Monday, 26 July 2010

What I did on my holidays!

As I said in an earlier post I did a lot of reading on my holiday, some books were better than others but I don't actually regret the time spent on any of them (for once!)

1) Lorna at Wynards - Elinor Brent-Dyer. This was a re-read and the one I took to read at the hotel the night before we went. As I knew the story very well it wouldn't have mattered if I hadn't finished it. This book is the first in a two part series and loosely connects to the Chalet School series.

2) Dreaming of Amelia - Jaclyn Morriarty. This was a lovely thick, young adult proof. I've enjoyed other books by this author in the past but found this one a bit hard going, too many back references to books I've read long ago and little confusing in style. It does chart the chaos of the last two years at school quite well.

3) The Boy I Love - Marion Husband. This was an impulse buy and quite enjoyable but a really quick read - in fact it didn't last the 4 hour flight to Kos. I didn't really empathise with any of the characters and I've read better books about the problem of adjusting back to the real world after fighting in the First World War. However the style of writing did make it enjoyable.

4) Mrs Harris Goes to Paris - Paul Gallico. This is one of the Bloomsbury reprints and has been recommended on a few other book review blogs. I loved it. Mrs Harris is a char lady with a dream, however like so many dreams not all is as it seems. Pure farce in the Wodehouse style but I enjoyed it far more.

5) To Serve Them All My Days - R F Delderfield. This is one of my favourite books of all time and I enjoyed rereading this. A school story but this time set in a boys school and told from the staff view point.

6) Fire From Heaven - Mary Renault. I'd read one of her contemporary novels but somehow had missed her Greek books. This was one of the highlights of holiday reading and since we've been back I've 'acquired' nearly all of her books and have nearly finished the sequel to this one!

7) Operation Mincemeat - Ben MacIntyre. This was a true account of one of the madder schemes from World War 2. A little graphic in places, but a wonderful insight into the world of spying pre-Cold War. The author is coming to a Norfolk book festival in the autumn so I hope to go and hear more about this.

8) Corduroy Mansions - Alexander McCall Smith. This is another book that first appeared episodically in a newspaper and while it started well I found that it quickly petered out and that I was bored reading it. Also no ends were tied up making it humorous but unsatisfying.

9) The Story of the Night - Colm Toibin. I read Brooklyn by this author earlier in the year and loved it so had high hopes for this one. They were met. The book is set in Argentina around the time of the Falklands War and is about many thing all of which are covered realistically and movingly.

10) The House of Special Purpose - John Boyne. When will I learn to leave anything by this author well alone? This was about the Romanov family and as I like that period of history and the book was called a novel and not a fable I thought I'd be okay. I read it to the end by I did want to throw it across the room many times as I was reading it. I won't spoil the book by saying why I loathed it so much, I don't regret reading it as I can now have an opinion and rant about it but if you like historical accuracy in books DO NOT READ!!

11) The Help - Katherine Stockett. This was the highlight of my holiday reading. I was a bit nervous as it has had a lot of media coverage, and was picked by the Channel 4 book club, but it was incredible. So scary to think that this could happen less than 50 years ago, but this really deserves to become a classic, not least for the author's honesty in the afterword.

12) Their Finest Hour and a Half - Lissa Evans. I read this in eBook format and enjoyed it a great deal. It is about an advertising copywriter called up by the Ministry of Information to help write patriotic films during WW2. Lots of humour and sadness but anyone who likes films made by the Ealing Studios is likely to enjoy this.

13) Rose in Bloom - L M Alcott. Another re-read but this time using iBooks on my phone. A good book but I'll write more about iBooks later.

14) Clover - Susan Coolidge. as above
15) In the High Valley - Susan Coolidge. as above

16) Turbulence - Giles Foden. Another WW2 story but this one fictitious although based on fact. It is all about trying to predict the weather in advance of the D Day Landings in 1944. The mathematics went over my head but the tension and chaos kept the story moving and although I knew the outcome it was fascinating reading how they came to make the decision. I want to read more factual accounts about the planning now.

17) Magician's Apprentice - Trudi Canavan. I didn't finish this one until we got home but I did start it while we were away so it counts as holiday reading! I loved Canavan's first series but didn't get on with her second so I was a bit nervous of this one. I needn't have been - it was just the sort of fantasy I like. Well crafted, strong female characters and a believable world from start to finish. I'm pleased to see that the next book is also going to be set in this world too.


I've now almost read my way through the huge 'to be read' pile. I have some new Mary Renault books to read, but I want to savour them but apart from that I'm looking for new books to try - all recommendations gratefully recieved.


  1. As I'm working my way through Agatha Christie's at the moment I'm woried I'll run out soon.
    I've just discovered Simon Brett's well written, Christiesque Fetherings murder mysteries. Can be read in a day, but the problem is that you will...

    For interesting non-fiction, try "By Jack Rosenthal". The autobiography is written as a screenplay and was finished by his widow, Maureen Lipman.
    I'm reading "Who Made God?" which is quite hard-concept science writing and I actually have to stop an think at the end of chapters.
    And for guilty pleasures, try the Torchwood books. Yes really.

  2. Hmm spooky you should mention Christie as I've recently read a few of them (and have some thought on them) I saw the Rosenthal book in a secondhand shop and dithered about buying it - I'll have to go back and check. For now I am enjoying the Alexander books by Renault but I'll add your suggestions to the list.