Posts Tagged ‘march reads’


It’s the first of April and Easter Sunday – a very Happy Easter to those of you who celebrate it – but oh my it hasn’t felt very spring like at all. Still, a long Easter weekend is the perfect excuse to curl up with a good book, and I’m sure many of you will be doing just that.

March has given me some fabulous reading – quite a variety – some Virago Modern Classics, not one but two works of translation, short stories and a couple of modern novels. I went rogue a week or two ago – reviewing books out of the order in which I read them, so that my E H Young review would come out on E H Young day. I have made good progress on my ACOB – I accidentally read two books from 2011 in March – but as I’m doing quite well I don’t think it will slow me down too much. (I can’t believe how obsessed I have become with year published dates).

I began March with The Girls of Slender Means by Muriel Spark definitely my favourite of the four I have read so far this year, on a par I think with A Far Cry from Kensington which I enjoyed so much last year. It is 1945 where all the nice people are poor, and the girls of slender means reside at The May of Teck club where they share a Schiaparelli dress. It’s a fantastic novel.

March was also Read Ireland month – I read two novels for the event – and the first of them Mad Puppetstown by Molly Keane. In this novel Molly Keane portrays an early twentieth century Irish childhood – compulsively evocative. It is almost certainly my favourite Molly Keane novel to date.

The Forgotten Waltz by Anne Enright was my second read for Read Ireland month. It is extremely well written, and yet something left me completely cold, and ultimately disappointed.

The Juniper Tree by Comyns was so, so good, it saw me ordering a couple more Comyns novels on the strength of it. It is one of her later novels, with a deceptively dark heart – as Comyns, having lulled us into a false sense of security, pulls the rug out from under us.

My latest book from the Asymptote book club was Love by Hanne Ørstavik, a heart-breaking story of a mother and son in Norway. Brutal and bleak it is another unforgettable little book.

Celia by E H Young – reviewed out of order for E H Young day – is novel which has marriage at its heart. In this 1937 novel E H Young examines the marriages of three related couples. It was my fattest book of a month – which generally saw me reading quite slight novels (I didn’t choose them for that reason honest). Young’s characterisation is always superb, and I very much enjoyed the eponymous character – who hides her sharp intelligence behind a domestic vagueness.

I love a novel set in World War two – and admittedly I would usually prefer them written during World War Two too, however Crooked Heart by Lissa Evans (which I had had on my kindle for well over a year) ticked off 2014 in my ACOB. It was an excellent read, and I am very much looking forward to reading more by Lissa Evans.

Persephone do publish some fabulous short story collections – Midsummer Night in the Workhouse by Diana Athill is yet another. I am already a fan of her writing through her memoirs, and these stories were every bit as good. I shall be reviewing them in a day or two.

Some of you may remember me pledging to read more books in translation during 2018 – in a bid to widen my horizons. That is what led me to sign up for The Asymptote book club subscription. I recently had a twitter conversation with a couple of people about women in translation. I asked for recommendations for mid-twentieth century women writers in translation – and got a long list to explore. One name which I was recommended first was Clarice Lispector, a Brazilian writer I have seen likened to Virginia Woolf, James Joyce and others, certainly Near to the Wild Heart did put me in mind of Virginia Woolf at times. It was a dense little read, quite challenging yet still very enjoyable. I needed something very different afterwards.

I had Pre-ordered The Trick to Time weeks ago – and it arrived on the day I finished Clarice Lispector. I loved My Name is Leon, and with Kit de Waal being a Birmingham writer – who writes about Birmingham I had to read it straight away. I’m not going to say too much about it now – but yes, it is certainly another good novel. Review to come.

April is upon us, and #ReadingMuriel2018 will see me reading The Bachelors and I hope to read The Ballad of Peckham Rye as well. I am still enjoying my Muriel Spark reading very much. The week after next my very small book group will be reading Men without Women by Haruki Murakami – a book of short stories, I have bought it for my kindle despite slight reservations. I’ll be honest – I have never considered Murakami to be my kind of writer – but we will see. The 1977 club starts on April 16th – and I have several books to choose from including Dancing Girls by Margaret Atwood (short stories) and The Danger Tree by Olivia Manning (book one in the Levant trilogy) I also have Agatha Christie’s autobiography and somewhere buried in the tbr is a book called A marriage of True Minds about Virginia and Leonard Woolf which I had originally meant to read for #Woolfalong two years ago!


As ever, please tell what you are reading, and what books you loved most during March.
Happy reading.

Read Full Post »


Spring does feel like it’s finally arrived, the weather is still typically unpredictable but things to do seem milder, and daffodils are out in lots of parks and gardens around here. I am looking forward to the two-week Easter holidays – I’m definitely in need of a break, and I hope for a good bit of reading time, as well as having plenty of other things pencilled in. Nine and a half books read, which these days is pretty good – I managed two books for #ReadIreland17 hosted by Cathy and stepped royally out of my comfort zone with not one but two of the books I chose.

I began March reading The Great Fortune by Olivia Manning, the first book in her Balkan Trilogy, events take place in Romania during the first year of the Second World War. It brilliantly recreates a city living in fear of invasion, and the atmosphere that exists there for a group of ex-pats. I am looking forward to the next two books in the series, I should get around to the next one soon. I have found that I love Olivia Manning’s writing, and have a few books tbr.

A Winter Away by Elizabeth Fair was a review copy sent by Dean Street Press – who publish the Furrowed Middlebrow novels, it made for perfect, lazy weekend reading. A Winter Away takes us to a small English village, and introduces us to twenty-year-old Maud Ansdell, who has come to stay with her father’s cousin Alice and her companion Miss Conway. She starts work as secretary to a local, wealthy eccentric, and becomes involved in the lives and loves of several village neighbours.

My local MP is Jess Philips who has recently published Everywoman, part memoir part feminist manifesto – it is perhaps not my usual reading fare – but I was convinced to read it after attending a talk with Jess Philips at Waterstone’s here in Birmingham. I recommend it heartily to everyone.

The Librarything Virago group are choosing a different Virago author for each month this year – Edith Wharton was our author for March and I had had Roman Fever a fabulous collection of stories tbr for ages. It is one of those collections where every story is quite honestly superb.

Molly Keane’s Conversation Piece was the first of my two reads for #ReadIreland17 and although it won’t be my favourite Keane, it was a good read despite rather too much racing/hunting stuff. Set amongst the shabby, gentility of rural Ireland; the world Molly Keane knew from the inside.

One of my favourite reads of the month was Every Eye by Isobel English – a Persephone novella, with a brilliant final line (that alone should make you want to read it).

The second book which took me outside my comfort zone was Hisham Matar’s brilliantly poignant memoir The Return – it is the story of his father’s disappearance at the hands of the Libyan regime and of his own return to Libya more than thirty years after he left it as a child. It has recently been longlisted for the Orwell prize; awarded for political writing.

Friends and Relations; Elizabeth Bowen’s third novel was my second read for #ReadIreland17 – Elizabeth Bowen qualifies as she was born in Dublin though most of her books are not set in Ireland. This one like several others set in London, where we meet four families linked by two couples who marry a few months apart in the early part of the novel.

My second Dean Street Press book of the month was, Arrest the Bishop by Winifred Peck, one I bought after reading a great review of it somewhere. Review still to come, but I did enjoy this Golden Age crime story set in a Bishop’s palace.

I am now reading A Wreath for the Enemy by Pamela Frankau – which Simon reviewed recently – it was the nudge I needed. I love Pamela Frankau – well I have loved the three I have read to date, and about half way through this one I can say I am enjoying it hugely.

EVASo, April is here with the #1951club on the horizon, hosted again by Karen and Simon. I have three or four books which were first published in 1951 – so just need to decide which I will read. The LT Virago group are reading Elizabeth von Arnim in April, and although I am tempted to re-read The Enchanted April – I have three or four other von Arnims tbr which I will select from instead. I recently bought my mum a copy of The Enchanted April – she’s never read EvA – and I really hope she likes it.

On the subject of reading weeks,someone recently asked me if I was going to be hosting a Mary Hocking week again this year. The obvious time to do it is around her birthday which is April 8th – but I had already decided to not host anything this year – so, sorry, no Mary Hocking week this year.

What have you been reading in March? Anything I should know about?


Read Full Post »

March seems to have rather run away with itself – is that just me?

Mind you I will be rather glad to see the back of March in some ways. I have manged to be ill for three weeks of it. The first week a heavy cold which I thought had gone away but came back in a different/far worse incarnation. I’m now on antibiotics for a chest infection. Blogging when ill isn’t easy I don’t find – but I have tried to keep up. Still some good reads in March, several of which were on my kindle which again is perched on top of my book pile photo.


I began the month reading Night and Day for #Woolfalong – definitely it was one of the highlights of the month, a longer novel than I generally associate with Virginia Woolf, and one that has a much more conventional structure than many of her more famous works. I then read Harriet Said… for my very small book group – I had read only one Bainbridge before it and now want to read many more. Our book meeting was postponed for two weeks due to my being ill; when we did eventually meet (I was ill again!) we had a lot to discuss, but basically we all loved it. Lots and lots of bloggers have been reading and reviewing some fascinating books for Read Ireland month, and Good Behaviour was my first read for it. Generally I really like Molly Keane, but I think her novels vary in quality; Good Behaviour I think must be one of her best (I do still have several to go). On my kindle I read The Trouble with Goats and Sheep, which has been much talked about on social media, and I recently attended a talk at Waterstone’s by the author. I enjoyed it a lot – hugely readable with two lovely child characters, set in the infamous summer of 1976. Too Dear for my Possessing, also on kindle from the extensive catalogue of Bello Books is only the second Pamela Hansford Johnson novel that I have read, an excellent novel, the first in a trilogy that I plan on completing in the not too distant future.

Peaches for Monsieur le Cure is a novel I have had for around three years, I had been on the verge of culling it – when I decided to give it a go – I’m so glad I did. The third book in Joanne Harris’s Chocolat trilogy – it takes the reader back to the town of Lansquenet and the characters we first met in that first novel. The Maiden Dinosaur was my second read for Read Ireland month – and the fourth Janet McNeill novel I have read – it shows Janet McNeill to have been a wonderful observer of people, and really quite humorous although in a slightly dark way. My Mortal Enemy by Willa Cather – one of my favourite writers – I am trying to eke out her books – was another book I have had for ages. A brilliantly short novella, in it we meet the memorable Myra Henshawe – seen through the eyes of a young girl. My third read for Read Ireland month was The Little Girls by Elizabeth Bowen – I wasn’t sure how I would find it as I have seen very conflicting reports of it but I enjoyed it enormously, though it’s not an easy read. My last completed book of March was Visitors to the Crescent by Mary Hocking on my kindle, in time for my Mary Hocking reading week at the beginning of April. I then moved on to The Lark by E Nesbit on my kindle which many of you will remember Simon of Stuckinabook enthusing about not long ago I’m less than half way through that but certainly enjoying it.

Mary Hocking reading week

So what lies ahead? I am looking forward to two reading weeks in April – Mary Hocking week of course – and the following week Karen and Simon host the 1938 club. For that I think I will read The Squire by Enid Bagnold – yet another book I have had for ages – though I could change my mind yet – I have at least one other contender. My very small book group will be reading The Daylight Gate by Jeanette Winterson – which looks very good indeed. I also plan to get back to Virginia Woolf with Between the Acts, Virginia Woolf’s last novel.
What are your plans for April? Do share.

the squirethe daylight gatebetween the actsx

Read Full Post »

malverninmarch(A lovely early spring day on the Malvern hills with my local rambling group)

Goodness how time flies – March seems to just have whizzed by. Ten books read during March – a really lovely mix of things although I didn’t get around to any non-fiction this month. The month began with the third book in the Dance to the Music of Time sequence – I am so enjoying the sequence so far. I read another two novels this month by Willa Cather, ‘One of Ours’ and ‘Sapphira and the Slave girl’ – my intention of reading more by her this year so far going well – I think could end up a bit of a Cather addict. A couple of lovely shiny new books ‘The Collected Works of A.J Fikry’ and ‘Winter’ – a novel about Thomas Hardy served to remind me that there is some great new things out there too. The month ended with an unusual Persephone book – Patience by John Coates, which judging by the reviews I have seen elsewhere now, really seems to divide opinion. I really liked it, but it’s certainly not flawless. I am currently half way through – A Surfeit of Lampreys by Ngaio Marsh – and loving it – but couldn’t quite get it finished in time, so it will have to go in my April books read list instead.

Here’s the full list:
22 The Acceptance World (1955) Anthony Powell (F)
23 Dew on the Grass (1934) Eiluned Lewis (F)
24 Winter (2014) Christopher Nicholson (F)
25 One of Ours (1922) Willa Cather (F)
26 The Collected Works of A J Fikry (2014) Garbrielle Zevin (F)
27 Sunlight on a broken Column (1961) Attia Hosain (F)
28 Lucia in London (1927) E F Benson (F)
29 Sapphira and the Slave girl (1940) Willa Cather (F)
30 Once Upon a timepiece (2013) Starr Wood (F)
31 Patience (1953) John Coates (F)

My stand out reads for March were: Winter by Christopher Nicholson, The Collected Works of A.J Fikry and ‘Sapphira and the Slave Girl’







So on to what I will be reading in April. April might just be a really good month. I have two weeks holiday from school coming up for Easter – yippee! During April I will be reading another Anthony Powell book ‘At Lady Molly’s’ and my next Hardy re-read will be The Well Beloved – which I have already read twice – and remember as being a fairly odd but strangely compelling little novel. I also have some nice looking new books to get around to really soon. I really want to read something else for the Great War Theme read too, and there are a couple of books I had hoped to read this month that I just didn’t get around to. Several collections of short stories are calling to me from the shelves – I find I am enjoying them more and more these days. So I am hoping for more reading time in April what with that lovely long Easter holiday, with what I would like to get through I’m going to need it.


Read Full Post »


March has been a funny old month, here in the UK the weather has been spectacularly unseasonable, and I have had some big decisions to make. I don’t always enjoy having to do grown up real life stuff – and I have been a little stressed and over tired. This resulted in the first half of the month in particular being a slow couple of reading weeks for me. Thankfully the books I chose to read this month have proven to be wonderfully good company, and my reading has speeded up again this last week, making for a good end to a chilly March.
I have in the end read ten books this month, only one of them non-fiction. Some I want to draw particular attention to:
Read for my on-going Hardy challenge The Woodlanders was a true delight, I had remembered reading it in the summer of 1986 – funny how, having been so enthralled with it then, ever afterwards remembering where I was when I read it, that it took until now to read it a second time. Jane and Prudence read for the Librarything Virago group’s centenary read-a-long, was another re-read for me, a wonderful Pym novel with great characterisation. Ruby’s Spoon, which I read before going to meet the author at a local meet up group, was a wonderful surprise; I loved the characters and Black Country dialect, and can’t wait to read more from this author. Taking Chances was my classic club spin book – and only the third Molly Keane novel I have read, I look forward to the others of hers that I have TBR. The Heir is a beautifully poignant novella which I had been looking forward to reading, and has put Vita Sackville West firmly on that list of authors I must read more of.

The full list of what I read during March

24 The Woodlanders (1887) Thomas Hardy (F)
25 Jane and Prudence (1953) Barbara Pym (F)
26 The Death of Lyndon Wilder…(2013) E A Dineley (F)
27 Ruby’s Spoon (2010) Anna Lawrence Pietroni (F)
28 A Compass Error (1968) Sybille Bedford (F)
29 Mr Briggs’ Hat (2011) Kate Colquhoun (NF)
30 Taking Chances (1929) Molly Keane (F)
31 Nightingale Wood (1938) Stella Gibbons (F)
32 The Heir (1922) Vita Sackville West (F)
33 Less than Angels (1955) Barbara Pym (F)


So April is upon us – and I have been planning carefully what to read – given that the first two weeks of April I am on holiday I am treating myself to some extra lovely books. There are a couple of books that I had for Christmas, a couple of Persephone books No Surrender and Hostages to Fortune, and another Barbara Pym. I have chosen Volume 1 of the Complete Mapp and Lucia, which I bought with a Christmas Amazon voucher, I intend to read and review each of the three books contained in the collection, separately. Sense and Sensibility is another re-read, I have been looking forward to it since I got this new clothbound edition for Christmas. I will also be reading Vile Bodies by Evelyn Waugh, Ragdoll books is going to doing some Evelyn Waugh reading this month, and as I have had Vile Bodies TBR for ages it seemed a good excuse to read it. I have also put Swan in the Evening on my April pile, it is the autobiography of Rosamond Lehmann, I previously enjoyed several of her novels, and look forward to finding out more about her. As I am undertaking to only read books by authors born in May for my month of birthday reading, I have put A Glass of Blessings on to April’s pile it can be my last book of April instead of my first book in May. My pile is not as big as it sometimes is, but the Mapp and Lucia count as three and if I get through them all I may just go mad and be spontaneous.
In other news I have been buying books again – no real surprise there and with a London book shop trip planned for Tuesday things could get a whole lot worse. I have also been updating my classic club list – I don’t seem to be able to leave it alone, it is getting to be like the forth bridge and the magic porridge pot.

Read Full Post »

March Reads

I have managed to read 11 books during March. Looking through the list I see 4 were non-fiction and I rarely read more than 2 non-fiction in a month. However my special mentions are all fiction.

24 Rosie’s War (2011) Rosamond Say (NF)
25 Persepolis (2003) Marjane Satrapi (NF)
26 The Hand of Ethelberta (1876) Thomas Hardy (F)
27 A View of the Harbour (1947) Elizabeth Taylor (F)
28 Winnie & Gurley (2012) Robert G Hewitt (NF)
29 The Snow Child (2012) Eowyn Ivey (F)
30 The Closed Door and other stories (1935/1941) Dorothy Whipple (F)
31 A Late Beginner (1966) Priscilla Napier (NF)
32 Girl Reading (2011) Katie Ward (F)
33 The Grain of Truth (1968) Nina Bawden (F)
34 Against Odds (1894) Lawrence L Lynch (F)

My special mentions then for March are:

1. The Snow Child – Eowyn Ivey, a beautiful debut novel, based around the Russian fairy tale of the same name.

2. A View of the Harbour – Elizabeth Taylor – her third published novel set in a down at heel sea-side town.

  3. The Closed Door and other stories – Dorothy Whipple – wonderful stories from the 30’s and 40’s.

4. The Grain of Truth – Nina Bawden – the first Nina Bawden novel for adults I have read – a quite dark story I thoroughly enjoyed.

Read Full Post »


23 Room (2010)

Emma Donoghue  (F)

24 The Remains of Sherlock Holmes (2010)

Paul W Nash (F)

25 My Family and other Animals (1957)

Gerald Durrell (NF)

26 The Affair of the blood stained egg cosy (1975)

James Anderson (F)

27 The Finkler Question (2010)

Howard Jacobson (F)

28 Hide My Eyes (1958)

Margery Allingham (F)

29 Climbing the Mango Trees (2005)

Madhur Jaffrey (NF)

30 Dissolution (2003)

C J Sansom (F)

31 A Five Year sentence (1978)

Bernice Rubens (F)

Nine books read this month and some good one among them. Honourable mention must go to:

1. Room – Emma Donoghue – a fantastically unputdownable novel, with an unforgetable narrator.  (F)

2. My Family and othe animals – Gerald Durrell – a brillaint memoir of an eccentric childhood, (NF)

3 Dissolution – C J Sansom – a tudor mystery, and the first in what could be an addictive series  (F)

4 A Five Year Sentence – Bernice Rubens – a very unusual novel, memorable and quite dark.  (F)

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »