Saturday, 30 December 2017

Mrs Mac suggests...... what to read in JANUARY 2018

Hello!  Hope you had the Christmas you wanted.  And now it's time for me to wish you the New Year you hope for.  If you think it odd that neither of my comments contain the words "Happy" or Merry", it's because life is not the same for everyone - and maybe we are not all filled with joy on those occasions when the world and the media think we should be!

Now it's time to move on to reading, which is the important thing, eh?  I read loads last year, and certainly have a top 10.  Shall I add that at the bottom?  Good idea!

My suggestion for January is to find and read

a short book, a light book

because just like holiday food, one can  have too much of a good thing.  I had read several heavy and dark tomes in the last couple of months, so I'm looking for something like meringue to lighten things!   And so I have chosen

Pippa Passes by Rumer Godden

And my 10 best reads last year?  Check these out.  In no particular order,  I loved them all:

Not Forgetting the Whale - John Ironmonger
Dirt Music - Tim Winton
The Lady Who Liked Clean Restrooms - J P Donleavy *
The Draughtsman - Robert Lautner
Should You Ask Me - Marianne Kavanagh
The Secret Rooms - Catherine Bailey N/F
Miss Boston and Miss Hargreaves - Rachel Malik
A Gentleman in Moscow - Amor Towles  BOOK OF THE YEAR
I'll Be Seeing You - Suzanne Hayes and Loretta Nyhan
Last Bus to Wisdom - Ivan Doig
The Girl With All The Gifts - M R Carey

(* I got this one just for a challenge (a book with a long title) but I loved it - who knew!  It gets my HONOURABLE MENTION as it makes the list number 11).

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Hello in December from Mrs Mac

Saturday, 16 December 2017

The Death of Sweet Mister - Daniel Woodrell

Daniel Woodrell writes of what he knows - and he knows the Ozarks.  Whilst I wouldn't want to know the characters in this short book, I did get to know them, and very quickly.  If you were an overweight thirteen year old whose father calls you fatso and who beats you at the slightest provication, you might well hate him.  And if your beautiful mother, who refers to you as Sweet Mister and who is as pretty as a picture is also beaten, and is reliant on pocket change to get by, you might well want to protect her from him.  What if you can't?  What if this just goes on and on?  And then, what if your mother takes up with a new man friend?

The characters are drawn so well you can smell the drink on their breaths, the sweat on their bodies, and know the hate in their hearts.  This is a harrowing read, but one that I won't tell you to steer clear of;  for in reading this, you may come to an understanding about how crimes happen and why, and how some children don't get the breaks they deserve (and frankly may not know what to do with anyway).  The tale is told in the first person by Shuggy, the Sweet Mister of the title, whose real name is Morris. He has a particular rythm which took me a few pages to get into.  After that I was off and running and couldn't put it down even though I was filled with dread from early on.  And then, that ending...... oh, I couldn't contemplate it, but somehow knew it was coming.

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

The Empress of Ice Cream - Anthony Capella

History and Ice cream together in one book?  Oh yes!  And to think I would never have picked this one myself.  This was passed on to me by a friend because I was short of a book for a category in a challenge I'd entered.  But I digress.

The lady in question was one of many mistresses of King Charles II of England, a girl from the landed gentry of Brittany, France.  Her job was to get the King to do the bidding of Louis XIV of France, and join him in a war against the Dutch.  Oh! and to persuade him to become a Catholic.  Her name? Louise de Keroualle, anglicised to Louise Carwell.  The intrigues of the English Court and parliament at that time were as much an eye opener to me, as they were to her.  Alongside her story is that of Carlo Demirco, the man who (supposedly) invented ice cream.  His story is a fiction, although certainly icecream was served to the King and Court at that time, and in any case, the descriptions of his flavours and how he got them are really worth a book of their own - although there are definitive books about ice cream which are described in the acknowledgements at the end of the book.
She decided that love would never take the place of politics; and he?  Well, he loved her but was never going to have her to himself.

This is historic faction and a lot of fun.  Easy to read, I polished off the 400 pages in a couple of days and enjoyed every mouthful!  And tell me, if you can, whatever happened to white strawberries?


Sunday, 10 December 2017

The Blessing - Nancy Mitford

One of those books that has remained on the shelf for years..... and so glad I read it when I was looking for something short and light.  This entertaining tale, set immediately after WW2 is an eye opener if you know nothing of the English and the French class system. (Ooops!  the French have a class system?  What about the Revolution?) You have to take this book at face value remember the year it was published (1951).  If you do that you should find yourself amused by the behaviour of the French aristo's and their circle in Paris.  Poor Grace, who marries Charles-Edouard in haste because in true Parisian fashion he sweeps her off her feet, finds life in Paris very different indeed from a rural gentrified upbringing in England.  How she copes with it is the basis of the book.  The Blessing?  Ah now.  That is Sigismonde (Sigi) their son, and he is less than a blessing due to the influences of Nanny, an absentee father, a perhaps too-loving mother and many others. 

[Nancy Mitford was herself a member of the English upper classes, and was one of six sisters who together form a very interesting and colourful family group.

 Deborah went on to become the Duchess of Devonshire;  Unity was a guest of Hitler at the 1938 Nuremberg Rally and attempted suicide at the outbreak of war in 1939; Pamela never married;  Diana's second husband (the first was heir Bryan Guinness) was fascist Sir Oswald Moseley; Jessica eloped with her second cousin and became a journalist in America.]

Early One Morning - Virginia Baily

I was attracted to this novel purely by the cover (as I suppose this is meant to happen!) and it has very little about the contents on the b...