Tuesday 21 April 2020

Catching up and currently reading

Well, I'm several books behind when it comes to reviewing. The lockdown hasn't slowed my reading very much but this time of year there are other things that need attending to, like the garden, plus I seem to be nattering more on the phone or using Google Duo. In other words I seem to have a little 'less' time to read that usual.

Anyway, first up, The Malice of Waves by Mark Douglas-Home, this is book three in the author's 'Sea Detective' series.

Thirteen year old Max Wheeler was on a yachting holiday in Scotland with his father and sisters when he disappeared. He had decided to camp alone on Priest's Island just off the island of Harris in the Outer Hebrides. When the family awoke the next morning he was gone. Since then the father has hired someone to investigate every year on the aniversary of the disappearance, not one of them has been able to discover the fate of young Max. This year it's the turn of Cal McGill, the so-called 'sea detective', whose knowledge of tides and of the ways of the ocean mean he's probably the number one expert. But number one expert or no, Cal has his work cut out dealing with the alienated population of the nearby village and the unexplained antagonistic attitude of the family themselves. This was excellent. Such good writing and a beautiful sense of island living and of the moods of the Atlantic ocean. I find Cal a bit difficult to identify with as he's rather odd, almost itinerant in his lifestyle, but that's fine, I don't need to actually love a detective in order to appreciate a series. The author does 'Scotland' very well indeed and that will keep me coming back for more.

Next, Pole to Pole by Michael Palin. This is my 5th. book for Bev's Mount TBR 2020.

Pole to Pole, which he did in 1991, was Michael Palin's 2nd. TV series after the massively popular Around the World in 80 Days (1988). On this journey Palin travels from the North Pole to the South following as closely as possible the 30 degree line of longitude. This takes him through Norway, Russia, on down into the Balkans and thus through Turkey and the Middle East into Africa. For me this was a book about Africa more than anything else. The trials and tribulations of travelling across that continent made for fascinating reading. He sails down the Nile to the Sudan which was an incredibly dangerous country (and still is) and had to divert into Ethiopia in order to get across any border at all and get back on track to Tanzania. Beautiful descriptions of the National Parks follow, the people who run them, and how they look after the animals and deal with the massive influx of tourists. Really fascinating stuff. Oddly enough, I didn't find his actual arrival at the South Pole as interesting as Africa. Bit of an anti-climax I suppose. But overall, if you enjoy reading about Africa, this would be a good book to read.

Last but not least, The Provincial Lady Goes Further by E.M. Delafield.

It's many years since I read the first book in the Provincial Lady series, The Diary of a Provincial Lady. It was such an enjoyable read, quite funny in the manner in which you could easily identify with her and her troubles despite the fact that it was written in the 1930s. The books are written in diary form and in the first one she describes how writes a book about her day to day life. This turns out to be massively and unexpectedly successful and her publisher, naturally, wants a second. But the writer is more inclined to enjoy the fruits of her labour and buys a flat in London (an alternative title for this book is, The Provincial Lady in London) and sets about enjoying a literary, social whirl. It's huge fun, I laughed a lot as the writing style is sarcastically funny, mainly at her own expense. The omnibus I own has two more titles in it, The Provincial Lady in America and 'In Wartime' and I will happily read both soon.

So, I'm currently reading these two:

A Share in Death by Deborah Crombie is the first book in the 'Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James' series. I've had this on my Kindle for a while and not got to it, then recently several bloggers have mentioned this series as being one of their favourites so I thought I'd give it a go. Enjoying it very much so far.

Footnotes: A Journey Round Britain in the Company of Great Writers by Peter Fiennes charts the writer's journeys around the country in the footsteps of the likes of Wilkie Collins, Enid Blyton, Dickens, Beryl Bainbridge, Celia Fiennes etc. What I'm enjoying most of all in this is Fiennes's commentary as he covers all kinds of bits of history, current opinions, biographical material and descriptions of the countryside and coast. It really is a complete gem.

So that's me up to date... for five minutes anyway. I hope you're all finding something satisfying to read in these strange days.



DesLily said...

I looked up Footnote and I can tell why this would be enjoyable to you! I had to look when you mentioned Wilkie and Dickens lol... Devon a nice place to start and adventure in history!

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

Cath, your spring header pic is so pretty. I liked your reading update, more new recommendations for me to check out. Thanks

Mystica said...

I like the varied mix of your reads. I would have liked to get the Crombie book but its long archived on Netgalley.

Cath said...

Pat: The book has a chapter about Wilkie Collins's walk around Cornwall. And I have the short book he wrote called, Rambles Beyond Railways. I haven't read it yet but will... maybe after The Woman In White. LOL!

Diane: I'm so glad you like my primrose header. And I'm glad you liked my reading update. I find I'm looking up and buying many more new books while this lockdown is on. Kindle books that is, and it's like a black hole on there, books go on and that's the last I see of them.

Mystica: I love reading a good mix of different kinds of books. The Crombie book is good so far, worth waiting for I think.

Margaret @ BooksPlease said...

I need to write a catch up post too, but I'm struggling to do one.My attention span is low - I keep starting posts and leaving them till later, although I have no trouble reading. Of course it is the garden that holds me up, weeding and mowing have to be slotted into the days and I'm finding organising food deliveries takes up far too much time.

Anyway, I'm so glad you enjoyed The Malice of Waves! And Michael Palin's book too, I hadn't realised he did that series so long ago! I haven't read any of the Provincial Lady books - they sound just the thing to read during the lockdown.

Val said...

I have added the Mark DH and the Crombie book to my library list ..I believe I read and enjoyed the 1st Mark DH book on your advice ..Thanks!

I have Full Circle and Around the World in Eighty days by Palin as audio books and enjoy them but am not sure how much my enjoyment is influenced by having seen both TV series and being able to 'picture it in m head' the fact he reads his own work certainly adds to my pleasure....It sounds like it's the journey not the destination that's important ...which made me think of those lines in Cavafy's poem Ithika
Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey.
Without her you wouldn't have set out.
She has nothing left to give you now."

The Fiennes book also goes on the list! The Provincial Lady books ..I'm safe they are old favourites and I have (cough cough) more than single copies of them lol also a nice reading both as an audio book and from the radio...lol so I confess I'm a fan!

BTW The Primroses on your header are lovely and provide a burst of pleasure every time they ping into view...so lots of thanks today.

Lark said...

That is a nice mix of books! I love the sound of The Malice of Waves, mostly because it's set in Scotland. Scotland's one of my favorite bookish settings. Footnotes sounds like a lot of fun, too. It's one I'd definitely want to read if I had a trip to England planned. Which I sadly don't. But maybe in a year, or two?

DesLily said...

This Sea Detective doesn't sound as good as the other 2 books were...????

Susan said...

I've never heard of Mark Douglas-Home, but I'm definitely going to look him up. His books sound like ones I would like. Thanks for the heads-up!

Kay said...

I think I read the first book or maybe first two of that Sea Detective series, but I can't remember much about them. Guess I need to start over and go again. This 3rd book sounds very good. Glad you are enjoying A Share in Death. Hope that Duncan and Gemma pull you into that series as well. :-)

Cath said...

Margaret: I'm finding I don't really want to do long book reviews at the moment. Short is about all I can manage and then it's several in one post.

The garden is keeping us busy too but it's nice to be out in the fresh air. We haven't been able to get a shopping delivery slot for love nor money so we've been to the supermarkets a couple of times and that went fine, no problem at all although I felt nervous about going. I think the fact that we keep a full freezer and store cupboard has helped in that we haven't needed to go out very much at all. Plus, our daughter has helped a fair bit with things like bread and milk.

I think you would 'love' the Provincial Lady books, such a lovely dry sense of humour to them. A friend got all five for 49p for her Kindle if that helps.

Val: I found I could read the book in Michael Palin's voice and that made his sense of humour even more funny. Some lovely comments that really made me laugh. I don't know the poem, Ithaca, so will look that up.

The Fiennes books is wonderful. And yes, I have two copies of The Provincial Lady, one of just that one book, the lovely floral copy, and an anthology of four books by Virago. So you're not alone. LOL

Thank you... the primroses seem to be very popular for some reason.

Lark: Scotland really is a wonderful setting for books and I particularly love The Hebrides, Peter May's 'Lewis' books set there are wonderful too.

I hope when all this craziness is over you do get your planned trip to the UK.

Pat: No, the third Sea Detective book was as good as the other two, although my favourite so far has been book two.

Susan: It's *very* good series and well worth looking into. Fantastic setting.

Kay: I think I'm definitely going to be pulled into the Duncan and Gemma series. Really enjoying the first book so thank you for recommending them.

I hadn't read a Sea Detective book in several years but had no problem reading this one. It could almost be read as a standalone I think.

TracyK said...

I enjoyed the first two Provincial Lady books and plan to read The Provincial Lady in America as soon as I can fit it in.

I am experiencing the same things as Margaret, I am reading a good bit but I cannot focus on anything else, except getting yard work done.

I read the Deborah Crombie book that you are reading in 2002 and I read the next seven books in the series in 5 weeks, up through And Justice There Is None. At the time those were the only books available. I loved them all. Since then I read the next four but never got past that. Some of her later books have fantastic maps on the end papers.

Marg said...

I definitely love the idea of reading about Africa so Pole to Pole is right up my alley

Cath said...

Tracy: Me too as regards The Provincial Lady in America... and Wartime. I think both could be very interesting.

So difficult so discover any sense of urgency at the moment as well as concentrate. We've been told it could be the end of the year before social distancing ends so plenty of time to get on with the garden and so forth.

So many people seem to enjoy the Deborah Crombie books so I'm really looking forward to carrying on with the series.

Marg: At least half of Pole to Pole is about Africa and it was definitely my favourite bit of the book.

Yvonne @ Fiction Books Reviews said...

Hi Cath,

I'm going to have to stop reading your lovely 'round-up' posts soon, as you keep introducing me to new series which sound so good- which I can't say 'no!' to, but which I just don't have the capacity to read! :)

I have already added the 'Sea Detective' series to my list and now the 'Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James' series is joining it!

It's all very well that you feature book #1 in the series, as you lulled me into a false sense of security, because when I went to check out the author page, as hers is a new name to me, I realised that she is now up to book #18 in the series! - No pressure then! :)

Seriously, both of these authors are definitely worth a read, so thanks for the recommendations and stay safe :)


Nan said...

I do so love The Provincial Lady. I own the next two but have not read them. She had such a sadness with her son dying, and she died not long after.
I am a big fan of the Crombie books. I think I've read all but the latest.
Nice article in the latest Oldie about Michael Palin. So fond of him.
Am very interested in the Fiennes book. I expect he is part of the famous family.
I just started Susan Hill's Through the Kitchen Window. The illustrations are just great. Already the feeling of it reminds me of a Lucy and Tom children's book we have by Shirley Hughes. My kids were never as wild about it as I am, their Anglophile mother!

Cath said...

Yvonne: Sorry about all these tempting books. LOL! Both the Sea Detective and the Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James series are good. Although I've only read the first book in the latter series, it seems very promising. I didn't realise there were *quite* as many books written as that in the series though.

You stay safe too and I hope you're having a good weekend, although at the moment every day is a weekend day.

Nan: Oh gosh, I didn't know that there was such sadness in E.M. Delafield's life. I must look her up.

So many people love the Crombie series, which is really the reason why I thought I'd try them, so pleased I have at last.

Yes, Michael Palin is one our National Treasures as we tend to put it over here. Love his TV series.

The Fiennes book would be right up your alley, Nan. Quite reflective and gentle. Also amusing and informative. Reminded me a bit of the Tom Cox book. I don't know if he's related to the 'modern' famous Fiennes family (Ranulph etc.) but he is related to one of the writers he features, Celia Fiennes, who was travelling around Britain in the 1690s. Her 10th. cousin twice removed or something.

Oh, I bet the Susan Hill book is wonderful!