Thursday, 18 October 2018

Gap Creek - Robert Morgan

I've seen this compared to These is my Words - the diary of Sarah Prine. Different setting, but that same kind of  'history within a novel'  kind of thing.   And  it is certainly worth reading. From  the Appalachian Mountains of  North Carolina, Julie and Hank, newly married, walk down the mountain into Gap Creek, South Carolina, to start a new life. When you are young, in love and very naive, it's surprising how many things you have to learn. The subtitle of the book is "the story of a marriage" - but in fact it's the the first year of a marriage we find described

If you thought you had ever been hungry, wet, cold, lonely or frightened - read this one and weep, for the descriptions of everything are well drawn and make you understand how hard it was for this young couple who were still finding out about life, let alone themselves.  But Julie is a strong character, and she will prevail. Hank is a good looking boy, spoilt by his Ma, unable to deal with hardship of any kind, prone to starting arguments. Will he come through this period of time like Julie?  Life throws everything at this couple and then some.  They do some stupid stuff, but ultimately they learn that every day is a new day and can be got through.  We don't now we're born these days!  We have electricity which gives us washing machines, freezers, heating, cooking facilities;  and this book, set at the turn of the 20th century, will show you how hard life was then, and how far we have come.

Saturday, 13 October 2018

The Santa Kaus Murder - Mavis Doreil Hay

Golden Age of Crime....... you either love it or hate it.  Lots of middle class or upper class people called Buntie, or Dicky, or Mumsie are usually involved.   A Murder.  A plodding detective and then Voila!  the murderer is revealed!    If this sounds like Agatha Christie, or several other 1930s publications you have come across, you'd be right.  It does follow a pattern.  But this particular novel has a distinctly different way of telling it's tale.

There has been a murder - "up at the House".  Sir Osmond Melbury - family patriach though not well loved, has been shot in the head on Christmas day.  Colonel Halstock, Chief Constable of the county is called.  Everyone who was there at the time is placed under house arrest.

Several persons involved are asked to write their own versions of the day before the murder i.e. Christmas Eve.  Those documents form the first five chapters of the book, until Halstock takes over the rest.  And as he works the case, you will have to see if you can beat him at his own game - I had two suspects, and one of them turned out to indeed be the murderer.   At the front of the book is a map of the downstairs area of Flaxmere, the family seat, and there is also a list of characters and their relationshp to the others.   Cripes!  what fun!

As the story is set over Christmas, and you may just be drawing up your list of presents to be to be early and prepared, there may be a reader on your list who has not come across this title from the British Library Crime Classics.  You just may want to read it yourself.

Sunday, 7 October 2018

Euonymus alatus (spindle berry) in Autumn

Eonymus Alatus
Have I done this before?  Have you seen this lovely shrub?  Forgive me if you have...... I grow this for the glorious show, two weeks in early Autumn/Fall every  year.  It's spread is around 6 ft, height 3 foot or so.  Bare in the winter, lime green once the leaf buds open, insignificant flowers.  But Oh!  that wonderful pink.

 Gardening is like that for me.  I don't do bedding plants unless it's to fill in spaces, and then it  will be nasturtiums, nigella, or something that may seed itself for next year.  But I love colour, and I try to have something flowering every month of the year.  These are leaves, not flowers of course, but there is no other shrub that gives me this glorious show - and it's two steps from my front door.  When the leaves first start to turn, they are just pink tips to the leaves.  If you look at the bottom of the pic you can see some leaves not fully turned to pink, but very quickly, the entire bush is PINK! PINK! PINK!...... and then the leaves start to fall and it's over.

Never mind, next year will come soon enough.

Tuesday, 2 October 2018

Some Kind of Fairy Tale - Graham Joyce


"Read it - it's special in all kinds of ways - but try to remember it in May, when the bluebells are flowering"  Joanne Harris.

She liked it a lot!  And so did I.  A girl taken by fairies who manages to return.  What would you think if a family member disappears, leaving no clues at all.  Like the police you would call that missing presumed dead - except that she isn't;  for twenty years later she returns to her family, thinking that she has only been away for six months.  Tara is home - and for her parents it's a mixed blessing.  For her brother and his family the same.  For her boyfriend, left bereft (and accused of the crime - what crime? - at the time) time has stood still and now she is home for him to love.

Told by (or about) each major character in turn, you will learn what results her disappearance had on those who loved her, and what occurs now that she is back.  Life is not the same, for in those twenty years people have grown older, but Tara has not, neither in body or looks.  In her head she has learned many things which may be of no help at all in the real world.  And the thing is, no-one really believes her fairy story.

NB.  I have read some Amazon reviews, where readers are offended by swear words and sexual descriptions..... there are not many of those, and perhaps those readers were looking for a "real" fairy story.  The title rather gives the game away, no?

Monday, 1 October 2018

Mrs Mac Suggests - What to read in OCTOBER 18

Readers, I am sorry!  September just slipped into October, and with only one post last month you might just have wondered if I had mitched off!!  Well...... I did, but only for a week, a little holiday in the Cotswolds.  Couldn't settle to read much but managed one book.  Now back to the real world and lots of reading through the Autumn/Fall.

So what shall we read in October?  The days are shorter, the mornings have a little chill, but my garden is still full of colour, including some lovely red leaves which cheer everyone up.  This month I am going to read the last in a trilogy.  So I was thinking - as always - about you lot out there.  How about

a book in a series?

This  may be the first in a series you are interested in reading, or the second or third in a long series, or the last (and perhaps the best) in a series you have loved but didn't want to finish!  Now is the time.  Settle back and enjoy an episode.  Me?  I am going to finish the Old Filth trilogy, with

Last Friends - Jane Gardam 

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...