Posts Tagged ‘Shiny new books’


Shiny New Books is celebrating fifty years of the Book prize this week, and back in May, I read The Elected Member by Bernice Rubens for them. The Elected Member won the prize in 1970 and you can read my review for shiny here. Later in the week you’ll be able to read my revised review of Wolf Hall.

the elected member

In 1970 Rubens was up against some pretty stiff competition, Elizabeth Bowen’s Eva Trout, William Trevor’s Mrs Ecdorf at O’Neill’s Hotel, Iris Murdoch’s Bruno’s Dream, all of which I have read, A L Barker’s John Brown’s Body which I have tbr and Terence Wheeler’s The Conjunction – which I had never heard of until I looked up the shortlist for 1970. I can see why The Elected Member won, it is utterly perfect, a novel I had, had tbr for years, and it completely delighted me, enthralled me, made me laugh and put a very little lump in my throat too. The kind of book I was sorry to finish.

The Elected member wasn’t the first Bernie Rubens novel I had read, I read A Five Year Sentence several years ago, it was shortlisted for the 1978 Booker prize.

a five year sentence

That novel opens on the day of Miss Hawkins’ retirement after 46 years. She has decided to kill herself. However, her plans are thwarted when her colleagues present her with a five-year diary. Having been slavishly obedient all her life, Miss Hawkins sees this as an instruction to live. Her diary starts to direct her entire life. Instead of writing in it what she has done, she writes what she will do – and then joyously ticks her achievements off in red crayon. Miss Hawkins starts to embrace life and all its passions.

I heartily recommend both those Bernice Rubens novels, and I really must seek out more of her work.

For many years I loved the Booker prize. although I’m known more for reading vintage fiction and classics, I always followed the prize, and over the years I read many, many of the winners, and shortlisted books. Then something changed in 2014. They changed the prize and it now feels different, and I’m not entirely sure why. The last winner I read was the 2013 winner The Luminaries which I loved (I know not everyone did) I also read two of the shortlist. I have no interest at all in any of the last four winners (all of whom are male, and I read far fewer male authors I admit) although I did read two of last year’s shortlist. So, I still feel a bit sad that my long love affair with the Booker seems to have ended. There are six books which won the Booker between 1969 and 2013 that I hadn’t read – one of them I tried and couldn’t get on with – and I suspect I never will now.

This year, readers have been voting for a Golden Booker award – and the winner will be announced on July 8th. The shortlisted books: In a Free State, Moon Tiger, The English Patient, Wolf Hall and Lincoln in the Bardo – I have read four of those. I voted for Wolf Hall but could just have easily have plumped for The English Patient as I so loved it. It got me thinking, what would be on my own Golden Booker list. One book from each decade of the prize.

My Golden Booker:

(1970s) The Elected Member by Bernice Rubens
(1980s) Hotel du Lac by Anita Brookner
(1990s) The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje
(2000s) Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
(2010s) The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton

Don’t ask which my overall winner would be – I can’t decide.

Inevitably I can’t help but wonder, what would be your five Golden Booker books?

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The latest edition of shiny new books is now available for you to enjoy. I’m sure you’re all aware by now just how good it is. This week has been Mary Hocking reading week – and so it is very appropriate that issue 9 of Shiny New Books – complete with its new look – has some Mary Hocking content too. Many of you will already be aware that Bello re-issued twelve Mary Hocking books to their print on demand and ebook catalogue at the end of February.

I was asked by our lovely friends who put Shiny New Books together to write something about Mary Hocking for their book buzz section – which I did happily. You can find it here.

Additionally I did a little bit of re-working on some of my old Mary Hocking reviews for shiny. Pop over to SNB where you can find reviews of the three books which make up the Fairley family trilogy.









As Mary Hocking week begins to draw to a close – I know lots of friends on Librarything and a Facebook group for Mary Hocking Readers have been enjoying a variety of Mary Hocking novels. Many of these people don’t blog – although I know of some bloggers reading Mary Hocking this week too.

Mary Hocking reading week

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