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Posts Tagged ‘july reads’

July in review

mde

How on earth did August happen already – phew! I’m sitting here just hours after returning from a short trip to Paris. My first coach trip – which might seem an insane way to travel to Paris – but I really liked it, and will do it again I’m sure. There is after all, a good bit of reading time to be had on a coach trip.  sdr

I read nine (and almost a half) books during July, a lovely mixed bag of things, including two novels by the Librarything Virago group author of the month Rumer Godden.

I hadn’t realised just what a feminist novel A Lady and her Husband by Amber Reeves would be before I read it. Another fabulous offering from Persephone books got July off to a superb start.

Save me the Waltz by Zelda Fitzgerald was picked by my very small book group, and gave us lots to talk about – I was left feeling sad for the woman behind the novel, and a little underwhelmed by the novel itself.

Patricia Highsmith has been one of several writers whose work I have only started reading this year, Strangers on a Train is the third of them. Hugely compelling, full of tension and atmosphere it was her first novel – and what a debut it was.

Black Narcissus by Rumer Godden has been on my shelves for a long time, I think I bought it as soon as the new Virago editions came out. The LT virago group’s author of the month for July, Rumer Godden was a prolific writer – a good storyteller – this, one of her earliest novels, telling the story of a group of nuns in the Himalayas was made into a film in 1947.

Murder of a Lady by Anthony Wynne, published by British Library Crime Classics, is a Scottish locked room mystery from the 1930s. It introduced me to another prolific mystery writer of the Golden Age.

The Year of Reading Dangerously by Andy Miller – my first non-fiction read for a little while. A book about books, it is also a memoir, exploring how the author found his way back to reading seriously, and how that transformed his life.

Miss Boston and Miss Hargreaves by Rachel Malik, a newly published novel – I read few of those and this one turned out to be my book of the month. A wonderful impulse buy, a debut novel inspired by a story from the author’s own family – I realised after I had finished how the story and the style suits a reader of vintage fiction so well – probably why I loved it so much.

Afternoon of a Good Woman by Nina Bawden. I still have this to review of course, it concerns Penelope (the good woman of the title) a magistrate on the day she leaves her husband. Penelope begins to examine her life, balancing it against the cases that come before her that day. It is a slight, serious work of introspection, which I think is very impressive.

The Battle of the Villa Fiorita by Rumer Godden – read entirely on my coach trip, it was a lovely undemanding, compelling read. Rumer Godden is good at writing from the point of view of children, and in this novel, she examines the turmoil of children when their parents’ marriage ends. Their inability to see their mother as a person in her own right as they battle and scheme to get her back – going as far as travelling alone to Italy to intercept her with her fiancé.

I am now reading This Real Night by Rebecca West – the sequel to The Fountain Overflows – which I am enjoying very much, and will be my first book for AV/AA (All Virago All August) which of course started over on Librarything, but has been taken on by a few other readers and bloggers too. Essentially it is reading Virago authors – (new virago, old green editions or even Virago published authors in other editions) – we now also include Persephone books.

During August, I might be seen juggling books like mad, I always want to read as many for AV/AA as I can, but I also like #WITmonth – and have several books I could read for that too. I also need to read The Power for my very small book group – just as well I’m not at work. The librarything author of the month is Christina Stead – who I have never read, but think of as being challenging. I have A Little Tea, A Little Chat – which of course is a green virago – so I should try and get to that.

cof

You may have seen my book acquisition post yesterday – well, I wrote it before I went away, since when I have bought two more. I think you can all probably guess from where. While I was in Paris our tour took us into the Latin Quarter for dinner on Saturday evening. I found a few minutes to walk from Boulevard St Germain to Shakespeare and Company – well I had to didn’t I. I was with another lady from the coach, and we were under time constraints so I could only spend a few minutes there. What a lovely place – and how exciting to buy two books with a Paris setting – The Prince’s Boy by Paul Bailey and The Dud Avocado by Elaine Dundas – which I have read before but wanted to re-read and didn’t have a copy of. I bought a lovely tote bag and had my books stamped so they will be a lasting reminder of my first trip to Paris.

mde  cof

Did you read anything in July I need to know about? I always love recommendations – dangerous though they are. If you are joining in any of the reading challenges during August what are you planning to read?

oznor

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July in review

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The first two weeks of July were very slow reading weeks here, I think I was just busy and over-tired, thankfully the holidays started on the 17th and funnily enough my rate of reading then improved greatly.

I began July reading Ordeal by Innocence by Agatha Christie, who never fails to be exactly what I need during times of stress or extreme tiredness, this one doesn’t feature either of Christie’s most famous detectives, and I loved it for being a bit different. With my Holiday from work not far off I started Holiday by Stanley Middleton the 1974 joint Booker Prize winner. Middleton is not a writer I had ever read before and now I am determined to find more of his books. Simon at Stuck-in-a- book was responsible (I am so glad) for me buying three books by Cornelia Otis Skinner, Our Hearts were Young and Gay; proved to be an absolute joy of a read, a memoir of COS and Emily Kimbrough’s travels in Europe in the 1920’s it is in tone very reminiscent of E M Delafield’s Provincial Lady. I can’t wait to read the next two Cornelia Otis Skinner books I have waiting. Liz has now borrowed Our Hearts were Young and Gay, which is why it’s not in the photograph of July reading, I have a feeling she will enjoy it too. Next up was The Rising Tide by Molly Keane, a brilliant novel exploring the complexities of an Anglo-Irish family with psychological astuteness.

The day the holidays began for me, I began reading Swan Song, the sixth Forsyte novel overall, simply a rollicking good story, I could barely put it down, in this novel Galsworthy finishes off a story that had been gradually building over the course of three previous books, and the conclusion is brilliantly unforgettable. Go, Set a Watchman came next – what has become a controversial, much talked about book, which I enjoyed more than I might have expected. It gave me a lot to think about and I enjoyed the challenge of seeing those beloved characters of To Kill a Mockingbird in a different light. The Hopkins Manuscript; a Persephone book I have had tbr for over a year was another enormously compelling read, I flew through this Sci-Fi novel from 1939 which imagines the moon’s collision with planet Earth. The Hundred-Foot Journey read for a book group was a big disappointment; the premise of the novel promised so much, but for me just didn’t deliver. The Bay of Angels by Anita Brookner – is just perfect – I love Anita Brookner and although the central character in this novel is similar to other Brookner characters, disappointed, introspective, lonely, I found her particularly sympathetic. I can’t think why I waited so long to read another Brookner – I love her writing. My second book group chose Cheerful Weather for the Wedding by Julia Strachey for our next meeting, which isn’t for a couple of weeks but I thought I’d get prepared early. I have read Cheerful Weather for the wedding before, just over six years ago and remember it fondly and so welcomed a chance to re-read it, it is a quick read but very sharply observed I enjoyed perhaps even more this time. Having read very little actually published in 2015 I finished the month readingg The Wolf Border by Sarah Hall which some people had tipped to make the Booker Longlist – but it didn’t make it after all.

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August is here – and with August comes a lovely tradition over on the Librarything Virago readers group – AVAA – that is All Virago All August. Well you know how I love my old green viragos. I can’t commit to reading just virago (and Persephone) volumes all August I get too easily distracted by other things – but I shall be reading some. I haven’t completely decided which viragos to read – but I have The Lying Days by Nadine Gordimer and West with the Night – Beryl Markham set aside as they are also on my #20booksofsummer pile. I still have four books on that summer pile – but fickle reader that I am, I am taking a break from #20booksofsummer, saving the last few for a couple of weeks’ time – distracted as I am by all those green books and what lies almost forgotten on my kindle.

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summerreading

July has been a great month, the weather here in England has been lovely, and on the 18th I began the lovely long school summer holidays. Utterly exhausted the first week I did very little other than reading and blogging – I still seem to be a bit behind myself however. Two of my July reads I have yet to review. I read eleven books – and also (not listed) about eight short stories and a novella from A Capote Reader, a book I will add to my books read list after I have read the whole thing, but I am reviewing it in sections.
The full list – minus the Capote:

64 The Valley of Bones (1964) Anthony Powell (F)
65 Not so Quiet (1930) Helen Zenna Smith (F)
66 The Grass is Singing (1950) Doris Lessing (F)
67 Mapp and Lucia (1931) E F Benson (F)
68 Drawn from Life (1961) E H Shepard (NF)
69 Americanah (2013) Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (F)
70 Eunice Fleet (1933) Lily Tobais (F)
71 Not Wanted on Voyage (1951) Nancy Spain (F)
72 A Girl is a Half formed thing (2013) Eimear McBride (F)
73 Ambrose Holt and Family (1931) Susan Glaspell (F)
74 An Impossible Marriage (1954) Pamela Hansford Johnson (F)

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My three stand out reads from July would be:
1 Not So Quite by Helen Zenna Smith – a remarkable novel of women working as ambulance drivers on the western front. Read for the continuing Great War theme read.
2 The Grass is Singing by Doris Lessing – a novel recounting the murder of a white farmer’s wife, and the white society they lived in in Rhodesia. My first Lessing, of whom I have been a bit scared.
3 Ambrose Holt and Family by Susan Glaspell, – I’ll be reviewing this very soon, it tells the story of the upheaval to a family when an absent family member suddenly returns, and a woman who never feels she is taken very seriously particularly by the men in her life.

And so on to August.

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On the Librarything Virago Group it is All Virago/All August.  For some of us August is all about reading Virago books, often, though not especially, reading those lovely old original green Viragos we all collect, Persephones are considered honorary Viragos and so count too. I have loads of unread Viragos mainly green ones, and several later editions with the covers I rather dislike, so many, it becomes hard to choose. Therefore in an attempt to focus my mind – I have picked out a few I may read – definitely no promises. Authors I hope to read include Willa Cather, Nina Bawden, Winifred Holtby, Pamela Frankau and Irene Rathbone, but it is so easy to get distracted by other things. I am currently reading my eighth Anthony Powell book The Soldier’s Art, I have Goodbye to Berlin coming up too for that new book group I began attending just last night, and have more Capote stories to read in my A Capote reader, and his short novel A Summer Crossing. So I am feeling rather overwhelmed – I may have set myself rather too much to do, but I tell myself that it’s a nice problem to have. I am off to Devon on holiday in a couple of weeks, and I usually take my kindle for ease, but I don’t think I will be this year, only one of the books I may read in August is on my kindle, so it may have to be a bagful of books again. I am very aware of Austen in August and I had planned to re-read Mansfield Park, which I even have in an old Virago green edition! But I may have to abandon Jane this year, too many books, too many books!

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What will you all be reading? Any special plans?

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July has been my month of re-reading, and what a joy it has been. Reading books I knew I had loved, and in some cases forgotten was a very real pleasure. On the whole my opinion of the books remained the same, athough I don’t think I appreciated Elizabeth Bowen properly when I first read her – so that was a chance to reaquaint mysef with a book I knew I should have liked more, and this time I certainly did.

So in July I read 12 books 11 were re-reads one The Gipsey’s Baby was a new read – I  only  read one non fiction. Here they are.

67 The Trumpet Major (1880) Thomas Hardy (F)
68 Cold Comfort Farm (1932) Stella Gibbons (F)
69 Angel (1957) Elizabeth Taylor (F)
70 Northanger Abbey (1817) Jane Austen (F)
71 My Antonia (1918) Willa Cather (F)
72 Dead Man’s Folly (1957) Agatha Christie (F)
73 A Passage to India (1924) E M Forster (F)
74 Villette (1854) Charlotte Bronte (F)
75 Invitation to the Waltz (1932) Rosamond Lehmann (F)
76 The Gypsy’s baby (1946) Rosamond Lehmann (F)
77 Secret Histories (2004) Emma Larkin (NF)
78 The Death of the Heart (1938) Elizabeth Bowen (F)

My special mentions this month – goodness it is hard to choose but I think I’ll go for:

1 The Trumpet Major – I love Hardy and every word was a joy for me – I loved the lighter feel of this one.

2 Northanger Abbey – What a joy Austen is – I now want to re-read them all.

3 Secret Histories – I love this non fiction book about George Orwell and Burma

4 The Death of the Heart – the second Elizabeth Bowen I have read this year – and I am now intending to read many more.

   

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64 Desperate Remedies (1871)

Thomas Hardy (F)

65 We are all made of Glue (2009)

Marina Lewycka (F)

66 The Saltmarsh Murders (1932)

Gladys Mitchell (F)

67 Wait for Me (2010)

Deborah Devonshire (NF)

68 Agatha Raisin and kissing Christmas Goodbye (2007)

M C Beaton (F)

69 The Perks of being a Wallflower (1999)

Stephen Chbosky (F)

70 Anderby Wold (1923)

Winifred Holtby (F)

71 Heresy (2010)

S J Parris (F)

72 Journey to Ithaca (1995)

Anita Desai (F)

73 A Simple act of Violence (2008)

R J Ellory (F)

74 Wigs on the Green (1935)

Nancy Mitford (F)

11 books read, only one non-fiction, just not been in the mood for non fiction just lately. Special mention goes to: 1 Desperate Remedies – Thomas Hardy – the first in our Hardy reading challenge – a marvelously gripping read. 2. Wait for me – Deborah Devonshire – a marvelous memoir from the youngest Mitford sister. 3  Anderby Wold – Winifred Holtby – lovely early novel from the writer of South Riding. 4 Heresy – S J Parris – good historical mystery set in Oxford during reign of Elizabeth I

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July reads

64 Sacred Hearts    Sarah Dunant –  (F)
65 Good evening Mrs Craven    Mollie Panter Downes (F)
66 Celia’s House    D E Stevenson (F)
67 The Pianist    Wladyslaw Szpilman (NF)
68 Burnt shadows    Kamila Shamsie (F)
69 The Witch Hunter    Bernard Knight (F)
70 The Third Angel    Alice Hoffman (F)
71 The Philosopher’s Pupil    Iris Murdoch (F)
72 Travels with Charley     John Steinbeck (NF)
73 Agatha Raisin and the Fairies of Fryfam    M C Beaton (F)

Some good books this month, and I have to give special mention to:

Sacred Hearts – Sarah Dunant – just brillaint page turner, wonderful sense of time and place.

Celia’s House – D E Stevenson – lovely old fashioned novel, hard to get some of DE Stevenson’s books now,

Burnt Shadows – Kamila Shamsie – a fav author of mine – just a brilliant book everyone must read it.

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70 A Hallowed Place

Caro Fraser F

71 The Queen’s Favourites

Jean Plaidy F

72 Cold in the Earth

Aline Templeton F

73. On the other side

Mathilde Wolff-Mönckeberg NF

74 The Black Prince

Iris Murdoch (DNF) F

75 The Probable Future

Alice Hoffman F

76 The letters of Noel Coward

Barry Day (ed) NF

77 Dance of the Happy Shades

Alice Munro F

78 Black Coffee

Agatha Christie F

79 The Rain Forest

Olivia Manning F

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