I am on Day Twelve of a horrible cold and cough, and getting very fed up of not being able to breathe through my nose, and feeling like my head is full of cotton wool and my limbs are full of lead. So this might not be the most sparkling blogpost ever, but hey, it’s the first day of November, so it’s time to review my October books.
The Secrets of Wishtide by Kate Saunders
My mum saw this book reviewed and suggested I might like it too. She was right! This is, hopefully, the first of a new series of mysteries, featuring middle-aged Victorian widow Laetitia Rodd as the sleuth. Her brother is a famous barrister, and has taken to asking his Miss Marplesque sister to help him out with discreet enquiries in some of his cases. As she is living in genteel poverty, she is only too happy to oblige.
In this case, the discreet enquiries quickly lead to multiple murders. This novel was extremely well written, with more than a knowing nod to Dickens in both plot and style. Letty Rodd is an extremely engaging and pleasingly unlikely heroine, the plot was superbly constructed, and the atmosphere of Victorian upper middle-class life compellingly realistic. I’m looking forward to the next in the series being published!
What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty
Back at the beginning of October, I was chatting with one of my friends, and she mentioned how much she loved Liane Moriarty’s books. I was pretty sure I hadn’t read any, but the name rang a vague bell. After bit of rummaging on my bookshelves I remembered why – I had a Liane Moriarty novel which my sister-in-law passed on to me with a pile of other books she’d read with her book group, but which inexplicably I hadn’t got round to reading.
So I started straight away, and it was one of the most enjoyable books I’ve read all year. Alice suffers a head injury which is fairly minor, other than for the fact that it wipes out her memory of the last ten years. She comes round believing that she is 29, happily married and pregnant with her first baby, so it comes as a shock to realise that she is now a mother of three schoolchildren, separated from her husband and estranged from her beloved sister.
This book is about how the things which shape our lives often aren’t big decisions, they are just an accumulation of tiny little ones, all seemingly insignificant, but which when taken together can drive our lives way off course. Most of us won’t have a brain injury to force us to take stock, but it made me want to pause and think seriously about my life decisions, what I really want to be doing and what I get funnelled into accidentally or because I feel it is somehow expected.
My friend described Moriarty’s books as being the kind that leave you feeling bereft when they end because you don’t want to leave the characters you’ve got to know. I found exactly the same, it was a book I didn’t want to end but equally couldn’t read fast enough.
Afternoon Tea in the Sunflower Cafe by Milly Johnson
A Spring Affair and The Yorkshire Pudding Club by Milly Johnson are two of my all time favourite comfort reads. I have enjoyed all her books, but they are the ones I have read again and again. Afternoon Tea in the Sunflower Cafe was a fun, light read, but I don’t think it will go down as an all time favourite.
The Year of Taking Chances and The Secrets of Happiness by Lucy Diamond
Two absolutely cracking ‘chick lit for grown ups’ books. They’re not perhaps books to make you think particularly deeply, but they are well-written, uplifting and all round feel-good reads.
The Cheltenham Square Murder by John Bude
Another in the brilliant crime classics series being re-published by the British Library. This is definitely a murder mystery in its pure puzzle form. I didn’t enjoy it as much as some, including some by John Bude, as I felt the characters were somewhat superficial, and there to make the plot work, rather than the characters leading the plot. Having said that, it had interesting and original twist, was very cleverly and tightly plotted, and I managed to guess whodunnit, which is always satisfying!