Books 2010

January

  1. The Eye of the World – Robert Jordan. This is Raych’s fault, because she reviewed book 12.1, thereby bringing the whole series to my attention. Clearly by the end of 2010 I’ll have read all that are available. Perfect plane fodder, for a start.
  2. Dune Road – Jane Green. Wow, this was really perfunctory. Way to mail it in, Jane.
  3. Over the Holidays – Sandra Harper. Light, unremarkable.
  4. One Fifth Avenue- Candace Bushnell. Unpleasant two-dimensional rich people buy, scheme and sleep their way through life.
  5. The Great Hunt – Robert Jordan.
  6. The Truth about Melody Browne – Lisa Jewell. Unlikely story but as usual, Jewell’s characters speak and act like normal people.
  7. A Place of Greater Safety – Hilary Mantel. Fab, fab, fab humanising of George-Jacques Danton, Camille Desmoulins and Maximilien Robespierre, and general unpicking of the French Revolution. And all the while, of course, with course set irrevocably for an unhappy ending. Shudder.
  8. Ross Poldark – Winston Graham. By the end of the book I still hadn’t really warmed to Ross Poldark, although I like Demelza. Might give the next one in the series a go but if the general aura of unhappiness and wretchedness remains, I won’t go further than that.
  9. The Little Stranger – Sarah Waters. Hurrah for no lesbians! Boo for an ambiguous ending! I really enjoyed this while I was reading it, but then found the ending entirely unsatisfactory and a lot of an authorial cop out. If Waters ever really gets her writing shit together I think she is capable of an excellent book, but she isn’t there yet.
  10. Ad Infinitum: A Biography of Latin – Nicholas Ostler. Reading this gradually but very much enjoying the approach. Ostler’s take is that the history of Latin is really the history of Europe, since the language is about the only thing that there’s been there all along.

February

  1. The Chronicles of Chrestomanci, vol II – Diana Wynne Jones. Included ‘The Magician’s of Caprona’ and ‘Witch Week'; and both fell short of the ‘Lives of Christopher Chant’ for me.
  2. Sound the Retreat – Simon Raven. Another vol of Alms for Oblivion (#5), and the more I read the more I love Raven for his wonderful prose and his unblinking directness. I’m wondering if that near orgy scene in the Chinese restaurant is based on personal experience? In this book, Peter Morrison is an officer cadet in India, just at the time that England is trying to get out as quickly as possible. Faced with a threat to his career and his honour, he manages to extricate himself and still fulfil various army, personal and moral duties, all without really breaking any rules. And by proving to be someone to whom the shit won’t stick, sets the stage for his future career in politics.
  3. The Judas Boy – Simon Raven. Alms for Oblivion #6. Poor Fielding Gray, so well intentioned, so incapable of resisting a classic Greek profile. And thus the nasty, cunning American Earle Restarick lures him away from investigating what really happened in Cyprus (proxy war of the US vs Britain) and into the arms of a meretricious, but beautiful young Greek boy instead.
  4. Places Where They Sing – Simon Raven. Alms for Oblivion #7. Change of scene to academia and what will the poor old college do with that cool quarter of a million quid it just got? While the dons scheme and squabble, a couple of unfortunate and slightly Marxist students get caught up in the plans of the unscrupulous Mayerston, who is determined to wreak havoc in the college. All Raven’s female characters are either bitches or tarts (public school + army, Simon?) but Hetta Frith is about the only one he seems to have liked.
  5. A Test of Wills – Charles Todd. Hurrah, a new detective series. This is the first Inspector Rutledge book and a pretty solid start. It’s 1919, Rutledge has returned to Scotland Yard after the end of WWI, keeping his shell shock a secret and hoping to pick up his career. He gets packed off to investigate a nasty shotgun murder that might have been committed by a celebrated war hero.
  6. Come Like Shadows – Simon Raven. Alms for Oblivion #8. Fielding Gray is acting as script writer for a film company making a version of The Odyssey in Corfu. Nymphet starlets abound and Gray has plans to siphon off extra funds into a Zurich bank account. I expect there will be the usual buggery, whoring and skullduggery too. [Update: I was wrong about the buggery.] Elena – shades of Hetta? Not sorry to see the end of Angela Tuck.
  7. A Long Shadow – Charles Todd.
  8. Bring Forth the Body – Simon Raven. Alms for Oblivion #9. Somerset Lloyd-James is found dead in his bath, apparently having committed suicide. Capt Detterling and Leonard Percival join forces to find out what caused his death, Detterling out of personal curiosity and Percival in case it’s anything potentially damaging to the government that he might need to hush up. And despite L-J being an obnoxious toad throughout the entire series, at the end I felt sorry for him. As a side note, what did poor Tom Llewellyn do to end up with that ghastly daughter?
  9. The Survivors – Simon Raven. Alms for Oblivion #10. And I was quite sad to wrap up the series, but I’m sure I’ll be reading it again. This one set in Venice, where Tom Llewellyn and his daughter (who turns out to be called Tullia!), Daniel Mond, Fielding Gray, Detterling, Max Freite, Lykiadopoulos have gathered for various reasons of their own. Gray uncovers a mystery, Tom looks after Daniel, the truth about Patricia’s increasingly odd behaviour is revealed (so that’s why Baby Llewellyn was so obnoxious! Blimey)and Lyki tries to raise a fortune by operating a baccarat table. Plus there’s the usual amount of sex and manipulation.
  10. Cosa Nostra: A History of the Sicilian Mafia – John Dickie. This has been on my wishlist since 2004. So far it’s a fascinating, careful and detailed history that is also managing to be very readable. Also, kind of astonishing that the mafia could have such reach from as early as the 18th century. And now that I’ve finished, also kind of horribly depressing. I love Italy, but I suppose the Italians get mafia fatigue in the same way that England got Northern Ireland fatigue. It is not a good sign when people manage to stop caring that the good guys are being blown up in their cars, or shot coming out of their homes. It is not a good sign when even the bad guys recognise that the murdering has gone too far.
  11. Ruby’s Spoon – Anna Lawrence Pietroni.
  12. A Blunt Instrument – Georgette Heyer. So satisfying! I do like the way that the victims are always so unpleasant that no one minds that they are dead. The family members can then spend their time being witty and entertaining rather than upset. I particularly appreciated Neville’s shot that Helen North ‘…floated away on a sea of golden syrup…’ because it’s absolutely spot on. The wonder is that a woman quite that sappy ever managed to generate IOUs from some gaming hell in the first place. Also, have realised that Georgette Heyer is terribly addictive. No sooner do I put a book down than I want to read another one.
  13. Modesty Blaise – Peter O’Donnell. Didn’t I just read this a couple of years ago? Yes, I did. But y’know, I was looking for entertainment for a couple of hours and I found the film on Netflix. And the film was horrible, so I decided just to re-read the book instead. I’m thinking it’s time for a remake: Kate Beckinsale as Modesty (she can reuse the leather outfit from Underworld) and Daniel Craig as Garvin (he can reuse the abs from Casino Royale).
  14. A Taste for Death – Peter O’Donnell. As above. Apparently, O’Donnell is as addictive as Heyer.
  15. Pieces of Modesty – Peter O’Donnell.  This was the only Modesty Blaise that Blackwells had, so of course I bought it. Short stories, not my favourite but not bad.
  16. The Doctor’s Wife – Mary Elizabeth Braddon. Sort of halfway through this, but it’s going well. And it’s sympathetic to poor Isabel, who is suffering from all the dangers of novel reading, which seem to be much akin to the contemporary dangers of reading women’s magazines and watching Hollywood movies and then using those as a basis for romantic expectations.

March

  1. Black Diamonds: The Rise and Fall of a Great English Dynasty – Catherine Bailey. As predicted, travelling and reading did not mix well. I’m just getting into this and it’s a bit sensationalist, but fun all the same. Unexpectedly found myself far more interested in the history of the mining industry than in the family stuff, although still appalled that the estate was devastated out of what does look much like spite. Must find out about the decline of the mining industry and suspect David Kynaston will inform me.
  2. The Talented Mr Ripley – Patricia Highsmith. Great stuff, but I can’t spend too much time in Ripley’s head.
  3. An Unsuitable Attachment – Barbara Pym. Yeah, not her best. Echoes of her other books, so rather like reading a palimpsest.
  4. The Children’s Book – A S Byatt. Which I admired and liked, but did not love and found ultimately unsatisfactory. Tied in oddly with Black Diamonds, because of some overlap in period and politics.
  5. Grave Goods – Ariana Franklin. I’m finding that I’m getting more interested in reading about Henry II than in Adelia. So, it’s off to find a biog.
  6. Autumn Journal – Louis MacNeice. ‘Close and slow, summer is ending in Hampshire…’ Europe descends into war, Louis falls in love and out, gun emplacements are set up on Primrose Hill and surely it’s worth fighting for a better, fairer future? Even for a misogynistic old bugger like MacNeice.
  7. Wish Her Safe at Home – Stephen Benatar. Early birthday present from Emily, who had the bright idea while we were all in Philly that we should simply buy books and exchange them then. So we did. This was bloody good. Rachel Waring inherits a house from her aunt, leaves her unhappy London life and begins a gradual descent into happy madness rather than ‘the glooms’. As she’s the narrator, you are right there with her. Sad, and chilling.

April

  1. Duplicate Death – Georgette Heyer. I’ve forgotten, because this was a fluffy holiday read. I know I enjoyed it at the time, though.
  2. God is an Englishman – R. F. Delderfield. Pretty good stuff. Not packing the surprising emotional wallop of ‘To Serve Them All My Days’ but I’ll read the next one at some point.
  3. The Gorse Trilogy – Patrick Hamilton. Thankfully, not as relentlessly bleak with such dark humour as other Hamilton. Gorse is a sort of Ripley character, although he has yet to progress to murder it’s clearly on the cards for the future. In the meantime, he’s separating shop girls from their savings just because he can. Hamilton keeps the reader fully informed, so you always know what Gorse is planning, but there’s a certain fascination in watching his schemes come to fruition nevertheless. And Hamilton is a brilliant social observer, so the intricacies of interactions are extremely well done.
  4. High Wages – Dorothy Whipple. Good lord, but Whipple can put one through the emotional wringer. This was lighter than others of hers that I’ve read (They Were Sisters was positively traumatic), but it’s not a walk in the park either. If you like Whipple, read this.
  5. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd – Agatha Christie. Erm, yeah. Got 74 pp in and ground to a halt.

May (let’s see if I can actually read something in May. This is getting embarrassing.)

  1. Rachel Ray – Anthony Trollope. One of the lightest of Trollope’s that I’ve read. Entirely enjoyable.
  2. Over Sea, Under Stone – Susan Cooper
  3. The Dark is Rising – Susan Cooper
  4. Greenwitch – Susan Cooper
  5. The Grey King- Susan Cooper
  6. Silver on the Tree – Susan Cooper
  7. A Great Deliverance – Elizabeth George. Which was my own choice for bookclub, because I’ve liked the TV series. It was meh. Overwritten, and both Lynley and Havers are currently thin characters but they might get some dimension as the series progresses. I think they’ve got potential, I just wish someone else was writing them.
  8. No Wind of Blame – Georgette Heyer. I’m faithful to old GH, but I’ve got to say, this was a bit pants. All the characters were shadows of more rounded characters in her other detective novels, and the plot was argh. It was like reading a GH novel written by a lesser writer. Or one who was it mailing it in because her editor had demanded just one more book. *cough Jane Green cough*
  9. The Two Lives of Miss Charlotte Merryweather – Alexandra Potter. Originally spotted in a bookstore in Lititz with Marcy and Emily, and then Marcy bought it and lent it to me. What would you say to your 20ish self if you could go back and meet them? Charlotte wants to protect herself from sunbathing, smoking, pleather trousers and unsuitable men. I would tell me to wear shorter skirts, party more and do a lot more sleeping around. But on the plus side, I would also tell me to cut up the credit cards. Not that it would do any good, because, being me at 20ish, I wouldn’t listen to anyone because I know best. As I still do, obviously. In fact, now that I think about it, I’m telling me much the same now. Crap.

(May summary: No, apparently I didn’t read anything in May either. Pathetic. I think I’m about ready to give up on the whole year. I’m beginning to get worried that Blackwells will turn me away at the door, Posman’s will probably revoke my store card and Powell’s will delete my wishlist.)

June

  1. Never Let Me Go – Kazuo Ishiguro. Look, I know I’m the last person on the planet to get round to reading this, and that’s partly because everyone says it’s really good, which usually means it’s mediocre and hyped to the gunwales. But, erm, this is really good. Also, I’m on a deadline, because it’s borrowed from a colleague and I can’t face the embarrassment of returning it unread.
  2. Phineas Redux – Anthony Trollope. For a start, I’m sorry Phineas’ wife died before childbirth, but I suppose it was the only way he could return to London. I suspect unhappiness ahead.
  3. In Praise of Older Women – Stephen Vizinczey. The anti-Lolita, in which Andreas elucidates his fascination  and erotic adventures with women in their mid to late 30s.
  4. Swan Song – Edmund Crispin. I have a feeling that this is one of Crispin’s later ones and therefore lacks the sparkle of The Moving Toyshop or Holy Disorders. Glad to see Fen still has Lily Christine, but something a bit perfunctory about his reckless driving in this one. Reminds me a bit of The Gilded Fly.
  5. To Bed with Grand Music – Marghanita Laski. What a despicable creature Deborah Robertson is, and how unfortunate for her husband and son that she should have the soul of a whore and yet be wife and mother. But interesting to read a novel written in 1946 and set during WWII in which the characters are not suffering nobly and being all patriotic and martyred. I have a faint sympathy with preferring hats, nail polish and American lieutenants to rationing and life in the country.
  6. Nightingale Wood – Stella Gibbons. Did not reach the dizzying comic heights of Cold Comfort Farm, but was thoroughly frothy and enjoyable as well as engagingly well-wrtten.
  7. Of Love and Hunger – Julian Maclaren-Ross. The author was apparently a living definition of the word ‘louche’, and lived the sort of life that Patrick Hamilton wrote about. One hopes it was rather less depressing, though. Thus far, Richard Fanshawe is failing to make a living selling vacuum cleaners, owes money for rent and Woodbines and has just popped his watch (21st birthday gift from his father and it’s obvious he’ll never redeem it). He’s been asked to look after his friend’s wife while said friend goes to sea. Since Sukie is a sulky, sultry looking brunette, I see a tawdry affair conducted in cheap boarding houses and teashops ahead. She’s a handful and he’s an amoral, self-serving bastard, so I’m not sure who I feel most sorry for. Fans of Hamilton, step right up. Update: that’ll learn me, the affair wasn’t nearly as tawdry as I’d expected and in fact I felt sorry for Fanshawe.
  8. The Crowded Street – Winifred Holtby. Oh god, the horror of life when a woman’s only option was get married or stay at home. And not that long ago either.
  9. Dark Places – Gillian Flynn.
  10. Frenemies – Megan Crane. Which Marcy lent me, because I think when we were stuck on the GW Bridge for several lifetimes a few weeks back, we were talking about THE DRAMA and accompanying intensity of life in our twenties and how we wouldn’t go back to that for any money. Frenemies is all about THE DRAMA, and Crane writes engagingly. I particularly like that she writes dialogue in a way that people might really speak, although it seemed to take Gus an inordinately long time to wake up and notice Henry.
  11. The Scenic Route – Binnie Kirshenbaum. Meandering along nicely. I like the rambling style, the interjections that seem like (are?) quotations of the sort that we all keep in our heads. Thanks, Emily!
  12. Sabre Tooth – Peter O’Donnell. Perfectly satisfactory Blaise novel.
  13. The Mind Readers - Margery Allingham. Sigh. No. I am sorry to say that I preferred Albert Campion before he married Amanda (although I have nothing against her). I just find the post-war novels far less successful.
  14. A Gun for Sale – Graham Greene. A hired assassin is set up after his last job, and attempts to find the people responsible for selling him out. Bleak. Doomed.

July

  1. A Note in Music – Rosamond Lehmann. Oh, this was good, a clear step on the way from Invitation to the Waltz to Echoing Grove. Now I must read Dusty Answer (her first) and continue to marvel at her writing. So many passages that are worth quoting, and a nice dissection of the ups and downs of married life when someone arrives to throw the situation into relief. Also some lovely, scattered moments of connection between people.
  2. The Soul of Kindness – Elizabeth Taylor. The first of hers that just hasn’t really worked for me. Couldn’t quite get it to gel.
  3. The Very Thought of You – Rosie Allison. Started and then stopped about 40pp in because it was so hilariously bad. And will not be picking up again. I mean, come on, when people are running from the Germans and I find myself laughing out loud at the writing, you know it’s a dog. Although, actually, I should have trusted my instinct, which was not to get beyond the first page.
  4. Riders – Jilly Cooper. Like, OMG, how can I resist Rupert Campbell-Black again after all these years? Although now I remember that I prefer Billy, hate Janey, can’t stand Helen and on balance think Dino might be the best of the lot. Must watch the TV series!
  5. Another Self – James Lee-Milne. I’m mostly interested in him for his involvement with the National Trust. This was just a bit precious for my liking.
  6. The New House – Lettice Cooper. See what I done wrote here.
  7. Lady Rose and Mrs Memmary – Ruby Ferguson. Struggled a bit with this one, it felt a bit paper thin and lightweight. I liked the character of Rose and I’d have like to know more about her from her own perspective, not via the third person. Plus there were some annoying style tricks (repeated references to Time flicking back through his book, for example) that felt very artificial.
  8. The Imperfectionists – Tom Rachman. Loved this. Multiple perspectives on the gradual decline of a newspaper, told via the linked stories of various members of the staff. Thought each of the stories held its own and a couple were incredibly poignant.
  9. Jane and Prudence – Barbara Pym. I particularly liked that Jane was so utterly hopeless as a vicar’s wife.
  10. From Aberystwyth with Love – Malcolmy Pryce. The third in the Louie Knight series, and I’m not sure the joke will carry this far. We’ll see.
  11. Sex and Stravinsky – Barbara Trapido. A bit sketched in, which was possibly intentional if she was taking the line of having stock characters as in Pucinella. (Might help if I knew anything at all about that opera, or in fact, any opera.) Sort of borderline fairytale (the Merry Fellow in the hut in the woods?), unbelievable coincidences, star-crossed lovers, Witch, Evil Sister. So all enjoyable enough but sort of pointless, and I found it impossible to warm to any of the characters. Jack in particular seemed more like a device than a character. Which again, possibly the point. Ending just too neat, even with the ‘Afterword’ to cancel out the Happy Ever After effect.
  12. A Room with a View – E.M. Forster. Revisiting an old favourite. A perfect way to spend a sunny Sunday afternoon, sitting on the balcony, with fresh strawberries and a glass of white wine.
  13. East Lynne – Ellen Wood. A cautionary tale for misbehaving Victorian wives. Beautiful Lady Isabel becomes convinced her husband, Archibald Carlyle is in fact in love with neighbouring Barbara Hare. Jealousy to the point of madness pushes Isabel to run away with Frederic Levison, abandoning home, husband and children for a life of misery, punishment and repentance. Meanwhile, did Barbara’s brother, Richard, really kill Afy’s father in the cottage in the woods that night? And if not, who did? The first half of this romped along, the second dragged a bit, and it was all quite predictable but in an enjoyable enough sort of way.

August

  1. Jerusalem – Patrick Neate. Tearing through this for Thursday. Except when not. And not loving it so far, argh.
  2. The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro. I’m only a few pages in and I’m already loving this. Such beguiling writing, humour and pathos.
  3. Little Women – L. M. Alcott. Because I am truly spoilt and Marcy sent me this (along with 2 other of the Penguin cloth classics).
  4. Skippy Dies – Paul Murray. Just do yourself a favour, buy this and read it. But remember to block out a chunk of time else you too will be annoyed by having your reading interrupted by work. (http://theasylum.wordpress.com/2010/02/04/paul-murray-skippy-dies/)
  5. Sense & Sensibility – Jane Austen. I heart Colonel Brandon.
  6. Winter Tales – George Mackay Brown. I’ve read a couple and they are excellent, but I’m putting them aside to be read in the proper season. So on with…
  7. Bulldog Drummond – Sapper. From Mr W. My only disappointment with Hugh Drummond is that he married That Sap, Phyllis. Other than that, he’s a cross between Campion, Whimsey and Bond, which can be no bad thing. All manner of villains get their comeuppance, of course, including the filthy Boche; but the arch-criminal, Carl Petersen, and the beautiful Irma escape. Well, of course, or what else is a bored war hero always ripe for a spree going to do with his time? Do use the noggin, old flick.
  8. Things the Grandchildren Should Know – Mark Oliver Everett. Who is E from Eels, and has had fairly upsetting life. But seems to be getting over it. So I kind of liked this and also, I agree with his philosophy (or he unknowingly agrees with mine), which is that you’ve to take the lows so you can appreciate the highs. And then you’re really living.
  9. The Assassin’s Prayer – Ariana Franklin. And I’m having a horrible thought that this is going the same way as the last one, which is into highly unlikely territory in a pre-choreographed way. Adelia rows with Rowley, who she really, really loves but they are just so different because he wants to quash her independence but she’s a doctor and therefore above things like washing her hair and wearing other than sackcloth; Henry makes an unreasonable request because he can, because he’s the king, but he’s also kind of cool so despite herself Adelia still ends up admiring him (and slightly fancying him). Adelia ends up in danger and then out of it and only her unconventionality saves her and Rowley is all ‘Oh my god, I’m so angry with you because you are safe, which means you put yourself in danger in the first place and why can’t you just stay at home and do needlework like a real woman?’ And really, it’s all a bit Stephanie Plum meets Henry II. Except that Rowley isn’t as hot as Morello and there’s no Ranger.
  10. The Words of War – Marcus Cowper. ‘Cos if one of your mates writes a book and then you wangle a signed freebie, you sort of have to, don’t you? Slightly shocked to find that I still retain a few scraps of knowledge about WWII. This is a collection of first hand accounts, nicely put together, and I like that it covers the whole war. Obviously not in detail but it certainly gives an idea of the horrendous scope of thing, which is somehow too easy to forget when one just reads about a particular theatre, campaign or battle.

September

  1. The Black Gang – Sapper. The second vol in the Carl Petersen Quartet, in which our hero, Hugh, has formed his chums into a little group dedicated to tackling the nasty Bolsheviks who are trying to infest dear old England. Unfortunately, totty-headed Phyllis gets herself captured and Hugh must barter the diamonds to get her back. Will Petersen keep to his part of the deal? There’s always a satisfyingly high body count around Drummond, which I much prefer to the wretched blights merely being handed over to the forces of law and order.
  2. The Continental Op – Dashiell Hammett. Betrayal! Deception! Sardonic narrative! Repeat.
  3. Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte. Oh please, we all know Jane Eyre is a subversive little minx. And once again I am knocked out by how bloody brilliant this book is.
  4. Faithful Place – Tana French. Who does it again. I’ve been alternately sniggering at and then heartbroken by this novel all evening, and I plan to stay up until I finish it.
  5. Cyrano de Bergerac – Anthony Burgess (transl.) We all know the story. Need to re-read to gather thoughts about this translation, but it didn’t read like translationese.
  6. The Third Policeman – Flann O’Brian. When the second, or was it the third recommendation came my way, I decided to give this another shot. So far enjoying the book far more than I did the audio version. Absolutely and completely deadpan.
  7. Royal Assassin – Robin Hobb. Vol 2 of the Farseer trilogy, gulped down in a day. Royal scheming continues apace, the Red Raiders are still raiding, Verity goes off to find the Eldringen and Regal grabs increasingly more power to himself. Where did Ketrricken get to, will Fitz be reunited with Molly and who or what is the Fool? You’re right, I should buy vol 3.
  8. Molly Fox’s Birthday – Deirdre Madden. A gem of a book, beautifully written. The narrative voice is not that of Molly herself, but a playwright friend of hers who has borrowed her house. Molly is the famous one, the actor (never actress), the named one; so the structure of the novel reflects their fictional reality because isn’t the actor the person in the spotlight? The meandering, reflective narrative spins around Molly, her friend’s relationship with her and the nature of friendship itself. How much we think we know of others, how little we really do.
  9. The Wasteland and Other Poems – T.S. Eliot. Of which comprehension is flickering at the edge of my consciousness, but needs a helping a hand from a good critical commentary. Because I know nowt about owt.
  10. The Agamemnon of Aeschylus – Louis MacNeice (transl.) At least this is familiar territory! Now I want to read the Oresteia all over again too.

October

  1. The Phantom Tollbooth – Norton Juster
  2. The Third Round – Sapper (3rd vol in Petersen quartet)
  3. Here Comes Everybody – Clay Shirky
  4. The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame
  5. Henrietta Sees it Through – Joyce Dennys. Henrietta is an absolute treasure.

November

  1. The Stone Book Quartet – Alan Garner
  2. The Woman Who Waited – Andrei Makine. Wonderful.
  3. Brick Lane – Monica Ali. Another one of those novels that is less than the sum of its parts. I thought bits were really well written, although it was a bit immigrant experience by the numbers. But when I’d finished it, I didn’t have much of an impression left.
  4. The Pedant in the Kitchen – Julian Barnes. Mildly amusing and snack sized.
  5. The Weather in the Streets – Rosamond Lehmann.
  6. The Brimming Cup – Dorothy Canfield

December

  1. 84 Charing Cross Road – Helene Hanff. Which I loved! For years, I’d been put off by what I’d seen of the film, which I kept thinking looked decidedly on the syrupy side. The book was not syrupy at all. Bless.
  2. The Blue Flower – Penelope Fitzgerald.
  3. Corduroy – Adrian Bell
  4. Silver Ley – Adrian Bell

6 thoughts on “Books 2010

  1. I thought that about the Ishiguro, too, until I read it and loved it.
    Women in their mid-to-late thirties are OLD? I must have one foot in the grave, then.

  2. Not ‘old’, just ‘older’ than the protagonist. And he gets started pretty young! Anyway, I think you’d like it.

  3. I really loved A Note in Music when I ready it a couple years ago, and I’m enjoying Invitation to the Waltz now. I had a hard time with The Echoing Grove, though. Instead of being slow in a good way, as the others ones are, I felt it was just slow and it was a slog.

  4. Dor – I’m entirely with you. I battled through The Echoing Grove when I was jetlagged, which didn’t help, and I feel I ought to give it a fair try. But it was tough going.

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