The setting is Lincoln, Illinois in the 1920’s– just as in They Came like Swallows, the place where Maxwell grew up. There is definitely an autobiograThe setting is Lincoln, Illinois in the 1920’s– just as in They Came like Swallows, the place where Maxwell grew up. There is definitely an autobiographical feeling to both novels, which draw heavily on the author’s own experience of losing his mother during the flu epidemic of 1918/9. The novel concerns a murder, a suicide, an adulterous relationship, and the loneliness of two boys who come together briefly in the midst of a series of terrible events. When the narrator of So Long, See You Tomorrow, meets Cletus Smith, he has already suffered the greatest loss of his young life – the death of his mother. His father, is distant, marrying again, a gentle younger woman who tries in time to build bridges between her step sons and their father. Cletus is lonely, watching the destruction of his parents’ marriage from the side-lines, but things are about to take a violent, shocking turn. (This is no spoiler – we know all that happens within four or five pages).
Different Class finds us again in the minor grammar school of St. Oswald’s with a long history of boys’ education, but the times are changing.
One of tDifferent Class finds us again in the minor grammar school of St. Oswald’s with a long history of boys’ education, but the times are changing.
One of the main narrators of the story is ageing Latin master Roy Straitley, close to his 66th birthday, Mr Straitley has decided against retirement, wanting to ensure the continuation of his subject. He has seen all kinds of boys come and go, rebels and underdogs, clowns and little snitches. He never forgets any of his boys, and while he doesn’t admit to having favourites, Straitley has his Brodie Boys, who he can rely upon to take the register and cover for him when he’s late for class. Straitley, is old school, allergic to technology, he smokes Gauloises, keeps Liquorice Allsorts in his desk and occasionally enjoys a drink at the Thirsty Scholar nearby. Straitley’s no nonsense cynicism is a breath of fresh air as a new broom sweeps in to St Oswald’s.
It is September 2005, the beginning of another school year, and Straitley is awaiting his introduction to the new head. The school has been in crisis since a scandal the previous year brought a lot of unwelcome attention to the school. Now a new super head has been appointed, and the new head brings his own crisis team with him. ...more
This is the first mystery by Freeman Wills Crofts, that I’ve read, a prolific writer I wasn’t even aware of before. The Hog’s Back Mystery was his fouThis is the first mystery by Freeman Wills Crofts, that I’ve read, a prolific writer I wasn’t even aware of before. The Hog’s Back Mystery was his fourteenth novel, the fifth featuring his well-known policeman Inspector French.
Freeman Wills Crofts, was a railway engineer who began writing in 1919 during a long illness. Hi first novel The Cask was published in 1920 and he followed it up with almost one book every year for the next thirty-seven years. As well as mystery novels, Freeman Wills Crofts published short story collections and both stage and radio plays. In his introduction to this edition, crime writer Martin Edwards, describes The Hog’s Back Mystery as the work of a skilled craftsman at the height of his powers.
“A short curving drive brought them to the house, a typical modern South of England cottage, with lower walls of purple brick, upper storey and roof of ‘antique’ red tiles and steel-framed casement windows. In front and at both sides the trees had been cleared back to leave room for a small garden. All round was the wood.”
The Hog’s Back Mystery is set near the Hog’s Back, a ridge in the North Downs of the Surrey countryside. Dr James Earle and his wife Julia live in a particularly secluded spot, in their cottage St Kilda. As the novel opens, Julia Earle and her sister Marjorie – who is visiting – are meeting Ursula Stone, an old friend from schooldays, off the train. The three women are all somewhere between thirty-five and forty, but Julie’s husband who she only married a few years earlier, is already sixty and semi-retired from his practice. Ursula immediately senses that the Earle marriage is not as happy as it could be.
The novel opens in Venice, Victoria di Loredani is the indulged daughter of happily married aristocrats, the Marchese di LordedaniA DNF (rare for me)
The novel opens in Venice, Victoria di Loredani is the indulged daughter of happily married aristocrats, the Marchese di Lordedani and his beautiful wife Laurina. At the point the novel opens the couple have been blissfully married for seventeen years, and have a son and daughter. Enter Count Ardolph, a German nobleman who arrives for an extended visit. The count’s main objective seems to be to seduce Laurina and destroy the happy marriage of his hosts. Laurina is vain enough to be flattered by the attention, and soon enough she succumbs to his attentions. Now Laurina is that dreadful thing – a duplicitous wife. Her betrayal of her husband then sets off a series of terrible events – no doubt intended to serve as a warning to all the dreadful cheating, weak willed, vain beautiful women in the world *sigh.*
Probably a case of wrong book, wrong moment etc - I know others have enjoyed it....more
I have been looking forward to reading Flush for months, and I really wasn’t disappointed. Written in the period after Virginia Woolf had completed wrI have been looking forward to reading Flush for months, and I really wasn’t disappointed. Written in the period after Virginia Woolf had completed writing The Waves; which she had found so draining Flush, is a complete joy. Flush – for those who don’t know – is a biography of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s dog, a cocker spaniel that was her constant companion, both before and after her marriage to Robert Browning. The book is a combination of fiction and non-fiction, through which we meet the two nineteenth century poets, revealing something of the early years of their marriage.
Although it appears so much lighter in tone than many of her other works, Flush does in fact consider social inequalities and the way that society treated and classified its women. Virginia Woolf employs her famous stream of consciousness style to explore women writers, through the point of view of a small, spoiled brown dog. Apparently Woolf drew her inspiration from the two poems that Elizabeth Barrett Browning published about her dog.
Sandlands is a gorgeous collection of short stories, rooted in the Suffolk countryside, among its people, villages and wildlife. These stories and theSandlands is a gorgeous collection of short stories, rooted in the Suffolk countryside, among its people, villages and wildlife. These stories and the images they evoke will live and linger long in my mind. A white doe, appearing suddenly in the dark woods, blue winged butterflies, a barn owl watching over a decades old Oxo tin of love letters, bell ringers, the spirits which exist within a four-hundred-year old house. Rosy Thornton celebrates the flora and fauna of the county she must dearly love, the stories link subtly by landscape, and by the past and present which weaves in and out of these wonderful stories.
The collection opens with The White Doe, in which the appearance of an animal shrouded in folklore, is observed with reverence by Fran. Having lost her mother six months earlier, the woman whom once she would have shared her sightings, Fran reflects on their relationship, and their differing experiences of motherhood.
“There were more sightings after the first. Several times she glimpsed the herd in the woods, away to the left of the path. Twice they moved almost in step with Fran but along a parallel ride, separated from her by a band of silver birches; on another morning they had gathered to graze in a small open area, cleared in the autumn by volunteer coppicers. Always it was the white doe that was visible before her sisters, whose coats bore the same muted grey-brown hues as the winter woodland.” (from The White Doe)
I would be hard pressed to choose just one favourite story, but The Watcher of Souls would certainly be a contender.
I was drawn to Ghostbird by the reviews of others, and I was right to be drawn, beautifully written, lyrical with brilliantly unique women charactersI was drawn to Ghostbird by the reviews of others, and I was right to be drawn, beautifully written, lyrical with brilliantly unique women characters it has many elements that I love in a novel. Strongly rooted in the natural world of the Welsh countryside, it is a novel which draws on the traditions of witchcraft, folk tales and ghosts. It is also a compelling story of family secrets.
Cadi Hopkins is fourteen, living with her mother Violet, in the cottage next door to that of her aunt Lili Hopkins. Here the Hopkins’ have lived for generations. The Hopkins women are said to have gifts of witchcraft, and Cadi knows her mother and aunt are gossiped about, she hears the other women in the village shop. Lili’s brother was Cadi’s father but he died before Cadi was born, a month after Cadi’s elder sister was tragically drowned in the lake close to Ty Aderyn; the Hopkins’ cottages. No one will tell Cadi anything about her father or the sister she will never know, but Cadi is determined that now, finally this summer she will discover the truth.
Elizabeth Taylor shows us many sides of English middle class life, a world she understood from the inside. In this collection of twelve stories we meeElizabeth Taylor shows us many sides of English middle class life, a world she understood from the inside. In this collection of twelve stories we meet both the middle aged and young, at home and abroad. In these stories Elizabeth Taylor considers the relationships between mothers and daughters, and husbands and wives, between neighbours and that terrifying creature the Englishman/woman abroad. We meet a kept woman marooned in the upstairs of her home when the Thames is in Flood, an elderly woman, ignored, laughed at by her neighbours, befriends a young boy, and we meet Silcox, the dedicated man of the title as he manipulates his way into his dream job.
An historical novel, Troy Chimneys is set in Regency England, it concerns the two different sides of one man’s personality. Miles Lufton M.P is a selfAn historical novel, Troy Chimneys is set in Regency England, it concerns the two different sides of one man’s personality. Miles Lufton M.P is a self-made politician. He comes from a large, loving family. His father, an Anglican priest, his mother seemingly loved and respected by all. Miles is a second son, so needs to make his own way in the world, and has been doing a pretty fair job of it. Miles appreciates the countryside around him, he is a reliable, trustworthy young man, often driven to rail against injustices, happy in the company of a local farmer, the humble friend of his childhood. However, increasingly Miles feels that he is in fact two men; Miles Lufton, and his alter ego Pronto.