Posts Tagged ‘july reads’

July in review



A quickish round up of my July reading as I am rather late sitting down to do it. July has been slightly better in terms of number of books read, compared to some months this year, but it should have been even better considering I have had just over a week on holiday from work, plus a couple of sick days before that. Working in a school on a term time only contract means I get six weeks’ holiday – and do I need it. Still recovering from being ill, I can at least not worry about getting back to work for a while.  

I am very much continuing to read according to mood, and my reading mood is ever fickle. It means I may not always be reading in line with particular reading events or challenges. In July I read three books I later realised qualified for Women in Translation month – and as I haven’t had chance to review much of my July reading yet, they can be reviewed in August. A happy accident – I didn’t plan it at all. I also read three books on kindle (and finished one of my others on kindle by buying a second edition – a must when my arthritic hands are really playing up.)  

I began the month reading Women Against Men by Storm Jameson (1982) three novellas published together by Virago originally written in the 1930s. Each story is about a woman and their relationships with men, and other women. Storm Jameson is an excellent writer deserving of more recognition today and these three novellas were brilliantly observed.  

Our Spoons Came from Woolworths by Barbara Comyns (1950) was of course a re-read for me. Imagine my joy when my book group chose to read it, and everyone loved it. A book which needs little introduction to many, it tells the story of a young couple, who marry despite having few resources, Comyns doesn’t waste our time or intelligence with any romantic notions of being poor and in love, this is the grinding reality, told in the only way Comyns could tell it. A simply wonderful novel.  

Vivian by Christina Hesselholdt (2016) translated by Paul Russell Garrett was given to me by Jacqui for Christmas. A lovely stylish Fitzcarraldo volume – they do make very attractive editions. A novel about the (fictional) life of the enigmatic American photographer Vivian Maier. A novel about art, madness and identity.  

Enbury Heath by Stella Gibbons (1935) a recent-ish book voucher purchase was a pleasure to spend time with. This is a rather bittersweet novel; apparently semi-autobiographical, it was inspired by the time the author spent living on Hamstead Heath in a little cottage with her two brothers. I enjoyed very much the relationships between the siblings and the fact there was a little more sharpness to this narrative than some of Gibbons other novels. Halfway through this one, I had to buy a second copy on kindle to finish it.  

Sticking to my kindle, I next read Transcendent Kingdon by Yaa Gyasi (2020) the first of her two novels I have read. I thought it was outstanding – although no one warned me about the vivisection stuff. A deeply layered novel about an American-Ghanaian family in Alabama it is about depression, science, faith, addiction and loss – one I shall find hard to do justice to in review.  

After Midnight by Irmgard Keun (1937) translated by Anthea Bell was the third novel by this author I have read. A brilliantly atmospheric novel which captures the mood of 1930s Nazi Germany, as we follow Sanna, Gerti and their friends who are trying to be young and have fun, but to what a backdrop.  

An Elderly Lady is Up to No Good by Helen Tursten (2018) translated by Marlaine Delargy. This was a slight, fun read. Five stories about Maud – who is 88 years old, lives alone, has no friends or family, travels widely, and has absolutely no problem with a little bit of murder – when its necessary. I have the second book containing seven more stories about Maud past and present to look forward to.  

Green for Danger by Christianna Brand (1944) was my last full read in July, a new Golden age author to me – and a thoroughly enjoyable mystery. Set in a military hospital during WW2 a small circle of potential suspects doesn’t stop this one from being a really compulsive whodunnit.  

So now we are into August – Women in Translation month – and I have those three books still to review – not sure each warrants a post to themselves; I shall have to see. I am hoping to read more books by women in translation as well, but I just need to see where my mood takes me – I do have quite a few to choose from. So, no more reading plans than that, as my book group are reading a book I have already read.  

I have started August reading The Boarding House by William Trevor (1965) less than a hundred pages in and it’s excellent, superb characterisation and observation. I wait to see what else August brings me.  

Please tell me what brilliant things did you read in July? and what are your plans for August? (What WIT books should I be considering?)  

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The last day of July! Gosh, that really went quickly. The sun is shining today at least, and on these rare and glorious days I do take advantage of the sun and read outside. Let’s hope for a bit more of it.

So, then this is what I read in July, the final book of the month finished just this morning in the garden. Oddly, this last week has been a very slow reading week – no idea why – still my total stands at ten, which considering the last week isn’t too bad – two of this month’s books read on kindle.

My first read of the month was Two Serious Ladies by Jane Bowles – which was picked at my suggestion by my book group. The novel follows the decline into debauchery of two very different women, Frieda Copperfield and Christina Goering. I enjoyed it, Bowles’ straightforward narrative voice is very engaging and rather mischievous.

Read for Spanish Lit month, Carlos Manuel Álverez’s debut novel The Fallen tells the story of an ordinary family living together in Cuba. It’s a short novel, tender and at times painful. An enjoyable and honest portrayal of Cuban family life.

The Matchmaker by Stella Gibbons was certainly the post that received the most views and comments this month, it seems people love her books. In the first early winter of peace, after the end of the Second World War, Alda Lucie-Brown and her three young daughters move to Pine Cottage in rural Sussex uprooted by the bombing of their family home near London. Alda then involves herself just a bit too much in the love lives of some of her neighbours.

Quicksand & Passing by Nella Larsen – two novellas in one volume. I first read Passing some years ago, but not Quicksand, I decided to read them both back to back. What an extraordinary pair they are. So much to think about.

Three Women by Lisa Taddeo came in my Books That Matter subscription box. It’s a marmite book that’s for sure, and though it gave me a lot to think about and while I didn’t hate it, I did have some issues with it.

Miss Plum and Miss Penny by Dorothy Evelyn Smith a lovely Dean Street Press book I had been looking forward to a lot. What I really enjoyed in this novel is that beneath the story of a spinster’s disrupted village household there are some dark undertones and a slightly subversive tone. This is as far as I have got in reviewing July’s books, but that’s ok, as some of my next reads are for August’s #Witmonth anyway.

Deborah by Esther Kreitman translated from Yiddish by the author’s son. The story of Polish Jews before the First World War. A slow start, but I thoroughly enjoyed this evocative, fascinating novel that took me right into the heart of a community.

Hurricane Season by Fernanda Melchor translated from Spanish, this Mexican novel is shortlisted for the International booker prize. A fairly no holes barred account, often brutal and very intense. I can see why it made the shortlist. There were moments when I struggled to like this one.

A House in the Country by Ruth Adam – another of the new crop of Dean Street press books. Not to be confused with the Persephone book of the same name. The story of a group of friends taking on a large (33 room) house in the country after years of wartime deprivations.

A Fine of Two Hundred Francs by Elsa Triolet translated from French. Four stories of differing lengths about the French resistance. This turned out to be a slow read, but very evocative for all that.

So, that was my July in books. Here’s to whatever August brings – August of course, as I talked about in a previous post is all about #Witmonth and All Virago All August. I will juggle the two – although the book I am about to start is for neither challenge. It seems I can’t help but get distracted/attracted by other things. So, following a lovely author event via Zoom the other day, my brand new copy of Miss Benson’s Beetle by Rachel Joyce arrived on Wednesday and I am about to dive in. It is just what I am in the mood for. I definitely have more lovely books for Women in Translation month and All Virago all August ready to go too – so I am hoping for a good month of reading ahead.

What lovely things did you read in July? Are you joining in with Women in Translation month or All Virago All August – if so what will be on top of your pile?

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July has been a funny old month- it seems to have raced by in some ways, and I have now been on holiday from work for a week. However, I have only read seven and a half books during July – which is a little below my average. I have been utterly exhausted for weeks – and I still am, (living with and working with an autoimmune disease taking its toll I think). In fact, this year I am at least a month’s worth of reading behind where I was this time last year. Thankfully, the quality of what I read this month has been very high, and that is definitely more important. Anyway, I now have a few weeks recovery before I am back at work – time for some quality reading too, I hope.

I am currently away for a few days, which is why you have the rather odd pic-collage image above rather than the photo of book spines I usually do. Instead you have a couple of holiday pictures from Teignmouth – my very happy place (although it’s raining this Tuesday morning, hence me rattling away on my laptop). My reading mood has become very fickle in the last two weeks – and that is interfering with my #20booksofsummer (more of that later).

I began July reading An American Marriage by Tayari Jones which recently won the Women’s Prize. An American Marriage tells the story of Roy Hamilton and his wife Celestial. He has a good job and has married into a wealthy family. Then Roy is arrested and convicted of a crime he didn’t commit. It’s an honest portrayal of American injustice an exploration of gender roles, as well as being a moving and compelling story of a family.

Marie by Madeleine Bourdouhxe is a novella a novel about love, sensuality and passion. Depicting the internal life of a married woman who despite loving her husband has a heady affair with a young man she meets at the beach. It’s a beautiful piece of writing.

Next was Murder in the Mill-Race by E.C.R Lorac – another excellent mystery from the British Library. Set in Devon Dr Raymond Ferens and his wife Anne; tired of the depressing slums, preventable disease and dirt of Northern city life, take the opportunity to swap life in a Staffordshire mill town for that of a Devonshire village on Exmoor. Here they encounter a surprising amount of malice and hatred in the small community they are living in. Soon the warden of a local children’s home is found drowned.

Warlight by Michael Ondaatje was my top read of the month, beautifully written and evocatively memorable. 1945 the war has ended, and the London landscape is changed almost beyond recognition. In Putney fifteen year old Nathanial and his sister Rachel have been abandoned by their parents and left in the family home in the care of a couple of strange guardians. Initially the bemused siblings rather assume their guardians are criminals of some sort – though in time, they worry about this far less than one might imagine.

Persephone book, Despised and Rejected by Rose Allatini is a remarkable novel, first published in 1918 it was definitely ahead of its time. Subject to a trial and a fine for the publisher it disappeared for many years. The novel’s attitudes to pacifism and homosexuality as well as its clear desire to see the continent of Europe united was contrary to popular opinion at the time. It is a bravely honest novel, that exposes the terrifying jingoism of a country obsessed with war.

Beneath the Visiting Moon by Romilly Cavan was another big hit for me from Dean Street Press, their Furrowed Middlebrow series is becoming a favourite. Likened by some to Guard your Daughters, it features an impoverished blended family and a large cast of supporting eccentric characters, romance, family and coming of age in the last summer before WW2.  

The Wedding by Dorothy West – recently sent to me by the lovely Virago – it is the second novel from the author of The Living is Easy (a book I own but haven’t read). I have yet to review it – but I thought it was a wonderful book. I am very grateful to Virago for the sending me two Dorothy West books out of the blue, which inspired me to read an author I had meant to read for ages.

I am now a good way into Liar by Ayelet Gundar-Goshen – which I will include in next month’s roundup.

August for me will be about recharging my batteries. I am going to be joining in Women in Translation Month and All Virago All August. I should be finishing #20booksofsummer – but I might be failing with that. I had read twelve books – than I decided to swap Beneath the Visiting Moon for Girl, woman, Other (which I hope to go back to but couldn’t get into) which made thirteen and now I seem to be set on a path of reading only books not on my original pile. Swapping all seven remaining books seems like a cheat – and a couple of those virago and Persephone books I might still read – I am in a mood of not knowing what I will read next until I pick it up. When I came away, I had to bring several books with me to pick from. So, apologies to Cathy, I knew I was rubbish at #20booksofsummer – I knew I shouldn’t have signed up – let’s just wait and see just how many I end up managing. My book group have picked Educated by Tara Westover for our August book – but I haven’t even bought it yet, and in fact I’m reading our September read first because I fancied it more.

So, let me know what your best books of July were – and what you have planned for August. Whatever it is – I hope you enjoy it.

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July in review


July has been a funny old month, a heatwave in Britain, high temperatures that began in June, weeks of no rain, then finally some very welcome, heavy rain right at the end of the month. July is always tiring for those of us who work in schools, and July proved to be a tiring, slow reading month.

Thank you to those of you who regularly read, and interact with me here and on Twitter – during these really tiring weeks it has been a real struggle to keep the blog going.

Most of the books I chose as you can see from the photograph were very slight volumes, I seem to gravitate towards small books when I’m tired, because I get irritated very quickly, so when I am only managing thirty or forty pages a day – I tend to avoid large books. I also read three of July’s books on my kindle – it is much kinder to tired eyes.

There is one notable exception in the photo – The Collected Stories of Muriel Spark – I have cheated in including it – because I have only read a little over 260 pages of the almost 600 – what I have read is wonderful. I hope the same volume will appear in next month’s picture too. I would love to get the whole volume finished – but I do have rather a lot planned for my August reading, so I may not squeeze it all in. I have already reviewed five short stories from that volume – which I absolutely loved, and highly recommend them, if you haven’t read Muriel Spark’s short fiction.

I began the month reading Jane Gardam’s The Queen of the Tambourine, a quirky, one sided, epistolary novel with an unforgettable narrator.

The War on Women by Sue Lloyd-Roberts, one of those invisible kindle books, was my book group choice – and despite being very readable. And containing many important stories, it proved a tough read. We all found it quite unremittingly hopeless.

Loving and Giving by Molly Keane was probably my stand out read of the month. Keane’s final novel – it shows great maturity and has a killer twist right at the end.

The Welsh Girl by Peter Ho Davis on my kindle was something of a slow burn – the book was perhaps a little longer than I had expected. Overall, I really enjoyed the novel, though my enjoyment was affected by bad mood/tiredness. There is a wonderful sense of place in a novel in which belonging, and nationalism are important themes.

June’s offering from the Asymptote book club was the novella The Tidings of the Trees by Wolfgang Hilbig – which I have seen described as a prose poem. Hilbig’s prose is beautiful, full of meaning and metaphor.

Excellent Intentions by Richard Hull was a great lazy weekend read, a golden age style mystery from the British Library. Hull tells his story rather differently, beginning with a court case, where someone is on trail for murder. Only the reader doesn’t know who.

Heartburn by Nora Ephron is a light bright, breath of fresh air. Based on the story of Ephron’s second marriage, it is every bit as sharp as it is funny.

July’s Asymptote book club book is I didn’t Talk by Brazilian novelist Beatriz Bracher it tells the story of a man, retiring as a university professor. Still haunted by what happened in 1970, when he and his brother-in-law were arrested and tortured. No one at the time was sure whether he talked. I hope to review later this week or early next.

My plans for August are simple – though the list of what I want to read seems to grow daily. I continue of course with my A Century of Books which is going well – and I shall be reading books for two challenges: All Virago All August and Women in Translation month – which I blogged about recently.


I’m currently reading Open the Door by Catherine Carswell – an old green virago book which I was saving until I had finished school for the summer and could immerse myself in. Alongside that of course I am continuing with those Muriel Spark stories for #ReadingMuriel2018.

How was your July for books? What was your favourite reads?

And whatever you’re reading in August whether it is at home, or on the beach, happy reading to you.

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July in review


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.


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?


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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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