WWW Wednesday: 13 May 2020

IMG_1384-0

I’m writing this on my husband’s iPad, which is much easier for me than on my PC, especially with predictive text – less painful for my hand. I am feeling much happier!

WWW Wednesday is run by Taking on a World of Words.

The Three Ws are:

 What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently reading:

Recently I’ve been picking up book after book finding it difficult to settle on just one or two. These are some of the books that I’ve got on the go at the moment:


The Mirror and the Light
by Hilary Mantel, the final book in Hilary Mantel’s Thomas Cromwell trilogy about the boy from Putney who climbed his way up to become Lord Cromwell, Secretary to King Henry VIII. It is heavy, weighing in at 2lbs 13ozs with almost 900 pages and as my wrist and hand are still so painful I’ve had to put this on one side.

So then I tried an ebook, one of my NetGalley books, The Lost Lights of St Kilda by Elizabeth Gifford, described a ‘a sweeping love story that crosses oceans and decades. It is a moving and deeply vivid portrait of two lovers, a desolate island and the extraordinary power of hope in the face of darkness.’ I’ve read about a third of it and it isn’t appealing to me much at the moment and so the book I’ve settled on right now is:

The Guardians by John Grisham, a hardback book that isn’t as heavy to hold as The Mirror and the Light. An innocence lawyer and minister, Cullen Post, takes on Quincy Miller’s case. He’s been in prison for 22 years for the murder of Keith Russo, a lawyer in a small Florida town.

Recently Finished: 

looking good dead

Looking Good Dead by Peter James. This is one of my TBRs, the second book in the Detective Superintendent Roy Grace series and can easily be read as a stand alone. It’s dark murder mystery and it is gory in parts, although not too gory if you read it quickly. It’s set in Brighton and Peter James describes the setting in detail which slows the action down somewhat, but apart from that it’s fast paced about a man who puts himself and his family in great danger after he picked up a CD that another passenger had left on the train – it’s a snuff movie – enough said.

Reading Next:

I just don’t know. It might be another Roy Grace book, Deadman’s Footsteps, or one of my NetGalley books, maybe The Deep by Alma Katsu, a story with a supernatural twist set on the Titanic, or A Thousand Moons by Sebastian Barry, which is a follow up to Days Without End, a book I loved.  Set after the end of the American Civil War it tells the story of Union soldiers, Thomas McNulty and John Cole, who have ‘adopted’ a young Indian girl.

What do you think – which one would you read next?

Six Degrees of Separation: from The Road to The Dogs of Riga

It’s time again for Six Degrees of Separation, a monthly link-up hosted by Kate at Books Are My Favourite and Best. Each month a book is chosen as a starting point and linked to six other books to form a chain. A book doesn’t need to be connected to all the other books on the list, only to the one next to it in the chain.

The Road film tie-in

This month the chain begins with The Road by Cormac McCarthy. This is one of my TBRs. It’s one of those books that I’m wary of reading and maybe now is not the right time – it’s a post-apocalyptic novel about a father and son walking alone through burned America, heading through the ravaged landscape to the coast.

So I’m beginning my chain by linking to the word ‘road’ in the title – Where Three Roads Meet by Salley Vickers. It’s one of the Canongate Myths series, modern versions of myths told by a number of different authors. It’s the Oedipus myth as told to Sigmund Freud during his last years when he was suffering from cancer of the mouth.

Another book that retells ancient myths is The Labours of Hercules by Agatha Christie. These were set for the Hercules by King Eurystheus of Tiryns as a penance. On completing them he was rewarded with immortality. Hercule Poirot sees himself as a superior modern day version of Hercules.

Also by Agatha Christie is Why Didn’t They Ask Evans? by Agatha Christie. The main character is Bobby Jones who is playing golf with Dr Thomas on a golf course on a misty day by the sea. They find a dying man, who had fallen off a cliff. He has no identification on him so Bobby has to discover the dead man’s true identity, with the help of Inspector Williams.

There is also a character called Bobby in Saving Missy by Beth Morrey – this Bobby is a dog, a splendid companion to Missy, a lonely old lady. But can Missy let go of the past and the guilt that is crippling her emotions?

Another book that looks at loneliness is After the Fire is Henning Mankell’s compelling last novel, set on an isolated island in the an isolated island in the Swedish archipelago. Fredrik, a retired doctor, is devastated by the fire which destroyed the house he had inherited from his grandparents. The main focus is not on crime but on Fredrik’s reflections on life, death, ageing, and loneliness.

Henning Mankell brings me to the last link in my chain –  and to a more traditional crime fiction novel – The Dogs of Riga It’s an Inspector Wallander book. A little raft is washed ashore on a beach in Sweden. It contains two men, shot dead. They’re identified as criminals, victims of a gangland hit. Wallander’s investigation takes him to Latvia.

~~~

My chain began with a dystopian novel and moved to books retelling ancient myths to crime fiction and books about loneliness.

Next month (June 6, 2020), the chain begins with Sally Rooney’s best seller (and now a TV series), Normal People.

Bookshelf Travelling for Insane Times

Judith at Reader in the Wilderness hosts this meme – Bookshelf Travelling for Insane Times.  I am enjoying this meme, looking round my actual bookshelves and re-discovering books I’ve read or am looking forward to reading. The idea is to share your bookshelves with other bloggers. Any aspect you like:

1. Home.
2. Books in the home.
3. Touring books in the home.
4. Books organized or not organized on shelves, in bookcases, in stacks, or heaped in a helter-skelter fashion on any surface, including the floor, the top of the piano, etc.
5. Talking about books and reading experiences from the past, present, or future.

Whatever you fancy as long as you have fun basically.

I’ve been collecting cookery books for years. I have all sorts – Italian, Chinese, Thai, Indian, French, Vegetarian, Diet, Low Fat, Freezer, and Microwave cookbooks to name but a few. These days I try to be selective and only buy books that look as though there are some new recipes that I haven’t tried.

These are some of my latest additions.

Cookbooks

Green & Black’s Ultimate Chocolate Recipes New Collection is such a tempting book for chocoholics. There are recipes for cakes, cookies, cupcakes and cheesecakes, tarts and souffles, puddings and pies, desserts, treats and sweets all using Green & Blacks delicious organic chocolate. It’s a celebration of chocolate.

Choc torte
Green & Black’s

Home Baking Cookbook, 140 recipes for making cakes, biscuits and bread, muffins, meringues, pizzas and pastries. It’s described as ‘an indispensable guide to sweet and savoury baking’ with step by step descriptions of the fundamentals of cake baking, the rules for making pastry and ‘all there is to know about yeast‘. In these days of lockdown I have been baking cakes and and puddings which we don’t normally have!

Fruit cake
Home Baking

Lorraine Pascale’s book, How to be a Better Cook, is a book ‘for complete beginners to more experienced cooks just looking for some new inspiration.’ I’ve watched her TV programmes, awed by her presentation – she is so calm, her food is so perfect and she is such a clean cook – me, the kitchen looks like a bomb has hit it when I’m cooking, all the work surfaces cluttered with ingredients, and mess everywhere.

Prawns
How to be a Better Cook

Tom Kerridge, a Michelin star chef  is one of my favourite chefs. I love his TV programmes and his food. I’ve eaten in his pub, The Hand & Flowers in Marlow – great food! His book, Tom Kerridge’s Best Ever Dishes is inspirational, although I can’t see myself cooking some of them, such as Forty-cloves-of-garlic brined chicken, but he does include a recipe for Ham and Cheese Toastie that I fancy.

Toastie
Best Ever Dishes

And then there are The Hairy Bikers, Si King and Dave Myers! Perfect Pies is as the title announces about pies! They write that ‘Pies are our passion’ and ‘pastry is our passion’. This is a gorgeous book for pie lovers – from steak pie, fish pie and apple pie to roasted vegetable tart and spicy bean hotpot pie, not forgetting banoffee pie. And they are such fun to watch!

Banoffee
Perfect Pies

Bookshelf Travelling for Insane Times

Judith at Reader in the Wilderness hosts this meme – Bookshelf Travelling for Insane Times.  I am enjoying this meme, looking round my actual bookshelves and re-discovering books I’ve read or am looking forward to reading. The idea is to share your bookshelves with other bloggers.

This is really a Friday meme, but once more I’m late writing my post!

For this week’s post I’ve been looking through some of my oldest books.

The Secret Garden

First is a book from my childhood, The Secret Garden by Frances  Hodgson-Burnett. It is now yellowing and a bit battered, but still in one piece. In the description at the front of the book the editor writes: Girls like it most, and between the ages of nine and fourteen – and, be warned, keep your copy carefully. You will want to go back and read it over and over again. I can’t remember how old I was, but the editor was right – I did read it over and over again.  I’ve wanted a walled garden ever since I read about the secret garden that Mary found at her Uncle’s house, Misselthwaite Manor in Yorkshire. It’s about the magic of nature, that makes plants and people grow and develop, the magic of the power of positive thinking and prayer, of the healing power of the mind, and of laughter and love.

Mist over PendleNext a book I read as a teenager – Mist Over Pendle by Robert Neill. Set in rural Lancashire in the early 17th century it tells the story of Margery Whitaker, an orphan who went to live with her relatives on the Lancashire and Yorkshire border. People have died, apparently from belladonna poisoning and two old crones are suspected of witchcraft. Margery and her cousin Roger investigate whether they really were witches. I found it fascinating and it was probably the book that started me off reading historical fiction.

YogaI began doing yoga when I was in my thirties and Yoga by Ernest Wood is one of several books I bought at the time. It’s not just a book about the yoga breathing practices or the yoga postures – and there are no photos demonstrating them – it’s more about the classical background of yoga and its goals – the awakening of the higher spirit, bodily and mental health and the benefits of yoga in daily life. So, there are chapters on the ethics and morality of yoga, yoga and the intellect, yoga and vitality and the basic philosophy of yoga.

Lark Rise mineAnd finally a book I read in my forties. I’d had a really bad case of flu which meant that I couldn’t even lift my head off the pillow, never mind pick up a book! But when  I was recovering I read and loved Flora Thompson’s book Lark Rise to Candleford. It’s a trilogy including in addition to Lark Rise, Over to Candleford and Candleford Green. It’s a record of country life at the end of the 19th century, based on the author’s experiences during childhood and youth. It chronicles May Day celebrations and forgotten children’s games as well as the daily lives of farmworkers and craftsmen, and her friends and relations.

Bookshelf Travelling for Insane Times

Judith at Reader in the Wilderness hosts this meme – Bookshelf Travelling for Insane Times.  I am enjoying this meme, looking round my actual bookshelves and re-discovering books I’ve read or am looking forward to reading. The idea is to share your bookshelves with other bloggers. Any aspect you like:

1. Home.
2. Books in the home.
3. Touring books in the home.
4. Books organized or not organized on shelves, in bookcases, in stacks, or heaped in a helter-skelter fashion on any surface, including the floor, the top of the piano, etc.
5. Talking about books and reading experiences from the past, present, or future.

Whatever you fancy as long as you have fun basically.

This is really a Friday meme, but what with one thing and another, it is now Sunday and I have only just finished writing this post! I am so behind with everything these days.

If you were to visit our house as soon as you came in you would see a wall lined with bookshelves. The first bookcase has six shelves – the top two are filled with OS maps, then there are three shelves of biographies and autobiographies, with the bottom shelf containing random books. The photo below shows one of the shelves of autobiographies/biographies.

Biographies

I have read some of these books – those marked with an *. From the left (as you look at the screen) they are:

*Curzon: A Most Superior Person, a biography by Kenneth Rose. George Nathaniel Curzon was the first and last Marquess of Kedleston, who in 1898 became the Viceroy of India. I bought this book after we visited Kedleston Hall in Derbyshire, several years ago. It’s been the home of the Curzon family since the 12th century.

Next to that is *The Princes in the Tower by Alison Weir. I first read this book many years ago. In it she examined the available evidence of the disappearance of the princes in 1483 at the time her book was first published in 1992.

Then comes Boris: the Rise of Boris Johnson by Andrew Gimson, published in 2012. I bought this book secondhand several years ago after Boris had been elected as Mayor of London and it is an updated version of his earlier biography to include his time as the Mayor of London.

After that are two autobiographies that I have started reading, but haven’t finished yet. They are Elizabeth Jane Howard’s Slipstream, and Michael Palin’s Diaries 1969 – 1979: the Python YearsNext The Brontes by Juliet Barker, inspired by my visit to their family home in Howarth.

The biography of Eric Clapton by Michael Schumacher is my husband’s book. I’d probably enjoy it though as I like his music too.

I was stunned when I read *An Evil Cradling by Brian Keenan, about the time he was kidnapped by fundamentalist Shi’ite militiamen and held in the suburbs of Beirut for four and a half years between 1986 and 1990.

I haven’t read the next book, Howard Hughes: the Untold Story by Peter Brown and Pat H. Broeske, although my husband has – he thought it was excellent. It’s the book that inspired Martin Scorses’s film, The Aviator.

I’ve read the next four books, John Worthen’s *D H Lawrence: the Life of an Outsider, Agatha Christie’s *An Autobiography, * Agatha Christie and the Eleven Missing Days by Jared Cade and *Charles Dickens: A Life by Claire Tomalin.

On top of the rest, because I couldn’t fit them in anywhere else, are two more books – one I have read, a biography of *Daphne du Maurier by Margaret Forster and John Grisham’s The Innocent Man, another book my husband has read but I haven’t yet. It tells the true story of Ron Williamson, who was arrested, tried, found guilty of the rape and murder of a cocktail waitress. He was sent to Death Row.

My Friday Post: Caught Out in Cornwall by Janie Bolitho

Book Beginnings Button

Every Friday Book Beginnings on Friday is hosted by Gillion at Rose City Reader where you can share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires.

Caught Out in Cornwall

 

Caught Out in Cornwall by Janie Bolitho is one of the books I borrowed from the library before it closed because of COVID-19. So now I have plenty of time to finish reading it!

A small crowd began to gather. One minute, apart from a few distant dog walkers, Rose Trevelyan was alone on the beach; the next a dozen people had arrived to witness the ensuing drama.

A yacht is drifting dangerously, its mast snapped as a lifeboat goes to its rescue.

Also every Friday there is The Friday 56, hosted by Freda at Freda’s Voice.

30879-friday2b56These are the rules:

  1. Grab a book, any book.
  2. Turn to page 56, or 56% on your eReader. If you have to improvise, that is okay.
  3. Find any sentence (or a few, just don’t spoil it) that grabs you.
  4. Post it.
  5. Add the URL to your post in the link on Freda’s most recent Friday 56 post.

Page 56:

‘So, tell me about your interesting day.’

‘Did you hear about that little girl that’s gone missing?’

‘Yes. Have they found her yet?’

Rose shook her head sadly before describing her part in it.

Blurb

When Rose Trevelyan sees a young girl being carried away by someone who appears to be her father, she thinks nothing of it. Until, that is, the appearance of a frantic mother who cannot find her child. Beth Jones is only four years old, and her mother is adamant that the man Rose saw taking her away must be a stranger.

Wracked with guilt for not intervening, Rose once again finds herself entangled in a criminal investigation. As time passes, it becomes clear that the chances of getting Beth back unharmed are very bleak indeed . . .

~~~

This is the seventh and last book in the Rose Trevelyan series featuring Rose, an artist and photographer. I’ve read and enjoyed two of the earlier books.

Bookshelf Travelling for Insane Times

Judith at Reader in the Wilderness hosts this meme – Bookshelf Travelling for Insane Times.  I am enjoying this meme, looking round my actual bookshelves and re-discovering books I’ve read or am looking forward to reading. The idea is to share your bookshelves with other bloggers. Any aspect you like:

1. Home.
2. Books in the home.
3. Touring books in the home.
4. Books organized or not organized on shelves, in bookcases, in stacks, or heaped in a helter-skelter fashion on any surface, including the floor, the top of the piano, etc.
5. Talking about books and reading experiences from the past, present, or future.

Whatever you fancy as long as you have fun basically.

My post this week is about my love of word puzzles. I love doing crosswords and codewords – any sort of word puzzles too – and do a few each day, either from a newspaper or from books of puzzles, such as these.

Codeword bks

I’m not very good at cryptic crosswords but I’ve got a bit better after doing an Alphapuzzles each day. This is today’s Alphapuzzle:

AlphaPuzzle April 2020

These puzzles have one clue, usually a cryptic clue, that helps enormously if you can solve it, as it gives you more letters to get started. So far today I haven’t worked out the answer to this clue – ‘Tonal switch for a hook‘.

And these books about puzzles are very helpful too:

Word play bks

The Crossword Lists and Crossword Solver edited by Anne Stibbs Kerr contains lists of words and phrases listed alphabetically and by number of letters under a wide range of category headings such as Animals in Fiction, Clouds, Writers, Playwrights and Poets, and characters in Lord of the Rings, for example. The Crossword Solver part contains possible solutions, such as place names, abbreviations and euphemisms and technical terms, and so on.

Puzzled: Secrets and Clues From a Life in Words by David Astle is a fascinating book. It’s a manual of how to solve those cryptic clues that I find so baffling. Astle is a Melbourne-based writer of non-fiction, fiction and drama. He co-hosted Letters and Numbers, the Australian version of Countdown, as the dictionary expert and his crosswords appear in Australian papers The Age and Sydney Morning Herald.

He begins the book with a Master Puzzle and leads you through each of the clues, revealing the secrets of anagrams, double meanings, manipulations, spoonerisms and hybrid clues. I’ve begun to understand … I think.

Word Play: A cornucopia of puns, anagrams, euphemisms & other contortions & curiosities of the English language by Gyles Brandreth is another book full  of surprising facts and anecdotes about words – old words, new words, funny words and ridiculous words. It’s a book you just open anywhere and get lost in – ideal for wordaholics, like me.

And here is another book I regularly use, practically everyday – it sits on the floor next to me. It’s The Chambers Dictionary.

Chambers Dictionary

My Friday Post: The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel

Book Beginnings Button

Every Friday Book Beginnings on Friday is hosted by Gillion at Rose City Reader where you can share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires.

Mirror and Light

I began reading The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel as soon as it arrived in the post on 6 March – and I’m still reading it, very slowly, as it is a very long and detailed book.

It begins:

Wreckage (1)

London, May 1536

Once the queen’s head is severed, he walks away.

He is Thomas Cromwell, Secretary to Henry VIII, and the Queen was Anne Boleyn.

Also every Friday there is The Friday 56, hosted by Freda at Freda’s Voice.

30879-friday2b56These are the rules:

  1. Grab a book, any book.
  2. Turn to page 56, or 56% on your eReader. If you have to improvise, that is okay.
  3. Find any sentence (or a few, just don’t spoil it) that grabs you.
  4. Post it.
  5. Add the URL to your post in the link on Freda’s most recent Friday 56 post.

Page 56: Chapuys, the  ambassador of the Emperor Charles V is talking to Cromwell about the dangers to Henry’s life:

A dagger thrust, it is easily done. It may be, even, it needs no human hand to strike. There is plague that kills in a day. There is the sweating sickness that kills in an hour.

How true!

Blurb

With The Mirror and the Light, Hilary Mantel brings to a triumphant close the trilogy she began with Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies. She traces the final years of Thomas Cromwell, the boy from nowhere who climbs to the heights of power, offering a defining portrait of predator and prey, of a ferocious contest between present and past, between royal will and a common man’s vision: of a modern nation making itself through conflict, passion and courage.

~~~

Does this book appeal to you too? Have you read/are you reading this book

Six Degrees of Separation: from Stasiland to A Lovely Way to Burn

It’s time again for Six Degrees of Separation, a monthly link-up hosted by Kate at Books Are My Favourite and Best. Each month a book is chosen as a starting point and linked to six other books to form a chain. A book doesn’t need to be connected to all the other books on the list, only to the one next to it in the chain.

Stasiland

This month the chain begins with Stasiland: Stories From Behind the Berlin Wall by Anna Funder – the winner of the Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction 2004. It is a book I have not read but I’m wondering whether I will. It sounds both interesting and shocking.

My first link is Black Dogs by Ian McEwan, a novel about the aftermath of the Nazi era in Europe, and how the fall of the Berlin Wall in the late 1980s affected those who once saw Communism as a way forward for society. The question of the black dogs is not really answered though – were they symbolic of evil, or an expression of Churchill’s term for depression, or real creatures?  Part set in Berlin with Bernard, when the Wall came down in 1989 and part set in 1989 at the family house at St Maurice de Navacelles in Languedoc in southern France

There’s another character called Bernard, and also set partly in the Languedoc area in Carcassonne, in The Burning Chambers by Kate Mosse. Bernard Joubert, a bookseller had been imprisoned accused of being a traitor and a heretic after he had let slip information about a secret will. It’s a complicated story of war, conspiracies, love, betrayal, forgery, torture and family secrets.

Another book about a bookseller is The Bookman’s Tale by Charlie Lovett. Peter Byerly is an antiquarian bookseller. His wife has recently died and when he opens an eighteenth-century study on Shakespeare forgeries, he is shocked to find a Victorian portrait strikingly similar to his wife tumble out of its pages. He becomes obsessed with tracking down its origins. it becomes a chase around England, similar to a cross between a Dan Brown novel, an Enid Blyton Famous Five book and a murder mystery.

And that brings me to my next link – Dan Brown’s books. For pure escapism I really like them. They’re not great literature but they are great entertainment, even though they follow the same formula – a breathtaking race against time as Robert Langdon follows  clues as in The Lost Symbol. This book is set within the hidden chambers, tunnels, and temples of Washington, DC. as Langdon searches for his friend, Peter Solomon, a Mason.

And so to the next link, using the author’s name, Dan, brings me to Daniel Defoe’s A Journal of the Plague Year a novel about one man’s experiences of the year 1665, in which the Great Plague or the bubonic plague – known as the Black Death – struck the city of London.

Thinking about Defoe’s book reminded me of A Lovely Way to Burn by Louise Welsh, an apocalyptic novel in which a  new and unidentified virus, known as ‘the sweats’ sweeps the globe and London quickly descends into chaos – supermarkets are looted, roads are gridlocked as people try to flee the infection, then society just crumbles as people look out only for themselves, rioting and eventually succumbing to the mysterious illness and dying. Let’s hope the current corona virus pandemic doesn’t descend into this!

~~~

My chain began in Berlin and moved to France, then to Britain, America and ended back in Britain. It covered a variety of genres and time periods, including contemporary fiction, historical and crime fiction. The links are through places, words in the titles and authors’ names. And there is also a link that runs through the chain with the use of the letter ‘B’ either in the book titles, in the authors’ names, or in significant words in the descriptions.

Kate writes: ‘Given the current pandemic, the obvious choice for next month (May 2, 2020) is The Road by Cormac McCarthy.’

Bookshelf Travelling for Insane Times

Judith at Reader in the Wilderness hosts this meme – Bookshelf Travelling for Insane Times. In this strange and difficult time of self isolation and sickness it is a real treat to get away from the non-stop bad news about coronovirus and to do other things – I think I’m going to write a separate post about what I’ve been doing to keep myself occupied. One of the things is, of course, is reading. Actually I haven’t been reading any more than usual, oddly enough, as the situation has affected my concentration levels and I have been doing other things too. 

I am enjoying this meme, looking round my actual bookshelves and re-discovering books I’ve read or am looking forward to reading. The idea is to share your bookshelves with other bloggers. Any aspect you like:

1. Home.
2. Books in the home.
3. Touring books in the home.
4. Books organized or not organized on shelves, in bookcases, in stacks, or heaped in a helter-skelter fashion on any surface, including the floor, the top of the piano, etc.
5. Talking about books and reading experiences from the past, present, or future.

Whatever you fancy as long as you have fun basically.

Friday Meme 3 April 2020

This week’s photo shows part of one of my book shelves that contains a mix of fiction and nonfiction books, shelved together for no reason other than they are almost all hardback books of a similar height!

You can see the whole shelf on my current header photo.

Thomas Hardy: the Time-Torn Man by Claire Tomalin. This is a biography that I began reading in 2007 and stopped when I had reached 1867 (Hardy was born in 1840) because I decided that it would be better if I had read his earlier books before reading about how he had written them. I’m sorry to say that even though I have read more of Hardy’s novels I still haven’t got back to this biography.

The Legacy of Elizabeth Pringle by Kirstie Wark is a novel that I read and enjoyed very much. It’s a story centred on the lives of two women – Elizabeth Pringle and Martha Morrison. Elizabeth has lived all her life on the Isle of Arran and knowing that she is dying and has no living relatives, leaves her house, Holmlea in Lamlash, to Anna Morrison, a woman she had seen years before, pushing her daughter’s pram down the road outside. It’s about family, relationships, especially mother/daughter/sister relationships, about happiness, love and heartbreak, old age, memories and the contrast between life in the early part of the twentieth century and the present.

The Children of Hurin by J R R Tolkien, edited by his son Christopher Tolkien. This is another book that I started and haven’t finished. During the First World War and before Tolkien wrote the tales that became the narrative of  The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings he began writing a collection of stories he called The Book of Lost Tales. These are the tales of Middle-earth from times long before The Lord of the RingsI first read The Lord of the Rings years ago when I was at college,  and have since re-read it a few times along with The Hobbit, so this book is one I really want to read soon – my problem is that there are so many books I want to read and time is precious.

Agatha Christie’s Secret Notebooks by John Curran, subtitled Fifty Years of Mysteries in the Making. This is a fascinating book, exploring the contents of Agatha Christie’s 73 handwritten notebooks about her plots, titles and characters and two unpublished Poirot stories. The notebooks were found  at her home, Greenways, in a locked room, a long narrow room containing shelves and cupboards full of her printed books plus typescripts and manuscripts, letters and contracts, posters, playbills, photos and dust-jackets, scrapbooks and diaries.

And finally two of my husband’s books – The Second World War and Berlin: The Downfall 1945, both by Anthony Beevor. He has read both and recommends them highly. I’m not sure what to say about them, except they each weight a ton –  two enormous tomes! Fortunately I have both books on my Kindle as well as the hardbacks on the shelf, so you never know, one day I may get round to reading them.