The Classics Club Spin Result

The spin number in The Classics Club Spin is number …


which for me is Tortilla Flat by John Steinbeck. The rules of the Spin are that this is the book for me to read by 30 April 2023.

Synopsis from Amazon

Steinbeck’s first major critical and commercial success, TORTILLA FLAT is also his funniest novel. Danny is a paisano, descended from the original Spanish settlers who arrived in Monterey, California, centuries before. He values friendship above money and possessions, so that when he suddenly inherits two houses, Danny is quick to offer shelter to his fellow gentlemen of the road. Their love of freedom and scorn for material things draw them into daring and often hilarious adventures. Until Danny, tiring of his new responsibilities, suddenly disappears…

I’m pleased about this result as I’ve enjoyed reading other books by John Steinbeck – my favourite is Cannery Row. So I’m expecting this to be good – and hope I won’t be disappointed.

Did you take part in the Classics Spin? What will you be reading?

My Life in Books 2022

I’ve seen this recently on several blogs and in the past I’ve done slightly different versions.The idea is simple: Using only books you have read this year, answer these prompts. Try not to repeat a book title. 

Links in the titles below will take you to my reviews where they exist.

In high school I (read)Maigret’s Memoirs by Georges Simenon

People might be surprised byThe Riddle of the Third Mile (Colin Dexter)

I will never be: Lord of the Flies (William Golding)

My life post-lockdown was: State of Wonder (Ann Patchett)

My fantasy Job is: Talking About Detective Fiction (P D James)

At the end of a long day I need: A Room With a View (E M Forster)

I hate being: The Queen’s Lady (Joanne Hickson)

I wish I had: The Second Sight of Zachery Cloudesley (Sean Lusk)

My family reunions are (at): The Chalet (Catherine Cooper)

At a party you’d find me (with) The Honourable Schoolboy (John le Carré)

I’ve never been to A Town Like Alice (Nevil Shute)

A happy day includes: Small Things Like These (Claire Keegan)

Motto I live byNow and Forever (Ray Bradbury)

On my bucket list is (to find): Where the Crawdads Sing (Delia Owens)

In my next life, I want to have: The Fellowship of the Ring (J R R Tolkien)

The Classics Club Spin Result

The spin number in The Classics Club Spin is number …

which for me is Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe. The rules of the Spin are that this is the book for me to read by 29th January 2023.


I grew as impudent a Thief, and as dexterous as ever Moll Cut-Purse was’

Born and abandoned in Newgate Prison, Moll Flanders is forced to make her own way in life. She duly embarks on a career that includes husband-hunting, incest, bigamy, prostitution and pick-pocketing, until her crimes eventually catch up with her. One of the earliest and most vivid female narrators in the history of the English novel, Moll recounts her adventures with irresistible wit and candour—and enough guile that the reader is left uncertain whether she is ultimately a redeemed sinner or a successful opportunist. 

I hesitated before adding this book to my Classics Club list and now I’m not sure that I do want to read it. I’m hoping that at least I’ll like it. If you have read it I’d love to know what you thought of it.

Did you take part in the Classics Spin? What will you be reading?

Six in Six: The 2022 Edition

I’m pleased to see that Jo at The Book Jotter  is running this meme again this year to summarise six months of reading, sorting the books into six categories – you can choose from the ones Jo suggests or come up with your own. I think it’s a good way at looking back over the last six months’ reading.

This year, just like last year, I haven’t been reading as much as in previous years and up to the end of June the total was standing at 38 books. Here are my six categories (with links to my reviews in the first 4 categories).

Six Crime Fiction

  1. Death in the Tunnel by Miles Burton
  2. The Last Trial by Scott Turow
  3. The Second Cut by Louise Welsh
  4. The Drowned City by K L Maitland
  5. Cécile is Dead by Georges Simenon
  6. The Hiding Place by Simon Lelic

Six Authors New to me

  1. How To Catch a Mole by Marc Hamer (nonfiction)
  2. The Chalet by Catherine Cooper
  3. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
  4. Rain: Four Walks in English Weather by Melissa Harrison
  5. The Chapel in the Woods by Dolores Gordon-Smith
  6. A Tapping at My Door by David Jackson

Six books from the past that drew me back there

  1. The Queen’s Lady by Joanne Hickson
  2. The Man in the Bunker by Rory Clements
  3. Ashes by Christopher de Vinck
  4. The Red Monarch by Bella Ellis
  5. The Homecoming by Anna Enquist
  6. Moonlight and the Pearler’s Daughter by Lizzie Pook

Six Books I Read from My To Be Read List

  1. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
  2. The Honourable Schoolboy by John le Carré
  3. Notre-Dame de Paris by Victor Hugo
  4. A Room With a View by E M Forster
  5. State of Wonder by Ann Patchett
  6. The Riddle of the Third Mile by Colin Dexter

Six  Books I’ve Read But Not Reviewed

  1. Miss Austen by Gill Hornby
  2. The Storm Sister by Lucinda Riley
  3. Dead Like You by Peter James
  4. Smiley’s People by John le Carré
  5. Holy Island by L J Ross
  6. The Fellowship of the Ring by J R R Tolkein

Six authors I read last year – but not so far this year and their books I have on my shelves to read

  1. Daphne du Maurier – I’ll Never Be Young Again
  2. Lucinda Riley – The Pearl Sister
  3. Charles Dickens – Nicolas Nickleby
  4. Robert Harris – Nucleus
  5. Beryl Bainbridge – Winter Garden
  6. Steve Cavanagh – Thirteen

How is your reading going this year? Do let me know if you take part in Six in Six too

The Classics Club Spin Result

The spin number in The Classics Club Spin is number …

which for me is The Mousetrap and Other Plays by Agatha Christie and I am delighted as this is a book I’ve wanted to read for years!. The rules of the Spin are that this is the book for me to read by 7th August, 2022.

Synopsis from the book:

These four gripping plays by the undisputed Queen of Crime, here published for the first time in book form, provide yet more evidence of her mastery of the domestic thriller. Agatha Christie’s talents as a playwright are equal to her skills as a novelist and reading her plays, with their ingenious plots and colourful cast of characters, is every bit as pleasurable.

The Mousetrap has made history by becoming the longest running play ever. And Then There Were None was another huge theatrical success and was made into a superb film by Rene Clair. The two remaining plays were both adapted by Agatha Christie from her earlier novels: The Hollow, set in the English countryside and Appointment with Death, set among the exotic ruins of Petra in the suffocating heat of the Jordan desert.

Agatha Christie dramatised many of her own stories and frequently devised new twists of plot and character to surprise and enthrall her audience.

The Mousetrap opened in London’s West End in 1952 and ran continuously until 16 March 2020, when the stage performances had to be temporarily discontinued during the COVID-19 pandemic. It then re-opened on 17 May 2021. It’s set in a guest house, Monkswell Manor, wintertime “in the present day”, that is the early 1950s. The play has a twist ending, which the audience are traditionally asked not to reveal after leaving the theatre, so I’ll be limited in what I can write about it.

Did you take part in the Classics Spin? What will you be reading?

The Classics Club Spin Result

The spin number in The Classics Club Spin is number …

which for me is A Room with a View by E M Forster. The rules of the Spin are that this is the book for me to read by 30th April, 2022.

This has been on my Classics Club List for ages, so it’s time I read it – I think I saw the film years ago.

Set in freewheeling Florence, Italy, and sober Surrey, England, E. M. Forster’s beloved third novel follows young Lucy Honeychurch’s journey to self-discovery at a transitional moment in British society. As Lucy is exposed to opportunities previously not afforded to women, her mind – and heart – must open. Before long, she’s in love with an “unsuitable” man and is faced with an impossible choice: follow her heart or be pressured into propriety.

A challenge to persistent Victorian ideals as well as a moving love story, A Room with a View has been celebrated for both its prescient view of women’s independence and its reminder to live an honest, authentic life. (Goodreads)

Did you take part in the Classics Spin? What will you be reading?

Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens

I read the Wordsworth Classic edition of Little Dorrit with Illustrations by Hablot K. Browne (Phiz) and an Introduction and Notes by Peter Preston, University of Nottingham. As always, I read the Introduction after I’d read the novel. I finished reading it in June and started writing this review. But it is only today that I realised I hadn’t finished it, so, this post is not as detailed as I would like it to be.

Summary from the back cover:

Little Dorrit is a classic tale of imprisonment, both literal and metaphorical, while Dickens’ working title for the novel, Nobody’s Fault, highlights its concern with personal responsibility in private and public life. Dickens’ childhood experiences inform the vivid scenes in Marshalsea debtor’s prison, while his adult perceptions of governmental failures shape his satirical picture of the Circumlocution Office. The novel’s range of characters – the honest, the crooked, the selfish and the self-denying – offers a portrait of society about whose values Dickens had profound doubts.

Little Dorrit, Charles Dickens’ eleventh book, was published serially from 1855 to 1857 and in book form in 1857. The novel attacks the injustices of the contemporary English legal system, particularly the institution of debtors’ prison. I found it hard going in parts, ponderous, sombre and serious. But as it’s a long book other parts are more lively, comic and far more enjoyable. That said it is also long-winded, far too wordy, melodramatic with a multitude of characters and a long-drawn out and convoluted plot. It is a great sprawling epic of a novel.

It is satire and Dickens spares no one, but it is those sections that hold up the flow of the novel. I found the first rant at the corruption and workings of the government Circumlocution Office, explaining that its purpose is ‘How Not to Get Things Done’, entertaining at first, but eventually repetitive and increasingly incredible. The account of the Barnacle family going round and round in circles, producing nothing but red tape, became excruciatingly boring.

I can’t say that I particularly liked any of the characters, and some of them are merely caricatures. rather than characters. Little Dorrit is so meek and self-effacing and far too good for her own good. Her father, known as the Father of the Marshalsea, is a most annoying character. He is the prison’s longest inhabitant, the longest debtor, the one to whom the other prisoners pay homage which makes him pompous and full of his self-importance. So much so that he fails to realise he is exploiting Little Dorrit.

But it is Dickens’ description of life in the Marshalsea, a debtors’ prison, that fascinated me, based on Dickens own father’s imprisonment there. The families could live with the debtors and were free to come and go, until the prison gates were locked at night. It was a separate society that worked on a system of hierarchy, run by the prisoners who had access to a pub, The Snuggery, and a shop, for those who had money. But it carried a terrible stigma of shame and corrupted them all – even Little Dorrit lied to herself about her father’s true situation. Once you were imprisoned there was practically no way you could be freed, unless your debts were paid and that was impossible when you couldn’t earn any money.

There are so many characters and so many sub-plots that I’m not going to attempt to write about them, other than to say at times I was amused and bemused, caught up in the stories, and dismayed at its length and complexity. Although I’ve been critical of some of the novel in this post and I think it could be my least favourite of all of Dickens’ books that I’ve read, overall I did enjoy it enough to give it 3.5 stars on Goodreads.

The Classics Club Spin Result

The spin number in The Classics Club Spin is number …

which for me is Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay. The rules of the Spin are that this is the book for me to read by 12 December, 2021.

I am delighted as this just the book I wanted to read next! It was one of my 20 books of Summer, but I didn’t get round to reading it then.

It was a cloudless summer day in the year nineteen hundred.

Everyone at Appleyard College for Young Ladies agreed it was just right for a picnic at Hanging Rock. After lunch, a group of three of the girls climbed into the blaze of the afternoon sun, pressing on through the scrub into the shadows of Hanging Rock. Further, higher, till at last they disappeared.

They never returned.

Whether Picnic at Hanging Rock is fact or fiction the reader must decide for themselves. (Goodreads)

Did you take part in the Classics Spin? What will you be reading?

The 1976 Club

It’s time for the 1976 Club, the bi-annual event where Simon and Karen ask readers across the internet to join together to build up a picture of a particular year in books. Any book published in 1976 counts – in whatever format, language, place.

I’ve previously read and reviewed read just three books published in 1976:

  • Last Seen Wearing by Colin Dexter, the second book in the Inspector Morse books. Inspector Morse is perplexed when a letter of reassurance arrives from young Valerie Taylor, missing for more than two years and presumed dead, in a case that takes a bizarre turn when a mysterious body turns up.
  • Sleeping Murder by Agatha Christie, Miss Marple’s last case, published posthumously in 1976, although Agatha Christie had written it during the Second World War. Miss Marple investigates a murder that had happened 18 years ago.
  • A Quiet Life by Beryl Bainbridge, a semi-autobiographical novel, using her own childhood and background as source material. In an interview she said that her creative urge was fuelled by what happened to her and from the age of 9 or 10 she had started to write about her parents and her background. She described herself as a child as an ‘awkward little devil‘.

I have two other books published in 1976 to read in my TBRs:

The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins, described as ‘a classic exposition of evolutionary thought’. I did start to read this book years ago when I first bought it, but I never finished it. The link is to the 40th anniversary edition that includes a new epilogue from the author discussing the continuing relevance of these ideas in evolutionary biology today.

I’d still like to read it, but not right now. Although it is described on the front cover as ‘the sort of popular science writing that makes the reader fell like a genius’ I have a feeling I won’t feel like a genius and it will take me quite some time to read it, especially it is printed in a small font.

The other book is In the Frame by Dick Francis, a murder mystery. Charles Todd—a renowned painter of horses—is shocked when he turns up at his cousin Donald’s house for a weekend visit to find his cousin’s young wife dead on the floor—and Donald the police’s prime suspect. Determined to prove Donald’s innocence, Todd trails a set of clues from England to Australia to New Zealand, only to realize that someone is trailing him. Someone with every intention of taking him out of the picture for good… (Goodreads)

My problem with reading this book this week is that I can’t find my copy!!!

The Classics Club Spin Result

The spin number in The Classics Club Spin is number …


which for me is Framley Parsonage by Anthony Trollope. The rules of the Spin are that this is the book for me to read by 22 August, 2021.

This book has been on my Classics Club list for a long time. It’s the fourth novel in the Chronicles of Barsetshire series, first published in 1860. I’ve read the earlier books, so I’m looking forward to reading this one.

Mark Robarts is a clergyman with ambitions beyond his small country parish of Framley. In a naive attempt to mix in influential circles, he agrees to guarantee a bill for a large sum of money for the disreputable local Member of Parliament, while being helped in his career in the Church by the same hand. But the unscrupulous politician reneges on his financial obligations, and Mark must face the consequences this debt may bring to his family.

(Description from Amazon)

Did you take part in the Classics Spin? What will you be reading?