Sunday, 29 March 2015

The latest reads

I'm still working my way through the reading challenge and have ticked off a few more books since my last posting.

'The Family Man' by Elinor Lipman ticked off the book 'written by someone with the same initials as yourself'. I've read a few of her novels, but not for some time, so it was good to pick this one off the shelves and give it another read. Henry Archer is a successful lonely who feels something missing from his life. Then into his life comes Thalia, his estranged step-daughter, at a point in her life when a positive male influence is needed. The two coming together brings chaos into Henry's otherwise rather staid life, but can this be a good thing for everyone?

Anne Tyler's 'Celestial Navigation' is a book by one of my favourite authors which I thought I had read,  but hadn't, so that ticked another box. Although I love all her writing, the earlier novels aren't my favourites - this was written in 1974 and I feel her writing has improved so much over the years.  This is the story of Jeremy, a single man who's never left home, living alone with boarders in the house to help pay for the upkeep.  He doesn't work, just spends his time in his own world, making paper sculptures, and then his mother dies, his life changes, and changes even more so when Mary Tell and her daughter enter his life.

'The Restoration of Otto Laird' by Nigel Packer was one of those books reviewed on Laura's blog I think, and the idea behind the story, the cover, both appealed - another box ticked here. In his time Otto Laird was an award winning architect, but these days he is living out his life in Switzerland with his second wife. A quiet life, which suits him, until one day he learns of a campaign to demolish an iconic tower block he designed in London and he feels obliged to get involved in the campaign to save the building. This entails him going to London and staying in one of the flats in the block for a few days, where he is filmed for a documentary about the building, and where he has time to go visiting his old haunts, where not surprisingly, memories of the past and his first wife, come back to him.

As a child growing up, holidays with my parents were always spent in hotels, from Cornwall to the west coast of Scotland, with Wales in between. My father would never have considered going to a holiday camp, and I don't know anyone who has been to one. As someone who is interested in social history, and knowing nothing about holiday camps other than the versions seen on television, this next book appealed to me with it's bright cover, reminding me of growing up near Blackpool in its heyday of the Fifties through to the Seventies, the brashness of it all, the OTT-ness of it all too. 'Wish You Were Here' by Lynn Russell and Neil Hanson tells the real life stories of seven girls who worked as redcoats at the famous Billy Butlins' holiday camps in what has been called their 'Golden Age', the 1950s to the 1970s. Although they all moved on eventually, the friendships formed in those early days, when they were all very young and away from home for the first time in most cases, endure now. As do holiday camps, or holiday parks as they are often known, presumably to give them a more modern image.

Jodi Picoult's latest book, 'Leaving Time' is the story of Jenna, a young girl who was with her mother the night she disappeared, and in the ten years since that time, she has wanted to know if her mother is still alive or is dead, did she want to leave her baby behind or was she somehow forced to? She enlists the help of an ex-cop and a psychic, an unlikely pairing. But there is a tremendous twist to this story, coming right at the end, which surprised me - and I'm not going to tell you!

Debbie Macomber's 'A Mother's Wish' and 'Father's Day' are two novellas in one book, very light reading. But sometimes that's what you need, something that won't take too much concentration, that you can just read as light relief. The endings are rather predictable once you've read the beginnings.... in the first, a teenage daughter decides it's time her divorced, attractive mum begins dating again and so with a friend, she sets up a profile for her on a dating website and then vets the responses. The man she chooses may not be the ideal man after all, or so she is led to believe, but by then her mother has fallen for him, and vice versa. Can he win over the daughter? Course he can..... and in the second novella, a single mum with a ten year old boy who wants a dog but can't have one yet, move next door to a single man with a dog who doesn't much like women or children it seems. Nothing too taxing as I say, but sometimes that's good for a change.

'The Awakening of Miss Prim' by Natalia Sanmartin Fenollera, one of those books bought because I spotted on someone else's blog, and loved the cover, which is busy, busy, busy with small illustrations - a house, a chair, a pile of books, a pair of gloves, an old gramophone and more besides - and wasn't disappointed. Miss Prim takes up the position of assistant to the Man in the Wingchair, helping catalogue his library, in a small village. Prudencia Prim hoped to find friends in the village, but she found more than that. Is there a happy ending? Read it and see....

Thanks for dropping by and I hope your gardens are full of Spring loveliness like mine.


  1. Hi Edwina, Not really got much Spring loveliness here. We have got a few crocuses but not much else. Thanks for sharing all these books. You really are a prolific reader. xx

  2. That looks like a great pile of books. I've enjoyed the Jodi Picoult and Debbie Macomber books that I have read, but haven't read either of the ones in your pile yet. Hope you are having a good weekend.

  3. Sounds like you have a very interesting time with your books. It just goes to show how well Laura's year in books is working when so many of us are finding books to read. I have read a couple of Jodi Picoult books and have a couple on the bookshelf for another time. There may be a couple from your list that take my fancy too.

  4. I love the Miss Prim book cover too, Edwina. I agree, a bit of light reading is just thing sometimes to follow a demanding book.
    I suspect your spring is further on than ours, we had another dusitng of snow last week! xx

  5. Wow what a wonderful list of books! lots to inspire! I fancy trying Miss Prim, and the Picoult book looks very appealing too, thanks for sharing!

  6. I reading your blog this blog is amazing & your blog about holiday campis excellent thanks for sharing this interesting blog.