Monday 30 July 2007

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day

I'm quite new to the joy that is Persephone books, although I've known of them for quite a while now. I became a convert when I picked up Saplings by Noel Streatfeild in the library. I loved it so much that ordered several more from their website - I now own a grand total of five. From little acorns etc... Anyway, one of the ones I bought myself was Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson.

The story is set in the 1930s and concerns a certain Miss Guinevere Pettigrew who is a governess desperate for a position. She is sent along to a Miss LaFosse but quickly realises there has been a mistake. She tries to explain but Miss LaFosse - an actress - embroils her in the complications of her love life and she is able to help solve a sticky situation. Miss Pettigrew thus feels useful for the first time in her rather sad life. Miss LaFosse's friends accept her into their circle and thus begins the best day of Miss Pettigrew's entire life.

I gather this is one of Persephone's most popular books and it's hardly surprising. It's utterly charming and heartwarming in that old fashioned English sort of way. I devoured it in a couple of days and adored the illustrations that pepper the text. Delightful.

Saturday 28 July 2007

The Full Cupboard of Life

This is number five in Alexander McCall Smith's delightful series about Mma Ramotswe and her detective agency. I can't say that I read them for the crime element because, often as not, it's minimal. And, not being what you would call a crime reader anyway, that hardly matters to me if I'm completely honest. I love reading about Botswana (the travel book, Botswana Time, by Will Randall is excellent), the ways of its people and its history. All this and more you get from this series. But most of all I'm very enamoured of Mma Ramotswe herself, along with the rest of the regular characters, and love hearing of their daily lives and various philosophies on life. And the dry humour is wonderful, very much a feature of the books, imo. This fifth book is every bit as excellent as the others and as the series is being televised by the BBC later this year I want to finish them soon before I get to watch them on TV. I would also like to read his other two series but am not sure if they are as good. Only one way to find out I suppose...

Thursday 26 July 2007

The Deathly Hallows

My review of The Deathly Hallows is here:

I'm not going to repost it on this blog. It's full of spoilers and I don't think Blogger does cuts like LJ where you can hide spoilers so that only those who wish to read them can. Whatever... I adored the book!

Tuesday 24 July 2007

The Observations

I've returned to my Chunkster Challenge books at long last! (I'm doing it unofficially.) About time - I've been ignoring the list for several months. Anyway, The Observations appealed, so that was the one I picked up. This one was on the list because I'd heard quite a lot about it and it sounded like it might be my kind of thing. Which it was.

The story is set in the 1860s, in and around Glasgow. 'Bessy' is 15, Irish and, for reasons I won't go into, escaping the city and her mother. She lands up at Castle Haivers and gets taken on as a maid come housekeeper even though she has no training and is clueless. It very soon becomes apparent that her beautiful employer, Arabella Reid, is an odd woman. She wants Bessy to keep a daily journal of her doings and thoughts, she starts measuring her facial features and then treats Bessy to some very sudden mood swings. Bessy is curious (aren't they all?) and starts poking around. She finds a book in a drawer that her mistress is writing and things get very interesting from there on...

The strength of this book is definitely Bessy. The plot itself is pretty run-of-the-mill but her narration (it's told in the first person) brings the tale alive. She minces no words at all in saying what she thinks and her comments are in turn funny, bawdy, and very irreverent. You really do get a good idea what it must have been like to be poor and living in 19th. century Scotland - how the poor were treated, especially those who went into service. Drunkeness, prostitution, poverty, human frailty, it's all there in this book along with a good understanding of friendship and loyalty. Not a bad read at all.

Thursday 19 July 2007

A new blog

A brand new blog! I already have a book blog so why I'm starting another one I'm not quite sure. Possibly because Blogger seems to have more book blogs to enjoy and participate in than Live Journal and I feel like I'm missing out. Still finding my way around with the posts and so forth, will explore a bit more over the weekend.