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Unbelievably we are already into the final month of the year. Soon I shall have to think about my books of the year list and say a fond farewell to #ReadingMuriel2018 – which I have enjoyed enormously. However, there is still time for all that – so let’s talk November reading.

November began with me reading The Diviners (1974) by Margaret Laurence – a Canadian modern classic and novel I knew it would be hard to better with anything else I read during the month.

Lucia’s Progress (1935) by E F Benson has languished on my kindle along with the other Mapp and Lucia books for years. It was a fun, escapist read, Elizabeth and Lucia are both is full battle cry for most of the novel – and it’s frequently hilarious.

Destination Unknown (1954) by Agatha Christie – as always, Christie is perfect for over tired, weekend reading. I loved this one, one of Christie’s thrillers set outside the UK.

Life Before Man (1979) by Margaret Atwood I read for Margaret Atwood Reading Month – it was one I missed when I was reading her earlier novels back at the end of the 1980s. It’s a novel about three people trapped by their various love affairs. Fairly unlikeable characters, fantastically explored, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Curriculum Vitae (1992) by Muriel Spark is her short autobiography, it takes us up to the point of the start of her writing success. I enjoyed this glimpse into Spark’s life, and yet she remains fairly elusive throughout.

Home Life (1986) by Alice Thomas Ellis – is the first volume of Ellis’ Home Life articles that she began writing for the Spectator in the 1980s. Warm, and humorous it was a delightful read.

I seem to have been reading quite a lot of short books in my race to finish ACOB Casualties of Peace (1966) by Edna O’Brien was another. It’s the story of an innocent and a crumbling marriage that descends into violence.

Jill (1946) by Philip Larkin has been sitting on my shelf since a bookcrossing friend gifted it to me – last Christmas. I had already read and loved A Girl in Winter so looked forward to it. Jill – which I still have to review – is an excellent novel but not quite as pitch perfect as A Girl in Winter. I still wish Larkin had written more novels.

The Birthday Boys (1993) by Beryl Bainbridge – is Bainbridge’s story of the five men who were part of Scott’s expedition to Antarctica and who died on their return journey from the pole. I had seen some amazing reviews of this, and although I am nervous of the real people in fiction thing – I think this is a good novel and a must for those fascinated by those tragic explorers. I didn’t quite love it as much as other readers – but Bainbridge’s writing is excellent, and her exploration of the psychology of these men is particularly good.

All these books were read for my A Century of Books, I am suffering a little for all the duplicate years I read a few months ago – I should really have finished by now. Anyway, I will have six years left after my current read which I may finish today – December is busy though, with several evenings and weekend afternoons already booked up, which impacts on my reading time.

Very much looking forward to going away for Christmas – and I am hoping for lots of cosy reading time (well I can dream) in the last week or ten days of the year. After I finish my A Century of Books, I will read just whatever I feel like.

Yesterday I popped down to London for a few hours to visit a couple of book shops and meet up with a couple of friends, including Karen from Kaggsy’s bookish ramblings. We visited Foyles on Charing Cross Road, Oxfam bookshop in Bloomsbury and of course the Persephone bookshop.

I know I had sworn not to buy books before Christmas – but of course I didn’t stick to that – though nothing I bought was from any of my current wish lists. I bought several books as gifts which are now hidden away – but ended up these for myself – some new some second hand – and three passed on to me by my book enabling friends. I know my tbr has just gone nuts – but I can’t help but love the look of them all piled up there. In case you can’t read the spines, this is what came home with me, from the bottom up.

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Daughters of Decadence – women writers and the fin de siècle Edited by Elaine Showalter, short stories.
Unexplained Laughter by Alice Thomas Ellis – Simon just reviewed this one.
A Winter Book by Tove Jansson
The Listener by Tove Jansson – been meaning to read more by her for a while, and they have French flaps! Sold.
The Finishing School by Muriel Spark
Vanish in an Instant by Margaret Millar – I found out about Margaret Millar’s fiction through Buried in Print’s blog – and stupidly bought a massive omnibus of four novel. I say stupidly, because I loathe reading huge, heavy omnibus editions and so it is unlikely I will ever pick it up. Seeing this single version of a Millar novel (not included in my omnibus edition) I snapped it up, as I have wanted to try her work for a while.
The Casino by Margaret Bonham – short stories
Journal of Katherine Mansfield
(I had bought 4 Persephone books as gifts so had to buy two for me to get the deal – they are cheaper in threes, plus I got a free tote bag). I resisted buying the new ones in hopes of at least one of them for Christmas.
Eve in Egypt by Stella Tennyson Jesse
The Case of the Gilded Fly by Edmund Crispin – these two kindly passed on to me by Karen.
Moonraker by F Tennyson Jesse – which was passed on to me by my friend Claire.
I know! – oops indeed.

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That’s it – on to December – is your tree up yet? I might do mine next weekend as I’m away for Christmas, I won’t get to enjoy it much otherwise. I refuse to be all bah humbug about Christmas trees etc – because the world is dark enough right now and I love Christmas lights.

Hope your November was good for books – what brilliant things did you read?

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October in review

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We turned the clocks back an hour at the weekend. Sunday was spent telling each other that yesterday it had been such and such a time – a yearly tradition in this part of the world that always makes me smile. Suddenly we have only two months of the year left, and again I’m forced to remember how true it is that the years go faster as we get older. I have always had a slight fondness for November – which I know not everyone shares – fireworks, poppies for remembrance, Christmas markets starting up – I quite like it really.

October was an ok reading month – ending with a half term holiday spent by the sea and visiting glorious moorland. Restorative and wonderfully bracing, and the extra reading time thrown in just what I needed.

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October began with me reading Early Spring a memoir of childhood and adolescence by Tove Ditlevsen, Early Spring faithfully recreates the sights and sounds of Tove Ditlevsen’s 1930s childhood environment. It was a childhood of great poverty, and loneliness and yet Ditlevsen grew up with a burning determination to write.

Staying with Relations by Rose Macaulay was the book which accompanied me on y weekend away to this year’s Bookcrossing convention. It is a book worth reading for Macaulay fans, and I enjoyed it, though I admit it is not as such a good novel as either The World my Wilderness, Told by an Idiot or Crewe Train. It tells the story of Catherine Grey a young writer who accepts an invitation to stay with her aunt, cousin and her aunt’s second husband and step children at her house in the Guatemalan jungle.

A Spark novel that I certainly hadn’t previously heard of, The Only Problem is a wonderfully entertaining novel. An academic writing a book on the Book of Job while his estranged wife runs around with French terrorists and a policewoman masquerades as a housekeeper – could any of this come from anyone other than Muriel Spark?

I had been looking forward to the second book in Olivia Manning’s Levant Trilogy, and The Battle Lost and Won really didn’t disappoint. Here we continue to follow the fortunes of Harriet and Guy Pringle and others in Cairo, as well as young Simon Boulderstone, a young officer fighting the war in the desert.

Seven for a Secret by Mary Webb was a book that I had had for years, never quite managing to get around to it. My A Century of books was the impetus I needed – and it turned out to be a thoroughly enjoyable read. Gillian Lovekin is eighteen as the novel opens, living with her father, on his farm in the Shropshire hills. Gillian is a very pretty girl, a head full of dreams and longings – including for men to lose their hearts to her. It is rooted in the Shropshire countryside of Webb’s birth, it tells the story of Gillian and Robert Rideout and the stranger who comes along and disturbs their rural community.

White Hunger by Aki Ollikainen is a powerful little novella from Peirene Press. A novel about survival, White Hunger takes us to the heart of the Finnish famine in 1867. Uncompromising description, and some quite lovely writing, stop this from being utterly depressing – but it does make for a tough little read.

Another World by Pat Barker like Seven for a Secret was only pulled from my shelves because of ACOB. It was the only book I had for 1998 – and I already knew I enjoy Barker’s writing. In this novel, the shadow of WW1 falls across three generations of one family. It is the 1990s Geordie a WW1 veteran is dying at 101 years old. His grandson and his second wife have recently moved into an old house with their various squabbling children and a spooky old mural is revealed as they start to decorate.

Symposium by Muriel Spark was thoroughly enjoyable. It starts with guests at a dinner party – introducing us to quite a number of characters all at once. The narrative moves back and forth in time – slowly revealing the past of one of the guests in particular.

My very small book group picked Vox by Christina Dalcher as our November read. I decided to read it quickly while away as I can’t count it for my ACOB and the last two months of the year will be a bit of a race to the finish. Billed as a re-imagining of The Handmaid’s Tale – we were all very excited. I don’t want to pre-empt my review too much but – yes, it is very compelling, very readable but it is no Handmaid’s Tale and should not be seen as such. Part speculative fiction part thriller – it’s an entertaining read, but I can’t say I have been blown away.

So here we are – November 1st. My plan for the next few weeks as I mentioned is to make good progress with the last sixteen books of ACOB. I shall, however be reading Curriculum Vitae for #readingMuriel2018 and Life Before Man for Margaret Atwood reading month.

I have just started reading The Diviners by Margaret Laurence. I believe it is strictly speaking the fourth in her Manawaka series of novels, and I have only read and the first and second, but as far as I can tell it doesn’t matter what order they are read in.

As always, I love to hear about what you have been reading and about your plans for coming month.

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September has been a bit of a strain in one way and another – so much so that my reading and blogging has taken a bit of hit. The other day I was having a moan on Twitter (like we all seem to do these days) convinced that I had hardly written any blog posts this month – well things haven’t been that bad. I think the month felt so long – endlessly long and exhausting – that it made me feel as if I had read and blogged even less than I have. A perusal over the weekend showed me I really hadn’t done too badly. I’m hoping to do better in October – but we’ll see.

I read eight books in September – I’ve started another but that can go into next month’s pile. A nice collection of books in the end – most of which have gone toward taking me to seventy-seven years done in my A Century of Books.

Summer’s Day by Mary Bell – really got the month off to a great start, a much better novel than I had expected, Summer’s Day is a school story for adults. Bell’s characters are so well drawn, and the stories she weaves around the staff and pupils, compelling.

Loitering with intent by Muriel Spark is now firmly placed in my list of top five Spark novels. Published at a time when Muriel Spark’s writing career was already well established, Loitering with Intent is a novel about writing. It is a wonderful novel, reminding me somehow of Momento Mori maybe as it’s packed with eccentric characters.

Told by an Idiot by Rose Macaulay is the second novel by Rose Macaulay I have read this year, and the third overall. It prompted me to buy two more from ebay (quite good for second hand books). The novel charts the ever changing social, political and religious fortunes of England from the 1870s to the 1920s through the eyes of one family.

Dear Austen by Nina Bawden is a poignant work of memoir. A letter to her beloved late husband, Austen Kark, who was killed in the Potter’s Bar rail crash in 2002.

A Case of Exploding Mangoes by Mohammed Hanif – is an entertaining dark satire of Pakistani militarism and religious piety, it is a reimagining of the events surrounding the plane crash which killed dictator General Zia in 1988.

The Pumpkin Eater by Penelope Mortimer was a stunning novel I thought. Only the second Mortimer novel I’ve read, The Pumpkin Eater is novel about the pitfalls of marriage and motherhood, Mortimer’s simple prose is wonderfully immersive, dreamy and intimate.

Pirates at Play by Violet Trefusis – the only Trefusis I have read aside from her letters to Vita. While I didn’t fully engage with the author’s voice in this one, it is a well written, entertaining romantic comedy with a good sense of place.

The Cheltenham Square Murder by John Bude was my last full read of September chosen simply because I needed a vintage mystery fix – my go to genre when I over tired and struggling. I enjoyed the mystery – not too demanding but just puzzling enough to keep the reader guessing – having changed my mind once or twice I did settle on the correct culprit in the end.

So now it’s October, and I am looking forward to reading more titles for my A Century of Books, but apart from that I have no specific reading plans. My book group will be reading Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie – but I read it last year, so I might move straight on to our November read soon instead, Vox by Christina Dalcher, which certainly sounds interesting.

Those of you who love old books and books by women might be interested in The Second Shelf – they are launching soon, and I have pre-ordered their first quarterly. Follow them on Twitter if you’re not already.

This weekend is the annual UK bookcrossing convention in sunny Ipswich, never actually been there before. I shall have the temptation of lots of books I can take away for free. Not to mention catching up with bookish friends, and two nights (with brekkie) in a Premier Inn, that’s a good weekend. Knowing what my tbr is like – I have every intention of being good when it comes to picking up books. 😊 I have seen a few people on Twitter talking about a book called The Lingering – not sure if it’s a me book or not – but the author S J I Holliday is one of the speakers at the event, so I shall make sure I catch her talk.

So, there we are – October is proper autumn isn’t it? – time to light candles and get the slippers out. Happy reading to you all. Tell me, what brilliant things did you read in September?

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It’s September already – well August always does fly by.

It’s been a lovely summer, but Monday sees a return to work, and a return to less reading time and blogging time. I always take a couple of weeks to settle back into the routine.

I have read a fair bit during August, the number of books is perhaps not much greater than usual, but I feel as if I have read a few fatter books. The Muriel Spark Complete stories of course was in last month’s photo too, I read almost half of it during July, and in August read the second half.

August is both Women in Translation month and All Virago all August, and so I was happily juggling books for both challenges.

Open the Door by Catherine Carswell was my first VMC of the month, I read while I was on a short break in Belgium. Open the Door! Is the story of a young woman’s awakening, her search for love, independence and happiness is brilliantly and compellingly told. Joanna is both trapped and in time released by her large capacity for love.

New Islands by Maria Luisa Bombal is a small collection of stories from the most creative period of the Chilean author. A couple of the stories are rather strange, but I still enjoyed them.

The Seventh Cross by Anna Seghers is a novel about a man who escapes from a concentration camp in Germany in the late 1930s. However, it is also about a lot more than that, showing us exactly what life in Germany was like for ordinary people. It seems timely indeed that this German classic has been reissued now.

Sisters by a River was Barbara Comyns first novel, one which gave me a lot to think about, as Comyns light, bright, breezy tone is very deceptive, behind the humour there is a lot that is really rather dark. Comyns wraps that darkness in witty anecdotes, that rather belie some of the content.

The Bridge of Beyond by Simone Schwarz-Bart is a novel about mothers and daughter and the legacy of slavery, set on the lush island of Guadeloupe. It was chosen by my book group (my suggestion) and we will meet to discuss the week after next.

Before Lunch by Angela Thirkell – is an enjoyable social comedy written in that last year of peace. It was a deliciously witty bit of escapism.

I found David Golder by Irène Némirovsky to be fascinating – it has been viewed as quite a controversial novel – which now having read it I understand. I enjoyed it though, and the novel gave me a lot to think about, Irène Némirovsky was an interesting and complex woman.

My kindle which is peeping out from among the real books above I took on a trip to the Isle of Wight, having been reminded of poor hotel lighting when I was in Belgium. I read The Night Watch by Sarah Waters – a novel of considerably more than 500 pages – it zips along art a cracking pace and is so well written with excellent period detail. I am reminded I must read more by her.

The Solitary Summer by Elizabeth von Arnim is the follow up to her first novel Elizabeth and her German Garden and is really every bit as wonderful and life affirming.

Love, Anger, Madness by Marie Vieux-Chauvet is a Haitian triptych. Three novellas, which I still have to review, which were powerful, disturbing and quite compelling.

cofI have started reading a book I bought ages ago from a charity shop (I think) called Summers Day by Mary Bell (1951) – a book published by Greyladies. I really could find virtually no information about either the novel or the author (the name being shared by a notorious British child killer). I came across this piece on Furrowed Middlebrow’s site about the author – which interested me.

September is the start of phase 5 of #ReadingMuriel2018 – and I have three Spark novels to read over the next two months. Apart from that I haven’t made any reading plans, although I need to concentrate on my ACOB – I have precisely thirty years to go. I may just do it! Though a couple of recent purchases might distract me from that, two beautiful looking new books that I really want to read.

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I read some excellent things in August, and as always would love to hear what you read.

Happy September reading.

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July in review

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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.

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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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The second half of June has seen us in the UK bathed in glorious sunshine, our gardens are wilting, and temperatures are reaching over 30˚C somewhere in the UK every day. Hose pipe bans are being talked about already and there are wildfires raging on some of our moorland. Not much fun working in a building built before air con was ever dreamed of and not many windows that open – but once I’m home; I am managing to enjoy at least half an hour reading in my garden which is bliss. (oh and the dodgy looking fence in the picture was finally replaced yesterday – hooray!)

Eleven books read during June, two of them on the kindle.

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June started with two Persephone books back to back – though I reviewed them out of order I think. The Carlyles at Home (1965) by Thea Holme portrays the home life of writer and philosopher Thomas Carlyle and his wife, during the thirty odd years they lived at Cheyne Row in Chelsea. Thea Holme; the author, wrote it while she and her husband were living in the house as custodians.

Young Anne (1927) by Dorothy Whipple – was just a joy, the final book of hers left to be reissued by Persephone books, it was actually her debut. I loved every word.

I was already part way through The Collected Stories of Grace Paley (1994) I had read about seventy pages of it during May but carried on dipping in and out of it while I read those Persephone books. I am a big fan of short stories, and I enjoyed this collection though I’m not sure if I Paley’s style was completely to my taste. I was impressed though, with her ability to bring the New York neighbourhoods she knew so well to such vibrant life.

The Takeover (1976) by Muriel Spark for the 70s phase of #ReadingMuriel2018 – set in Italy it is a story of corruption and money as a rich American woman tries to get her villa back from the Englishman who has laid claim to it.

Joanna Godden (1921) by Sheila Kaye-Smith was such a lovely read, it was a pleasure spending time on the Sussex marshes with Joanna in the late nineteenth, early twentieth century. Joanna is a gloriously unforgettable country heroine.

My first ever grown up A A Milne book Four Days’ Wonder (1933) was a big success, light, bright breezy fun, I really can’t wait to read more by him.

The Chilli Bean Paste Clan (2013) was my sixth book with the Asymptote book club. I am quietly impressed with myself for reading them within a few weeks of their arrival and not allowing a pile of them to just collect on the bookcase. The story of a family in a fiction town in Western China it isn’t my favourite of the Asymptote books – but I am glad to have read it.

Old Baggage (2018) by Lisa Evans is a prequel to her 2014 novel Crooked Heart which I enjoyed so much, I was offered a review copy of Old Baggage. I had meant to read it in time for its UK publication, but didn’t quite manage that. My review should be up in a couple of days all being well.

I read Who Calls the Tune (1953) by Nina Bawden on my Kindle – her first novel – I can’t say I expected much from it, I tend to find her later novels are better. But I really enjoyed this mystery style novel – the ending of which I did sort of guess. An entertaining quick read all in all.

Eliza for Common (1928) by O Douglas. I was fortunate recently to be able to buy a few books from someone in a booky FB group – two of the books I bought were these smaller style hardbacks of O Douglas. I was afraid the print would be very small – but in fact it wasn’t too bad. This is the story of a Scottish minister’s family in Glasgow, the eldest son, Eliza’s adored brother goes off to Oxford, later writing a play, that is something of a success. Eliza stays at home, nurses her mother though an illness, visits her brother in Oxford. It is the kind of novel where not a huge amount happens, I very much enjoyed it.

I finished the month by squeezing in Not to Disturb (1971) by Muriel Spark, again on my kindle – for #ReadingMuriel2018 – I was so sleepy last night I did have to finish the last bit this morning, despite it being a very slight 96 pages. Still most of it was read in June – just.

A good reading month all in all with Young Anne and Joanna Godden my reading highlights.

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On to July – I am dipping in and out of The War on Women by Sue Lloyd-Roberts for my very small book group – we meet a week on Wednesday and I have already read three chapters, so I should make it. I am also just about to start reading The Queen of the Tambourine by Jane Gardam one of those gap fillers I bought for ACOB. I will probably be dipping into the Collected Stories of Muriel Spark too – although I really don’t think I will be able to get through the entire collection, too busy reading for ACOB! Aside from those, I will wait to see where my mood and my A Century of Books takes me.

What did you read in June that I need to know about? What are you reading now?

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So that was May! A strange mix of my fiftieth birthday (which was a joy) and a horrible chest infection. Being ill for the last ten days has meant extra reading time though – and looking down the list of things I read, it was a pretty good month.

The month started really well with Delta Wedding by Eudora Welty, my second try at Welty which was much more successful. A slow, evocative read with a stunning sense of place.

The Hothouse by the East River by Muriel Spark for #ReadingMuriel2018 was a strange surreal little book, but one I really enjoyed. Set in New York in the late 60s/early 70s it really shows Spark’s inventiveness.

Having loved the Durrell TV series, I was eager to read Whatever happened to Margo by Margaret Durrell, it underwhelmed a little to be honest, and certainly it lacks the humorous brilliance of Gerald Durrell’s books, but it was entertaining enough.

The Cat’s Cradle Book by Sylvia Townsend Warner is a gorgeous little collection of unusual stories, telling us the traditional stories passed on by adult cats to their kittens. Perhaps only STW could write in such a way, and make it work like she does.

I always enjoy finding a new to me author, and Ellen Foster, Kaye Gibbons’ debut novel was my first by an author I knew nothing about. I have another of her books to look forward to and a couple of commenters filled me in about her and her other books.

The Honours Board by Patricia Hansford Johnson is a school set book for adults, and I know there are a lot of readers who enjoy those. This is another excellent novel from PHJ, who deftly weaves together the various stories of the men and women who live and work at an English preparatory school.

Writers as Readers the anthology of VMC introductions is a book I am sure I shall return to again, a wonderful collection of VMC voices I very much enjoyed dipping in and out.

My fifth book from the Asymptote book club was Brother in Ice by Alicia Kopf one of several books I still have to review. It is a book I wasn’t sure I would like, but I did. It is a difficult book to describe, genre defying, it is part novel, part travelogue part research notes. Using stories of polar exploration, it is also the coming of age story of a young woman concerned about her older autistic brother.

Book two of the MaddAddam trilogy The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood kept me fabulous company as my chest infection really hit. The story in this book runs parallel to that of the one in Oryx and Crake, and in it we see again Atwood’s astonishing imagination.

Next, I read The Elected Member by Bernice Rubens for Shiny new books Golden Booker celebration, so the review will most likely appear there first – though not for a few weeks. I loved it, isn’t it wonderful when a book you have had tbr for an absolute age turn out to be so brilliant you wonder why it took you so long?

On a whim really, I chose to read My Wife Melissa by Frances Durbridge on my kindle – one of a number of Bello books I splurged out on a couple of years ago. I quite enjoyed it – though it did seem to be over almost as soon as it had begun. The story itself is entertaining, but for me there is nothing in the way of character development or setting description to lift it above the ordinary.

Yesterday afternoon I finished Tory Heaven by Marghanita Laski, which I only began on Wednesday evening. The mini Persephone readathon begins today, so despite having other things waiting to review, I shall review out of order and try and get this one reviewed by the end of the weekend. It is a sharply observed satire and a scathing indictment on the social hierarchy of the class system.

As well as all the above, I have read some of Grace Paley’s short stories in the new VMC edition of the Collected Stories. More about that in the coming weeks, as I continue to dip in and out.

Looking ahead to June…
I have just started The Carlyles At Home by Thea Holm – Persephone book 32 – it is about the lives of Jane and Thomas Carlyle when they lived at Cheyne row, Chelsea. I may stray away from my ACOB to read another Persephone book this weekend too, I shall see how I feel and what time I have. I shall of course continue with those Grace Paley stories and I am looking forward to The Takeover by Muriel Spark for #ReadingMuriel2018.

Whatever you’re reading in June I hope you enjoy it, and as always I would love to know about the best things you read during May.

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