Ghost Stories and Bewildering Cares reviewed on Shiny New Books!

It’s Shiny New Books day! I have two reviews in the reprints section: Bewildering Cares  by Winifred Peck – possibly worth checking as it has been a free kindle book on Amazon…, and a review of E.F. Benson’s Ghost Stories.  As I point out in my review, this is a very Benson Book – and not as scary as I feared…


As always, there’s plenty of book reviews and bookish news to read here. Thank you, Simon, for some great editing….

Two series – both probably acquired tastes

Another day, another post – delayed (sorry) by Son Two running the Great North Run in under two hours…and Son One doing the Support Vehicle and the roast dinner!  Like Son One I am staring a  new course (Open University) so reading priorities are  changing. British History for Dummies anyone? At least it provides a useful reminder of the batting order of monarchs and the difference between spinning jennies and mules (don’t ask)

Anyway, two books that are part of series. Lucia’s Progress by E.F. Benson

Lucia's Progress (Black Swan)

is the second in the Mapp and Lucia series. Set in the 1920s, it features two women of a certain age playing one – up womanship in the small town of Tilling. It is subtle piece of writing in which nothing much happens, but it features some outrageous acts of small defiance. Each woman, whether by marrying, investing in strange shares, house buying and selling or aggressive bridge playing, tries to outdo the other. It is a strange sort of humour, in many respects an acquired taste, but involving some memorable characters, not least Major Benjy and Georgie, the hapless men who get dragged into the schemes. I enjoy these books in small doses, and they are not the easiest to describe, but if you enjoy the characters in Pym, Delafield and even (if I dare to say it) Austen, you may well find this series worth tracking down. They can be bought new quite cheaply, though I have yet to buy the dvd versions which are apparently available.

Dead in the Water by Carola Dunn is the latest that I have read in the Daisy Dalrymple series of murder mysteries. Like the others, it is a very easy read, though this particular episode requires a little knowledge of rowing and messing about in boats, as it is set in a 1920s regetta featuring races between colleges and other teams. As always, there is a death early on, and the bulk of the novel is spent sorting it out. En route there is injury, suspicion and death as Daisy and her fiance Alex deal with servants, aristocracy and grand houses against the background of recovering from the First World War. It is a good read if your taste is towards people who wherever they go seem to encounter murder, and the characters are a little better in this book than in some in the series. The plotting is a little weaker, though, despite the details of rowing and hangovers. If you like this series of books, it is a good addition, but not as good as some of the others, especially Murder on the Flying Scotsman, which must win out for the title alone. Another acquired taste, probably…


100 and not out! (Oh, and several books…)

Well, I finally made it – one hundred posts! I also checked and discovered that I actually began this blog in early July 2010 so it is already over one year old. Impressive or what!?

You’ll be relieved to know that I’m not going to attempt to review 100 books in this post. Somewhere I have written about how many books out of one hundred greatest books I have actually read. I usually make over half in that sort of list… Last year I read 120+ books, but that did include being snowed in. I fully intend to take two bags of books on holiday, partly because I can never make up my mind about what I’m going to feel like reading. Long suffering husband says he will by me a Kindle (or similar ) when I’ve read all the books in the house – impossible ! While I’m on the subject of statistics, I have read 70 books so far this year, which isn’t bad compared with last year. That does include quite a few easy reads, as well as the big books like Lodge’s A Man of Parts – educational on all sorts of levels… I’m also a member of two book groups, which obviously determines some of my reading choices. At the moment they are Gods behaving badly by Marie Phillips

Gods Behaving Badly

which comes highly recommended by Daughter. She said that it was not a book she would have anticipated liking, but actually thought it was very good. I have started it, enjoyed it so far, again finding it very educational in all sorts of ways…

The other book club is reading Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver

This comes highly recommended by friend CB who called it a ‘big’ book. I have started it but am not grabbed so far. I have got until September – or until someone demands to borrow a copy before the next meeting.

A book I have finished, though it is only the first of six, is the highly unusual and idiosyncratic Mapp and Lucia by E. F.  Benson. This is the sort of book, like the Provincial Lady series, that I have been meaning to read. I am glad I did, and thought that its portrayal of the rivalry between the two ladies of the title in a small town   was very funny. It has the same surreal humour as Wodehouse, with a very feminine twist. The two ladies battle to rule the social life of the small town of Tilling, by competitive bridge games, dinner parties and art exhibitions. These books are not for everyone; they deal with small incidents  writ large, and depend totally on characterisation. The wonderful Cogito Books of Hexham  sold me the collected volumes of all six books, and I felt all virtuous for supporting an excellent independent bookshop. Another trip planned for tomorrow! This is to accompany the MHH, or Southernreader, who is going to write the next post. So watch this space… my first guest reviewer!

So thank you to all who have read this blog faithfully, even when I’ve wandered, rambled and generally wallowed in books. And if you have only ever read the odd post – well, welcome! and see you again sometime…