I read 9 books in August. Here they are, in the order I read them with links are to my posts, where I’ve written them:
- Thin Air by Ann Cleeves – I didn’t get round to writing about this book, although I loved it. It’s the latest in the Shetland series in which Detectives Jimmy Perez and Willow Reeves are on Unst investigating the murder of Eleanor, a guest at her friend’s wedding. Before she went missing Eleanor claimed to have seen the ghost of a local child who drowned in the 1920s. Her interest in the legend of the ghost had seemed unhealthy – obsessive, even – to her friends: an indication of a troubled mind. So was her death suicide or was she murdered? Written with a wonderful sense of place, the plot twists had me in suspense and I almost couldn’t wait to find out.
- A Change of Climate by Hilary Mantel – one of Hilary Mantel’s early books, first published in 1994 and described on the back cover as ‘a literary family saga’ and ‘a first rate thriller’. A great book on all counts, characters and locations beautifully described and a well constructed and convincing plot, powerful and challenging on several levels.
- One Life: My Mother’s Story by Kate Grenville – a beautiful biography of her mother Nance Russell. A book that casts light not only on Nance’s life but also on life in Australia for most of the 20th century. It brings to life both the good times and the bad times, as she writes about her mother’s heartache, worries, joys and sorrows, of the hard times during the economic depression, all of it as a whole making a rich and fulfilled life.
- Come, Tell Me How You Live:an archaeological memoir by Agatha Christie Mallowan, in which she wrote about her life accompanying her husband Max on his excavations in Syria and Iraq in the 1930s. The emphasis in the book is on the everyday life on a dig, about people and her insights into their beliefs written with love and humour. I loved it.
- Appointment with Death by Agatha Christie, a Poirot mystery set in the Middle East in which he investigates the death of Mrs Boynton, a malignant and malicious tyrant who enjoyed exercising power over her family. This is a quick, easy read, with a lot of dialogue in a relatively short book (less than 200 pages). I enjoyed it, although it’s not one of my favourite Agatha Christie books.
- Alan M Turing by Sara Turing, a biography by his mother, with an added chapter by his brother. I’d recently watched The Imitation Game and wanted to know a bit more about Turing. This is not the right book for that – his mother’s account is hopelessly biased and his brother’s left a sour taste in my mouth. I think I should maybe read the biography by Alan Hodges Alan Turing: The Enigma, the book on which the film is based.
- A Medal for Murder by Frances Brody – the second Kate Shackleton mystery. It is 1922 and Kate is investigating a pawn shop robbery, when she discovers the body of Lawrence Milner, outside a Harrogate theatre. She is also asked to find Lucy, Captain Wolfendale’s granddaughter who has gone missing and he has received a ransom note. This is a detailed, complex plot which kept me guessing almost to the end about the identity of the murderer.
- Fresh from the Country by Miss Read, set in the 1950s, this is a stand-alone novel telling the story of Anna Lacey, a newly qualified teacher, as she spends her first year teaching in Elm Hill, a new suburb in London. It highlights the differences between life in the country and the suburbs and overall the comparisons became too repetitive. But I did like this book, which transported me back to the 1950s, when children were taught in large classes and the pace of life was slower than today.
- Lady Susan, The Watsons and Sanditon by Jane Austen – none of these were published in her lifetime. Told in a series of letters (reminiscent of Laclos’s Les Liaisons Dangereuses), Lady Susan is the story of an unscrupulous widow who plans to force her daughter into a marriage against her wishes. The Watsons is a fragment in which the main character, Emma Watson returns to her father’s house after fourteen years of absence, having been brought up by a wealthy aunt. She joins her three unmarried sisters, living with their invalid father and looking for husbands whilst struggling for money. Sanditon is also an unfinished fragment, in which the the old world is contrasted with the new upcoming world as two landowners plan to develop Sanditon into a fashionable bathing place. A real treat to read.
For most of the month I read new-to-me or library books, finishing with a flourish of three of my own to-be-read books (and I’m currently reading another TBR), and for once there are only two crime fiction books.
Once again it is so difficult picking which one I enjoyed the most – nearly all of them are such good reads and it’s impossible to decide between such very different and such very enjoyable books.