I’ve been headfirst in several books these past few months (I do adore the monthly #theyearinbooks chat on Twitter for inspiration and shared recommendations of wondrous reads) and thought it would be polite of me to share a few of those that have captured my imagination.
The Angela Marchmont Mysteries by Clara Benson
I’m not a fan of present-day thrillers or murder mysteries. I like my mysteries set in a ‘Poirot’ era where the victim is found shot at the foot of a giant staircase in a mansion, with no blood or gore, wearing pearls. Think Gosford Park in hardback and you’re with me. There are nine books in this series, all set in the 1920s era and a sad truth that the author Clare Benson only wrote “as a hobby” and didn’t see any of her books published in her lifetime. I’ve read two so far and am really enjoying the light-hearted whodunit feeling as the mega-rich American Angela Marchmont finds herself caught in the midst of another murder in a highbrow family. Easy to read, inoffensive in their crime details and vividly appealing in my mind as I imagine the seduction of the costumes on the big screen.
Swallows & Amazons by Arthur Ransome
I thought I may have read this once as a nipper and methinks in fact it’s always been on my wishlist but forever bumped to the bottom of the pile for another tome. I caught wind (liking the pun?..) that it has been made into a film and I do like to get a read in before seeing any good literature brought to the cinema, so I thought it was about time to prioritise this one. I must admit it took a wee while to truly immerse myself, purely as there is so much sailing jargon that I began to hastily speedread over those pages to the point I could have skipped the majority of the first chapters. But it’s a quaint tale, very Enid Blyton in its innocence and adventure and it made me lust over the days when children could indeed spend days scavenging in forests and woodland making worlds of their own without the horrid reality of today’s scary world. It’s fairly hefty given that not a lot happens for the first half of the book but I imagine it’ll be magical with a lot of fancy film technology and one that daring would-be Pirates (of the Peter Pan ilk) should always have to hand.
Instructions for a Heatwave by Maggie O’Farrell
This was a #yearinbooks recommendation (thanks ladies and gents) and really addictive as a read. I declare, shamefully, this is my first Maggie O’Farrell, despite knowing of her for many a year. I found her writing very ‘Anne Tyler’ in style, which can only be a good thing in my world. Watching this disjointed family attempt to come together in the light of their father going AWOL was enticing, especially as their rivalries and personality clashes increased their crescendos. I enjoyed the truth in the fiction – there were characters that I’m sure all of us can find familiarity in and there’s a comfort in that. As ever with my penchant for fiction, I love a book where there is no crass melodrama, scariness or over-intelligent pretentious babble and this falls neatly within my usual lures.
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