October was a good reading month for me. I read 11 books, which were a mixed bag of different genres, but all fiction this month, with two books from my to-be-read shelves. I’ve already written about some of the books (the links are to my posts):
1.The Shining by Stephen King (Kindle)
2.Ten Little Niggers by Agatha Christie
3. Over My Dead Body by Hazel McHaffie
4. The Year of Miracle and Grief by Leonid Borodin
5. The Idea of Perfection by Kate Grenville (library book)
6. A Murder is Announced by Agatha Christie (a book from my to-be-read shelves)
When I started this blog I wanted to write something about each book I read. I’ve never managed to do that and now I’ve decided that there are some books I don’t want to write about at all and for some I just want to write a few words. That’s not because I didn’t enjoy the books but simply because sometimes I just want to read and then go on to another book.
These are the books without posts (with links to Amazon UK):
6.Once Upon a Castle by Alan S Blood (Kindle, LibraryThing Early Reviewers) – a story about children evacuated to Northumberland during World War II, this had so much potential and it just wasn’t achieved. It is basically a series of short stories and I thought there were too many episodes packed into it. It needs more detail and development to be convincing. It’s unevenly paced, as though the author didn’t know how to finish it and rushed the ending. The supernatural elements come across as confusing rather than mysterious or spooky.
5. The Shooting Party by Isabel Colegate – I liked this novel, which chronicles the events of one day at a shooting party on an Oxfordshire country estate. There is a great sense of foreboding right from the start with the statement: ‘It was an error of judgment which resulted in a death. It took place in the autumn before the outbreak of what used to be known as the Great War.’ Although I could see how this was foreshadowing the slaughter of the First World War, for me it was the knowledge that a death was going to take place, right from the opening paragraphs, that was uppermost. I kept wondering who was going to die, what was the error of judgment, who was going to do the killing. I was surprised.
I did think it was rather too slow, too drawn out in parts but that maybe because I’m used to much faster paced books. I also had to keep reminding myself of the characters – their relationships to each other and at times I got confused and had to back track.
But its main attraction for me was the focus on a society that was soon to be destroyed by the devastation wrought by the First World War. Isabel Colegate writes beautifully depicting the class structure of the times, the rich aristocrats and their servants, ‘the stranglehold of the rich on the life-blood of the working man‘, ideas about manliness, the realization that civilisation as they knew it was coming to an end, contrasting it to a vision of England that had not existed even then for many years:
Doesn’t England mean a village green, and smoke rising from cottage chimneys, and the rooks cawing in the elms, and the squire and the vicar and the schoolmaster and the jolly villagers and their rosy-cheeked children? (page 100)
7. The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald (a re-read). I really like this book – a portrait of the Jazz Age in all of its decadence and excess.
8. Dying Fall by Elly Griffiths (library book) – This is the fifth of her Ruth Galloway books. Ruth travels from her home in Norfolk up to the north of England €“ Lancashire, to be precise Blackpool, Lytham, Pendle, Preston and Fleetwood €“ because Dan Golding a friend from university has died in a house fire. He had written to her just before his death with news of an amazing find. It turns out that Dan was murdered and Ruth and Inspector Harry Nelson are instrumental in discovering the truth. It’s yet another book I’ve read about the whereabouts of King Arthur’s Bones €“ this time it seems he’s the Raven King. A satisfying if undemanding read.
11. Mrs Harris goes to Moscow by Paul Gallico (a book from my to-be-read shelves). This is a lovely little book. Mrs Harris is a London char lady who wins a trip to Moscow, where she wants to find her employer’s long-lost love. Mayhem ensues when she is thought to be Lady Char (the Russians not understanding what a ‘char lady’ is had converted it to ‘Lady Char’) and also a spy.
I sometimes borrow books and after reading the first few pages return them without reading any more, with no qualms. But it is very rare that I return a book unfinished after reading just over a quarter of it. That is just what I did with The Assassin’s Prayer by Ariana Franklin. I thought it was repeating much the same sort of scenarios (albeit in different locations) than her earlier books and I got fed up – so back it went.