June for me was all about Light-hearted reading, and the authors/books I picked off my shelves were those I thought fit this theme–Miss Read, Barbara Pym, and Wodehouse, and new (to me) authors Eva Rice and Julian Fellowes (based on the descriptions of the books). For a change this month, I actually managed to read all the five titles that I’d planned to pick for this month, with a total of eight books completed (one a spillover from last month). All of my theme reads with the exception of my Children’s book, Cairo Jim and the Secret Sepulchre of the Sphinx were set in England (this did however fit my ‘light hearted reads theme and my review is here).
I started off my ‘theme’ reads with The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets by Eva Rice, which is set in the 1950’s and follows the story of eighteen-year-old Penelope Wallace who lives in a crumbly house with her mother, society beauty Talitha, and aspiring musician brother (when he is home from school) Inigo. Her meeting and friendship with Charlotte, her aunt Clare, and cousin, Harry, a magician, changes life as she has known it. The book, reminiscent of Nancy Mitford and I Capture the Castle, really immerses one in the 1950s post-war world, Jazz, Teddy boys, and Elvis looming on the horizon, yet to break on to the music scene in England, at least. My first book by the author and a thoroughly enjoyable read. Read my review here.
Next, I travelled into the English countryside, still in the 1950s with the third of the Fairacre books, Storm in the Village by Miss Read. In this one, a storm certainly brews up in the village with a proposed housing settlement threatening to take over the hundred acre farm, and Miss Read’s junior/assistant, Miss Jackson, falling for a quite unsuitable gamekeeper. I especially loved how the chapters are arranged around the storm theme–straws in the wind, the storm breaking, and then the calm after the storm. My review is on this blog here.
Also in my theme reads was P.G. Wodehouse’s Summer Moonshine, in some ways a fairly typical Wodehouse story with an impoverished earl, a country house (in this case a very ugly stately home), money troubles, and matters of the heart, while in others not very usual for there were no impostors and nothing whatsoever was ‘pinched’. Not my favourite Wodehouse, but it still made me laugh as he always does. My review is here. And a quote from the book was my Bookquote last week (here).
Barbara Pym’s No Fond Return of Love takes us into her familiar world of proofreaders and index-makers, and matters of the heart of course, this time with Dulcie Mainwaring who isn’t perhaps looking for love but finds herself interested in Dr Alwyn Forbes who is also the object of her friend Viola’s Dace’s affections while he himself seems interested in Dulcie’s young niece Laurel. She (and the reader) has an interesting time looking into Alwyn’s family and background while navigating through a world peopled by a host of somewhat eccentric characters. My review is here.
Finally I read Snobs by Julian Fellowes, which is the story of Edith Lavery, a middle class girl who marries into the nobility, to the decent, honest, but dull Charles Broughton, only to find that the life she was trying to break into is perhaps not all that she’d imagined it was. When she seems to find ‘love’ or what she thinks is love elsewhere, she must consider what it is she wants in life and accept that perhaps, one can’t really have everything. My review is here
This month I also started my re-visit of Enid Blyton’s Malory Towers series of school stories (review of the first is here), the second of Blyton’s series that I’m reading chronologically for the first time. I also finally began reading Shakespeare, something I’ve been planning to do for ages but didn’t get down to. The first play that I’ve started is A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream, and my posts on Act I and Act II are here and here, and on Act III should be up some time later this week.
In July, I plan to tackle some doorstoppers, at least some thick thick tomes that have been sitting on my TBR for a while but I haven’t gotten down to. Since I also have a few other ‘slimmer’ volumes to read for various group reads and challenges on goodreads, I’m only starting with a list of three with a possible fourth that I may pick up, if at all I can manage. The three I plan to read are Poland by James Michener, Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes, and Syren by Angie Sage. For the fourth, I might just pick up a Trollope (The Eustace Diamonds) or Wheel of Fortune (Susan Howatch).
So have you read any of my June or July books? What did you think of them?
And what are your reading plans for July? Looking forward to hearing about them! Happy reading month!