Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Tuesday Intros: Bodies of Light by Sarah Moss

" 'Elizabeth is in the drawing room,'Mary tells him.'Mamma has been having another little chat.'
She skips off, jumping on the red tiles in the hall and avoiding the blue, leaving the front door open. At the other end of the hall, the door into the garden is open, and as he reaches to put his hat on the hatstand a breeze lifts the letters on the tray and the front door slams. He likes that, the way houses breathe, the way things move. The door on his left opens and Elizabeth looks around it.

Most women, these days can't peer around doors, can't slip into a room. His friend William claims that his sisters have to squash each other's crinolines to get through their bedroom doors this summer, that they've had to give up lying on sofas after lunch because their skirts would be half-way up the walls.

His mind produces an image, from the sofa's foot, of Will's younger sister Louisa in this position."


Bodies of Light tells of the coming together and falling apart of a family of idealists in Victorian Manchester. Ally's father paints beautiful women while her evangelical mother visits the slums and campaigns against child prostitution, teaching Ally and sister May to live for others.

What do you think? Would you keep reading?


Every Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posts the opening paragraph (sometime two) of a book she decided to read based on the opening. Feel free to grab the banner and play along.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

More for the Bookshelf

The postman delivered twice....

Thornyhold by Mary Stewart I was lucky enough to win in a giveaway during Mary Stewart Week - thanks again, Anbolyn.
I own a Persephone! I never really thought I'd be able to say that but took advantage of the recent half price offer to add this to my bookshelf. I've read enough positive reviews to be sure I won't be disappointed and look forward to reading it next month with the Oldfashioned Girls Book Club.

From my second visit to the Book Fair on it's final day I did manage to find a few hidden gems ......

Danger Point by Patricia Wentworth
The Traveller Returns by Patricia Wentworth ( two more Miss Silver mysteries)
The Blue Flower by Penelope Fitzgerald
A Winter Book by Tove Jansson
The Innocent Moon by Henry Williamson
A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry

All I need now is a new bookcase !

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Ladies of Lyndon by Margaret Kennedy

"Lyndon, architectural and complacent, gleamed whitely amid the sombre green of ilex and cedar. Its classical facade stretched in ample wings to east and west. The grounds, originally laid out by the famous 'Capability Brown', and improved upon by successive generations of landscape gardeners, were admirably in keeping with the dwelling house they guarded."

Mrs Varden Cocks strongly believed that daughters must be married off young before they could form their own opinions and so after quenching a youthful romance with her cousin, Gerald, wastes no time in organising a suitable match for her daughter, Agatha.

At the tender age of eighteen Agatha finds herself the wife of Sir John Clewer and the new mistress of Lyndon.

The other ladies of Lyndon are John's stepmother Marian, the dowager Lady Clewer, and Lois,her daughter from her first marriage,  and John's half-sister, Cynthia, still in her early teens but already a mercenary little madam.

There are the men in their lives - cousin Gerald reawakening memories in Agatha and creating dissatisfaction in her marriage - Hubert, determined on marrying Lois - wealthy but vulgar profiteer Sir Thomas Bragge , Marian's cousin.

And then there is James, John's younger brother. James is an embarrassment to the family - considered to be mentally defective, a bit queer - if she had a choice one feels Marian would keep him locked in the attic. 
James is different - he scorns the life of leisure of the Edwardian privileged upper class. A talented artist he is determined to find satisfaction through his work and to marry as he will.

I would call The Ladies of Lyndon a domestic and social comedy. The plot is minimal and it's the interrelationships, the actions and dialogue between the characters that brings the pre and post-war eras to life. The tone was lighthearted enough to keep me from being emotionally involved with any one of them which is what I prefer right now.

I loved the humour which was consistent all the way through. Sometimes a phrase, a choice of word - a gentle humour with a slight edge at times but never bitter or biting like some other 1920's authors I've read. 

I loved it! I know it was Margaret Kennedy's first novel and she no doubt goes on to produce many that are considered better than this one but I haven't read them and so ave nothing to compare it with. I'm glad to have started at the beginning and look forward to reading more of her work. 
Thanks Jane! Always exciting to find a new author with a long list of titles waiting to be read.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

A Lady of Lyndon

" ...a portrait of the mother of John and James which hung over the fireplace. This picture had interested her. The sheen of the green velvet gown, cut in the aesthetic style of the 'eighties, toned well with the green Sevres..

..on the chimneypiece and was painted with unquestionable ability. The brooding peevishness of the face, however gave food for reflection. It was a discordant note in a complacent room, suggesting a hidden,bygone rebellion

Mrs Gordon Clewer, who had been chuckling to herself, now startled Agatha by observing: 'If John takes after his father he won't want it. My poor nephew couldn't do with it at all. That's why he wouldn't have it at Lyndon. It was a great deal too good. And that gown was symbolical of  so much in poor Mary that he couldn't abide. She got the greeny-yallery craze very badly and would go about looking like an invertebrate Burne-Jones. That's a little trying, you know, for a man who likes his wife to be well corseted.' "......p9 The ladies of Lyndon


Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Tuesday Intros: The Ladies of Lyndon

" In the first decades of the twentieth century, London contained quite a number of distinguished, grey-haired bachelors who owed their celibacy to Mrs Varden Cocks. In her youth she had refused offers of marriage from most of them and they found themselves unale to choose again when she tardily but finally dashed their several ambitions by selecting Varden. Indeed they almost gloried in their shackles, for this lady had reached, at forty-seven, the very zenith of her attractions. She was excessively handsome in the liberal style of the First Empire, and endowed with a wit in keeping with her appearance. She talked a great deal, in a rich, temperamental contralto, and had fine eyes which spoke for her in her rare silences. Her photographs were seldom successful since few of her friends were aquainted with her face in repose."


I fell in love with the humour in this opening paragraph which I read when I first bought the book and now I'm halfway through am happy to say it is living up to the promise of its opening.

What do you think? Would you keep reading?

Tuesday Intros is a meme hosted by Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea which bloggers can join in with by posting the first paragraph (or two) from a book of their choice. 

Friday, October 3, 2014

A Classic Haul from the Fair

My first visit to this week's Book Fair was a little disappointing. Usually I manage to find a few gems hidden among the mass of contemporary trade paperbacks but despite two circuits of the tables the best I could do was The Pop Larkin Chronicles by H.E.Bates. As well as the five Pop Larkin books it has 16 pages of colour photographs from the TV series The Darling Buds of May which will bring back lots of memories so I'm well pleased with that purchase. Next - the Classics table from which I wasn't expecting much.... 

.....but did find enough to fill a bag and I could go home happy. In a recent Tuesday Top Ten three posts in my reader praised the same book so I was delighted to spot that one and two more by the same author.

The Painted Veil by William Somerset Maugham
Of Human Bondage by W. Somerset Maugham
The Moon and Sixpence by W. Somerset Maugham

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

Vile Bodies by Evelyn Waugh
Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe
The Good Companions by J.B.Priestley
Sons and Lovers by D.H.Lawrence
Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
Voss by Patrick White

Depending on how the weekend goes I might go back for a second look on the off chance that there might be some worn but much wanted mid 20th century paperbacks that have found their way onto the tables. 

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Monthly Roundup - September 2014

September began in rather a confused way as I started and discarded book after book with nothing seeming to suit and not really knowing what I wanted.. Frustrating, but things improved as the month went on and I found myself , the chunkster queen, most satisfied with shorter novels, novellas, short stories and even some essays. I enjoyed both the events I took part in although I didn't read as much as I had hoped but that's usually what happens. So overall a good and varied reading month.

Books read in September = 14
Italics are from my bookshelf or on my Kindle.
* R.I.P.
* A Century of Books

The View From Castle Rock by Alice Munro 
Fathers and Sons by Ivan Turgenev most of it read in Aug and still needs the review finished)
Summer House With Swimming Pool by Herman Koch
Crazy Pavements by Beverley Nichols *
Wildfire at Midnight by Mary Stewart
The Turn of the Screw by Henry James 
The Secret House of Death by Ruth Rendell **
Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
Revenge by Yoko Ogawa *  (Diversiverse)
A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle *
The Evil Eye by Joyce Carol Oates *
The Map of Love by Ahdaf Soueif  * (Diversiverse)
Her by Harriet Lane *
The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters *

Fiction = 14
Non-Fiction = 0
Library Books = 8
E-books = 0
Off my Shelf - 6

Coming Up in October

Margaret Kennedy Reading Week - 6th -12th October is being hosted by Jane @ Fleur in her World. I'm looking forward to this event as Margaret Kennedy is an author I haven't read before.

Book Fair

Early in September I packed up two bags of books to donate towards this annual charity event and now waiting with great anticipation to fill the gaps. It begins on the 1st Oct and goes through to Sunday 5th so more than one visit I should think.

First books for October....

No Name by Wilkie Collins - 69/600p read and loving it.
The Secret Place by Tana French - picking this up from the library today.
The Ladies of Lyndon by Margaret Kennedy - will begin reading at the weekend.

Have a wonderful October!