleton – a booker winner from 1974
The Lying Days by Nadine Gordimer – just a book I have been meaning to read for such a long time.
So there they are – I doubt I will finish all of them in July – though I should get most of the way through them, and with the long school summer holidays beginning for me on July 17th I may read a little more than I have been (my total for the year so far very much lower than the last few years I am sad to say). Now all I have to do is just make sure I don’t get distracted from this lovely pile of books (which is always the danger of making book piles).