Thursday, 10 July 2014

Six in June

I read six books in June.

Every Contact Leaves a Trace by Elanor Dymott. (Christian Aid Book Sale buy) Alex tries to find out who killed his wife, Rachel, in the grounds of the Oxford College they’d both attended. I liked the complicated structure, very clever. Perhaps less of a whodunit than a whydunnit – the ending was vaguely disappointing. Plus I couldn’t help thinking that even if she hadn’t died the marriage wouldn’t have lasted between solitary, dull dog Alex and beautiful, bratty, manipulative Rachel.

Night Music by Jojo Moyes. (Christian Aid Book Sale buy) An early JM. As usual, great characters and dynamics between them.

A Woman Unknown by Frances Brody. This is in an excellent series about Kate Shackleton, a war widow and amateur sleuth, set in Yorkshire just after the First World War.

The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith. Well, by JK Rowling really. And I thought it was cracking, kept me awake for several nights and the conclusion was very satisfying. Really liked Cormoran Strike and his assistant Robin and can’t wait to read the follow-up The Silkworm.

The Other Miss Perkin by Lorna Hill. (Christian Aid Book Sale buy) This is set in the 50s, was first published in the 70s and republished in 2010 and is Lorna Hill’s only adult novel (she’s best known for her children’s books especially her ballet ones). I’m a Lorna Hill fan but I’m afraid I thought this was feeble – a downtrodden spinster (ancient apparently at the age of 44) wins a prize trip to the States and snags a millionaire. Written in a telling not showing way – ‘as we have seen’ etc. There was a really beautiful description though of the Grand Canyon; she is very good on scenery.

Loving Susie by Jenny Harper. First book I read on my newly acquired first Kindle. This is Jenny’s second novel following Face the Wind and Fly. Is the story of Susie Wallace MSP (member of the Scottish Parliament) and the devastating secret she discovers about her own background and the impact it has on herself and her family. Jenny is married to a former MSP so well-placed to set a heroine in this world. The story is told through her eyes and that of her husband and family and plays out Jenny’s tagline – she writes about ‘Strong women under pressure’.

 I am enjoying the Kindle – it is so easy (and usually cheaper) to acquire books in this way, and there are some titles that are only available in e-form. And, yes, it is terrific if you’re on the move. But it is frustrating to know that you can’t pass on a book to friends and family if you think they’ll like it too – you can recommend it of course but there’s no saying they’ll get round to buying it, and not everyone has an e-reader.

I fervently believe that books do ‘furnish a room’. The books on my shelves are part of my life in a way that words on an e-reader, however wonderful, can never be. There’s so much pleasure to be had in looking at other people's bookshelves and in spending time in a good (new or second-hand) bookshop.

And – you know who you are – if you keep nodding off and dropping your Kindle on the floor it is expensive to replace …

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