Thursday 12 July 2012

Two book post

Goodness, if the UK weather doesn't change over the next fortnight I wonder how The Olympics will fare. Heaving it down again today. Mid-July and I'm sitting here with two fleeces on. My husband's written off the garden this year. We have a good crop of peas and mange-tout, a decent crop of shallots and the tomatoes in the greenhouse look ok, though not as far advanced as they might be. Everything else has been eaten by a plague of slugs or simply not grown because it's too cold and wet. I rather think we may have had summer in March this year.

Anyway, I seem to be back reading normally again, albeit light, easy reads. But that's fine, sometimes that's all you want and there's nothing at all wrong with that. in my opinion. So, I have two books to do quickish reviews of and the first of these is Wild Designs by Katie Fforde.

Althea is a primary school secretary, about to lose her job when two schools are merged. This is not good under most circumstances but Althea has three teenage children to feed and clothe, one of whom is a Buddhist. Her life is rather complicated. Her husband left her for a younger woman when the children were young and is now living in Hong Kong, but part of the house she lives in is his of course, so he feels he has the right to interfere in her life. Althea decides that maybe she can make a living at garden designing but more bad news comes when she's told that the empty house that houses the greenhouse she's been using illegally, has been sold. The new owner is the very attractive, Patrick Donahugh, an architect, who himself has a younger woman in tow. Althea asks him if she can continue using the greenhouse until she finds somewhere else, and he agress, but finding somewhere is not as easy as it sounds. Then Althea wins a prize of creating a wild garden at The Chelsea Flower show. She has no money and worse still Patrick's girlfriend wants her out of their garden so she can build a swimming pool. Could life get any more complicated? Well yes... her husband, Frederick, could come home from Hong Long hoping to patch things up with Althea...

Like all Katie Fforde books Wild Designs was great fun. Lots of humour, a very pacey plot, very readable. I loved the children... she had the reality of living with teenagers spot on and the Buddhist son was amusing. I loved too all the gardening details, Althea knew her plants and I enjoyed reading about plants I knew and some I didn't. The Chelsea Flower show details were interesting and huge fun. Althea's house too sounded delightful... an old Cotswold house... I could just imagine it to be honest. Is there a 'but'? Yes, I have to admit I did have a 'but'. It's not a terrible whinge... I just didn't care for all those predatory women in this story. I know they're around, in reality, but *so* many in one person's life? Gosh! Practically every woman in the story had her eye on Patrick, poor Althea didn't know where to turn for women throwing themselves at him. Also, certain things connected with Patrick and his younger girlfriend, Topaz, didn't sit well with me. Perhaps I'm old fashioned in that I like my romance books a bit more straightforward than this. But, as I said, I did enjoy the book, Katie Fforde doesn't write bad books, but this is not my favourite - that honour, so far, goes to Living Dangerously.

Book number two is Rattle His Bones by Carola Dunn, book eight in her Daisy Dalrymple series.

Daisy is taking her fiancé's daughter, Belinda, and her sister's son, Derek, to the Natural History museum in Kensington. She plans to let them explore while she gathers information for an article she's writing on the museum for an American magazine. She meets various curators and makes plans to go back with a idea to do a much more in depth article which she might be able to sell elsewhere. It's on one of these return visits that one of the currators is violently murdered with a flint weapon, and Daisy is almost a witness. Her fiancé, Alec, a Scotland Yard detective, is by now resigned to Daisy falling over dead bodies. And if not exactly happy about it, allows Daisy to continue with the interviews for her article and uses any relevent information to help with his enquiries. The big problem really is that there are so many suspects. Not just curators of the museum, but other staff and, weirdly, a dethroned German count wanting to get back a ruby the museum owns, but that he feels is his, so he can raise an army to throw the Russians out of his small country. It's a tangled web and even Daisy's bent for finding things out is put severely to the test.

Another hugely enjoyable instalment of Daisy Dalrymple's adventures with dead bodies. The Natural History museum is a huge presence in this, luckily I've been there so had no trouble picturing it. For those that haven't there are a couple of floor plans at the front of the book. It was fun reading about the competition between the various curators, how they want to pinch artifacts off each other, the petty jealousies. I wouldn't mind betting this is very realistic for museums in general. One thing I did have trouble with was remembering all their names, who was who and what they did, but that's probably my middle-aged brain failing me. Daisy was in fine form as always... talking to people she shouldn't be talking to, but getting things out of them that the police never could. I like the development of her private life, her efforts to form some kind of working relationship with her rather difficult, soon to be mother-in-law for instance, and the way her working life is progressing. I was pleased to read that Alec had no intention of stopping her working when they were married, as I'm certain that did happen back then. All in all another excellent instalment of this series. I have the next three books on my Kindle and look forward hugely to reading them.


DesLily said...

well you are certainly on a roll!!! I have to say I love the Rattle his Bones cover :o)

GeraniumCat said...

Not just you :-) I had trouble keeping track of the museum people in Rattle His Bones too! Didn't stop me enjoying it though, and I've got the next few stashed on my Kindle...before this summer they were what I thought of as rainy day books! Planted up some late lobelias I'd been nurturing in a dry moment recently - 2 days later there wasn't a scrap left. And outdoor vegetables = 1 courgette. The chickens aren't just paddling, they need water wings.

lifeonthecutoff said...

Our weather is just the opposite extreme, excessive heat and no rain and we, too, seemed to have summer in March. It is an odd sort of year all over - but, a good summer for pleasurable reads. I just finished my first Maisie Dobbs and loved it and still need to get into Katie Fforde. Just haven't had time - yet.

Anonymous said...

We are looking forward to watching the Olympics and it seems that we may be seeing a "wet" version, correct? Ah, well, they will manage I am sure.

Enjoyred your two reviews. I haven't read Katie Fforde yet, but reading your thoughts about the Daisy books is lovely. I'm sort of rereading them through you. LOL

Jean | said...

Cath, came over to your blog from your comment at A Work in Progress. I'm not familiar with either of these writers, so thanks for the tip! I don't blog about books (I'm a food blogger), but books or reading somehow end up in my posts occasionally! I've favoured English literature and British authors since early childhood, but I just finished a streak of American writers.

Cath said...

Pat: The cover is great isn't it. To tell the truth this whole series has great covers.

Geranium Cat: I'm so glad it's not just me who had trouble sorting out who was who. But no, it didn't spoil my enjoymant at all.

My husband put out four courgette plants a couple of weeks ago... nothing but stalks left now. A couple of days ago he put out half a dozen French bean plants - all gone. It's terribly discouraging for him. I gather this is a nationwide thing though and might result in dearer prices in the supermarkets this winter.

Penny: Yes, I heard from various friends that your summer is hot and dry and not much better than ours for growing things. Good for reading though, I agree!

I haven't been able to get into Maisie Dobbs, but love Daisy. Makes no sense.

Kay: It does sound like you may be watching a wet Olympics this year. Such a shame.

Glad you're enjoying rereading Daisy vicariously. LOL.

Jean: Hello, thanks for popping by. I'll pop over to look at your blog in moment as I'm quite a keen cook too. *Usually* with produce from the garden, but sadly not this year. I'd also be interested to hear which American authors you've been reading as I have an ongoing personal challenge to read my way around the USA.

Yvonne @ Fiction Books Reviews said...

Hi Cath,

We have had some pretty spectacular flash fllods over the last couple of days, although luckily we live at the top of the hill in Frome so we have not been affected personally.

I really must knuckle down and read some of Carola Dunn's books, I can't think why I haven't before now.

I haven't read any Katie FForde either, but that's because up until a few weeks ago, I had never ventured to read anything with humour in it. I have read a couple of lighthearted mysteries since then, as well as the book I am currently reading (Women Of A Dangerous Age by Fanny Blake), which is contemporary romance with a touch of humour and I should imagine very similar to a Fforde book.

So far I am quite enjoying the experience, so you may have a convert on your hands!!


Susan said...

I've added Living Dangerously to the booklist on Amazon which I am going to be buying books very shortly with some birthday gift certificates. It's not available here in Canada and is the only way I can get it, and you love it so much I have to try it!!!

I have to get on with the Daisy Dalyrimple series too....

I wish we could send some heat your way! It's so hot and dry here that we are in a level two drought, which means water restrictions outside the city....not in the city yet. All the grass is dead, and the trees are showing stress. We've had 1 mm of rain this month! I'm sorry all your veg are not growing at all.

I think we are all counting down to the Olympics, and i hope it does dry out somewhat by then! Fingers crossed....

Cath said...

Yvonne: I'm glad you haven't been affected by any floods. We've been ok too, thank goodness.

The Katie Fforde books are mainly romance with a touch of humour, written, imo, for a more mature reader. I think you might like some of them.

Susan: After all my hype, I hope you like Living Dangerously. LOL.

I'm forcing myself to have a short break from Daisy. So I picked up a Charlie Parker book, The Killing Kind, by John Connolly. Gosh, what a contrast, it's scaring me half to death. LOL!!!

Yep, we need some of your sun and you need some of our rain. All of us suffering in this weird weather.

Vintage Reading said...

Oh this weather is depressing isn't it? I'd love to sit in the garden and read. Still wavering about a Kindle.

Cath said...

I think if we were to sit in the garden and read at the moment, Nicola, we'd get hypothermia! LOL.

Well, it's a very personal thing re: buying a Kindle but I love mine and much of what you like to read is free from various sites, (Amazon, Gutenberg) so you could carry umpteen books around with you rather than just one.

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

Loved that you shared your 6 by 6's....getting so many ideas.

Cath said...

Diane: The 6 by 6 meme was huge fun, wasn't it. Ideas galore!