I can’t quite believe that the year is half over already, but it is and so I should look back and look forward.
I haven’t read quite as much as I did last month but I have got back into the habit of writing and I am very happy with what I did read.
Thomas Cooper Gotch – Paddling, Whitsand Bay
These are the the books:
The Happy Tree by Rosalind Murray – Only the very hardest of hearts could fail to be moved by this beautifully wrought and utterly poignant account of a life damaged by war and by circumstance. This was another well chosen addition to the Persephone list.
The Girl at the Window by Rowan Coleman – A young widow takes her son back to the home she turned her back on years ago – a crumbling gothic manor on the Yorkshire moors, very close to Haworth populated with ghosts, and a mystery to be solved. The story has rather too much going on, but its heart is in the right place,
The Clock Strikes Twelve by Patricia Wentworth – Miss Silver’s seventh recorded case finds her investigating the murder of a family patriarch at his country home on New Year’s Eve early in the war. The mystery is intriguing, the family drama is interesting, and the story is well rooted in its period, making this one of the strongest books in the series so far.
Vintage 1954 by Antoine Lauraine – Four people are transported back to 1954 Paris from the present day after sharing a bottle of vintage wine. The period details were lovely, the story caught many different emotions and it was whimsical, clever and wonderfully engaging.
Dead Man’s Quarry by by Ianthe Jerrold – The heir to an estate on the Welsh borders returns home after many years in Canada, only to be murdered on a cycling holiday. This mystery has a lovely mix of intrigue and human drama, and I’m so pleased to have discovered the author, courtesy of the Dean Street Press.
China Court by Rumer Godden – This book tells the story of the days before and after the death of a Cornish matriarch who knows that her beloved home may be sold by her children, it moves back in time to tell stories of previous generations who lived there, and the whole thing is wrapped around her book of hours. Not many authors could pull that off, but Rumer Godden did.
In July I plan to read the final few chapters of another big book by Anthony Trollope and finish the book by Molly Keane that I started last night. There are lots of other books I’d love to start, but I’m not going to plan because I intend to pick up the books that call loudest without thinking about what I ought to read or what I planned to read.
What I am going to do is look back, because sometimes it seems that books have their moment and then they disappear. I’m going to borrow a game from Audrey again, and look back at highlights of Junes gone by.
I have ten years of archives now, so here are ten books that I think are well worth remembering.
2009 – Miss Cayley’s Adventures by Grant Allen – Miss Cayley is not a typical Victorian heroine. When she was left alone in the world with only tuppence to her name she didn’t seek employment, she set out to see that world and grab any chance that came her way. It’s ten years since I met her, but I still remember the lady and her adventures very well.
2010 – The Boy Next Door by Irene Sabatini – I miss the Orange Award for New Writers. Nine years ago I read all three shortlisted novels, this one – the story of a mixed – teenage girl growing up in what had been an all-white suburb in Rhodesia in the late seventies – was my favourite and it won.
2011 – The Strange Fate of Kitty Easton by Elizabeth Speller – This was a mystery, set in England after the Great War, but its themes were timeless. It spoke about how we deal with grief, and how it changes our futures; about the secrets we keep behind the faces we present to the world; and about how much we will do to protect the people and things we love.
2012 – The One I Knew the Best of All by Frances Hodgson-Burnett – This childhood memoir starts off stiffly but it soon relaxes, and it was lovely to see the child who would become an author falling in love with books and gardens. The book is uneven but the good bits are so good that it is well worth reading.
2013 – Lady Rose and Mrs Memmary by Ruby Ferguson – This is a beautiful, moving, romantic story, told by a consummate storyteller, and it spoke profoundly. I remember Lady Rose fondly, and can still say that she is a heroine as lovely as any I have met in the pages of a Persephone book.
2014 – Can You Forgive Her? by Anthony Trollope. It was five years ago that I finally discovered why so many readers love Anthony Trollope. I’ve read all of the Palliser and Barchester novels since then, and a few others between then and now, and this was the book where it all began.
2015 – Policy and Passion by Rosa Praed – I picked this up because the author has a Cornish name and the title made me think of Trollope. Rosa Praed turned out to be Australian, the book turned out to be an engaging tale of love, family and politics, and I suspect the Rosa Praed liked Trollope, and that his readers would like this book.
2016 – Pendower by Marianne Filleul – I was reaching for a book by a rather well known author on of the Cornish fiction shelves in the library this book by an unfamiliar author caught my eye. It told the story of two friends from very different backgrounds in 16th century Cornwall, it gave me a new perspective on the reformation, and I am very glad that I brought it home.
2017 – The Game of Kings by Dorothy Dunnett – Well, June seems to be my month for discovering authors who will become particular favourites. I’m only sorry that I didn’t take the Lymond Chronicles out of box marked ‘ I want to read, it, I know I’ll love it, but I have to wait for the perfect moment’ sooner, because I know I am going to have to keep re-reading them to appreciate their richness and detail.
2018 – Another Part of the Forest by G B Stern – This second volume of the author’s memoirs talks about childhood memories, the joy of collecting, Jane Austen, house parties and so many other things – big and small. I can’t quite believe that a year has gone by and the next volume is still sitting on my bedside table.
Do try this – it stirred some lovely bookish memories for me.
And tell me what you’re reading, what your plans are, and if there is anything interesting happening that I’ve missed.