Book reviews – “The Last Kings of Sark” and “Wartime Women”

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Sept TBRI’ve got a bit behind with the book reviews, which is probably down to needing to spend time preparing for and attending the Iris Murdoch Society conference (a report on that will come later) and then reading quite a lot while travelling to and from the conference. Today we have the last of my All Virago / All August reads, and a book that I started reading last month then realised it wasn’t actually a Virago at all. I also report on some more acquisitions – I knew that low TBR total wouldn’t last for long …

Rosa Rankin-Gee – “The Last Kings of Sark” (Virago)

(28 June 2014 – via BookCrossing)

This was an Advanced Review Copy that Ali had been sent (see her review here) and brought to a BookCrossing meetup. I read it as my last read in All Virago / All August. 21-year-old Jude lands on the Channel Island of Sark to be tutor to posh boy, Pip. In the strange household, her ally is Sofi, the cook, with whom she shares a room in a scruffy guesthouse, too, the two women’s ways of operating clashing with each other quite remarkably. As the summer passes and Jude learns about the island and its people (in the most successful part of the book, as it turns out) events, while seemingly random, add up to one “moment that changed everything”, as the book blurb has it.

Once this has happened, the book splinters into a collection of vignettes of the characters’ subsequent lives in France, which I’m not sure works, as I don’t think we’ve engaged with them enough to or care enough about them. Why would one youthful adventure be enough to hold them together, and is this plausible? I’m not sure. It feels like a bit of a writing exercise rather than a book written for the sake of the writing of it and the story, which is something I’m not particularly keen on. The point seems to get a bit lost and with a narrative voice that’s stretched to describe the three lives without much differentiation, this reader was left unsatisfied.

Dorothy Sheridan (ed.) “Wartime Women”

(25 January 2014 from Luci)

I acquired this from the lovely LibraryThing Virago Group member, Luci, at our meetup and charityshopathon in Stratford. She always brings a big bag of enticing books with her. Of course, I then assumed it was a Virago and started it in August, but set it aside and finished it this month.

It’s a collection of Mass Observation reports, diary entries and responses to MO directives (sets of questions issued to MO members) covering the progress of the Second World War, from a variety of women and covering those left out, e.g. the working classes, in the comprehensive reports by full-time MO workers. A huge amount of information treating a huge range of reactions and opinions, some of them familiar if you’ve read a lot about the Home Front and the social history of the time, but still fresh and interesting, and including our old friend, Nella Last. But it’s not only her – women young and old have their say.

The introductory notes and chronological themes make it easy to navigate and a real flavour of women’s voices is allowed to come through. It’s amusing to read of their excitement when they heard the founders of MO on the radio and commented on their accents. A very worthwhile volume that is interesting to the general reader and not worthy or dull.

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Sept 2014 9You know how I said I was addressing the issue of that low TBR mountain? Well, the other week I popped along to a Meet the Author event in the city centre (in the Hotel La Tour on Moor Street, which has a very nice bar area which I may well revisit) where Helen Cross was speaking. I have met Helen a few times before and very much enjoyed her novel, “Spilt Milk, Black Coffee” which I read a few years ago, and although I was a bit late to the session (luckily being able to give the true reason that I’d been volunteering and got delayed) it was most enjoyable, with Helen sharing stories about the film being made of “My Summer of Love” and the upcoming dramatisation of “Spilt Milk”.

Sept 2014 8We had a good discussion about writing and publishing, with me being ‘outed’ as a non-fiction writer in the process but other people chiming in too, and how could I resist when she mentioned that she had books for sale? I picked up these two – “My Summer of Love” is the copy she’s been reading from at events, and is therefore in a ‘gently used’ state, which is a lovely thing to have, I personally think! The picture to the left is Helen posing with her books, and to the right we have a close-up of the books themselves.

Have you read any of Helen’s books? What are you reading as we sail through September? I’ve had a  bit of an e-book fest; more of that later, and I must check if any of them come into Reading a Century of Books, as “Wartime Women” did …

Book confessions … and launches!

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I had a rare little bit of time off yesterday (6 September) as I’d decided to do a book launch extravaganza. Well, two book launches in one day. Two of my favourite contestants from The Great British Sewing Bee, Lauren Guthrie and Stuart Hillard, were having launch events for their new books on the SAME DAY, both in Birmingham. I couldn’t resist that, could I?

I started off at Guthrie and Ghani, Lauren’s lovely haberdashery and sewing supplies shop (with a lovely training room upstairs) in Moseley. It’s not far from where I live, so I popped up on the bus, met up with my friend Jen, and checked out the shop downstairs (of course) before popping upstairs to see Lauren and have her sign her book, “Learn to Sew with Lauren”.

Lauren Guthrie with her new book, "Learn to Sew with Lauren"

Lauren Guthrie with her new book, “Learn to Sew with Lauren”

Lauren kindly signed my copy, after we’d browsed through a rail of makes from the book (some lovely bags, pyjama trousers with contrast pockets and a skirt I will customise to be slightly longer for the more mature lady) and oohed and aahed over some new technology to make constructing folding blinds easier – I am SO going on her course on that. Downstairs were some lovely sewing starter kits, too.

Lauren signing her book

Lauren signing her book for me

See how lovely and light the workroom is! There was tea available, and snacks, and it was lovely to see people enjoying their visit and making some attractive items while they were there. I had a photo with Lauren, too …

Liz Dexter and Lauren Guthrie

Liz Dexter and Lauren Guthrie

The lovely workshops were going on all day – a friend of mine made a lovely bow hair slide – and what a good idea for a launch day! You can find the full list of the upcoming workshops here.

Stuart Hillard ready to sign his book "Sew Fabulous"

Stuart Hillard ready to sign his book “Sew Fabulous”

Then it was time for Launch Number Two! I said goodbye to Jen, and hopped on the bus into town, nipping up to House of Fraser in the city centre to see how Stuart was getting on. I missed the giant poster of him which was displayed somewhere around the building, but zipped (ha) on up to Haberdashery, and found a lovely table of shiny books. And there was Stuart, bounding over, not showing any signs of exhaustion from being in the middle of a fairly comprehensive tour of John Lewises, House of Frasers, independent bookshops and independent sewing shops. The department had laid on drinks and nibbles, and of course there were plenty of enticing items around on sale, too.

Stuart signs my book

Stuart signs my book

I didn’t get a pic of me with Stuart, as he was esconced behind his desk, signing away, but here’s the one I got last year at the Guthrie and Ghani shop launch as an added bonus (if you call seeing two pics of me on one blog post a bonus …):

Liz Dexter and Stuart Hillard 2013

Liz Dexter and Stuart Hillard 2013

I had to rush back home to put my headphones back on and start transcribing, but what a lovely little trip and two luscious books, both very different with different kinds of project (Stuart’s is all home and garden furnishings and decorations, Lauren’s clothes and accessories, and yes, I perceived NO rivalry between them about their books). Both books seem to have good production values and have been edited well, at first glance, with both Lauren and Stuart confirming they had full control and input all the way through the process. I will be reviewing them soon and will link to the reviews here when I’ve done them.

You can buy Lauren’s book “Learn to Sew with Lauren” from Amazon and from her own online shop. You can buy Stuart’s book from Amazon and his publisher’s website, which also has details of the rest of his tour.

Sew Fabulous and Learn to Sew With Lauren

Sew Fabulous and Learn to Sew With Lauren

Note: I bought these books at full price and I’ve written this blog post off my own bat because I like these people and want to support their hard work.

I may have bought other books recently, too – these two jumped into my hands in Poundland and The Works on an innocent trip to the cafe with my husband on Friday …

How's Your Dad and Vikings

How’s Your Dad and Vikings

Any confessions from my readers? Did you go to either of these launches? Have you read any of these books?

State of the TBR – September 2014

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Sept full TBROK, so here is the full TBR as of 1 September 2014. Please note that there are no books in front, that’s just one shelf from left to … well, towards the right. And a pile of books which don’t quite fit in the “read them in order of acquisition” thing that I do, because I’m supposed to be picking over the sagas and war poems this year, I have a large borrowed book I’d like to read by the end of the month (so I can return it) and I have those language books that I want to get read … but you know what? I think I will read some of those this month, and maybe something off my Kindle, too … because … this:

Sept TBRYup. I have a Gap. I just looked back, thinking maybe it was a time-of-year type thing, but no, September 2013 was truly terrifying. I do know that I really haven’t acquired many books recently. I don’t know why: I certainly haven’t lost my reading mojo, with 10 books completed last month, but all that seems to have come in in September is that Nick Hornby on the end. Wow.

Sept currentI do get a bit panicky at this stage, with thoughts of “What if I run out of books?” although with over 2,000 in the house and 10 charity shops on the high street, plus the 50-odd on my Kindle, I’m doing OK, and shouldn’t really run out. This is what I’m reading at the moment – I might well take the Sartre book to the Iris Murdoch conference to see if the atmosphere will help me get through it. “The Last King of Sark” is a quick coming-of-age read that I’ve nearly finished already, and “Wartime Women”, the book that I thought was a Virago but turned out not to be, is a bit more substantial, but enjoyable.

Sept coming upOnce these are done, I have these lovelies coming up – one Christmas one, one birthday one and then various charity shop acquisitions, which all look fun. I’ve got no more challenges until a Month of Re-Reading in January, although there’s talk of a book group starting in my Project 365 photo-a-day group on Facebook …

I’m also getting on well with Reading a Century of Books, with 29 read and 2 on the go, plus a couple of the upcoming batch fit into it. It’s nice doing that without a time limit, although I will have to start actively looking for some soon, I think, to fill in those weird gaps.

What are you planning to read for September? Has your TBR got smaller, too?

Book reviews – Pomfret Towers and The House in Dormer Forest (Virago)

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Aug 2014 AVAAI think this will be the last of my All Virago / All August reviews, because although I’m planning to start “The Last Kings of Sark” today, I don’t think I’ll get it finished. I’ve done pretty well, though. Well – I did make A MISTAKE with one … I picked “Wartime Women” ooff the TBR to add to the AV/AA one, and you can see why in the middle of this picture – it’s GREEN, Virago Green, and it’s about women … and it came from a friend from the LibraryThing Virago Group, too (although the mistake is not her fault in the slightest, as she also had lots of other non-Viragoes – it was my assumption alone!). Anyway, I’ve put that one aside to finish next month. I did start “She Knew She Was Right” but I didn’t take to it for some reason. So apart from those, I’ve now read or started everything in the AV/AA pile! Not bad going!

Angela Thirkell – “Pomfret Towers” (Virago)

(21 January 2014 – from Ali)

Yet more Thirkell, and this one links charmingly to the first two, since we’re at the residence of the brother of Lady Emily from “Wild Strawberries” and Mrs Morland from “High Rising” and her publisher, Adrian Coates, are also mentioned. Even without this, it’s altogether an exquisitely charming book, with a gauche and painfully shy heroine who you can’t help adoring, who has to suffer the agonies of a local house party (local, but with no chance of escape) at the home of the irascible and crusty Lord Pomfret, alongside his diffident and equally shy heir, who we all come to love, too, and various difficult and disruptive relatives and locals, as well as the odd shrieking girl and red-faced man. Luckily, some friends and allies are there, too, and there are enough lovely characters to make a good balance with the horrendous ones, and a lot of good-hearted generousness on the part of both author and characters.

All is beautifully drawn, and the contrast between two lady authors is beautifully and highly amusingly done. I really didn’t want this to end, while desperate to know who was going to end up with whom. A lovely read. Here’s Ali’s own review of the book, by the way!

Mary Webb, “The House in Dormer Forest” (Virago)

(25 January 2014 – Shakespeare Hospice Bookshop, Stratford)

I do love Mary Webb with her rural settings like those of Hardy and Brett Young (with the landscape playing an active role in the atmosphere and events of the story) and an intriguing mysticism and insight into the interior and exterior of family and community relationships.

In this dense novel, the house in which the Darke family exist (ingrained in age-old patterns and acting as a unit rather as individuals, they can’t really be said to be living) seems to exert its own impassive yet claustrophobic influence over the family, which in turn has bound itself too fast in its own web of special conventions and ties of (mostly) hatred. Jasper fights against his religion, Ruby is trapped between her need for convention and her own desires, and Peter is forced to rebel, while quiet Amber truly communes with nature and thus surely deserves a better fate than being the unattractive odd one out, regarded with disdain by her manipulative cousin, Catherine (her of the “long eyes”).

Although there’s a brooding matriarch given to shouting out Biblical phrases and a scary family retainer, Enoch, Mary Webb does not deserve her reputation of being melodramatic and humourless, unfortunately brought up by her association with Stella Gibbons’ “Cold Comfort Farm” (which Gibbons herself claimed was based on an amalgam of ‘countryside misery’ novels, including Hardy and others as well as Webb). The descriptions of nature are truly beautiful, and this is a very human, understanding and sometimes funny book. Webb certainly doesn’t take herself or her characters too seriously, undermining them with touches of playful or vicious satire. A better read than people would think: luckily, I already knew I was going to enjoy it.

I’ve managed to acquire only one new book, Nick Hornby’s “Polysyllabic Spree”, from the BookCrossing meetup, so my TBR is looking amazing, as you will see tomorrow …

Book review – The Persephone Book of Short Stories, and some shuffling around

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Aug 2014 AVAAFirst things, first, I’m doing *beautifully* with my AV/AA challenge, with my last Persephone book picked off from my TBR and devoured gleefully. It’s been lovely wallowing in all of these very different books – I’m glad that I have had a real range to get my teeth into. After the review, look for some pics from my latest book shuffling exercise. I’d started this a while ago, and got about half way (i.e. there were piles of books all over the back coffee table), but earmarked some time yesterday, on Bank Holiday Monday, to finish the shuffling. I fear I may be giving a few of you other bibliophiles an Idea or two, though.

“The Persephone Book of Short Stories”

(14 March 2014 – from Verity)

This was part of a Not So Secret Santa parcel which delivered its goodies throughout the first part of the year as well as on Christmas Day – what a lovely treat! This is an excellent collection of short stories which was published to mark Persephone Book No. 10o – an excellent idea. I’m not the biggest fan of the short story, as regular readers of this blog will know (or will have guessed, given the dearth of such things in the reviews). However, I do like a good classic one (think Hardy …) and that’s what we have here, in the main, with Whipple and Wharton providing familiar enjoyment, and a new favourite found in Mollie Panter-Downes, who is the only author to appear in this volume twice (but we forgive her, and I will be adding her volumes of stories to my Persephone wishlist!).

The last story, by Georgina Hammick, is quite a graphic description of a visit to what we will euphemistically call a women’s hospital, and the procedures undergone therein, however, its portrayal of its subject-matter shows on the one hand how far we’ve come since the more (literally) buttoned-up days of the Edwardian story that starts the volume, in terms of the overt detail discussed, but also highlighting that almost a century on, the female experience is still found to be shocking, especially when the female in question is reclaiming her own experience.

So, an intelligent and deeply enjoyable collection with, of course, good biographical notes to accompany it (but no introduction, which is a shame). Highly recommended, even (especially?) if you don’t think you care for short stories. Oh, and it’s the final book (chronologically) in Reading a Century of Books, too!

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Books by the bathroom doorA while back, I admitted in a guest post I did for someone’s blog that I had a Pile of books on the landing. OK, the two short walls either side of the bathroom door are ideally placed and sized for my small bookcases which hold my “nice-looking books” on one side and (held) language, literature, books about reading and books about books on the other. You can’t see the other side in this “before” pic, but it was a bit piled up, too, and because our floorboards are quite … springy … there were occasions when the books on that side leapt down the stairs, while the pile shown here was always apt to catch the hoover as it was lifted from the cupboard on the right (don’t ask about the reason for the curtain – we had to hack that door down, honest: there was nothing else for it).

They've gone underA little while ago, while pondering the state of the downstairs shelves (hardbacks / non-fiction), I came to the conclusion that I had Too Many Encyclopedias. Yes, that is A Thing. I have some nice ones I’ve inherited, and I went through a phase a (good) few years ago of collecting nice-looking ones that were used to help display bookshelves in charity shops – Arthur Mee’s “Children’s Encyclopaedia” and the like. Now, encyclopaedias are lovely, but they are bulky. However, if I was to give them to a charity shop, I don’t know that anyone else would take them. So, I hit upon this plan – put them UNDER the bookcases. Can you see? Under! Stroke of genius.

No pile by the bathroomThey’re perfectly safe there, no damp or anything (I’ll move them when we mop the floor). You can still see them and get to them, but with those and some more over to the side, there is SO MUCH SPACE. Erm, there was so much space. The bathroom pile is gone. Don’t worry – “Howard’s End is on the Landing” is still on the landing, but this is now Language and Books About Reading. And no pile! The pile has been redistributed around the spaces downstairs (and on Biography and Memoir and Travel, not pictured, where some of them may still be horizontal in front of the other books). No books to catch the unwary hooverer. No books lost at the bottom of the pile. It’s amazing!

Books on BirminghamMost excitingly, where a row of uniform volumes once sat (top left in the picture of the three bookcases above), with various papers and things roosting on top of them, I now have space for a Birmingham bookshelf – these were previously languishing on a low shelf and double-stacked. There’s room for the ones our friend Bridget kindly passed to us, and there’s room for a few more, as indeed there’s bagginess in the whole set of three bookcases (although not on the top, as the cat does like to wander around up there, so they need to be reasonably firm.

Fun, eh. Have you ever Gone Under with your shelving (as opposed to Gone Under, submerged in a wave of books?)

Book reviews – Wild Strawberries and Bedsit Disco Queen (Virago)

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Aug 2014 AVAAI read these two on our nifty trip to Dorset to visit relatives earlier in the week. Hooray for long train journeys – I read the whole of the first one on the way down, and finished off the second on the way back up! I’m still marching on with All Virago / All August, and these two are both actually Viragoes, the Thirkell one of the new Modern Classics volumes with a lovely new cover, and the Tracey Thorn a standard biography Virago. Happy days! (It was a good trip, too, with plenty of sunshine and paddling on the beach, as well as visiting old haunts. What I didn’t do – amazingly – was visit any second-hand bookshops or charity shops, so the bookshops of Poole and Bournemouth might still be full of Viragoes and Persephones for all I know. Luckily, we will be returning!)

Angela Thirkell – “Wild Strawberries”

(21 January 2014, from Ali)

The second in the Barchester books by Thirkell; I was given the first three by my friend Ali for my birthday, and I can’t wait to get the next ones in the series.

This was an absolutely charming read. Mary comes to stay for a summer with the Leslie family, relations by marriage, and takes part in family and village life. We have the classic members of a gently satirised gentry family / household: the autocratic matriarch, quiet patriarch, playboy son, grandson set to inherit the estate, and argumentative family retainers, however, they’re all subtly made more interesting, and of course, more funny, by Thirkell’s keen eye and acerbic pen. For example, Lady Emily is brilliantly drawn in all her vague dictatorship and ownership of the family, yet touches of third party sympathy and explanation make it clear that she’s  not a two-dimensional character.

We have a love story, and we do root for our heroine, who is only too human and conscious of her mistakes and of embarrassing herself. It is sparkling, as the back cover has it, but it does have more depth and lasting value than that description implies.

Tracey Thorn – “Bedsit Disco Queen”

(16 April 2014 – The Works in Kendal)

I bought this on our lovely minimoon in the Lake District back in the spring. And yes, it’s that Tracey Thorn, of the band Everything But the Girl. This is her (mainly musical) autobiography, and a fabulous read, just as amusing, honest, self-deprecating and insightful as you would hope it would be.

Growing up in a post-punk world where music suddenly became an obsession, she goes to great pains to describe her influences and the development of her musical interests and talent, as well as what it felt like to be in a band as the only female, in a band full of women, and as a member of a band made up solely of a couple.

Thorn is obviously reticent about adding in a lot of emotional stuff, relying on regaling us with tales from her teenage diaries in order to keep our eye off any inner turmoil she might be experiencing, but she does open up, wisely, appropriately, charmingly and with the right amount of detail about her relationships with her husband, Ben Watt, and their children.

It ends in 2007, which is  a pity; on the plus side, there are lots of great illustrations of tickets and other ephemera as well as band pictures. It’s an engaging and fascinating read, and will make me go back to her music, too.

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A good Virago session! I’ve now finished “The Persephone Book of Short Stories”, which I will be reviewing next, and I’m onto “A Passionate Sisterhood”, which is an interesting read about the women who were involved with the Lake Poets. But I have a bus journey tomorrow, and it’s going to be Thirkell time again!

Are you doing All Virago / All August? How are you getting on? Will this make me feel like having a month reading books only written by men in September? (It hasn’t yet!)

Book reviews – A Woman’s Place 1910-1975 and The Two Mrs Abbotts (Persephone Books)

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Virago and Persephone books to readWhat a treat – my All Virago/All August reading is coming along beautifully: we’re allowed to include Persephones as another strong and marvellous women-centric reprints publisher, and I’ve been wallowing in the Persephones that I’ve been stacking up since Christmas. For those who don’t know them, Persephone Books republish books by mid-20th century women (in the main) writers who have gone out of print and been otherwise neglected. I collect, read and review them, although not to the extent that some others do – and you can find all of my Persephone reviews if you do a little search. Oh, yes, there’s a gorgeous shop in Lambs Conduit Street in London, which you really ought to visit if you’re around that way (OK, in London. OK, in the UK). And the books themselves are lovely – good, solid, well-produced paperbacks in grey dustjackets with glorious endpapers and bookmarks featuring a fabric pattern contemporary to the book.

Enough going on – here’s what I thought of my latest two Persephone reads, and you can read about my two latest acquisitions below, too (one a Virago!)

Ruth Adam – “A Women’s Place 1910-1975″ (Persephone)

(25 December 2013, from Bridget)

An excellent work which looks at women’s conditions and experience in terms of family, relationships, politics, sex and work through much of the 20th century. A thorough and analytical viewpoint meant that I learnt a lot about the suffragettes, the struggle for equal pay in various professions, and women’s entry into those professions, and linkages between various subjects that make logical sense when you consider them, which I hadn’t actually known about or considered before. I do count myself fairly knowledgeable about this period and subject, so that was a nice surprise alongside the recognition of various figures and campaigns that I found throughout the read.

The book is full of meticulously researched detail and quotations from contemporary sources. It was very interesting to read the author’s take on contemporary (early 1970s) reactions to the wave of feminism which was hitting the UK at that time, especially the point about how UK feminism different from its US counterpart with its civil rights affiliation and techniques of consciousness raising, etc.

It’s extremely good on the way that society in general (i.e. The Establishment) has sought to compel women to, variously, go out to work, stay at home, be more masculine, be more feminine, have more or fewer children, in order to suit its own economic and political ends. Related to this are reminders of how much women’s lives changed during this period, so that women in corsets who were expected to keep their children to a strict routine saw their daughters showing their knees and their grand-daughters fixated on spending every moment with their babies so as to avoid psychologically damaging them.

A good afterword written in 2000 make Persephone Book No. 20 an excellent all-round read – very thought-provoking but also written in an accessible, clear style with its learning worn lightly, but underpinning the whole.

D. E. Stevenson – “The Two Mrs Abbotts” (Persephone)

(25 December 2013, from Matthew)

A charming book and a joy to read, gulped down in a couple of days with the delicious prospect hovering of re-reading the whole lot in one go at some point, as this is the second sequel to the marvellous “Miss Buncle’s Book”.

We’re firmly established in village life here, with Barbara and Jerry Abbott and their friends and neighbours enduring the Second World War however they can, with soldiers all over the place, evacuees taking or not taking to country life, and standards of housekeeping being strictly upheld by most, even when it is tricky to get macaroni ready-made or bake a decent cake.

Various romantic threads are woven together successfully and sweetly, but it does not overdo the saccharine, having some tart observations to make about people’s attitudes to one another, the effects of upbringing being explored (prodigy Lancreste becomes a bore, while a wild evacuee might be trainable to overcome her bad start in life) and an excellent new writer character struggling with the processes of creativity and saleability.

Being written in 1943 gives this book a poignancy I have found in other mid-war books; we cannot help but remember that the author did not know what the outcome or progress of the war would be as she was writing. This does give the book a fresh and contemporary feel, as it’s fairly obviously written from some amount of direct experience. Although the war tends not to directly affect the central characters, there is a brave and experimental passage set in North Africa, and some exploration of how to lead men and the nature of officers and men.

A lovely warm bath of a book for all this exploration and interest. There is no afterword, but the reader is directed in a publisher’s note to the afterwords in “Miss Buncle’s Book” and “Miss Buncle Married“, and surely no one who is reading this volume can fail to have read the other two first!

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Two lovely Persephones, and two more for the Century of Books, too!

Karen Armstrong and Vita Sackville-WestTwo acquisitions to report – the Karen Armstrong was picked up from a pile of books my friend Linda passed to me that were registered on BookCrossing. I’ve had a vague yearning to read this for ages, but never expressed this, so it was interesting that it just came to me in this manner! And Vita Sackville-West’s “The Edwardians” was sent to me by the lovely Kaggsy, who’s been doing a weeding exercise and discovered she had a duplicate. That one’s a Virago, so I’ll try to slot it in this month! Thanks, both!

Currently reading – “The Persephone Book of Short Stories”, and I can’t resist another Angela Thirkell for very much longer …

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