Monday 14 September 2020

Currently reading and just finished

Autumn has definitely arrived here in the UK. We've already had a couple of named storms and it feels crisp and cool early in the mornings, some lovely misty valley scenes out of our windows. We're so fortunate, my heart goes out to people in Oregon, Washington State and California, we're seeing hellish scenes on the TV. Anyone reading this from those states, please stay safe.

I always love autumn reading. The minute September arrives I suddenly feel like I must read something weird or spooky so my current read is this:

The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter by Theodora Goss is based on several classic weird fiction books including Robert Louis Stevenson's Jekyll and Hyde, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and The Island of Dr. Moreau by H.G. Wells. The 'heroes' of those books somehow had daughters who, as you can imagine, are not quite right, and they all end up living together. I'm halfway through this and I like it a lot, it's fun and intriguing and I like the fact that Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson are involved in an investigation in it. It's written a bit oddly and it took me a while to get used to that, what I can't get used to is the frequent use of 'gotten' in Victorian England or a young girl exclaiming, 'Awesome!'. Regardless of that, I'm enjoying it a lot.

The first of three books I've just finished is, Between the Stops by Sandi Toksvig.

Sandi is a well known comedian and host of 'QI' (she took over from Stephen Fry) in the UK. She also co-hosted the new Bake Off on C4 but has just given up I think, a shame. Anyway, these are her memoirs, written in the form of her regular bus journey from Dulwich into the centre of London. It might sound like a very odd thing to do but it works a treat. Sandi loves history and unusual facts so the book is not just anecdotes from her life but pieces of the history of places she passes on her bus journey: London really comes alive. Her voice is so familiar that it can be read in said voice and I did so all the way through which made it very funny in places. She has such a lot of interesting things to say, not all of which I agreed with but that's fine. I must recommend another book by her, The Chain of Curiosity, which reprints the newspaper columns she wrote for one of the newspapers and is one of the funniest books I've ever read.

Secondly, The Crime at Black Dudley by Margery Allingham.

This one of those 'house-party' themed vintage crime novels, written in 1929, and is the first book in Margery Allingham's 'Albert Campion' series. Campion is part of a weekend get-together but is on the periphery of the plot at first as events centre on the other guests, particulary Dr. George Abbershaw who has fallen in love with one of the other guests and plans to ask her to marry him. On the first evening a sort of ceremonial dagger is the centre of attention and during a game which revolves around it another member of the party is found dead, apparently of a heart-attack. But is it? (Daft question.) This is my first outing with Albert Campion, apart from a short story read recently. I'm not sure it was quite what I expected (I didn't watch the TV series from years ago), the assumed idiocy of Campion took me by surprise a bit (reminding me slightly of Lord Peter Wimsey) and his role in things was rather more ambivilent than I was expecting. A good yarn though, well written and pacey. I will definitely be reading more.

Lastly, Travels with Tinkerbelle by Susie Kelly. This is my 17th book for Bev's Mount TBR 2020

The subtitle of this book is: '6,000 miles around France in a mechanical wreck'. To be honest that does sum the book up nicely. The author, Susie Kelly, and her husband Terry get someone to look after their menagerie of animals in rural France for six weeks and set off to drive around the perimeter of France. That's two coastlines, two mountain ranges, many forests, and an awful lot of chateaux. Oh, and I forgot to mention their two dogs, Tally and Dobby who had a remarkable talent for getting into trouble. I enjoyed this very much. Some of the coastline I knew as we've seen part of Brittany on the English Channel and been down the Bay of Biscay coast as well, although not all the way. So it was nice to revisit those. Most of it was new to me, all interesting but the part I was found 'most' interesting was Northern France and the war sites. One of these days (if the world ever shakes off Covid 19) I would like to go over and visit that area. This is my second book by Susie Kelly, Best Foot Forward was also excellent.



DesLily said...

The Alchemist Daughter sounds good.. I will have to check that one out on Amazon! I've not felt well so I am not even 1/2 way thru the first book of the month..It will be a bad reading month.. sigh. Glad you are reading away as normal! lol

Mystica said...

Nice mix of reads.

CLM said...

I do love house parties but have only read one book by Allingham - it didn't seem to me to have the sparkle of other books of that era.

We have finally had some autumn weather too. I have been trying to walk 2-3 miles per day because of not going to the gym and I was thinking last night it won't be much fun when it gets freezing again. When my brother lends me his dog, I get the exercise without having to think about it as she is very energetic.

TracyK said...

I have reread a lot of the Allingham books, but I haven't gone back to the earlier ones so I haven't reread The Crime at Black Dudley. I still have 5 books at the end to reread, the first four, and one in the middle (The Case of the Late Pig). I also want to read some of her non-Campion books. The travel book sounds good also.

Margaret @ BooksPlease said...

Well they all look good, although I think I'd find the 'gotten' and 'awesome' in the Alchemist's Daughter book irritating. Sandi Toksvig's books appeal the most.

Lark said...

I liked The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughters. I thought it was fun to put all those classic monster novels together. And I liked Mary Jekyll and Beatrice Rappicini. I did get a little tired of all the other character's interjections into the narrative after awhile, but that's a small thing.

Cath said...

Pat, I think you would love The Alchemist's Daughter... and the 'gottens' wouldn't bother you. LOL! Sorry to hear you're still not well.

Mystica: Yes, I really do like to ring the changes with books.

Constance: Once I've read more of the Campion books I'll be able to judge better how they compare with others of the era.

As to exercise, my husband's still recovering from his pneumonia so hasn't a lot of stamina. Planning to get out for some walks soon though.

Tracy: Some of the later Campion books do sound pretty good. It's often the way with series, that they hit their stride four or five books in. The French travel books was indeed very good.

Margaret: I got most annoyed with Sherlock Holmes saying 'gotten' all the time. Imagine! I'm happy to recommend Sandi Toksvig's book very highly.

Lark: The idea behind The Alchemist's Daughter is one of the most imaginative I've come across. I'll be buying book two to read as well. I wasn't familiar with the Rappicini story at all and had to look it up to see what it was about... then they told us in the book. LOL It took me a while to realise what the interjections were but once I did I was mostly ok with them, although I'm not sure I really see the point.

Kay said...

Cath, nice to hear what you've been reading. And I'm glad you are getting to the fall season. We've had cooler weather (cool for us anyway) and I'm delighted with it. I think I actually own The Alchemist's Daughter. Someone read it a while back and reported on it - can't remember which blogger. Anyway, I picked it up and I think it sounds like a good one for fall. Yes, most imaginative.

Cath said...

Kay: So pleased it's a little cooler over there in Texas. I hope it stays that way. It might have been Lark who read The Alchemist's Daughter and you saw her review. It is definitely a good one for fall!

Yvonne @ Fiction Books Reviews said...

Hi Cath,

A nice selection of books, I'm still not sure how you manage to read more than one book at a time, I just loose too much concentration!

The only one I know I would definitely enjoy is the Margery Allingham mystery, as I read several of her books many years ago. I'm not sure whether this was one of them or not, but I would probably be up for reading it a second time anyway.

The Theodora Goss book is quite intriguing, although a little outside of my usual remit. However I'm still not certain that I want to give up valuable real estate to reading it right now. Did you enjoy it enough to want to read the other couple of books in the series? I really do like the cover art of the series, very rich and opulent looking.

Thanks for sharing and hope you are both enjoying this last blast of summery weather :)

Yvonne xx

Judith said...

I love your new header photo! How lovely for this time of year.
I, too, have wanted to visit northern France and "the beaches" and sites related to the Second World War. My uncle was in the infantry and fought for at least two years in Europe, including the Battle of the Bulge. I've wanted to see that area, but maybe I should do so virtually.
If I travel anywhere overseas after Covid, it will be ENGLAND, and that will likely be that. I so want to visit East Anglia, where most of my mother's ancestors came from, emigrating 1623-1640. It seems most of them came from Suffolk and Norfolk, a few from Essex, and then a smattering from Kent, Somerset, London, etc. Despite three trips to England, I've never been to East Anglia.
BUT I must return to Cornwall and Devon, which I never had the chance to see enough of. Twice to Cornwall, but it was not long enough! Anyway, if I decide to make the venture, perhaps we can grab a coffee or lunch somewhere near you.

Cath said...

Yvonne: When I read several books at once they have to be completely different, then I don't get confused. I couldn't, for instance, read two crime novels at the same time, that 'would' be confusing.

Yes, I did enjoy The Alchemist's Daughter enough to read on and in fact have book 2 on my Kindle already. That said, I'm not sure it would be your kind of thing.

The hot weather is not to my taste to be honest, but luckily it has not been over-warm so it's been fine. Happy now that it's due to get cooler though.

Thanks for stopping by.

Judith: Thank you, I took it four or five years ago when we had good autumn colours on the trees.

Yes, I would love to go over to see the war sites, I think you can do orgainsed trips so I might suggest to Peter that we do that when all this covid business is behind us. 'When'. *Sigh*

East Anglia is a lovely area to visit when you're able to come to England again. Goodness yes, if/when you make it back to England we must certainly get together. I don't think we would ever stop talking.

DesLily said...

Want to guess what book came in the mail today??? I sent for it right after you posted this!!! lol

Susan said...

I'm glad you're getting some nice crisp Fall weather! We don't really have Fall here in Arizona (at least not in the part where I live), which is sad. I miss the real seasons I experienced in Washington State, where I grew up, and in Utah, where I went to college.

A lot of my family lives in Washington and Oregon, so I've been concerned about what's happening up there. There weren't any fires really near my parents' house, but their air quality was really bad for awhile. I think it's clearing up now, thank goodness. My poor PNW! So sad :(

Cath said...

Pat: I really hope you enjoy The Achemist's Daughter. I think it will be your kind of thing.

Susan: Sorry to hear you don't have fall, though I think I realised that. Wow, yes, I'm sure it must be 'really' different to Washington state! I do hope your family are ok, we've been seeing some truly awful images on TV.