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Friday, November 30, 2012

Miss Buncle Married by D.E. Stevenson

How I wish that I knew someone like Miss Buncle! It's an absolute pleasure to read about this delightful character's new adventures now that she's married to a lovely man.  The new wife soon falls in love with a large, old-fashioned house in a new village and the couple move there, ready to begin a different life.

The trouble is that the former Miss Buncle has given up her beloved writing, and she understandably doesn't know what to do with herself.  She has certain mysteries to solve, however.  Why are the children nearby so 'wild' and fey, for example?  Why does their father appear to have a strange interest in her?  More importantly, how can she keep young Sam, her husband's nephew, away from his true love, Jo, until Jo's aunt dies?

I didn't enjoy this book as much as the first one in the series, but I still found it a joy to read.  I am very grateful to Net Galley for giving me this book to read.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Dickens Dictionary by John Sutherland

It is rare to find a non-fiction book that is written with a light touch and in a humorous manner.  John Sutherland has achieved this with his hugely enjoyable dictionary of Dickens.  This is my favourite book about Dickens!

Here you will learn about the origins of his characters, his travels, and the scandals that revolved around him.  You will also find out some things that you probably don't want to know, for example, that Dickens was deeply prejudiced against Catholicism.

Some parts of this book were a bit too gruesome to read, so be warned.  This includes Dickens's graphic description of witnessing an execution in Italy.

This is the perfect book for any Dickens fan.




Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Tale of A Cheltenham Lady by Elizabeth Gillard






This is a charming and relaxing read about a girl who struggled with relative poverty and a conflicted relationship with her mother and rose above both to become a 'Cheltenham Lady'.

Elizabeth Gillard grew up in a small, stuffy flat overlooking a square in Cheltenham with two rather odd parents.  She was lucky enough to have a wealthy relative who sent her to Cheltenham Ladies' College.  She enjoyed attending, although she felt inferior compared with the richer girls.

She then studied nursing in the 'swinging London' of the 1960s.  I liked this part of the book which describes the joy of living in London and the poverty of the East End.  Her writing is at its best here when she evokes the creepiness of the East End only seventy years after Jack the Ripper.

Elizabeth Gillard completed her nursing qualification and goes on to write about her marriages, children, and travelling adventures.  She's very likeable and you feel like cheering her on as she endlessly tries to resolve her odd relationship with her class-obsessed mother.

I enjoyed this gentle and very English autobiography.

Still Point by Regis Martin



Regis Martin originally wanted to call his book, 'Desperate Desire'.  This is because his book concerns the desperate desire we all have to be reconciled with God.  But Still Point also describes the search for God, the yearning we all experience to meet our dead friends and relatives again and the joy that finding God brings.

Still Point is not an easy read - it is really for people who like philosophy and theology. I liked studying Natural Law so I am happy to read well-written books such as this one. Part of Still Point is a deep philosophical argument that our search for God is the proof that he exists.  C. S. Lewis expressed this succinctly in a famous quote that I will have to find and write here.

It's a powerful book filled with anecdotes from Martin's life and beautiful quotations from poets such as T.S. Eliot.  I will certainly keep this and return to it often.


Monday, November 19, 2012

An Interesting and Fair Biography of a Much-Loved Author



I approached Georgette Heyer by Jennifer Kloester with some trepidation after reading reviews accusing the author of being unduly critical of the much-loved writer.  I am a big fan of Heyer so I didn't want to be too disillusioned about her real character!


Jennifer Kloester does criticise Heyer's Conservative politics, snobbishness, and some aspects of her character.  However, I thought that her criticism was mostly fair and I thought that she was sympathetic to Heyer , although I thought she should have been more objective about Heyer's politics.

Heyer inspired and gave hope to many - she was especially proud of providing much-needed escapism and hope for a group of Romanian women prisoners.  Kloester writes about Heyer's inspirations and meticulous research, how her relationship with her husband resembled the love affairs in her books, and many other details of Heyer's life.  These include the influence of her father on her writing, her sometimes acrimonious relationships with editors and publishers, her struggles with her health and her financial troubles.

The best-selling author of clever Regency romances led a fairly quiet life except for her travels.  She travelled to Africa (where she wrote lavish romances in a grass hut), for example.  However, the author manages to make this biography interesting - I especially enjoyed reading about Heyer's yearning for to be taken seriously as a writer.

NB: I was pleased to learn that Australians were always amongst her biggest fans.


Sunday, November 18, 2012

Where The Heart Lies by Michelle Garren Flye



Where The Heart Lies by Michelle Garren Flye is a lovely story about guilt, redemption, and the power of love.  This easy read has a likeable hero and heroine and some interesting plot twists.

After Alicia's young husband is killed in the war in Afghanistan, she finds it difficult to overcome her loss and her grief and coping with two children alone.  Her parents-in-law invite her to take over their bookshop in the small town where she met her husband, and she soon finds the work healing.  However, she soon becomes attracted to Liam, an attractive science professor.

Alicia soon struggles with a new set of problems, including guilt about being attracted to a new man, small-town gossip, and envious women.  She also learns that Liam has a lot of secrets.

This was a well-written romantic novel with an unusual amount of depth.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Tuesday Teaser!

I know that this is rather late but I really can't resist.

"I'm sure I'll like studying history after this," said Emily, "except Canadian history.   I'll never like it --- it's so dull. Not just at the first, when we belonged to France and there was plenty of fighting, but after that it's nothing but politics".
    "The happiest countries, like the happiest women, have no history," said Dean.
    "I hope I'll have a history," cried Emily.  "I want a thrilling career."

(Emily of New Moon by L. M. Montgomery)

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Girl You Left Behind by JoJo Moyes

A lost painting, an involved court case, and a moving love story which crosses the generations. What could be better?  I am a big fan of JoJo Moyes and she hasn't let readers down with this large novel.


The first part of the story involves Sophie, a desperate young French woman trying to survive in the First World War.  Before he left for the war, Sophie's artist husband painted a beautiful portrait of her.  Unfortunately, the German Kommandant of the tiny village falls in love with Sopie and Sophie determines to risk everything to save her husband.



Years later, Liv, a pretty young widow is also in trouble.  Her husband gave her the painting but when she falls in love with Paul, she learns about the bitter history of the art.  The painting comes between the lovers and Liv decides to do anything to find out Sophie's true story.

Sensitively written and intricate, the involved and suspense-filled story will keep most readers up late.  I loved the characters and the interesting historical background.  I do have to admit to almost giving this book up, however.  The beginning is extremely harrowing so be warned.  My advice is to keep reading if you want to enjoy a great story.

Another problem is that I read this on my computer which I found difficult.  It's the kind of book which should be enjoyed while lying in a hammock in the garden in spring or before a crackling fire in the winter.  However, I got this free from Net Galley so I am extremely thankful.