Throwback Thursday: On Trying to Keep Still

Today I’m looking back at my post on On Trying to Keep Still by Jenny Diski which I first reviewed on June 8, 2007.

Here are the first two paragraphs::

This book captivated me. I have read some good books this year, but this one outshines the rest. When I wasn’t reading it I was thinking and talking about it. It’s about experiencing an experience, becoming aware of experiencing the experience and so losing the experience.

I have had the experience of experiencing Jenny Diski’s travels during a year when she visited New Zealand, spent three months in a cottage in Somerset and went to sample the life of the Sami people of Swedish Lapland. No need to go those places myself now. Really, I could be tempted by a trip to New Zealand, but that is only a pipe dream. Now, a cottage in Somerset – that is a real possibility.

Click here to read my full review

The next Throwback Thursday post is scheduled for December 2.

Throwback Thursday: The Ghosts of Altona

Today I’m looking back at my post on The Ghosts of Altona by Craig Russell, which I first posted on 29 September 2015..

Here’s the first paragraph:

Last week I quoted the opening paragraphs and the description of The Ghosts of Altona by Craig Russell, a novel, which won this year’s Bloody Scotland Crime Novel of the YearIt’s an outstanding book, one of the best I’ve read this year. I suppose it can be called a modern Gothic tale as well as being a crime thriller. Russell is a new author to me, but by no means is he a new author, The Ghosts of Altona being his 7th book featuring Jan Fabel, the head of Hamburg’s Murder Commission. However, it didn’t spoil my enjoyment that I’d jumped into the series right at the end. And in a way it didn’t matter at all as in the first chapter Jan has a near-death experience when he is shot by a suspected child killer, which has a profound effect on his life and the way he views death.

Click here to read my full review

The next Throwback Thursday post is scheduled for November 4.

Throwback Thursday: Agatha Christie at Home

Today I’m looking back at my post on Agatha Christie at Home by Hilary Macaskill, which I first posted on 19 August 2013.

Here’s the first paragraph:

One of the things that struck me when I was reading Agatha Christie’s An Autobiography was her love of houses. It stemmed from her childhood dolls’ house. She enjoyed buying all the things to put in it – not just furniture, but all the household implements such as brushes and dustpans, and food, cutlery and glasses. She also liked playing at moving house, using a cardboard box as a furniture van.

Click here to read my full review

The next Throwback Thursday post is scheduled for September 30.

Throwback Thursday: 5 August 2021

This month I’m looking back at my review of The Mystery of Edwin Drood by Charles Dickens which I first posted on 20 September 2010.

Here’s the first paragraph:

It’s been a few weeks now since I finished reading The Mystery of Edwin Drood by Charles Dickens, his last and unfinished book. I was surprised that it took so long before the mystery actually began to emerge and that it’s more the story of Edwin Drood’s uncle, John Jasper, than it is of Drood himself.   I was also surprised that much of it is written in the present tense, a style that I’m not too keen on. I haven’t read a Dickens novel for a few years and found the difference in style between this and modern mystery novels interesting. The build up to the mystery is so much more leisurely and descriptive than in modern novels, and I had to tone down my impatience for something mysterious to happen. Once I’d passed these hurdles I enjoyed the book immensely, even though I knew that the mystery is left open.

Click here to read my full review

The next Throwback Thursday post is scheduled for 2 September 2021.

Throwback Thursday: 1 July 2021

This month I’m looking back at my review of The Dance of Love by Angela Young, which I first posted on 21 July 2014. It is a coming-of-age tale set in the same era as Downton Abbey. It spans two decades of vast historical change (1899-1919).  I read it because I had enjoyed her first book, Speaking of Love.

Here’s the first paragraph:

Angela Young‘s new novel The Dance of Love is historical fiction set at the turn of the twentieth century between 1899 and 1919. It is outstanding and I loved it so much. At times as I read it I could hardly see the pages through my tears – and there have not been many books that have that effect on me.  It’s a brilliant book, both a heart-rending love story and a dramatic story too, as the sinking of the Titanic in 1912 and the devastating and tragic effects of the First World War impact on the characters’ lives.

Click here to read my full review

The next Throwback Thursday post is scheduled for 5  August 2021.

Throwback Thursday: 3 June 2021

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

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

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

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)

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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

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 .