Posts Tagged ‘april reads’


I am a little late with my monthly roundup – but all in all April was a pretty good month for books. One book was something of a let-down, but pretty much everything else was great. The reading challenges seemed to pile up a bit, my own #ReadingMuriel2018, the 1977 club and last weekend’s readathon have kept me busily juggling. What with reading challenges and book group reading, I have found that my ACOB is suffering a little bit. At the start of the year I was happily ticking off years for every book I read, recently more and more duplicate years are creeping in. In May I need to concentrate on ticking off a few more years.

Here, briefly is what I read during April.

Crewe Train by Rose Macaulay, Denham Dobie has been allowed to run wild, growing up abroad in a less than conventional household. After her father’s death, her smart, society relatives take her to London and try to civilise her. In this novel Macaulay highlights the absurdity in conventional society and the so called civilised way of life.

The Montana Stories by Katherine Mansfield – A wonderful Persephone collection of stories and unfinished fragments written in 1921/22 when Katherine Mansfield was in Switzerland attempting to recover from TB.

The Bachelors by Muriel Spark Has something of an unpromising opening, though I ended up really rather enjoying the novel. It is a novel of London in the 1950s, of bedsitting rooms, public bars and spiritualist meetings. Patrick Seton; a medium is the malevolent presence throughout the novel – he is a truly brilliant Spark villain. Patrick is due to appear in court – charged with defrauding a widow; Freda Flower of her savings. The Bachelors of the title are all connected somehow to Patrick or the court case.

Men without Women by Haruki Murakami; Was a collection of short stories chosen by my very small book group. It certainly gave us a lot to talk about. I really couldn’t engage with the book fully – and of the seven stories only two interested me at all. I decided Murakami wasn’t for me.

The Danger Tree by Olivia Manning; my first read for the 1977 club, The Danger Tree is the first book in the Levant trilogy, and gets it off to a fabulous start. We find the Pringles who we first met in the Balkan trilogy, in Egypt, and follow the fortunes of young junior officer Simon Boulderstone, who has just arrived with the draft.

Sweet Days of Discipline by Fleur Jaeggy is beautifully written novella translated from Italian, it tells the story of a fourteen-year-old girl’s fixation on another girl at their Swiss boarding school.

Dancing Girls and other stories by Margaret Atwood – Perhaps not my favourite Atwood collection of short stories, The Dancing Girls is still definitely worth reading, with at least half the stories being of really stand out quality.

Aunt Clara by Noel Streatfeild; A truly delightful read from the author of many children’s favourites, this is one of Noel Streatfeild’s novels for adults. Aunt Clara is the sixty something niece of curmudgeonly old Simon Hilton. Unmarried, he lives in London with his cockney valet Henry. Simon leaves Clara his house and some unusual instructions in his will – much to the disgust and bafflement of her selfish warring relatives.

Faces in the Water by Janet Frame is an incredibly powerful read. The story of a young woman’s life in two New Zealand psychiatric hospital.

The Ballad of Peckham Rye by Muriel Spark; The second book for #readingMuriel2018 I read in April was perhaps my least favourite Spark to date – oddly I know many people love it. I still have to review it –I loved the opening chapter and certainly the character of Dougal Douglas is superbly drawn – but I found other aspects of the novel a bit confusing.

Trick by Domenica Starnone; sent to me as part of my Asymptote book club subscription, Trick is translated from Italian by Jhumpa Lahiri a literary novelist in her own right. I loved this story of a grandfather and his grandson.

Murder Underground by Mavis Doriel Hay; another winner from the British Library – I found this hard to put down, which was lucky as I read it during last weekend’s readathon. A woman is found dead on the steps of a tube station, and the residents of the boarding house she lived in begin to try their own theories out to discover what happened.

So, three of April’s books still to review, but I’ll get to them all in good time. Sometimes it’s a bit of a job finding the time and energy for blogging.

cofAfter all my reading last weekend I’m currently experiencing a bit of a slow reading week, juggling two books Writers as Readers, essays about VMC writers by other writers, and Delta Wedding by Eudora Welty. I’m also planning on reading The Hothouse by the East River by Muriel Spark, very soon, really looking forward to it.

A slightly rushed round-up I’m afraid – but I’m pleased that I managed twelve books in April – a little up on my average. I’m looking forward to a quiet-ish May bank holiday – with lots of reading time, and perhaps a trip to the cinema – if there’s anything on.

Today Virago are celebrating their 40th anniversary of beautiful VMC – you all know how much I love them, so it’s quite fitting that I’m reading an old green at the moment.

Let me know what you’ve been reading in April – anything I really need to know about? Happy reading for May everybody.

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April seemed to fly by – probably because the first week of it I was on holiday from work and wasn’t really thinking about what day it was. Suddenly it is May although the weather seems somewhat confused. I felt as though I had read a lot in April – but in fact it was a fairly average month – 10 books read during April.

Mary Hocking reading week began on April 3rd and I began April with my second Mary Hocking book for that reading week. Checkmate, a novel set in a small community in Cornwall, to where a stranger brings change and unearths a long held secret. Despite the Falling Snow was a review copy I had been sent – and if I am honest I had misunderstood the kind of book it was – there is nothing wrong with it really, it is just not my usual type of read. I actually enjoyed it more than I expected to as it tells a really good story. The Daylight Gate by Jeanette Winterson was a book I had expected to like more than I did, beautifully written and brilliantly imagined it is a fictional re-telling of the Pendle witch trials. Winterson herself explains how her story is not historically accurate – but it wasn’t that that bothered me. The novel is very dark shot through with magic and the occult as well as the violence towards women and girls prevalent at the time. The whole made for uncomfortable reading.

The 1938 club hosted by Karen at Kaggsy’s bookish ramblings and Simon at Stuck in a book – saw loads of people across blogosphere reading books first published in that year. I read three books for the 1938 club – The Squire by Enid Bagnold, Young Man with a Horn by Dorothy Baker and Appointment with Death by Agatha Christie. My favourite of those three excellent books was The Squire – which it seems is a book which divides people. I was surprised how much I loved it – I had thought all that mumsie stuff would irritate me to death – instead I found it all rather lovely and beautifully written.

Between the Acts by Virginia Woolf – her final posthumously published novel was my most recent read for phase 2 of #Woolfalong. While it won’t be my favourite Woolf – I was captivated by the exquisite writing and the fantastic sense of place. I am continually finding more to love about Virginia Woolf’s writing. Greengates by R C Sherriff a novel re-issued by the lovely Persephone books was certainly one of my favourite books in April, a novel about retirement and houses – it demonstrates how good Sherriff was at writing about ordinary people – those of you who enjoyed A Fortnight in September would definitely like it.

Next I turned my attention to Constance Fenimore Woolson, a nineteenth century American writer who I hadn’t heard of until quite recently. I decided to read a new collection of her short stories Miss Grief and other stories edited by Anne Boyd Rioux alongside the biography about her life, work and friendship with Henry James written by Anne Boyd Rioux who is doing great work to bring CFW to a new audience. I loved those short stories – another of my highlights of the month and the biography  Constance Fenimore Woolson: portrait of a Lady Novelist, is brilliantly compelling and fascinating – I hope to review it very soon.

2016-05-01_11.52.11May sees the start of Phase 3 of #Woolfalong – short stories – I have bought three collections – which I now realise contain some of the same stories – I want to read at least two collections by the end of June. I generally do love short stories and have a ridiculous number of collections tbr – so Virginia Woolf’s stories appeal to me greatly. I hope I am not disappointed.

My very small book group (which is becoming my only book group as I haven’t fancied the choices of my other group for some time) will be reading The Days of Abandonment by Elena Ferrante – I can’t wait for that – it was my suggestion.

2016-05-01_11.45.25I have three lovely looking review copies that I want to read this month; He Runs the Moon a collection of short stories by Wendy Brandmark, The Testament of Vida Tremayne by Sarah Vincent, and Summer an anthology of extracts and writing about Summer edited by Melissa Harrison. Considering how fickle I can be about what I read when – there is no guarantee that I will get to them all this month.

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April brought me some lovely reads in the shape of a several classics, a couple of newly published books and two new Persephone books which even included a non-fiction title. In purely numerical terms I am reading a little bit less this year – I really can’t work out why I might be getting through fewer books but I am tempted to blame this blog! I am trying not to worry about this – numbers really matter so little, but it is irritating me. Anyway with one disappointing book to which we shall never refer – this is what I did read. Additionally I am also half way through Uncle Silas by Sheridan Le Fanu – which is a denser read than I had expected and almost 450 pages, still a damn fine read for all that.

32 A Surfeit of Lampreys (1941) Ngaio Marsh (F)
33 At Lady Molly’s (1957) Anthony Powell (F)
34 A God in every Stone (2014) Kamila Shamsie (F)
35 The Well-Beloved (1897) Thomas Hardy (F)
36 Madame Bovary (1857) Gustave Flaubert (F)
37 Arms Wide Open (2014) Tom Winter (F)
38 All Quiet on the Western Front (1929) Eric Remargue (F)
39 Into the Whirlwind (1967) Eugenia Ginzberg (NF)
40 Wilfred and Eileen (1976) Jonathan Smith (F)
41 When the Cypress Whisper (2014) Yvette Manessis Corporon (F)
42 Young Entry (1928) Molly Keane (F)

My stand out reads for April without a shadow of a doubt would have to be:
Madam Bovary – Gustave Flaubert, the brilliant French classic of middle class bourgeois life.
All Quiet on the Western Front – Eric Maria Remargue – The German classic novel of life in World War 1 trenches –
Wilfred and Eileen by Jonathan Smith – one of Persephone’s latest releases, a lovely novel based upon the life of a real life couple, also set during the time of the World War 1.

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So here we are again – it’s May already – how on earth did that happen? So what will I be reading once I have finished with Uncle Silas? Next up will be the fifth book in Anthony Powell’s epic twelve novel sequence Dance to the music of time; Casanova’s Chinese Restaurant. I hope to read Anna Hope’s much lauded novel Wake this month, as well as Vera Britten’s Testament of Youth, which I have meant to read for years, and have the perfect excuse in the Great War theme read. I will save Testament of Youth for the end of the month when we have half term again, and I have more reading time – as it’s a fair size. Just yesterday I learned of a month long reading event – The Wharton Review. Having several Wharton tbr – I really do have to join in, although I have yet to decide what I will be reading.

So I really hope you enjoy your up-coming May reads whatever they may be – I’d love to know what they are.


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April got off to a really good start reading wise – with two weeks holiday from work during which I managed a lovely London book shopping trip. So therefore I have managed to read thirteen books during April – a little above my average.

Looking down the list of books I read, I realise what a good month it has been. Two Persephone books which were particularly memorable, then I was delighted to discover E F Benson, someone I really should have read before. I also discovered the mystery stories of Francis Durbidge – another writer it seems I have been a bit slow about. I loved the classic clubs sync read – Their Eyes were watching God – a really powerful and affecting American classic. Thanks to Ragdoll books Evelyn Waugh month – I had a good excuse for taking Vile Bodies off the shelf it was a pure joy – hilarious stuff – only the third Waugh novel I have read, now I want to read more. A review copy of The Perfume Collector was April’s big surprise, a light easy read, which I hadn’t probably expected much off – but which I thoroughly enjoyed. Lastly Kathleen Jamie’s lovely lyrical essays rounded off a great bookish month.
This was the full list.

34 Hostages to Fortune (1933) Elizabeth Cambridge (F) April
35 Sense and Sensibility (1811) Jane Austen (F)
36 Queen Lucia (1920) E F Benson (F)
37 Vile Bodies (1930) Evelyn Waugh (F)
38 No Surrender (1911) Constance Maud (F)
39 The Other Man (1958) Francis Durbridge (F)
40. The Swan in the Evening (1967) Rosamond Lehmann (NF)
41. Miss Mapp (1922) E F Benson (F)
42 Amity & Sorrow (2013) Peggy Riley (F)
43 Their Eyes were watching God (1937) Zora Neale Hurston (F)
44 The Perfume Collector (2013) Kathleen Tessaro (F)
45 A Glass of Blessings (1958) Barbara Pym (F)
46 Findings (2005) Kathleen Jamie (NF)


During May I will be reading only books written by authors born in May – for my birthday reading month. My actual birthday is the 13th – a date I share with Daphne Du Maurier. I found I already had about five books on my TBR that fitted the bill – these have now been added to with a few book purchases and free kindle downloads. The truth is – I now have far too many books to choose from – this may need to become an annual event.
I have these authors picked out to read during May – I may not get to them all, there were of course some I have left off the list as I didn’t have books by them and didn’t want to buy any more.
Graham Swift – 4th May The Sweet Shop Owner
Gaston Leroux – 6th May The Mystery of the Yellow room
Ruth Prawer Jhabvala 7th May ‘A Love song for India: Tales from East and West’on my kindle, A Backward Place and The Householder –( loaned to me by Liz)
Pat Barker 8th May Liza’s England, Life Class and Toby’s Room on Kindle
Daphne Du Maurier 13th May – Jamaica Inn and My Cousin Rachel
L Frank Baum 15th May – downloaded free kindle book of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
Arthur Conan Doyle 22nd May – I own all the Holmes books in a box set – I fancy re-reading The Sign of Four as I can’t remember it.
Alan Hollinghurst 26th May – The Folding Star
Arnold Bennett  27th May – Hilda Lessways – a free Kindle book –
I am really looking forward to getting stuck into some of these – I’m just sorry I won’t have time for all of them in one month.

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April reads


I have managed to read 13 books during April, this is largely due to 2 weeks holiday from work, and the fact that the books were, in the main, fairly small. I notice that three of the books on my to be read soon list for April remain unread, although one of them is my current read. I allowed myself to become distracted by some books that were not on the list – something I do all the time. Only one non-fiction this month – I just wasn’t in the mood for non-fiction – and now as I find myself contemplating what I will read in May, and I feel the same reluctance to add non-fiction to the list.

So in April I read.

35 Starlight (1968) Stella Gibbons (F)
36 A Map of Glass (2006) Jane Urquhart (F)
37 Fraulein Schmidt and Mr Anstruther (1907) Elizabeth Von Arnim (F)
38 Ethan Frome (1911) Edith Wharton (F)
39 Bid me to live (1960) H.D (F)
40 A Wreath of Roses (1949) Elizabeth Taylor (F)
41 To War With Whitaker (1994) Countess Ranfurly (NF)
42 I Capture the Castle (1948) Dodie Smith (F)
43 The Blush (1958) Elizabeth Taylor (F)
44 Anatomy of a Disappearance (2011) Hisham Matar (F)
45 The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1961) Muriel Spark (F
46 Burmese Days (1935) George Orwell (F)
47 Landed (2010) Tim Pears (F)


My special mentions for this month then are:


1. Starlight – Stella Gibbons – a charming bitter-sweet novel from the author of Cold Comfort farm

2. The Blush – Elizabeth Taylor – wonderful short stories – by one of my favourite authors.

3 Ethan Frome – Edith Wharton – a beautifully poignant tragic little novella

4 Burmese Days – George Orwell – a sad story and bitter critique of Colonialism







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32 The Green Knight (1993)

Iris Murdoch (F)

33 Black Dog (2001)

Stephen Booth (F)

34 Another Country (1962)

James Baldwin (F)

35 Agatha Raisin, Love lies liquor (2006)

M C Beaton (F)

36 Up and Down stairs (2009)

Jeremy Musson (NF)

37 A Loyal Character Dancer (2002)

Qiu Xiaolong (F)

38 Trespass (2010)

Rose Tremain (F)

39 The winds of Heaven (1955)

Monica Dickens (F)

40 Birds, Beasts and Relatives (1969)

Gerald Durrell (NF)

41 Beauty  (2009)

Raphael Selbourne (F)

42 Cold in the Earth (1992)

Ann Granger (F)

11 books read this month. Quite a mix really and as always some which deserve special mention.

1. The Winds of Heaven – Monica Dickens – absolutely georgeous novel – published by the divine Persephone – wonderful and beautiful books

2 Beauty — Raphael Selbourne – a brilliant gritty urban tale, set in Wolverhampton.

3 Birds, Beasts and Relatives – Gerald Durrell – hilarious sequal to his famous memoir My Family and other animals.
4 Black Dog – Stephen Booth – an introduction for me to a new mystery series set in the Peak district.

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31 The Secret lives of Somerset Maugham

Selina Hastings (NF)

32 Bookplate special

Lorna Barrett (F)

33 Absent in the Spring

Mary Westmacott (F)

34 Corduroy Mansions

Alexander McCall Smith (F)

35 The Behaviour of moths

Poppy Adams (F)

36 Fat Pig Diet

Michael Winner (NF)

37 Death in Ecstasy

Ngaio Marsh (F)

38 A Handful of Dust

Evelyn Waugh (F)

39 The Rules of Engagement

Anita Brookner (F)

40 Twenty Years at St Hilary’s

Bernard Walke (NF)

41 The Blessing

Nancy Mitford (F)

42 Agatha Raisin and the Wizard of Evesham

M C Beaton (F)

I seem to be slowing down in my old age : ) at the end of April last year I had reached 44 books, which was fewer than the year before.  I wonder what it is that is different in my life.  Oh well – some good reads this month special mention must go to the Somerset Maugham biog – very good very thorough, and pretty big too. Also A Handful of Dust unforgettable but horrid, loved ASM’s Corduroy Mansions, and Anita Brookner is always wonderful, discovery of Mary Westmacott – Agatha Christies’s other self was also a joy.

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