Thursday 20 June 2024

Time for a catch-up

How on earth can it be mid-June already? I feel like the year is flying by and before you know it we'll be into autumn, especially as it's the longest day tomorrow. Summer's not my favourite time of year, I hate too much heat, and so far this year we've been lucky and Spring into Summer has been really nice with temps. in the high 60s, low 70s. That suits me very nicely.

Apologies for being AWOL for a few weeks. I've not been reading as much as usual, fueled by a strange inability to settle to anything. I'm assuming this is quite normal after a serious loss but I'm getting there, albeit slowly, and actually have some books to talk about today.

So, I started June with The Bordeaux Book Club by Gillian Harvey. 

There's an awful lot of bookclub themed contemporary fiction around these days, this one being slightly different with its setting of Bordeaux in France. As usual, a motley group come together to discuss books. Grace is the instigator of the group, she's an older, single lady with a finger in a lot of pies. She ropes in her friend, Leah, who lives on a small holding with her husband and daughter and is finding out the hard way that The Good Life is not all it's cracked up to be. Add to them Monica, a young mum, husband away a lot and struggling with a new baby, George, a builder, and Alfie, very young and clearly harboring a secret and you have a new bookclub for Brits in Bordeaux. This was a bit formulaic, the usual problems to be solved with everyone coming together to help, or not. I enjoyed it a lot but didn't feel the setting of Bordeaux came very much alive, it could've been anywhere but it was a very decent 'people' sort of read. 


I've been reading The Wild Isles: An Anthology of the Best of British and Irish Nature Writing, edited by Patrick Barkham for a couple of months and finished it last week. It was a bit hit and miss for me. There were dozens of authors (it's a huge book) such as Dorothy Wordsworth, Kathleen Jamie, Roger Deakin, Nan Shepherd, Horatio Clare, Kenneth Grahame and so on. Some pieces were excellent but quite a few were just a bit tedious. I see from reviews on Goodreads that I'm not alone in this opinion. 

A Charmed Life by David Essex is pretty much what it says on the tin - an account of the singer and actor's rather charmed life in showbiz. Fascinating, I enjoyed it a lot but it's not a kiss and tell sort of account, he's clearly a really nice chap.

What Would Jane Austen Do? by Linda Corbett was next.

Maddy Shaw has her column in a magazine cancelled and is jobless until she discovers a 'black sheep' uncle has left her a huge house in the Cotswolds (which, as we all know, often happens.) Off she goes to live in it for a year as the will stipulated, but will she then sell up? The locals welcome her to the point where she suddenly finds herself in charge of the village literary festival. She's also met a local crime writer, Cameron Massey, nice dog but very grumpy owner. Can she persuade him to come and give a talk at the event? This was fun. I mean the outcome was never in question but I liked Maddy's Jane Austen obsession and the grumpy author with a bit of a superiority complex was well written. As was the village and the locals who lived there. A fun read.



I seem to be in mood for fluff because I then moved on to a couple of novellas by Cressida McLaughlin, set on a canal boat, the canal itself being next to a small village and pub etc. All Aboard is book1.

Summer Freeman, an artist specialisng in sign writing, is returning to her mother's canal boat cafĂ© nine months after she died. A friend has been keeping it going but it's struggling. Summer takes it over but it's hard with so many memories closing in on her and antipathy from the local owner of the pub. Eventually her bacon butties and delicious brownies win people over and a growing friendship with another boat owner, Mason, a wildlife photographer, doesn't do any harm. This had a lovely sense of the British countryside about it, the canal and surrounds feeling very real. Summer's indecisiveness and inability to put her foot down with certain people slightly annoyed me, more than slightly, but I liked the dogs and the birds and it was charming enough for me go straight on to book 2, Casting Off, which I've already finished but can't say anything about as it would involve spoiling the end of Book 1. 


So, my current read is this:

Death in the Sunshine by Steph Broadribb is set in Florida in a retirement complex. Moira is an ex-police inspector from the UK who discovers a body in a swimming pool. She gets together with several other retired folk to solve a murder that the police don't seem very interested in. Very good so far. 

Next month is Jane Austen July and I'm planning to try to get a few Austen related titles under my belt. I've never read Sense and Sensibility so would like to get to that and then I have a whole heap of other possibilities as I do enjoy anything related to Jane Austen and her writing.

So that's my June reading so far. I hope you're all keeping well and enjoying some good books.