Throwback Thursday: 3 June 2021

I’m linking up today with Davida @ The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog for Throwback Thursday. It takes place on the Thursday before the first Saturday of every month (i.e., the Thursday before the monthly #6Degrees post). The idea is to highlight one of your previously published book reviews and then link back to Davida’s blog.

This month I’m looking back at my review of The Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths which I first posted on 8 June 2010. It’s the first book in the Ruth Galloway Mystery series.

Here’s the first paragraph::

When I started reading The Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths I nearly didn’t bother carrying on because it’s written in the present tense, but I’m glad I did because I did enjoy it and at times didn’t even notice the tense. This is a debut crime fiction novel, even though it’s not the author’s first book.

Click here to read my full review

Elly Griffiths was born in London in 1963. Her real name is Domenica de Rosa and she’s written four books under that name. Her first crime novel The Crossing Places is set on the Norfolk coast where she spent holidays as a child and where her aunt still lives. Her interest in archaeology comes from her husband, Andrew, who gave up his city job to retrain as an archaeologist. She lives in Brighton, on the south coast of England, with her husband and two children.

She has written 13 books in the Ruth Galloway Mystery series. The 14th book, The Locked Room is due to be published in February 2022.

The next Throwback Thursday post is scheduled for 3 July 2021.

Throwback Thursday: 29 April 2021

I’m linking up today with Davida @ The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog for Throwback Thursday. It takes place on the Thursday before the first Saturday of every month (i.e., the Thursday before the monthly #6Degrees post). The idea is to highlight one of your previously published book reviews and then link back to Davida’s blog.

This month I’m looking back at my review of The House at Riverton by Kate Morton, which I first posted in August 2007. I loved this book.

These are the first two paragraphs:

It’s with a sense of loss that I finished reading The House at Riverton. I felt as though I’d now lost contact with the characters and the worlds they inhabit. I say worlds because this novel is split into two time zones, so widely different in all aspects that they could be separate worlds.

The novel opens in 1999 (reminiscent of Du Maurier’s Rebecca) with Grace’s dream of the night in 1924 when Robbie Hunter, a poet, committed suicide at Riverton Manor. Grace’s memories are revived after Ursula, an American film director who is making a film of the suicide had asked for her help as the only person involved who was still alive.

Click here to read my full review

Kate Morton is an Australian author, who has written six novels. The House at Riverton and The Secret Keeper are two of my favourite books. The six books are as follows (with links to my posts):

The House at Riverton (2006)
     aka The Shifting Fog
The Forgotten Garden (2008)
The Distant Hours (2010)
The Secret Keeper (2012)
The Lake House (2015)
The Clockmaker’s Daughter (2018)

The next Throwback Thursday post is scheduled for 3 June, 2021.

Throwback Thursday: 1 April 2021

I’m linking up today with Davida @ The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog for Throwback Thursday. It takes place on the Thursday before the first Saturday of every month (i.e., the Thursday before the monthly #6Degrees post). The idea is to highlight one of your previously published book reviews and then link back to Davida’s blog.

This month I’m looking back at Giving Up the Ghost: a memoir by Hilary Mantel, which I first posted in April 2008.

This is the first paragraph:

In the first chapter of Hilary Mantel’s memoir she writes, ”I hardly know how to write about myself. Any style you pick seems to unpick itself before a paragraph is done.”  She then advises herself to trust the reader, to stop spoon-feeding and patronising and write in ‘the most direct and vigorous way that you can.’ She worries that her writing isn’t clear, or that it is ‘deceptively clear’. It comes across to me as being clear, honest and very moving. She’s not looking for sympathy but has written this memoir to take charge of her memories, her childhood and childlessness, feeling that it is necessary to write herself into being.

Click here to read my full review

The next Throwback Thursday post is scheduled for April 29, 2021.

Throwback Thursday: The Verneys

I’m linking up today with Davida @ The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog for Throwback Thursday. It takes place on the Thursday before the first Saturday of every month (i.e., the Thursday before the monthly #6Degrees post). The idea is to highlight one of your previously published book reviews and then link back to Davida’s blog.

Today I’m looking back to 25 October 2007 when I wrote longer posts than I do now! This one, The Verneys of Claydon is about the Verney family who lived at Claydon House, a country house in the Aylesbury Vale, Buckinghamshire, England, near the village of Middle Claydon. It is now owned by the National Trust.

The Verneys: a True Story of Love, War and Madness in Seventeenth-Century England by Adrian Tinniswood.

This is how I began my post:

I became very fond of The Verneys as I read Adrian Tinniswood’s book The Verneys, shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction 2007. If you’re interested in seventeenth century England you simply must read this book, or if you like reading biographies and family histories read this book. I think it would make a fantastic film or TV series.

It is a tour de force, a mammoth of a book. It is huge, both in its scope, its extraordinary detail and its length. It is also heavy, but only in weight. It is impressive in its coverage of not only the lives of the Verney family but also of the seventeenth century itself.

Madness, piracy, murder and adultery – The Verneys tells the story of a unique English family in the seventeenth century. Based on the near-miraculous survival of tens of thousands of Verney family letters in an attic, Adrian Tinniswood explores the history of one family in the most intimate detail. By drawing on this wealth of personal correspondence, he reveals the private and public world of members of the Buckinghamshire gentry, offering extraordinary insights into 17th Century family life.

Click here to read the rest of my review

Adrian Tinniswood OBE FSA is the author of fifteen books on social and architectural history, including Behind the Throne: A Domestic History of the Royal HouseholdThe Long Weekend: Life in the English Country House Between the Wars, a New York Times and Sunday Times bestseller; His Invention So Fertile: A Life of Christopher Wren and The Verneys: a True Story of Love, War and Madness in Seventeenth-Century England, which was shortlisted for the BBC/Samuel Johnson Prize. He has worked with a number of heritage organisations including the Heritage Lottery Fund and the National Trust, and is currently Senior Research Fellow in History at the University of Buckingham and Visiting Fellow in Heritage and History at Bath Spa University. (Amazon)

~~~

I visited Claydon House in October 2007, which was when I found out about this book. One of the most interesting rooms is Miss Nightingale’s bedroom. Florence Nightingale was Sir Harry Verney’s sister-in-law and often stayed at Claydon House between 1857 and 1890. Sir Harry had first asked Florence to marry him but she declined and he married her older sister Parthenope. I wrote about the House in this post.

Throwback Thursday: The Owl Service by Alan Garner

I’m linking up today with Davida @ The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog for Throwback Thursday. It takes place on the Thursday before the first Saturday of every month (i.e., the Thursday before the monthly #6Degrees post). The idea is to highlight one of your previously published book reviews and then link back to Davida’s blog.

Today I’m looking back to 8th January 2008 when I wrote about The Owl Service by Alan Garner. I’d borrowed this book from my local library. First published in 1967 this book won both the 1968 Guardian Award for Children’s Fiction and the 1967 Carnegie Medal. This is an all-time classic, combining mystery, adventure, history and a complex set of human relationships.

Here is an extract from my post:

The Owl Service is not just a children’s book – it’s for anyone who likes a good story with a mixture of mystery, adventure and history. The setting is very important – it is in Wales, that beautiful Land of My Fathers (well, in my case my mother). It’s always a mysterious, magical place, and although the sun does shine it is usually shrouded in cloud and pouring rain whenever I visit.

The basis of the story is the Welsh legend from The Mabinogion about Lleu and his wife Blodeuwedd who was made for him out of flowers. It’s a tragic story because Blodeuwedd and her lover Gronw murdered Lleu, who was then brought back to life by magic. Lleu then killed Gronw by throwing a spear, which went right through the stone behind which Gronw was hiding; Blodeuwedd was then turned into an owl.

Click here to read my review

Alan Garner was born in Congleton, Cheshire, in 1934. His began writing his first novel at the age of 22 and is renowned as one of Britain’s outstanding writers. He has won many prizes for his writing, and, in 2001 he was awarded the OBE for services to literature. He holds four honorary doctorates and is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature .

Throwback Thursday: The Testament of Gideon Mack by James Robertson

I’m linking up today with Davida @ The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog for Throwback Thursday. It takes place on the Thursday before the first Saturday of every month (i.e., the Thursday before the monthly #6Degrees post). The idea is to highlight one of your previously published book reviews and then link back to Davida’s blog.

I’ve been looking at the books I reviewed in 2007 for my Throwback Thursday posts. Today I’ve chosen to highlight The Testament of Gideon Mack by James Robertson, which I wrote about on 13 December 2007.

From the opening paragraph:

I started it with great enthusiasm and found it a compelling book to read. It is a psychological mystery concerning the nature of belief, faith, and truth. It starts with an account of the disappearance and death of Gideon Mack and the discovery of a manuscript written by him shortly before he was last seen. It is clear right from the start that there is mystery and uncertainty surrounding his disappearance, death and the discovery of his body. The book centres on the manuscript with an epilogue containing ‘notes’ written by a journalist investigating the mystery, considering whether the manuscript was ‘anything other than the ramblings of a mind terminally damaged by a cheerless upbringing, an unfulfilled marriage, unrequited love, religious confusion and the stress and injury of a near-fatal accident?’

It’s a macabre story and it left me with several questions – mainly about what was real, what was imagined and what was illusion!

Click here to read the rest of my review

~~~

James Robertson (born 1958) is a Scottish writer who grew up in Bridge of Allan, Stirlingshire. He is the author of several short story and poetry collections, and has published four novels: The Fanatic, Joseph Knight, The Testament of Gideon Mack, and And the Land Lay Still. Joseph Knight was named both the Scottish Arts Council Book of the Year and the Saltire Society Book of the Year in 2003/04. The Testament of Gideon Mack was long-listed for the 2006 Man Booker Prize. And the Land Lay Still was awarded the Saltire Society Book of the Year Award in 2010. Robertson has also established an independent publishing imprint called Kettillonia, which produces occasional pamphlets and books of poetry and short prose, and he is a co-founder and the general editor of the Scots language imprint Itchy Coo, which produces books in Scots for children and young people. He lives in rural Angus. (Goodreads)

You can find more about the book at scotgeog.com, a website authored by James Robertson

Throwback Thursday: Playing With The Moon by Eliza Graham

I’m linking up today with Davida @ The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog for Throwback Thursday. It takes place on the Thursday before the first Saturday of every month (i.e., the Thursday before the monthly #6Degrees post). The idea is to highlight one of your previously published book reviews and then link back to Davida’s blog.

I’ve been looking at the books I reviewed in 2007 for my Throwback Thursday posts. I read Playing with the Moon by Eliza Graham in November that year. It was her first novel and I thought it was very good.

This is my opening paragraph:

It begins when Minna and Tom, who are staying at a cottage in an isolated village on the Dorset coast, east of Lulworth, discover a human skeleton on the beach and dog tags inscribed LEWIS J CAMPBELL and a number. American military officials confirmed his identity as Private Lew Campbell, believed to have died in 1944 during training exercises for the Normandy landings.

Click here to read the rest of my review

Since then I’ve read one more of her books, Another Day Gone, which I also loved (my review) and I have one more, The One I Was, in my TBRs.

Throwback Thursday: 5 November 2020

One of the best books I’ve read is Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner. I read it in November 2007.

Here is an extract from my review:

In essence, the novel recounts the lives of two couples who first met during the Depression in 1930s America and the joys and difficulties they encounter throughout their lives. Larry Morgan is the narrator and the events are seen through his eyes. Both he and Sid Lang have jobs in the English Department at the University of Wisconsin and their lives are intertwined from the moment they meet, when both their wives are pregnant. At the start of the novel we are told that Charity, Sid’s wife is dying. Sally and Larry have travelled to Battell Pond in Vermont for a reunion with the Langs. Sally is in a wheelchair and from that point Larry looks back over their lives.

Click here to read the rest of this review

Throwback Thursday: Digging to America

I’m linking up today with Davida @ The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog for Throwback Thursday. It takes place on the Thursday before the first Saturday of every month (i.e., the Thursday before the monthly #6Degrees post). The idea is to highlight one of your previously published book reviews and then link back to Davida’s blog.

This is my first Throwback Thursday post and I’ve decided to start with one of my first book reviews – Digging to America by Anne Tyler, posted on June 20 2007.

This is the first paragraph:

I’m so glad I’ve read Digging to America. I’d been resisting reading it because when I first heard about I just didn’t like the sound of it; I think what put me off were the names of some of the characters, particularly Bitsy who came over to me as a know-it-all bossy woman. It just shows you shouldn’t make snap judgements like that.

Click here to read the rest of this review

After I read this I intended to read more of Anne Tyler’s books – but I didn’t!

There are plenty to choose from. She’s written twenty novels. In 1989 she won the Pulitzer Prize for Breathing Lessons; in 1994 she was nominated by Roddy Doyle and Nick Hornby as ‘the greatest novelist writing in English’; in 2012 she received the Sunday Times Award for Literary Excellence; and in 2015 A Spool of Blue Thread was a Sunday Times bestseller and was shortlisted for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction and the Man Booker Prize. Her latest book is Redhead by the Side of the Road, which was longlisted for the Booker Prize 2020.