Tuesday 21 July 2020

More catching up

Again I'm three books behind with reviews... and I don't even feel that I'm reading that fast, I'm just not reviewing fast enough! So, a quick catch-up post again.

First up, The White Road Westwards by 'BB'. This is my 12th. book for Bev's Mount TBR 2020 and also qualifies for Carl's Venture Forth under the category, 'A book where travelling is heavily involved'.

So this is one of the most delightful books I've read all year. The author, 'BB' (real name Denys Watkins-Pitchford), used to be a well known author of children's books back in the 1960s but he also wrote some excellent nature and countryside books for adults, several of which I read years ago. In this one he writes about a caravan trip he made with his family in the early 60s, exploring the whole of the South West of England. He visited a lot of places I know well so I suppose that helps. But honestly, this is some of the most beautiful writing I've ever read. He writes so eloquently about the countryside in summer, the birds and animals, the quirky people he comes across, his walks, the weather. Stunning. This will be in my top five non-fiction books of the year. I loved it. There is apparently one about his caravan trip exploring Scotland which I shall certainly be searching out.

Next, The Sea Mystery by Freeman Wills Crofts.

A father and son are returning from a fishing trip when they discover the dead body of a man, in a crate, which has been thrown into the sea off the coast of South Wales. Inspector French of Scotland Yard is called in and the first thing is to identify the body, a task which proves long and complicated. His investigations lead him to Devon and the small town of Ashburton where a local business has recently suffered the loss of two of their executives. It's thought they both died in a bog on Dartmoor late one night, after breaking down and wandering away from the car. Naturally, French believes there's much more to this tale than meets the eye. Another excellent vintage murder mystery from Freeman Wills Crofts. He is definitely one of my favourites of these rediscovered authors. This one was written in 1928 but it actually felt more modern, I had it down as a 1950s book before I discovered the truth. I love the way he plotted so precisely, timing actions down to the last minute. There are 30 of these Inspector French books and I'm always happy to discover one I haven't read.

Lastly, The Honey Farm on the Hill by Jo Thomas. This is my 9th. book for the European Reading challenge which is being hosted by Rose City Reader. It covers the country of 'Greece'.

Nell has spent the last 18 years bringing up her daughter, Demi, single-handed. Demi is the result of Nell falling in love with a young man, Stelios, on Crete, but they rowed when she told him was pregnant so she returned to South Wales to have the baby on her own, living with her grandmother. Now the factory where she works has burnt down and she has the chance to return to Crete as a volunteer worker on a honey farm. She wants to know what happened to Stelios. Most of all she wants to know if he ever really loved her or was she just a holiday romance to him. This was an enjoyable read, not wonderful, but fun. The heroine annoyed me a bit, constantly doing stupid things without apparently thinking at all. But there was a nice sense of a mountain village in Crete, the people and their problems, the food and so on. There's a back story of a herb called dittany which kept the town's economy going but has practically and mysteriously disappeared from the mountain, that was quite interesting. But overall I think I preferred Jo Thomas's Escape to the French Farmhouse which I read in June.



Yvonne @ Fiction Books Reviews said...

Hi Cath,

I hope this finds you both well and Peter well on the road to recovery :)

I really must get to grips with reading some of your vintage murder mysteries, you have recommended so many good ones, all of which I have on my list. I enjoy the almost prescriptive writing of the era, where everything is detailed and precise; but I'm guessing that's probably just an age thing!

Jo Thomas is also heading for my list, although I couldn't consecutively read too many books from this genre. I like the way that each book is set in a different location, especially as you comment that Jo gives a real sense of time and place in her writing. I also tend to check out reviews over at Trip Fiction these days and there are a few of Jo's books listed there, which I have had a good look at.

Thanks for a lovely post and a couple of good recommendations for my own reading :)

Yvonne xx

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

All sound good; The White Road Westwards especially sounds lovely.

DesLily said...

Gosh, I do believe that (if not bought) that you keep the library empty!!! <3

Jeane said...

I have not travelled to those place, but the White Road Westwards sounds charming so if I ever find it, will be happy to give it a try.

CLM said...

I feel as if there is another book with dittany as a key plot element. A really good one. This is going to bother me all day.

Sam said...

"The White Road Westwards" sounds like one of those road trip books I would really enjoy, so I'll have to see if it's available in this country. Too, I like the sound of that vintage mystery; those are always fun and they make a nice change-of-pace sometimes.

Lark said...

You read the most interesting books! :D

TracyK said...

The White Road Westwards sound like a lovely book. And you have reminded me again that I need to read something by Freeman Wills Crofts.

Judith said...

Hi Cath,
Congrats on finishing your 9th book for the European Challenge!
I'm most interested in the one that you liked best--the caravan tour travel book of SW England. I love travel and nature writing combos. And I adore SW England. If this virus ever ends, I AM RETURNING. If we ever get a really workable vaccine, that is.
Ken had to have a skin cancer removed from his scalp yesterday. Everything is fine now, but he had a time of it because of excessive bleeding. The whole procedure took much, much longer than expected and was much more tiring for him (yes, and for me). He does not take blood-thinners of any type, so they were not expecting it. But fortunately, he's just fine today. SIGH. The only surgeons for this were a two hours' drive away, so it was a long day. It was in Albany, New York State's capital city. Fortunately for us, we had a really relaxed day today. Both of us recovering nicely!

Rosemary said...

Hi Cath

What a lovely post - you make all of these books sound so interesting. It's good to have recommendations for the 'rediscovered' crime classics, as some of the ones I have read have been a little disappointing.

I remember one of my friends had some of the 'BB' children's books when we were at primary school. I'd love to read this one, it sounds just my kind of thing - as does the Scottish one of course.

I am MUCH more behind with my reviewing than you are, and I have no excuse bar procrastination. Trying to catch up...

I do hope your husband is now fully recovered? Mine is now on antibiotics for an infection he managed to give himself while decorating - got something in his finger and decided to self-treat with a safety pin. I will say no more! I originally thought it was ridiculous when some doctors were asking people not to do gardening and DIY during lockdown as the hospitals might be too busy to deal with any related injuries - how wrong I was! (Though this one has so far only involved a call to the surgery.) My son has also told me that he spent one of his weekends retrieving cyclists who had fallen off their bikes around Aviemore (where he's an ambulance technician.)

Best wishes,


Cath said...

Yvonne: Yes thanks, we're both fine and P's doing well, not there yet but nicely on the road to recovery.

The vintage murder mysteries do vary a bit and some authors are better than others. Some, like Freeman Wills Crofts and E.C.R Lorac are very reliable, others not so much.

I've been pleasantly surprised by some of 'so called' chick-lit genre books. Jo Thomas is one of the better ones I think but like you I could not live on a diet of such books all the time. One or two a month is enough and I'm reading really for the exotic locations!

Diane: Yes, they were all good, but The White Road Westwards especially so.

Pat: These are all bought books so no library has suffered in the execution of this post. LOL!

Jeane: The White Road Westwards is your kind of book, lovely observations of birds and other wildlife.

Constance: I can't think of another book with dittany in it, did you remember one?

Sam: I love a good road-trip book too, as you know. The White Road Westwards is certainly one of the best I've read. I imagine the Scottish one will be good too.

Lark: Thank you. You read some interesting stuff too. :-)

Tracy: Freeman Wills Crofts is definitely one of the more reliable of the vintage crime writers. Always an interesting setting too.

Cath said...

Judith: Thank you, European challenge is going quite well this year.

Let's hope this damn virus disappears soon and you can come to the UK. We would love to meet you and Ken.

I'm sorry to hear that Ken had to have a skin cancer removed from his scalp. That's very unpleasant. My daughter's partner had one removed from his back at the end of last year and he's fine too, good to catch these things early. I hope Ken continues to improve and that he gets over this quickly. You need to take care of yourself too as these things are almost as traumatic for the spouse/partner. I can vouch for that after the last few weeks!

On a lighter note we went through Albany in 1996. I remember stopping at a cross-stitch shop there and finding myself the centre of attention because I was from the UK. No one could understand what I was doing there and why I wasn't in Florida or something. So funny.

Cath said...

Rosemary: I do agree about some of the rediscovered vintage crime authors, a few have been a bit disappointing, or their output was patchy to say the least.

As a young child I absolutely adored BB's series about Bill Badger. He had a canal boat and I loved reading about his adventures. I think I became addicted to travel fiction at a very early age. And yes, I must look around for the Scottish one!

I'm trying to catch up with things too, I'm probably as good a procrastinator as you.

Yes thanks, Peter is steadily improving. I wish I'd heard them tell people not to do DIY or gardening... the drs. suspect too much heavy work in the garden might be how he got pneumonia. But they're not *quite* sure. I have heard that in the spring and summer the hospitals are full of people who have accidents in the garden, doing DIY and 'sport'... as your son will confirm. I think we have the right idea... just sit and READ! I hope your husband's infection is soon better. 'Men'.

Margaret @ BooksPlease said...

I am behind with everything at the moment - commenting as well as reviewing, but reading always gets done. I've only read two of Freeman Wills Crofts' books - not The Sea Mystery, though, so I must look out for that one.

I'm glad to see that Peter is improving - I never realised you can get pneumonia from gardening - heavy or otherwise - heart attacks, yes but not pneumonia! David went to hospital on Tuesday for a chest X-ray, I couldn't go in the hospital with him - we're hoping it isn't anything serious. And I had a video appointment about my cubital tunnel syndrome, which is improving slowly.Otherwise we're plodding on.

Susan said...

Sounds like you're getting some good reading in! I'm perpetually behind on reviews, too, so you're not alone. You're way more caught up than I am. I need to read less, review more!

Cath said...

Margaret: Reading always gets done here as well. I hit 50 books this week, I'm not sure I've ever reached 50 this early in the year, it's usually well into September.

I didn't realise you could become so ill from heavy lifting either. But the consultant seemed fairly sure it was that combined with his underlying health issues which gave him pneumonia. I'm still a bit skeptical I must admit and the GP said she thought it was mainly connected to his diabetes. I suspect we'll never really know for certain.

I hope David is all right? Have you heard anything? Pleased to hear you're getting there with your cubital tunnel syndrome. Nasty thing.

Susan: Glad to hear I'm not alone in being behind with reviews. I don't know about you but I don't like the idea of reading less. LOL

Jo said...

I have only just discovered Jo Thomas novels and will add this one to my list.

Cath said...

Jo: I've only just discovered her too but will definitely read more of her books.