Wednesday 1 April 2020

Books read in March

So, I read seven books in March, four down on February but seven is much more the norm for me. Plus, I've been jigsawing and knitting and there's only so much time, even now.

The books:

18. A Sense of Place edited by Roly Smith.

An antholgy of favourite places in the British Isles by writers who're members of the Outdoor Writers' Guild. I think they must consist mainly of mountaineers because the choice of essays is very much slanted towards mounteering and hill climbing. Scotland, with its many mountains, features a *lot* but also Cumbria, Dartmoor, The Peak District and so on. I thought it was a bit patchy to be honest, some offerings very good, others not so interesting. One for the charity shop box.

19. Castle Skull - John Dickson Carr

20. Then She Was Gone - Lisa Jewell

21. Dashing for the Post - Patrick Leigh Fermor

22. The Mapping of Love and Death - Jacqueline Winspear.

23. Fell Murder - E.C.R. Lorac

Garthmere Hall is a large farm in an area south of the Lake District known as Lunesdale. It's been farmed by the Garth family for generations and 82 year old Robert Garth, cantankerous but fair with his tennant farmers, is head of the household, although his daughter now runs the farm. His eldest son who should inherit left for Canada after a row with his father. When Robert is found dead, shot in the head, in an old cow barn, the whole household comes under suspicion, even the missing son. Chief Inspector MacDonald from Scotland Yard is brought in to solve the murder but has his work cut out getting past the locals' natural suspicion of strangers. The sense of place in this one is wonderful, I gather the author loved the area and it certainly shows. It's quite an insular story, very much centred on the farm and the family who live there, a few neighbours etc. It means you get to know them all very well. The detective, MacDonald, doesn't appear until half way into the story and that alters the dynamic somewhat. I'd forgotten that a book I read last year, Fire in the Thatch, was also a Chief Inspector MacDonald instalment. In fact there are 46 of them! I'm sure I'll be reading more.

24. The Outsider: My Life in Intrigue - Frederick Forsyth. This was my 4th. book for Bev's Mount TBR 2020 challenge.

British author, Frederick Forsyth has written some very iconic spy/thriller books: The Day of the Jackal, The Odessa File, The Dogs of War and so on. He's also lived rather a colourful life, he was the youngest pilot ever to qualify with the RAF, he was a journalist in East Germany in the Cold War of the 1960s, and he also covered the Biafran War in the late sixties. Returning from that broke and not knowing what to do with himself he decided to sit down and write The Day of the Jackal. The rest is history. Apparently the author didn't want to write an ordinary autobiography so this book takes the form of talks or essays about important parts of his life. I thought it worked pretty well, I found some bits more interesting than others, his spell as a journalist in East Germany was fascinating to read about, we forget what things were like during The Cold War and that brought it all back. I haven't actually read any of his fiction so I downloaded The Odessa File to see if it's the kind of thing I might enjoy.

Not a bad month anyhow. Four fiction - all crime yarns - and three non-fiction. Twenty four books read so far this year, eight of which are non-fiction. Quite content with that. I thought the lockdown would lead to me reading a lot more but that hasn't happened, mainly I think becuase I'm also knitting and jigsaw puzzling, but also I'm taking the opportunity to give the house a good spring-clean.

I hope anyone reading this is taking care and staying safe and coping with the whole 'staying indoors' thing.



DesLily said...

I will never know how you do it! Although we are "sisters" none of that reading speed came to ME!! lol.. Love you... hoping you and P stay well through all of this. I got worried when Price Charles got it, but glad it was a mild case..hoping no one else in the family gets it!

Cath said...

Pat: We're doing our best to stay in and away from danger, Peter being in the medium risk category, but lots worse off than him and us. You take care of yourself. *hugs you tightly*

Prince Charles is now back out and about, he's filmed a message to the country which I must try and find somewhere. Hopefully The Queen is safely quarentined.

Susan said...

Sounds like you had a great reading month! One of the good things about this crazy quarantine is that we all have more time for reading and projects. I've got a cross-stitch pattern that I've been working on for months that I'm finally finishing up :)

Val said...

The perils of your blog book lists grows...and grows....
Thanks for introducing me to PLF he was new to me and I see you are placing more temptation in my way ...
The book shop in your last post looks lovely and the colour of your choices somehow very satisfying ...I too love the pile of blue ...very appealing! xxxx

Lark said...

I love those British Library Crime Classics. They're such fun mysteries. Happy April! :D

Sam said...

Not a bad reading month at all, Cath, especially considering all the distractions we all have in our daily lives these days. You've covered a whole lot of ground this first quarter of the year.

I read that Forsyth book back in 2016 and had a mixed reaction to it. I learned a lot of things about the man that surprised me, but those 60 separate segments were a little "jarring" sometimes and I had a hard time figuring out the timeframe of a few of them. If you're interested, here's a link to my review from January 2016:

So now it's on to April. Here's wishing you a great reading month, and the world a giant step toward the normalcy I so foolishly used to take for granted.

Yvonne @ Fiction Books Reviews said...

Hi Cath,

Another great reading month and a good eclectic range of genres.

I had thought that with the enforced lockdown (Dave is only actually in the mid-range vulnerability group, however his employers insisted that he must stay at home and by default, it was made clear that that meant me too!)I would get stuck into my reading and other hobbies and use up some of the excess of books, jigsaws and wool, I have secreted in just about every available cupboard space! Instead of which, I find myself endlessly wasting time, trying to convince myself that I am keeping busy, and actually doing very little.

I have finished off one small crocheted blanket and started a new jigsaw and I should be able to finish my current book by the end of play tomorrow - Big Deal!

I had also decided to stop endlessly adding books to my list, which I stand very little or no chance of ever reading. Then you come along with this great selection and I have picked out numbers 19, 20, 22 and 23 for special attention. I can't resist those vintage classics!

Thanks for sharing and here's to a more productive April, now I have come to terms that I won't be going anywhere very much in April - not that I want to after seeing today's grim statistics.

Stay Safe :)


TracyK said...

I have read nothing by ECR Lorac but we have at least one in house, so will be reading that sometime. The Forsyth book sounds good and I look forward to hearing what you think of the Odessa File.

I have up days and down days and get distracted easily. Otherwise things are fine, hope that is true for you too. I absolutely love your header photo and it brightens my day when I see it.

Cath said...

Susan: Well done on the x-stitch. I did heaps of that back in the 1990s and still have my stash. I'm back knitting so perhaps I'll get back to x-stitch one day.

Val: PLF is a real temptation I know, there are several more of his books that I would like to get. Nice to see I'm not alone in my attraction to 'blue' in all its guises.

Lark: The BLCC books are absolutely wonderful, I think they've been a huge success with crime book lovers.

Sam: Thank you. Yes, I've been about a bit this first quarter of 2020. LOL

Thanks for the link to your review of The Outsider, I read your review on Goodreads so am assuming it's the same. I wasn't too bothered about the separate segments but I found the author to be a touch self-congratulatory. I did a bit of eye-rolling at times.

Thank you... I think all of us are guilty of taking normalcy for granted, who knew it would turn into a military manoeuvre just to go get some shopping!

Yvonne: Yes, Peter is in the medium high-risk group too. Not enough to qualify for vulnerable slots for home delivery and he's not quite 70 so we can't join the elderly queue at the supermarkets either. But it's fine, we're very lucky and have a daughter nearby who's helping out.

Well done on the crocheted blanket! My scarf is like Topsy, 'growing and growing'. (I've just found out that growing 'like Topsy' is a quote from Uncle Tom's Cabin, well well!)

Sorry about tempting you with more books! LOL

Yes, I think April is very much going to be a stay at home month for much of the population. It still staggers me that it has been largely achievable to get 65 million people to do this.

You stay safe too. xx

Tracy: ECR Lorac was such a good writer, very strong on sense of place.

Yes thanks, I'm fine, like you a bit up and down. The number of deaths in the UK yesterday was very sobering - over 500 - and I know it's bad in the US too. A lot of deep breaths are necessary at the moment and I'm so glad my primrose header cheers you up when you see it: small pleasures etc.

Judith said...

Hi Cath,
I gravitate toward any book, fiction or nonfiction, that accentuates the atmospheric setting of a place or locale. So, for that reason, Fell Murder has been added officially to my LIST! Thanks.