So March turned out to be a very busy month and as a result, book-wise, it was rather embarrassing with me finishing only four books 😦 I have of course read most of Bookworm by Lucy Mangan which I should be done with in a day or two and more than half of Vanity Fair which I have been reading with a reading group on goodreads. So while not as bad as four makes it sound, but still not very good. Also I wasn’t able to do my poetry or non-fiction posts this month. Clearly I need to manage my time much better.
Well, back to the books I did read this month from the Catching-up theme that I’d planned. The first was of course one I’d got from NetGalley, The Hazel Wood, which is the story of seventeen-year-old Alice who has been living a more or less itinerant life with her mother for wherever they live, ill-luck seems to follow. Something changes and they settle down to a more “normal” life but it doesn’t turn out to be quite as they’d expected. One fine day, Alice’s mother suddenly disappears and it falls to Alice to find her. All she knows that this might have something to do with her grandmother, who she has never met, and who is the author of a volume of rather dark fairy tales, which she can’t get her hands on either, no matter how hard she tries. This was a book I quite enjoyed though I wasn’t as grabbed with the second half of the book as I’d have liked. Still I enjoyed the author’s imaginativeness in the very dark fairy tales and the world in which those tales play out, that she creates. Very very creepy. My review is on this page below: https://potpourri2015.wordpress.com/2018/03/08/review-the-hazel-wood/
While I had planned to finish the four books that I had left of my Findouters Challenge, I ended up reading only two of these this month, Book 12 The Mystery of Tally-Ho Cottage and Book 13, The Mystery of the Missing Man, both very different from each other as far as this series is concerned. Tally-Ho Cottage involves a stolen painting, and the missing ‘thieves’―actors who have been living at Peterswood until they pretty much walked out of the village, while Missing Man is of course about what the title says, and also sees the Trottevilles with a guest, one Fatty can’t get the better of (for a change). Tally-Ho also has Ern, Mr Goon’s nephew and the children’s friend back in Peterswood. They have the usual elements of the books of course but in Tally-ho, Ern plays a pretty active role in the investigations involving his twin cousins Liz and Glad, though it is Bets again who spots the all-important clue. Missing Man has Fatty solving everything, all by himself, the investigations not really leading to anything, and a denouement very different from the usual Findouters plots. Both were entertaining entries in the series, with Tally-ho having the more “interesting” solution of the two, but both with food, disguises and fun, and not too much focus on simply baiting poor Mr Goon! My reviews are below: https://potpourri2015.wordpress.com/2018/03/11/findouters-challenge-of-a-poodle-and-a-stolen-painting/
The last of my four reads this month was Elizebeth Gaskell’s Wives and Daughters which is quite a different book from her North and South. While the latter deals with social issues (labour–factory owner relations), the former is more about individuals, and personal relationships, family relationships to be more specific―parents and children and amongst the “children” themselves. When a country surgeon Mr Gibson decides to remarry because he is too much away from home to properly look after his growing daughter Molly, the decision changes their lives in many ways. Mrs Kirkpatrick, the widow whom he marries is not the stereotypical stepmother, and in fact looks out for Molly as much as she does for her own daughter, but she is quite self-centred, concerned with her own comforts, social position, and whims. Her daughter Cynthia, the same age as Molly, while very different in character from Molly, turns out to be a good friend to Molly. But where Molly is honest and straightforward and feels things deeply, Cynthia is secretive and superficial in many ways. As the story plays out we see how their upbringing and their relationship with their respective parents, besides their own nature affects the things they do or don’t and the relationships they form. Alongside is the Hamley family, country squires and friends of Mr Gibson and Molly. The old squire is traditional and orthodox, his son and heir Osborne is not the typical country lad preferring his books and writing poetry and has secrets of his own, while the younger son Roger is a man of science, achieving much that his family doesn’t think him capable of. Despite being about family and relationships, themes like class and social mores do also stand out. Despite my rather haphazard reading of this book, I did enjoy it. My review is on goodreads here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/213050257?book_show_action=false
After a not very good reading month in March I am hoping April will be better, and I have pretty elaborate plans for it (am keeping my fingers crossed that they work out). The theme I picked is Books and Lawyers (or should that be Lawyers and Books?)―not only Lawyers in books because I want to include some written by lawyers but not necessarily with a law/courtroom theme. There’s actually a whole lot of books that fit this theme that are on my TBR but some of the ones I will try to fit in this month are The Case of the Curious Bride by Erle Stanley Gardener, Theodore Boone by John Grisham, Dark Fire, and Revelation, both by C.J. Sansom (from his Matthew Shardlake series), Perishable Goods by Dornford Yates, and Fathers-in-Law by Henry Cecil. This time also I will try harder to get my poetry and non-fiction posts up, perhaps try out another idea that has been in my mind for a while―a post on a favourite author that fits this theme. With the way last month went, this itself seems fairly ambitious but let’s see how things go. If at all there’s time after all of this, some of what’s remaining from Catching-up month will be what I’ll pick up even though it doesn’t actually fit this month’s theme. But before any of this, I will be finishing Bookworm by Lucy Mangan which is a wonderful memoir of the author’s childhood reading which I am enjoying very much. Hope everyone has a great reading month ahead!