I finished reading The Owl Killers by Karen Maitland yesterday. It is a book that I’ve had for nearly three years and like many of the other unread books that I own, I wish I’d read it long before now – it’s good and I’ll be writing down my thoughts about it soon.
But it has got me thinking that I should spend more time reading books I’ve owned for more than a year and still haven’t got round to reading. I get sidetracked by new books and by library books and it’s got worse with the ease of having books to read on Kindle. There are all those free e-books and really cheap ones too, which may or may not be any good, and, click they’ve been downloaded.
So, as one of my aims this year is to reduce my massive backlog of unread books I’m going to concentrate on reading some of these for a while, all books I’ve owned a long time!
First up for consideration a selection of historical fiction (the blurbs are from Amazon):
- The White Queen by Philippa Gregory – the TV dramatisation of this book begins tonight on BBC1, maybe I should read it in tandem, or leave it for later? It’s the story of Elizabeth Woodville, the White Queen. A woman who won the love of a king and ascended to royalty by virtue of her beauty, Elizabeth fought tenaciously for the success of her family — her daughter who would one day unite the warring dynasties, and her two sons whose eventual fate has confounded historians for centuries: the Princes in the Tower.
- The Constant Princess – another Philippa Gregory book – Katherine of Aragon is born Catalina, the Spanish Infanta, to parents who are both rulers and warriors. Aged four, she is betrothed to Arthur, Prince of Wales, and is raised to be Queen of England. She is never in doubt that it is her destiny to rule that far-off, wet, cold land.
- Falling Angels by Tracy Chevalier – January 1901, the day after Queen Victoria’s death: two families visit neighbouring graves in a fashionable London cemetery. One is decorated with a sentimental angel, the other an elaborate urn. The Waterhouses revere the late Queen and cling to Victorian traditions; the Colemans look forward to a more modern society. To their mutual distaste, the families are inextricably linked when their daughters become friends behind the tombstones. And worse, befriend the gravedigger’s son.
Then, a selection of crime fiction:
- The Remorseful Day by Colin Dexter – The murder of Yvonne Harrison had left Thames Valley CID baffled. A year after the dreadful crime they are still no nearer to making an arrest. But one man has yet to tackle the case €“ and it is just the sort of puzzle at which Chief Inspector Morse excels. The final Morse book, which I bought after watching the TV version. I’ve just checked and this was way back in 2000! I decided at the time that I would read it later – I never meant it to be 12 years later!
- I’ve borrowed several Christopher Brookmyre books from our son and have been meaning to read them before now. I see from a bookmark that I did start Not the End of the World a while back. The crew of an oceanic research vessel goes missing in the Pacific along with their mini-submarine. An evangelical media star holds a rally next door to a convention in LA devoted to ‘nubile’ cinematic entertainment. The cops know there’s going to be trouble and they are not disappointed. What they didn’t foresee was the presence in their state of a Glaswegian photographer with an indecipherable accent and a strong dislike of hypocrisy, or of a terrorist who seems to have access to plutonium as well as Semtex. In his unique style, Christopher Brookmyre throws a harsh light on the selfish preoccupations of 1990s society and at the same time provides uproarious entertainment.
- Kissing the Gunner’s Daughter by Ruth Rendell. It’s inevitable, I suppose that when I double shelve books that I forget I’ve got them. If I thought 12 years was a long time to have owned and not read a book, then I was astonished when I checked this book to find that I’ve had it since 1992! No!! It’s another book I bought after watching the TV version, which was broadcast in November 1992. I did start it – there’s a bookmark at the start of Chapter 6. I see from Amazon that the book has been reprinted several times since I bought my copy. The blurb is: The fifteenth book to feature the classic crime-solving detective, Chief Inspector Wexford. The thirteenth of May is famously the unluckiest day of the year. Sergeant Caleb Martin of Kingsmarkham CID had no idea just how terminally unlucky it would prove, as he embarked upon his last day on earth… Ten months later, Wexford is confronted with a murder scene of horrific brutality. At first the bloodbath at Tancred House looks like the desperate work of a burglar panicked into murder. The sole survivor of the massacre, seventeen-year-old Daisy Flory, remembers the events imperfectly, and her confused account of the fatal night seems to confirm this theory. But more and more, Chief Inspector Wexford is convinced that the crime lies closer to home, and that it has sinister links to the murder of Sergeant Martin…
That’s enough to be going on with for the time being.