Read in July & A Glimpse of The Cosy Knave

It doesn’t look as though I’ve read many books in July going by the number of books I’ve finished:

  1. Whistling for the Elephants by Sandi Toksvig
  2. The Tinder Box by Minette Walters (library book)
  3. Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie (library book)
  4. Wilful Behaviour by Donna Leon (library book)
  5. Gently by the Shore by Alan Hunter (library book)

but I’ve also been reading Blonde by Joyce Carol Oates which is as long as about two/three  books in itself. it will be a while before I finish it.

The links on the titles go to my posts on the books. I wrote about the opening of Whistling for the Elephants by Sandi Toksvig in a Book Beginnings post. I was rather disappointed by it – I didn’t think it was funny or even very humorous. It’s about Dorothy, an English girl of 10 who has gone to live with her parents in Sassapaneck, New York in 1968. She finds it difficult to fit in – not only because she has to learn about America and the basics of school life, so different from what she knew, but also she has to work out what opinions she should have and whether she is a boy of a girl.

Whistling for the Elephants is packed with eccentric people, but it was hard to distinguish between some of the characters and it was only at the end that I had  discovered who they all were, so the characterisation isn’t too good. And I never really cared much about any of them either. The story kept getting submerged in facts about a variety of different topics, as though this is a collection of short essays or stories roughly linked together to make a book.

I think my book of the month, by a whisker, is Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express, which I thoroughly enjoyed even though I knew the plot and who did the murder.

I’ve have a few other books on the go at the moment including Dorte Jakobsen’s new e-book The Cosy Knave. Dorte blogs at djkrimiblog and her book is released today. I’ll write about it when I’ve finished it – all I can say so far is that I’m enjoying the story very much and am completely  baffled about who the murderer can be! For more details see Dorte’s blog – here.

Book Beginnings

Whistling for the Elephants by Sandi Toksvig, first published in1999 is my book group’s choice for July. It begins:

There are two basic types of creature in Nature’s kingdom. The first, like frogs and turtles, produce many offspring and simply hope that some will survive. The second, like elephants and people, produce one or two, at long intervals, and make great efforts to rear them. My mother belonged in a class of her own. She produced two at short intervals and made no effort to rear them whatsoever. Some people agonize over these things but I thank God. A hint more attention from my own family and things might never have turned out the way they did. (page 11)

This is Sandi Toksvig’s first novel and I haven’t read much more than the first few pages. I’m expecting it to be an amusing book, if not laugh-out-loud humour, from seeing Sandi Toksvig on programmes like QI. She is a Danish born comedian, broadcaster and author, who studied law, archaeology, and anthropology at Girton College, Cambridge, where she was a member of the Footlights at the same time as Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie, Tony Slattery, and Emma Thompson. As well as Whistling for the Elephants she has also written books for children and Flying Under Bridges, The Travels of Lady ‘Bulldog’Burton, and Gladys Reunited: A Personal American Journey (none of which I’ve read).

From the back cover I gleaned that Whistling for the Elephants is a novel about Dorothy, aged ten, living with her English parents in Sassapaneck, New York in 1968. She comes across a small faded zoo and gets to know an eccentric group of women and ‘begins to discover a world way beyond the one she has glimpsed so far.’

Book Beginnings is hosted by Katy at A Few More Pages, where you can leave a link to your own post on the opening lines of a book you’re currently reading.