Posts Tagged ‘july reads’

July in review


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.


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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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)








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.


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!

summercrossinggoodbye berlin






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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73 An Indian Attachment Sarah Lloyd
74 The Unicorn Iris Murdoch
75 The Pale Horse Agatha Christie
76 Magic seeds V S Naipaul
77 The Chase Candida Clark
78 Small Miracles of Love and Friendship Y Halberstam, J Leventhal
79 Carry Me Down M J Hyland
80 The Miniaturist Kunal Basu
81 Love in the Driest season Neely Tucker
82 East of The Sun Julia Gregson
83 The World According to Bertie Alexander McCall Smith
84 Mrs Eckdorf at O’Neills Hotel William Trevor
85 Cards on the Table Agatha Christie
86 Blaming Elizabeth Taylor

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