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January is finally over – its always the longest month of the year. I always feel I should have read at least seventeen books in January, what with it going on forever like it does – but of course I never read any more than I usually do. I have read nine books in January, the last one I only finished quite late last night. It’s been a pretty good month for books.

I began the month and the New Year (how long ago does that feel?) reading Mrs Tim of the Regiment by D E Stevenson (1932) on my kindle. A gentle, escapist kind of read, and a book which started life as two. Mrs Tim herself – Hester is our narrator who regales us with the ups and downs of motherhood, domestic life and being married in part to the regiment in which her husband is a captain. The family move to Scotland and Hester has lots to put up with. A new house, new neighbours and later when on a visit to the highlands she is embroiled in romantic interferings at the behest of a new friend.

Milkman by Anna Burns (2018) was my book group read for January. I hadn’t expected to love this book quite as much as I did. Brilliantly written, it is a blistering evocation of the troubles in Northern Ireland, the voice is so strong, and Burns recreates a community under immense pressure perfectly.

Another Woman’s House by M G Eberhart (1947) was a chance find in a charity shop last year. Set in America in a beautiful house overlooking the sound, the action takes place over a period of about twenty-four hours. Myra has fallen in love with her guardian’s nephew, with whom they have been staying for some time. Richard’s wife Alice was convicted of the murder of a neighbour two years earlier. Now Alice is suddenly free – and she wants her life back.

The Casino by Margaret Bonham (1948) was my first of two collections of short stories this month. A beautiful collection of stories, written in the 1940s, many featuring parents and children. Bonham set most of these stories in Devon which I know quite well – and constantly feel pulled back to – they were a real pleasure to read, especially as I had spent a week in Sidmouth just a few weeks earlier.

Another big pleasure was my re-read of Some Tame Gazelle by Barbara Pym (1950) with a Barbara Pym Facebook group. It was my third reading of it – and this time I thought a lot about poor Belinda and how hard she is on herself. If you haven’t ever read Pym, then her first novel is a great place to start, it is absolutely classic Pym from start to finish and a complete joy to read.

Alice by Elizabeth Eliot (1949) – thanks to Dean Street Press for the review copy – was another fabulous surprise. A writer in the tradition of Barbara Comyns and Rachel Ferguson, I am looking forward to reading more by this author soon. Alice is the best friend of narrator Margaret – and the book takes us from the girls’ last year at school in the 1920s through to just before the Second World War.

My first novel in translation of 2019 was Like a Sword Wound by Ahmet Altan (1997) the first book in what promises to be a hugely compelling Ottoman quartet. A host of characters and fascinating historical drama from Europa Editions, I just hope the rest of the series gets translated into English too.

Phoenix Fled by Attia Hosain (1953) my second collection of short stories this month, I found rather sad. Beautifully written though, and very evocative of a time and place; India around the time of partition. There are many kinds of families here and traditions come up against a changing western influenced world.

My final read of the month was Craven House by Patrick Hamilton (1926) an author I have heard such good things about – particularly from Jacqui from Jacquiwine’s Journal, who raved about this book last year. Set in a boarding house from just before the first world war – to the mid-1920s, it is a wonderful collection of character studies. I often love books with great settings, characters and little plot – and this is one of those. A review in the next few days.

I have no particular plans for February – my book group read is one I really am unsure about – and as things stand, I may not be able to go that night, so I might just decide not to read it. My thoughts have been turning more and more toward short stories, works in translation and Barbara Comyns – so some of those may be popping up soon. I also have been thinking of re-reading some of my Elizabeth Taylor novels. Though, there is one collection of Taylor short stories I still haven’t read (I have been saving them for years – no idea for what) perhaps I should just dig those out. The Librarything Virago group continue reading the 1940s – and our theme in February is relationships. I’m sure I have something that will fit.

Did you read anything brilliant in January? – please let me know.

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Following the two other round-up posts I have done this week a December in review post seems a little redundant, but it helps to complete the picture of the year.

I read nine and a bit books in December – the bit will now have to be my first book of 2019 – finished my A Century of Books and scored a wonderful pile of new books at Christmas.

I began the month reading A Saturday life by Radclyffe Hall, a comic novel about a precocious child, artistic experience and the possibility of reincarnation.

Olivia by Dorothy Strachey (published under the pseudonym of Olivia) was a little surprise, I hadn’t expected to enjoy it so much. Olivia is sixteen when she is sent to Les Avons a finishing school near Paris, run by two mademoiselles. This is a school of an entirely different kind. It is a school where there are few rules, where laughter and passionate discussion are actively encouraged. Olivia revels in this atmosphere so unlike anything she has experienced before.

The Towers of Trebizond by Rose Macaulay is a novel with a famous opening line – but it is worth reading for more than that. The novel follows the progress of a group of characters as they embark upon a journey from Istanbul to Trebizond. They are, Laurie – our narrator, her Aunt Dot (Dorothea Ffoulkes Corbett) and Dorothea’s friend, high Anglican priest Father Hugh Chantry-Pigg.

I’ve loved everything I have read by Diana Athill and Stet – an editor’s life was no exception. Shining a light on fifty years of publishing, her work alongside André Deutsch, and the writers she worked with, I can see why Stet is a favourite with many Athill fans.

For my 1993 slot of A Century of Books I read A Virago Keepsake, a collection of essays published in 1993 to celebrate Virago’s twentieth anniversary. Twenty pieces by or about Virago writers – many of them reminiscences of the beginnings of Virago, and the start of careers. There were very familiar voices with pieces by Margaret Atwood and Maya Angelou, other writers were new to me. A collection very much of its time.

The Old Man and Me by Elaine Dundy was one of my highlights of the month. In Honey Flood we have a fascinating unreliable narrator. In a city of bohemians, drug users, hipsters, jazz clubs and smoky bars, Honey sets about meeting C.D McKee, a legendary Englishman of enormous proportions and wealth. She is a young woman on a mission, and she needs to reinvent herself to put her plan into action.

Basil Street Blues by Michael Holroyd was recommended to me by someone on Twitter – a family memoir in which Holroyd writes honestly about his family, taking something of a back seat himself.

Playing the Harlot by Patricia Avis was my final book for ACOB, first published in 1996 having been initially refused publication when it was first written. Set among the raffish literary crowd in which Avis moved – which included Philip Larkin, we follow Mary and her friends and lovers through several years of complicated relationships.

Appointment in Arezzo – a friendship with Muriel Spark by Alan Taylor is a wonderful book, having read Spark’s autobiography Curriculum Vitae last month, this book provides another layer of understanding about Muriel Spark.

So, yes rather untidily I do still have two books from 2018 to review – I will get back to reviews soon.

In 2019 I will be reading more of whatever I please – fewer challenges this year. Though I am looking forward to the Librarything virago group’s year long reading event. Reading the 1940s – which is something which will be very easy to dip in and out of. There is a theme for each month – January has the theme of family. There aren’t really any rules – most of us will probably read mainly Virago and Persephone editions/authors though I can see Dean Street Press editions and perhaps Vintage editions creeping in too. I already have lots of books that will fit so I will probably join in quite a lot. Pretty much anything goes – published in the 40s or set in the 40s – fiction or non-fiction, set anywhere in the world, we’re certainly not restricting it to the war years.

In a couple of weeks, I will be re-reading Some Tame Gazelle by Barbara Pym with a Barbara Pym FB group I started a few years ago. My book group will be reading Milkman by Anna Burns, so that will probably be my next read. I am currently reading Mrs Tim of the Regiment by D E Stevenson on my kindle – and enjoying its relaxed and witty tone.

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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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