Posts Tagged ‘sept reads’

Here I am on the 2nd of October trying to work out why I failed to blog much again during September – the month when I was going to try and get back to something close to normal. I don’t know – fatigue is a big factor but it’s frustrating, nonetheless. I am missing that interaction I get from blogging, so I need to try harder. I only managed to write three blog posts during September, and I am again horribly behind reading everyone else’s. Anyway, I read or re-read eight really good books during September and was a good way into my ninth as the month ended. That final one can go into October’s pile though.  

One thing I managed in September after weeks of almost exclusively reading on my kindle was to read some physical books – I had rather missed that. Two books read on kindle at the beginning of the month but then I managed to get some physical books off my tbr.  

Oddly enough, the beginning of September now feels like a long way away, when I was reading Marking Time (1991) by Elizabeth Jane Howard on my kindle. The second book in the Cazalet series which has whetted my appetite for more soon. Set toward the beginning of WW2 – we see the changes war brings to the family.  

My next read, Mr. Bowling Buys a Newspaper (1943) by Donald Henderson – a friend had mentioned it to me after she had finished reading it, and I knew I wanted to read it too. Apparently, Raymond Chandler’s favourite novel, it is something of an inverted crime novel. The mystery here is not who the killer is, but whether he will be caught. For Mr Bowling buys a newspaper following each of his murders to see if there is any news on his crimes. The trouble is no one takes much notice of his victims, there is a war going on after all, which is a pity because Mr Bowling really wants to be caught – or thinks he does.  

Of Love and Hunger (1947) by Julian Maclaren-Ross was one of the books that appeared in Jacqui’s blog post about boarding house novels. I admit I hadn’t heard of it but was intrigued enough to buy a copy. These penguin modern classics are such satisfyingly smart editions. We follow the fortunes of Richard Fansawe, a vacuum cleaner salesman in a down at heel seaside town. He lives in a dingy boarding house, never has much money and hangs around town with the other dubious characters who pursue the same, depressing occupation. War is approaching, several of the characters refer to the certainty of it – and whether it will give them another purpose. Against this background Richard meets Sukie, who he finds very desirable – she is also married to his friend. What Maclaren-Ross does so brilliantly here is to reproduce the atmosphere of this town, these disappointed men pursing a hopeless profession.  

A View of the Harbour (1947) by Elizabeth Taylor was a reread. My love of Elizabeth Taylor is well known, I think. I have read more than half her novels twice and have been meaning to re-read the rest for ages, this felt like such a treat. Newby, a coastal village long past its best, everyone looks out on everyone else. Nothing much goes unseen for very long. Bertram, a painter comes to this place, just before the season gets going. Tory, still smarting from her failed marriage has become involved with her neighbour Robert, whose wife Beth is Tory’s friend but is far more involved with the fictional worlds she creates in the books she writes. Mrs Bracey – an invalid, never leaves her house, is a sore trial to her daughters who she pesters for gossip. Her world has narrowed to what she can see from the window or hear about from others. Lily Wilson lives above the town waxworks; she is lonely and a little afraid of the exhibits when she comes back alone at night. She starts frequenting the pub a little more often – for the company. Taylor is as brilliant as ever here – the atmosphere of a sad, grey seaside town and its inhabitants is perfect, her observations as ever spot on.  

Odesa at Dawn (2022) by Sally McGrane was kindly sent to me by V&Q books and I fully intend to review it soon. I am determined to get the three review books I read in September reviewed this month, even if I manage nothing else. Totally outside what I usually read, yet I really enjoyed it. Odesa at Dawn is described as a surreal contemporary spin on the classic spy novel. Fast paced and witty, we really get to see the gritty, dark underbelly of Odesa. I shall save the rest of my thoughts for a full review.  

War Among Ladies (1928) by Eleanor Scott very kindly provided by the British Library, the latest in their women writers series. This was easily my favourite book of the month. Again, I intend to review this one more fully in time. Set in a girls’ High school in the fictional town of Besley – which we quickly realise is a narrow-minded provincial entity, of which it would be disaster to fall foul. The staffroom at Belsley High School is a haven of bitter resentments and spiteful gossip. The staff are all single women living in shabby lodgings, if they lose their job, they lose their pension and all the years they have paid into it. In a school where the failure of one means the failure of all, everyone is under threat. A new teacher arrives, full of optimism but soon gets drawn into the scheming, internal politics.  

The Seat of the Scornful (1941) by John Dickson Carr again sent to me by the British Library, I have quite a number of these BLCC books tbr, I chose to read this one over the others because it is set in Devon. I have a great love of Devon, though Devon itself doesn’t really play much of a part here. Still, it is a thoroughly enjoyable mystery, a small cast of characters, yet still keeps the reader guessing and I thought the twist at the end was quite brilliant.  

I do plan to review some of those books, though certainly not all of them. Fingers crossed I can do a bit better this month. 

The Pachinko Parlour (2018) by Elsa Shua Dusapin translated by Aneesa Abbas Higgins. I was sent to be by Jacqui after she had finished with it. A beautifully understated little novella. Claire travels from her home in Switzerland to visit her grandparents in Tokyo. She and her grandparents are Korean, they had fled Korea at the time of the war, Claire had grown up on another continent, visiting her grandparents in Japan from time to time. It is summer, the heat rises daily, Claire divides her time between tutoring twelve-year old Mieko in a strange apartment in an abandoned hotel (Mieko sleeps in what was once the swimming pool) and lying on the floor in her grandparents apartment, daydreaming. Her grandparents own Shiny, a Pachinko Parlour that draws people in day and night with its promises of good luck. The relationship which develops between Claire and Mieko is wonderfully drawn, as is the awkwardness of the relationship between Claire and her grandparents as she attempts to plan the long-promised trip for the three of them to Korea.  

In the meantime, tell me what you’ve been reading and what your plans for October might be.  

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September has been a sort of year’s beginning for me, for as long as I can remember. As a child I was ruled by the school calendar and the constant promise of weekends and school holidays, and my working life has been pretty similar – over thirty years working in the same primary school, this my thirty first September, and yet it wasn’t quite the same for me this year. I returned to work, after yet another sick leave before the holidays, looking forward to a new school year. Three staff days started the term off and that was that for me, I realised I wasn’t well enough, and so off I went again, not how I had wanted to begin the year. So, I haven’t even met any children yet. Anyway, long story short, I am starting again next week – hoping it will be much better.

So, therefore my September reading hasn’t been as dire as I had predicted (though my October reading might be) – it hasn’t been especially good either, because I have been binge watching Walter Presents dramas and falling asleep most afternoons utterly exhausted for no reason. Still, nine books read, and all of them great, and incredibly three of them non-fiction – I mean who am I?

I began with A Bite of the Applea life with books writers and Virago by Lennie Goodings (2020) a perfect book for me, I absolutely loved it.  Part memoir, part history of Virago including thoughts and reminiscences of over forty years of feminist publishing, this is the story of a publisher and a movement.

Nothing to Report by Carola Oman (1940) another great re-issue from Dean Street Press. Set mainly in the last few months before war breaks out in 1939, among the people of a small English village. There is a sequel I am looking forward to reading too.

I chose to read Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout (2019) the second book by Elizabeth Strout about this character because I was just in the mood for it’s linked short story style. An absolutely brilliant novel – through these stories, Elizabeth Strout creates the sense of a town – Crosby, Maine, and in Olive has created a remarkably real and thoroughly memorable character.

Ordinary Families by E Arnot Robertson (1933) was one of a very large pile of unread old green vmcs I have. Many have been languishing unread for a long time, and this one caught my eye when I was looking for something to read. A coming of age story rooted in a small boating community in the Suffolk marshes.

The Heart of a Woman by Maya Angelou (1981) is the fourth volume in her incredible autobiography. This volume sees Maya becoming immersed in the world of writers and artists in Harlem, going on to work in the civil rights movement and becoming involved with African freedom fighters.

The first of four books I read in September which I have yet to review – but will in the fullness of time. Dreaming of Rose by Sarah LeFanu (2013) was very kindly sent to me by Handheld Press earlier in the summer when I was up to my eyes in moving and reading for Women in Translation month. I finally read it and was surprised at how much I loved it. Surprised because I am not always good with nonfiction. A biographer’s journal it is a fascinating look at how a biographer works and her relationship with her subject. Rose Macaulay is a writer I am already fascinated by so it hit the spot and I went off and bought Sarah LeFanu’s biography of Rose Macaulay on the strength of it.

A nice bit of golden age crime hit the spot last weekend. These Names Make Clues by E.C.R Lorac (1937) sent to me by the British library, it’s one of their more recent publications. A treasure hunt party ends suddenly with the death of a writer – and the next day his agent is discovered dead in his office. Chief Inspector Macdonald is at the party under sufferance and so gets straight down to figuring it all out.

Whereabouts by Jhumpa Lahiri (2018) was a novel I had intended to read for Women in Translation Month but didn’t manage to fit it in. Translated by the author from the Italian – I am fascinated by Lahiri’s decision to start writing in her second language – and have already read one of her literary translations. This is a beautiful novel, delicate and fragmentary in which not much happens – a really lovely piece of writing. I am determined to read more of Lahiri’s back catalogue as I haven’t read much by her at all.

The Doctor’s Wife by Brian Moore (1976) I read for the upcoming 1976 club hosted again by Karen and Simon. I wanted to make sure I had at least one thing read and ready to write about, before going back to work. I will review it during the club week. A novel about an Irish woman who has an affair in Paris with a younger man might not sound especially compelling, it’s an age old type of story, but Moore brings so much more to it. It is insanely compelling.

I am not making any plans or promises for October. I do have a couple of review books I want to get to, including Sally On the Rocks by Winifred Boggs which I am on a blog tour for later in the month. I will be happy enough if I can just enjoy a few books even if it means reading less than usual. At the time of writing, I haven’t even chosen my next read – as I have just finished The Doctor’s Wife a couple of hours ago. I could read something else for the 1976 club – watch this space.

What brilliant things did you read in September? And what are your October plans? Whatever they might be – happy reading one and all.

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September has flown in some ways and in other ways has felt like its lasted months – and I have been reading really slowly. The pictured pile of books above, no doubt telling its own story, though I did read two books on kindle. All things considered though; I am very pleased with what I have managed to read.

 Of course, after months of shielding, and the long school summer holidays, going back to work was like being hit by a train. As well as trying to work, I am still struggling with my RA which hasn’t been stable for almost a year, I shall be starting new medication soon, so I am hoping that will make a big difference. At the moment, any part of the day/week when I am not at work is recovery time, and I often find I am just too tired to read more than a few pages.

I began the month reading Father by Elizabeth von Arnim – a delightful new re-issue from The British Library. In Father one of Elizabeth von Arnim’s later novels she employs both light comedy and poignancy to tell a story of unmarried women reliant upon men for the comforts of home. This is a glorious novel – von Arnim’s tone is humorous though she is making a serious point. Exploring the expectations that were placed on unmarried women in this inter war period. 

My book group chose Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams as our September read, and I looked forward to reading a book I had heard such good things about. I wasn’t disappointed.  It’s a fresh, honest portrait of a young black woman’s sexual exploits, supportive friendship, mental health struggles and recovery.

New publishing imprint V & Q books invited me to take part in a blog tour as part of their launch celebrations. Paula by Sandra Hoffman translated by Katy Derbyshire is a piece of autofiction, in which the author seeks to understand the silence at the heart of her own family.

Another novel from the British Library Checkmate to Murder by E. C. R. Lorac is another really good Second World War Golden Age mystery. A densely foggy night in London during the blackout, and an old miser is found dead by his visiting nephew. The odd inhabitants of an artist’s studio – tenants of the old man – are inevitably drawn into the drama.

I have been delighted to see Rose Macaulay enjoying something of a renaissance lately. Potterism reissued by Handheld press is a brilliant novel – which resonates still quite strongly one hundred years on. Potterism is a satire of the newspaper industry around the time of the First World War and just after.

When twins Jane and Johnny Potter are at Oxford just before the First World War, they despise the newspaper empire that has been built up by their father. They encounter others who think similarly – who see everything that Percy Potter’s newspapers stand for as being second rate, an inauthentic arm of the popular press – that incite gossip, sensationalism, conspiracy theories and what would now be called fake news.

Buttercups and Daisies by Compton Mackenzie was a delightful piece of whimsical escapism. Mr Waterall, a lovely comic creation, who is a pompous, rather delusional character – though not unkind. His enthusiastic purchase of a country cottage (which is little more than a shack) is delightfully portrayed – along with all the trials and tribulations that beset him and his family as a result.

I often reach for Dean street press books during times of tiredness or stress and A Game of Snakes and Ladders by Doris Langley Moore was one of a crop of DSP books I bought recently. Set over a period of almost twenty years mainly in Egypt it follows the fortunes of two women, who start out as friends, part of a touring theatrical company just after WW1. Thoroughly involving and well written, I only wished I could have read it faster.

After finishing A Game of Snakes and Ladders – I decided to start my 1956 reading. For anyone who doesn’t know, twice a year Karen from Kaggsy’s Bookish Ramblings and Simon from Stuck in a Book host club weeks – where readers will read books originally published in whatever year has been chosen for that club. This time it is 1956 – a very good year by the way. The 1956 club starts on Monday, so still time to find something to read next week. I chose to start with The Last Resort by Pamela Handsford Johnson – though I had a few I could have read instead. I haven’t quite finished it yet – so I shall put it on to next month’s roundup pile. So far it’s very good, Pamela Hansford Johnson is a very good writer.

My reading plans for October include another book for the 1956 club, time permitting,  Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid chosen by my book group – and I’m planning on reading Richard Osman’s new novel The Thursday Murder Club, I recently bought two signed copies to share with my mum and sister – but I get to read one copy first.

Tell me, what great things did you read in September? I love to hear what others have been reading and let me know what your plans for October are.

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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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September is a funny month for me, back to work after the summer holidays and a new school year make it feel a very long and a very short month all at once. Added to which I never manage to read as much as I would like in September. Eight books this month – and some of them were comfort type reads – the final two very short books.

September began with me immersed in Nights at the Circus by Angela Carter I devoured it in the four days before starting back at work. It is a work of extraordinary imagination – introducing us to the colourful world of Fevvers – music hall aerialiste a part woman, part swan phenomenon, or is she?

I had deliberately set aside some escapist/cosy reads for September, and as I headed back to school after the holidays I chose Quick Curtain by Alan Melville as the first of those to read. I do love these BLCC books, though naturally as with big collection there can be some variety in quality. I enjoyed Quick Curtain, though it won’t be a favourite – I hadn’t expected the tongue in cheek, satirical tone, but once I got used to that, I was thoroughly entertained.

The Librarything Virago group had chosen to read Nina Bawden during September, and I chose to start with Family Money. It tells the story of Fanny Pye, and her adult children. Fanny owns a large, valuable property in London that her children think she should sell. When Fanny is involved in a violent altercation between two men one night, they increase their persuasive efforts.

It seemed far too long since I read anything by Mary Hocking, The Sparrow one of her earlier novels is possibly now one of my favourites. Ralph Kimberley is a London vicar whose dedication to the campaign for nuclear disarmament brings conflict into his relationship with his wife, and his parishioners. When ex offender Keith Wilson comes to stay with the couple and their orphaned ten-year-old niece he brings more conflict and tension with him.

The Brandons by Angela Thirkell was an absolutely delicious cosy read, witty, 1930s middlebrow novel. My favourite Thirkell to date, and the one which has really convinced me to go on reading her – I just have to be in the right mood.

My final three reads of September I have still to review. When copies of The Fourteenth Letter by Claire Evans were being offered on Twitter I snapped up a copy – aware that it would be great September reading. Probably not my usual kind of thing – as I generally don’t like heavily plot driven novels, but this is very readable, superbly plotted, and set in Victorian London it has a wonderful setting too.

The Prince’s Boy by Paul Bailey was one of the books I bought in Paris at Shakespeare and Company – so reading it during a tiring, wet working week, brought back lovely memories of my little trip. The novel itself I found to be a bit of a slow burn – the story of the great love between two Romanian men who first meet in Paris in 1927. Overall, I really enjoyed it, my first Paul Bailey novel. though I do have another tbr.

I tried to finish Familiar Passions last night, – well I do like to finish the month tidily – by completing my final book of the month on the final day of the month – but haven’t quite managed that. My second Nina Bawden novel of the month. It tells the story of Bridie whose much older husband tells her he wants to end their marriage on their thirteenth anniversary, Bridie must find a new life amidst the ruins of the old one – what was a most unsatisfactory marriage. I shall save the rest for my review.

Don’t have many plans for October, but my book group is reading Strong Poison by Dorothy L Sayers – I read it about five years ago – and I can’t decide whether I have time to re-read it. I do remember some of it – so I will see what other distractions come along. Sayers never disappoints. The LT Virago group will be reading Margaret Kennedy novels, and I have ordered an old copy of The Oracles from ebay to read, which I am looking forward to. Towards the end of October Simon and Karen will be celebrating the #1968club – I have Eva Trout by Elizabeth Bowen and By the Pricking of my Thumbs by Agatha Christie – and may find more when I investigate further.

cofOh, and has anyone seen this – the new hardback edition of The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood – a thing of beauty, I couldn’t help myself. handmaidstaleendpaper

I also bought a second copy as a gift. You will see I also bought Oryx and Crake – which I always said I didn’t want to read – but I seem to have changed my mind.

autumn#A copy of Autumn by Ali Smith arrived yesterday morning from The Big Green Bookshop (if you don’t follow them on Twitter do so) – I haven’t read any Ali Smith properly before. I tried The Accidental years ago and didn’t finish it – but can’t remember why. Autumn has been chosen by my very small book group for our November read – so time to give her another try.

There it is, autumn is here and the nights are drawing in. So, what are you reading in October and what was wonderful in September?

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September is always a struggle for me – readjusting to my routine of limited reading after the long holidays. This month I have been absolutely exhausted from the first day back, with a big busy weekend last weekend thrown into the mix. I am finding myself mindlessly slumped in front of the TV more and more these days, and nodding off over my book when I do pick it up. So I have read eight books during September – and some of them were pretty small. Thankfully they were all great, I am realising I need to read according to my mood more often – though that can be hard when juggling reading events and book group reads.

I began the month with a lovely old book that I bought following a review on another blog. Victoria Four Thirty – follows the fortunes of about thirteen different characters who all catch the boat train from Victoria station, destined to link up with the Arlberg-Orient Express – each of them with their own stories in different places. I began Jacqui and Eric’s #ReadingRhys week with Quartet, Rhys’s first published novel – which I had also suggested to my very small book group – we all loved it. Before my second Rhys novel I read Death in Profile by Guy Fraser Sampson on my kindle, a novel which pays homage to the Golden Age of crime. Good Night, Midnight by Jean Rhys explores themes very similar to those in Quartet, but it is a world that she portrays brilliantly, the writing is exquisite, though there is a sad bleakness to these novels which might not be for everyone, but I must say I enjoyed both Rhys novels very much. It was also lovely seeing so much appreciation of Rhys’s work during that week. Another kindle read, No Place by Katharine D’Souza was a lovely comforting read, probably comforting because it was set in a place I know well, my home city of Birmingham. It’s a novel that explores what it is to belong, the characters’ realistic  people you really care about. For phase 5 of #Woolfalong I read  Three Guineas, I had read A Room of One’s Own last year. I enjoyed the first two thirds very much indeed, the final third dragged a bit for me – still I found lots to admire in an essay which is still very relevant today, and which is naturally beautifully written. The Feast by Margaret Kennedy – another fabulous old book which really should be re-issued by someone – was my favourite book of the month. There is something about books set in Hotels – all those disparate groups of people thrown together. I finished the month reading a book I was only given last weekend at that bookcrossing weekend I wrote about here. Pigeon Pie by Nancy Mitford, effervescent nonsense, world war two spies and first aid posts during the very early days of the Second World War before anyone realised just how terrible everything was going to get. A review of that one in a day or two.


So October is here already, and I am looking forward to my next book group read and the 1947 club. (Remember what I said about juggling reading events and book group reads.) How to be a Heroine by Samantha Ellis is our next book group read, a collection of essays which takes a look at literary heroines such as Jane Eyre and Cathy Earnshaw. I have three books set aside for Karen and Simon’s 1947 club but if I am going to read them all I had better start early.

a-chelsea-concertoa-footman-for-the-peacockHowever, before I get stuck into those – I am going to read the first of two titles I was kindly sent by Dean Street Press’s new imprint: Furrowed Middlebrow – their collaboration with Scott from Furrowed Middlebrow blog has resulted in nine fabulous looking titles published on October 3rd. A Chelsea Concerto by Frances Faviell, is a memoir of the London blitz. A Peacock for the Footman by Rachel Ferguson was the other title I was sent which I may get to this month as well – we shall see. I am also planning on reading A Writer’s Diary by Virginia Woolf for #Woolfalong.

As always I would love to know what you’ve read this month that I should know about, and what your reading plans for October are.

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September has felt like a very long month somehow, and one in which I didn’t read anything like as much as I wanted to. September saw me read just eight and a half books and few short stories from another volume. I can’t adequately describe how exhausted I am at the moment, and thus I am struggling to read as much as I want to – and I am definitely struggling with the blog – but fully intend to keep plodding on the best I can.

Following my exciting Mary Hocking news I began the month with The Climbing Frame, a book which illustrates how a minor incident can be blown out of all proportion by petty officials, newspapers and local gossip. Stranger in the House by Julie Summers, read for one of my book groups, explores the stories of the returning men and their families after World War Two. Next up was The Blackbirder by Dorothy B Hughes, a fantastic piece of vintage noir; I loved it so much I didn’t want it to end. Crome Yellow, by Aldous Huxley was my second book from publisher Vintage of the month – I have realised that I have loads of their books still waiting to be read. They really seem to publish many of the kinds of books that I love. The Lake District murder is a 1930’s police procedural re-issued in the British Library Crime Classics series. Noonday by Pat Barker is the brilliant conclusion to her second war trilogy; I bought it in hardback as I was so keen to read it – not something I do very often. I read The Big Sleep for my other book group, and due to aforementioned exhaustion didn’t make it to the meeting – however I was pretty disappointed in the book, enjoying the beginning and then getting bogged down and bored with the rest. My Career goes Bung by Miles Franklin a classic of Australian literature was the book I got drawn by the Classic Club spin; it was a re-read for me and one I thoroughly enjoyed. I also managed to read a few stories from the Shirley Jackson collection Let Me Tell You, which I will continue to review in bite size chunks, but the first few stories promise great things for the rest. I am finishing the month and beginning October a about two thirds of the way through Maid in Waiting by John Galsworthy, the seventh of the nine Forsyte Saga Chronicles, a whole new set of characters who I am enjoying meeting.

My literary highlights of the month:

the blackbirdernoondaymy career goes bung2

1. The Blackbirder – Dorothy B Hughes – great atmosphere, superb storytelling, with twists at every turn.

2. Noonday – Pat Barker. Barker has generally written about WW1 before, but in this novel she writes about WW2 with great authenticity, laying bare the true nightmare of the London blitz.

3. My Career Goes Bung – Miles Franklin, a superb sequel to her more famous novel My Brilliant Career, by a (then) young Australian feminist.

For October I don’t have any definite plans – I will certainly be just seeing how the wind blows. I simply want to enjoy the little reading I can do, I do have a few review copies waiting, one arrived this week and the others the result of me going a little nuts requesting books on Netgalley (which I usually stay right away from for a good reason), and some of them might be just the kinds of books I need at the moment. My Mother is a River arrived this week, and some of the Netgalley books I am looking forward to include: Trouble on the Thames, Murder at the Manor and The Little Red Chairs. As ever though, no promises as to when I’ll get round to them.

my mother rivertrouble on the thamesmurder at the manorthe little red chairs

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Time for my monthly round up post, which I confess I am writing in a tearing hurry as I know I am out three evenings this week and will have no time much for blogging. As I have already talked about in a previous post, September is always a slow reading month for me. Nevertheless, most of what I have read has been brilliant. The first book of the month I read hasn’t been reviewed here, but a review of it will be popping up on Shiny New books early in October. As well as the books listed below I did read a few pieces of non-fiction from my Truman Capote Reader, a volume I am still loving but struggling to get through, I will finish the entire thing one day – I promise.

The list:

89 Jeeves and the Wedding Bells (2013) Sebastian Faulks (F)
90 In the Mountains (1920) Elizabeth Von Arnim (F)
91 The Military Philosophers (1968) Anthony Powell (F)
92 The Four Graces (1946) D E Stevenson (F)
93 The Odd Flamingo (1954) Nina Bawden (F)
94 A Legacy (1956) Sybille Bedford (F)
95 Harvest (2013) Jim Crace (F)
96 Claudine’s House (1922) Colette (F)
97 Gone Girl (2012) Gillian Flynn (F)
98 The Pastor’s wife (1914) Elizabeth Von Arnim (F)

I have been trying not to buy books during September – I caved in and bought one right at the end of the month, still not bad for me, and so maybe I should allow myself one book purchase a month from now on. Due to not buying books I ventured into the library instead, having so many books at home I don’t go all that often, and then when I do I get a bit library obsessed again for a while. My library acquisitions included my first ever Colette, which was wonderful, I have now been back to the library and taken out two more Colette books and a Margaret Kennedy for Margaret Kennedy reading week – (October 6th – 12th) hosted by Fleur in her World – I hope a lot of you will be joining in with it. MKreadingwweek

My stand out reads for this month:
My two Elizabeth Von Arnim books: In the Mountains and The Pastor’s Wife – I want to read everything else by her now – (although I felt like that a couple of years ago and didn’t manage to get around to doing so). Harvest by Jim Crace and A Legacy by Sybille Bedford.

During October I am looking forward to reading more Colette, some Margaret Kennedy (who I haven’t read before) my next Anthony Powell, and I fancy a bit of old fashioned murder on the side possibly too. Other than that I will see what the mood takes me, and read accordingly.

Let me know what you will be reading – I always love to know.

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autumn leaves

It’s probably the whole going back to work after the long summer break thing – but September has felt very long, I have been very tired, and it seems I’m finishing the month off with a cold. I have read nine books during September and I’m part way through another – that is a little under my average, and one of the books was very short.

94 Tess of the d’Urbervilles (1891) Thomas Hardy (F)
95 House-Bound (1942) Winifred Peck (F)
96 Remember, Remember! (1999) Winifred Holtby (F)
97 A Room with a View (1908) E M Forster (F)
98 Welcome Strangers (1986) Mary Hocking (F)
99 The Pre-War House & other stories (2013) Alison Moore (F)
100 The Thoughts &happenings of Wilfred Price… (2012) Wendy Jones (F)
101 Crampton Hodnet (1985) Barbara Pym (F)
102 The Fatal Eggs (1925) Mikhail Bulgakov (F)

As you can see – there is no non-fiction on the list again, I’m seriously off non-fiction these days. However I did read quite a variety of things, including six books from my classic club list. The literary highlights of September were: Tess of the d’Urbervilles a re-read for my Hardy challenge, A room with a View, another re-read, for the classic club spin, and Persephone book House-Bound. I read two books of very different short stories with some stories as ever being better than others. Welcome Strangers was an excellent final instalment to Hocking’s Fairley family trilogy, lovely Crampton Hodnet felt like vintage Pym while Bulgakov took me right out of my comfort zone.

2013-08-20 00.08.41So on to October – I have decided it’s pointless putting together a pile of books to read during the month – as I seem to be getting worse at sticking to it. I do have several on my horizon – including the books I pledged to read this month then didn’t get around to, and several hardbacks I had meant to read in the summer but didn’t. There will be another Pym too, this time one I haven’t read before rather excitingly. But from now on I think I will be guided by my mood. I feel strangely liberated by that – no more piles (of books that is). Now October is when autumn proper hits – to my mind – and I do sometimes fancy something with a gothic element – all swirling mists and horse drawn coaches racing through the night – and I may have something to fit the bill. So what will you be reading –as the nights really start to draw in?

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September reads

Ten books read this month – and I can honestly say that on the whole they have been fabulous. I didn’t manage to read any non-fiction during September, but I have ceased to worry about my lack of non-fiction reading. The pile of books that I had set aside for reading during September took a bit of a battering after the Booker shortlist was announced and I set about reading the four I had left, one of those I have still to go.

94 A Laodicean (1881) Thomas Hardy (F) SEPT
95 The House in Paris (1935) Elizabeth Bowen (F)
96 Prophecy (2011) S J Parris (F)
97 Painted Clay (1917) Capel Boake (F)
98 The Garden of Evening Mists (2012) Tan Twan Eng (F)
99 Died in the Wool (1945) Ngaio Marsh (F)
100 Swimming Home (2011) Deborah Levy (F)
101 Hester Lily & other stories (1954) Elizabeth Taylor (F)
102 A Pin to see the Peepshow (1934) F Tennyson Jesse (F)
103 Narcopolis (2012) Jeet Thayil (F)


Special mention then should go to these books: –


1. The House in Paris

2 Painted Clay

3 The Garden of Evening Mists

4 A Pin to see the Peepshow





They were each so memorable, well written and come highly recommended – from me.



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