Book review – Balli Kaur Jaswal – “Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows” #netgalley #amreading


erotic stories for punjabi widowsThank you to the publisher HarperCollins UK for making this book available via NetGalley and choosing me as one of its reviewers. Isn’t that a charming cover, by the way, guaranteed to draw the reader in.

An East-West culture clash novel where the West is represented by Nikki, law school dropout and smoker, who lives alone and works in a pub, having escaped from her traditional mum and her sister who’s now claiming she wants an arranged marriage. I love how Nikki is shown speaking to other Punjabi people in broken English reflecting her lack of skills in what other people consider should be her native language – just one of the funny but also perceptive details in the novel.

Nikki goes on a trip to Southall to post her sister’s details on a marriage board in the Gurdwara. While she’s there, she notices an advert for someone to teach a writing class for Punjabi widows. Soon she’s taken on by the rather formidable Kulwinder, who is responsible for women’s issues at the temple. Southall is a part of London I’ve never been to and I loved the details seen from a slight distance, as Nikki revisits places they used to go a lot in the past (the author is based in Singapore and I think this slight distance helps to round out the characters and places in the book, as she’s obviously used a lot of observation rather than tired stereotypes). She soon discovers the women – most of whom want to get into telling their stories – giggling in corners and sharing a wealth of erotic stories, either remembering the lives they had with their husbands – or whomever – or indulging in wish-fulfilling fantasies if their husbands weren’t up to scratch.

Soon, the stories start spreading, first photocopied, then emailed, just as stories are, and half the Punjabi population of not just London are reading them – and having their lives and marriages influenced by them. This must be kept from Kulwinder, though, who has her won mysterious grief and fears, and certainly isn’t keen on people like Nikki: “British-born Indian girls who hollered publicly about women’s rights were such a self-indulgent lot” and are asking for trouble.

And trouble does indeed come, in the form of a battle with Kulwinder, a search for a new location for the class, and the self-proclaimed defenders of morals in the community, a group of young men who have taken to threatening schoolgirls and the widows. The mystery deepens as the women grow to trust Nikki and talk to this outsider a bit more about the issues they face in the community.

There are multiple layers and it’s not a book with simple answers or relationships. I love how the women find empowerment in roundabout ways and pull together when they need to: it’s very clear that they are all different, with different experiences of life and marriage. I loved the descriptions of Southall, where you don’t even need to learn English to get by, or even learn to read, if you keep the oral tradition of storytelling going.

The stories written by the women (or told by them) scattered through the text are extremely graphic and explicit. They are tied into the stories of the women’s lives, but some people might find them a bit much (some of them made me blush). But they’re earthy and not exactly gratuitous – we all know how groups of people who look like nice quiet older ladies from the outside could make a sailor blush (let alone me) and it’s fair enough, although it might put some people off.

A charming read and I would read other books by this author.

Book review – Alexei Sayle – “Thatcher Stole my Trousers” #amreading #books


I picked the second volume of Sayle’s memoirs from my shelf to read out of order (gasp), my reasoning being that it was best to read the two volumes together, without clouding the mind with, for example, Oliver Sacks’ memoir, which was really up next. Or maybe I was just avoiding picking up the Oliver Sacks (more on that below). I could also say that I was being terribly noble, because I’ve offered to pass them both on to a friend …

Alexei Sayle – “Thatcher Stole my Trousers”

(21 January 2017 – from Sian)

The second volume, following directly on from “Stalin Ate my Homework” and covering his years at art college then teaching, being the first MC at the Comedy Store, inventing alternative comedy almost single-handedly (although he is generous about most of his fellow, more modern, comedians), helping found the Comic Strip and being a part of the Young Ones. He also maintains his left-wing politics, ending up taking part in innumerable benefit gigs and being very funny about them. He also commits the rebellious act of getting married, and is very lovely about his rather long-suffering wife, Linda. He visits the Film Makers Co-Op to watch awful films (this was exciting to me as I’ve just been finding out all about a related group) and also sees a lot of unfunny political agit-prop plays, and he takes part in some TV shows, one of which, OTT, was made in Central Television Studios in Birmingham, about which city he has this to say:

If Manchester seemed like a cosmopolitan European city, Birmingham felt like a town that nobody visited and nobody left, as if the population stayed exactly the same from one day to the next, which was probably why everybody was so ridiculously nice and friendly.

All of this time, he’s developing his own stand-up persona, including his tight suits and shaved head look. There’s not so much about his mum and dad here, of course, although his mum does pop up now and then, banging on inappropriate people’s doors as ever, and the book starts with their family credo:

There weren’t many problems we thought couldn’t be solved either by the violent overthrow of capitalism or by getting on a train.

and this does set the tone for the whole book, which stays funny and engaging, with him carefully explaining when he’s been an idiot and how he could have been more humble and grateful for awards, etc. There are anecdotes about both other comedians and revolutionary leaders, and it’s another really good read.

I am currently reading Oliver Sacks’ autobiography, “On the Move”. Being the paperback, it’s  haunted by his death soon after publishing it, and I’ve had a fairly difficult time with the sex-and-motorbikes bit, although we’re into the bits where he lives at hospitals and studies and helps people, which is more familiar. I don’t much like reading grotty details about any of my heroes (or anyone, for that matter), but at least he’s writing it himself, not being exposed by a prurient biographer, and the details of underground gay life and weightlifting do have an interest. I’m also reading Paul Flynn’s “Good as You”, another NetGalley read like my next review, which is about gay British history and culture in the later part of the 2oth century onwards, told by an author exactly my own age, although a gay man, so very interesting and evocative so far.

And … I’ve caught up with my own blog reading! Phew! So, sorry for the slew of comments, and if I’ve ignored your older posts, I had to draw a line somewhere. Hope to get the dialogue going properly again now!

Book review – Christine Pullein-Thompson – “Adventure Stories from Black Pony Inn” #amreading #books


First of all, an apology for my regular book-blogger readers. I have Fallen Behind with my blog reading and I haven’t been reading and commenting on your blog posts, and I’m very sorry. I have instigated a new early-to-bed programme, with no working after tea, because I’m in the end game of marathon training when the sleeping is just as important as the running. Combined with quite a heavy workload, this has meant simply no time for blog-reading if I want to have any time with my husband and my own reading. I really do hope to get some posts read soon, and sorry for abandoning you!

Christine Pullein-Thompson – “Adventure Stories from Black Pony Inn”

(22 August 2017)

The good-memoried among you will recall me buying this first volume to encourage myself to read the second volume which I’ve had sitting around on the TBR forever (for so long, it’s in a Separate Pile and not even in my official TBR photo!). I decided to pick it up after a run of books I really had to concentrate hard on and review very nicely, but then I found I couldn’t put each individual book in the omnibus down!

We’re right into the action in “Strange Riders at Black Pony Inn”, with the Pemberton family, in penury as all pony book families are, deciding to turn their house into a guest house and immediately taking in an old lady, a spoilt girl and an American boy who adores his pretty, if slightly dozy, pony. But disaster strikes, as rather heavy handedly predicted, when all the ponies go missing.

In “Mystery at Black Pony Inn”, everyone’s fooled by a fancy Commander who turns out, of course, to be not what he seemed, nd everyone ends up in danger, with guns being waved around and everything.

“Secrets of Black Pony Inn” features a family of very quiet children who are literally dumped on the Pembertons – who are their parents, what happened to Mum, and will they be there forever? This one has the classic gymkhana, though the centre of the action is very much the family home.

They’re eventful books, with kidnappings, the odd pony death and lots of peril, as well as he usual hacking and gymkhanas. There’s some rather odd updating for the omnibus, published in the 90s, so with mobile phones and GCSEs, but a Colonel with memories of India. It’s nicely illustrated by Glenn Steward and I finally know where I got my tendency for catastrophising from: having read a lot of these books in my childhood, I noticed the characters are always predicting terrible doom and gloom – if a pony goes missing for a moment, it’s all about how his poor hooves will be melted down etc! But really good reads and I am trying to restrain myself from reading the next omnibus immediately!

I’m also reading the second volume of Alexei Sayle’s autobiography, as that seemed sensible rather than starting Oliver Sachs’ then going back to Alexei. Of course, I could be avoiding OS because it’s going to make me sad. Who knows! Only the one book on the go at the moment, which is a bit odd. What are you reading? What childhood books gave you principles or opinions you still hold today?

Book review – Gladys Huntingdon – “Madame Solario” @PersephoneBooks #20BooksOfSummer #PersephoneBooks #amreading


At last, the final book of my #20BooksOfSummer challenge, and also the last book in All Virago (and Persephone) all August, and yes, I do know it’s after the end of 20Books and after the end of August, but as I explained last time, it couldn’t come to the Iris Murdoch conference with me in the end so had to be finished when I got back. A really good read, though, and it’s always lovely to read a book set somewhere you know, in this case the town of Cadenabbia on Lake Como in Northern Italy – we had a holiday there in 2009 and I include some photos to illustrate the review.

Gladys Huntingdon – “Madame Solario”

(21 January 2017 – birthday present from Ali)

A pretty long book, set mostly in Cadenabbia and the associated small towns and villas dotted around Lake Como. Like a two-week holiday, we get sucked into the loves and lives of the exclusive set at the hotel, noticing who is after whom, who arrives on the boat and who leaves. Cadenabbia is a small community of hotels and you can see who’s coming from a mile off, but you can also walk up into the forests above the hotels and get some peace and quiet.

cadenabbia madame solario

We see everything first through young Englishman Bernard Middleton’s eyes – he becomes popular with the young set but is seen as, variously, someone who needs to be looked after and a mere child by some of the older men who have been through war, etc. The middle section of the book, which does go quite slowly, is from the viewpoint of the mysterious, beautiful Madame Solario and her brother, returned suddenly from exile after a family scandal, although it’s noteworthy that we never enter into the interior life of Natalia, viewing her always from the outside as a sort of screen onto which others’ desires are projected. Then the rather languorous action suddenly springs into life again with the third section, again with Bernard.

There’s acute social observation in this book, published anonymously post-World War Two but set in 1906, and also “acute observation” of the guests, by the guests – really, nothing gets past anyone and gossip spreads like wildfire among the multiple social groupings and nationalities:

In that forcing-house for situations everything was noticed, and conjecture was lush.

Of course, this might just save someone’s bacon in the end; you never know.

The narrative is punctuated by picnics, some in the Villa Carlotta’s beautiful grounds:

Villa Carlotta, Cadenabbia

Villa Carlotta, Cadenabbia

and other events at the Villa d’Este (still a location for social whirls), including dances and balls. There are often dangerous undercurrents flowing and social or financial ruin, amusing or otherwise, always seems close at hand. Middleton is a dear and his best moments are when he is as intimate as he ever is with his Madame Solario, observing her cushion case and her many hats and accoutrements. Should Bernard heed the warnings and stay with “his own”?

Perhaps I have read too much Iris Murdoch, but I picked up on the hints of the shocking denouement early on, although you have to search for it carefully amidst the chaos of the later scenes. An intriguing book, quite a long read, but a good one.

This was part of my All Virago (and Persephone) / All August challenge, but most importantly, Book 20 in my #20BooksofSummer challenge. All done, only a few days late!

Book review – Alexei Sayle – “Stalin Ate my Homework” plus #20BooksOfSummer update #amreading #books


A little bit of a gap until my first reviews this month – I was away at the Iris Murdoch Society Conference (write-up here if you missed it) and of course was reading on the train journeys there and back. As well as this one, I’ve read Daniel Tammet’s new book of essays, “Every Word is a Bird we Teach to Sing” but that was to review for Shiny New Books, so more on that one later in the month.  Unfortunately, going to the conference meant I’ve failed ever so slightly in #20BooksOfSummer – a report on that below.

Alexei Sayle – “Stalin Ate my Homework”

(21 January 2017, from Sian)

A birthday book, chosen (slightly out of TBR sequence) for the journey because it was a smaller paperback and should be an easy and engaging read – which it was. There’s a comment on the front that “It’s not like other comedians’ memoirs. It’s funny.” from The Guardian, and while I have read some other amusing ones, yes, it’s funny.

Sayle is witty about his odd family, ever-smiling Dad and extremely volatile Mum, his own failings and life in general being raised as a Communist where, if you believe in Leftist principles anyway, the only way to rebel is to become a Maoist. There’s loads of interesting detail about how it actually was to be a Communist, including trying to have holidays in Eastern Bloc countries. They have a couple of trips to Czechoslovakia where, ironically, they are treated like the royal family, with nothing too much trouble, and he even invents a country based on the state, mainly because, as he memorably says, “Being an only child was a bit like taking an extraordinarily long train journey: you were always trying to find something to do to pass the time”. Love it!

He has a talent to entertain but sadly doesn’t really use it in the right ways – I love how he’s genuinely surprised to get kicked out of school at one point. I really enjoyed his tales of growing up within the party system, finding a Communist to help wherever they went and having various adventures in the Eastern Bloc, thanks to his railwayman dad’s concessionary rail pass (most of his colleagues just use it to go to Blackpool: they head for the edges of the Soviet Union). It’s not all silliness and Communism, though: there’s a real sense of developing his comedy skills (being in Liverpool, he has the advantage of a tradition of careful critique of all comedy) and of the family pulling apart, especially when his dad’s health declines.

We leave young Alexei going off to art college, where I’m pretty sure he’s going to cause mayhem. I have the second volume on the TBR (great move, Sian, thank you) and can’t wait to get into it.

#20BooksOfSummer update

Well, gentle readers, I’ve failed. #20BooksOfSummer ended a few days ago and I have yet to finish “Madame Solario”. It’s a great big (500 page) Persephone and I just wasn’t able to pack it for the conference in the end (and even if I had taken it, there wasn’t that much reading time in the end). The days before the conference were full of working extremely hard in a busy patch at work, and it’s still not finished.

Here’s my original post with my selection, and below documents what I achieved:

Dorothy Whipple – Every Good Deed and other Stories – Book 1 read and reviewed

Mitch Prinstein – Popular – Book 2 read and reviewed on the blog and for Shiny New Books

Jane Gardam – Old Filth – Book 3 Did Not Start, replaced by Helen Mitsios – Out of the Blue – read and reviewed

Barbara Taylor – Eve and the New Jerusalem – Book 4 read and reviewed

Natasha Solomons – The Gallery of Vanished Husbands – Book 5 read and reviewed

Eric Newby – Something Wholesale – Book 6 read and reviewed

Nick Baker – ReWild – Book 7 read and reviewed on the blog and for Shiny New Books

Francis Brett Young – The Black Diamond – Book 8 read and reviewed

Stuart Maconie – Long Road from Jarrow – Book 9 read and reviewed on the blog and for Shiny New Books

John-Paul Flintoff – Sew Your Own – Book 10 read and reviewed

Miriam Toews – A Boy of Good Breeding – Book 11 read and reviewed

Farahad Zama – Mrs Ali’s Road to Happiness – Book 12 read and reviewed

Adam Nicolson – When God Spoke English – Book 13 read and reviewed

Susie Dent – How to Talk Like a Local – Book 14 read and reviewed

Mollie Panter-Downes One Fine Day – Book 15 read and reviewed

Scott Jurek – Eat and Run – Book 16 read and reviewed

Zora Neale Hurston – Their Eyes Were Watching God – Book 17 read and reviewed

Amber Reeves – A Lady and Her Husband – Book 18 read and reviewed

R.C. Sheriff – Greengates – Book 19 read and reviewed

Gladys Huntingdon – Madame Solario – Book 20 currently reading

It’s a lovely challenge; you’re never made to feel you’ve actually failed even if you don’t finish at all, and I definitely started and was reading Madame Solario within the time period. All of the books were good reads and entertaining and/or thought-provoking, and I enjoyed seeing what other people doing the challenge were reading, and will look forward to their round-ups.

Iris Murdoch Society Conference 2017 – University of Chichester @IrisMurdoch #IMGandT


Last night I got back from the marvellous Iris Murdoch Society Conference and I thought I’d share my experience of it here. I hope you enjoy, and sorry if I left anyone out.

Thursday – getting there / guided tour

I set off from Birmingham after an exhausting three days of hard work and long hours and doing all my invoicing. The train down was fine, I just had to pop from Euston to Victoria, then I got the train to Chichester. It’s one of those dividing trains so I spent the whole time worrying I was in the wrong carriage when I knew I wasn’t. Everyone does that, right?

I arrived at Chichester railway station at a quarter to three to find my friend Pamela waiting for me as planned. We walked through the very pretty city to the university – about 20 minutes’ walk – as we were both staying on campus. We checked in to our student accommodation and I sorted out the important things …

and did a little bit of work.

My room was perfectly serviceable – we certainly never had en suites when I was a student!

I met up with Pamela in the lobby of our building and we bravely found the Main Gate and met up with various other Murdoch scholars known and new, including blue-haired Shauna who has just got a first in her undergraduate degree and is preparing to do her Master’s on Murdoch. I might have wittered auntily about being glad Young People are studying our favourite author. We set off across the park to the Butter Cross to meet our guides for the guided tour that had been arranged for us.

More people to greet and old friends to catch up with, then off we set, in two groups, taking in the Cathedral and the lovely streets. A charming city with lots of lovely Georgian and older buildings and interesting sites.

Our guide is in the foreground, Frances and her lovely dad and a selection of international scholars. Here’s the cathedral:

and two views of St Richard, one statue by a modern artist which was very powerful, and one stained glass window within the cloisters, “Given by a vagabond” in 1908 (the year our house was built):

We joined the other group and had a convivial dinner at Carluccios, then wended our weary way etc. I discovered my room window was still stuck open but a Nice Young Man from reception was still there and sorted it out for me.

Friday 1 September: Conference Day One

Breakfast was from 7.30 in the refrectory across the courtyard, past the chapel.

Poor Daniel had to take charge of me, doing the doddering aunt thing, busily adding coffee to my teabag and being unable to find a tray. I didn’t risk the toast machine. We sat with new and old colleagues including David from Hungary and got straight into the academic/historical chat – a bit of a context switch for me but usual for everyone else. I found a lightness and freedom in not having a paper to present.

We checked in at the desk outside the chapel, and were given a fabulous tote bag and programme:

and went in to find … the book stall. At which I had a ‘moment’, as there was my book, on the table with all the ‘proper’ books.

Yes, that’s my book.

Thank you again to Miles Leeson for encouraging me to get a box of books sent to him to put out.

We were in the rather amazing chapel for the big sessions on this day.

There was an introduction by Professor Catherine Harper, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, about the history of the university and strong tradition of women taking senior roles. Then Miles officially welcomed us. I’d found my fellow Alternative Approaches to Iris Murdoch ladies and we sat together for the first plenary.

Rivka (pink hair) is a research scientist who writes wonderful papers on Murdoch’s books and aspects of science, and Carol is an amazing artist who’s done a truly astounding project on Iris’s books – more on that below. It was lovely to see them again: we presented on the same panel at the last two conferences.

Anne Rowe presented on teaching Iris Murdoch as she ran a module at Kingston University for 25 years. It was fascinating to hear about the triumphs and difficulties and moving to hear the feedback from various students. So many of her students were there on the day, too, and she’s had a huge influence on lots of people.

After coffee, it was time for the first panel. I went to one where Wendy Jones Nakanishi discussed IM’s Letters (slightly horrified to find the editors of such letters in the audience), Fiona Tomkinson talked about IM’s Japanese foxes, which was absolutely fascinating, and my friend Rebecca Moden talked about IM’s relationship with the artist Harry Weinberger and the work there is still to be done on colour and synaesthesia in IM’s books.

I became briefly troubled when Anne Rowe mentioned how our reading of IM’s letters and journals will affect our reading of her novels (Reception Theory again!) and also got emotional when she described how Iris’ last letters, when gripped by Alzheimer’s, consisted of the same repeated phrases, born of the long-lasting need to still be writing letters. This reminded me of a gentleman who used to run at a local run, running almost the only thing left to him – I blurted this out then felt a bit teary. But a fascinating panel.

Popping across the lovely campus was always a delight and I made sure I took photos for Gill, who studied there a few years ago.

After lunch (our special diets were catered for after checking and I had a nice chat with a lady from the IM book group), the next session I attended was Traumas in The Sea, The Sea. Norwegian Elin Svenneby talked of the gender trauma in the book and shared her own struggles to read it, Adela Branna from Brno did a very interesting reading of The Sea, The Sea based on concepts introduced by Camille Paglia, including reading Rosina as the sea monster, and chair Cheryl Bove read a paper on female ageing as trauma, centring on Clement Makin, that was interesting and moving (the lady who was meant to present couldn’t attend). There was a good discussion afterwards.

After tea, we were lucky enough to experience A.N. Wilson in conversation with Miles, talking about his book “Iris Murdoch as I knew her” with lots of little details about their friendship. As he had spoken about the sad lack of IM on school syllabuses, I bravely rushed up at the end and told him I’d made 25 book groups read “The Bell”. “Ah, jolly good,” said he, and I rushed away. BUT I found out later that he bought a copy of my book! Shocking!

Third panel time and it was Rivka Isaacson on the liver, detoxification and “A Fairly Honourable Defeat”, Gillian Dooley talking about music in “Message to the Planet” and Carol Sommer with an update on her Cartography For Girls art project.

I’d already bought Carol’s book so could leaf through it – she manually extracted all of the sentences in all of the novels illustrating women’s experiences of consciousness in the novels. One result is this book, listing all those sentences in an arbitrary but controlled manner.

seen here with a copy of one of the postcards she used in her exhibition. You can read more about the project here, and I need to work out an arbitrary but controlled way of reading the book now! I was able to thank Rivka and Carol publicly for having me in their sessions and supporting my alternative perspective on IM with my book group research.

To continue quite a long day, there was a wine reception to launch the new Iris Murdoch Review, which members of the Society collected as part of our membership. I had a lovely chat with new friend Tania, from Russia, now living in Buckinghamshire. I really love the international aspect of the conference. We then went to dinner at Bill’s, which was a  bit chaotic but jolly, and I chatted with Chris and Ruth, who I’ve met a few times before, and other folk. A bit late to bed after walking back – I don’t have conference stamina!

Friday 2 September – Second day

Breakfast again on another clear and bright morning.

Tania and David had been for a 6am swim and collected pebbles (there was also the transfer of a root of ginger) – very Murdochian.

The first plenary was by Gary Browning, who is a philosopher, therefore should be terrifying (only joking, philosophers!). He’s actually so lucid I can understand him (if not the questions) and his talk about Iris Murdoch and history, including mention of the relevance of her refugee characters as well as the politics in “The Book and the Brotherhood” were very interesting. Talking to Jan about first reading “A Severed Head” in our teens and about my book groups made us almost late for the session she was presenting in – oops!

The Iris Murdoch and other Women Novelists panel was superb. Pamela Osborn discussed the influence of IM on Sue Townsend – I knew Adrian Mole mentioned her but in fact Townsend’s work was full of her novels and name, and the paper was so interesting, and funny, of course.

Jan on George Eliot, IM and intention and guilt was equally fascinating, drawing parallels between two authors I love but had never really compared. Great stuff and a good discussion afterwards about who has been influenced by IM, with Paul Magrs’ name being bandied around as he includes her as a character in his novel “Aisles”.

Lunch and a big chat with the leader of the U3A Iris Murdoch Book Group and then it was straight into that session. Joined by a select few, including Tania and Kent Wennman, who charmingly claims to read only books by and about Murdoch and about Elvis, and the Czech ladies and one more, we had an amazing discussion, led by the U3A ladies and their leader. It was fabulous, a real highlight. I blabbed on about my research, but they were interested in it of course, and we also met a friend of theirs who was taught by IM herself (not pictured below – they all started rushing around and it was hard to pin them down).

Then it was back to the Academic Building ground floor for a final cuppa and look at the book table (all of my books had sold! I was still being overwhelmed by people asking me to sign them: I had not expected that and was very unprepared). Then it was the final plenary, given by James Jefferies, who in his spare time and as a labour of love has produced an app which maps the London locations of IM’s novels and characters, using Cheryl Bove’s walks book and character list as a basis and using technology and coding to make this amazing website.

His enthusiasm for IM came over beautifully, he felt (as another alternative type) very welcomed by us all, and I urge everyone to go and have a look at it here.

As I’ve finished my project, I’m hoping to be able to provide some typing/checking support for this amazing project in the future.

Miles said a final piece, and it was goodbye – oh no! Always sad, and you can never find everyone to say goodbye to. I thanked the students who’d run the book stall, said goodbye where I could and took one last photo of the chapel:

and a cheeky selfie with Rebecca.

She and I headed back up to the railway station, buying our dinner in Marks and Spencer’s (the man at the till had read “The Bell”) and then getting trains in opposite directions to end up about 20 miles away from each other. I had a brief chat with Cheryl on the platform (mainly about how many of IM’s books our respective husbands had read), and then it was train-tube-train-bus, home, enlivened by my breaking up a fight and talking about IM so persuasively to  my seatmate that he felt compelled to write her name in his phone.

A lovely, lovely time, thank you to Miles and Frances and the students and the university people for the organisation. One exciting thing that’s come out of it – I’m going to read IM’s novels chronologically from next January. Anyone in for a group read? Just watch this blog or I’ll announce it on the IM Facebook page.

You can find other people’s comments and photos under the Twitter hashtag #IMGandT.

(And in case anyone wanted to buy my book but it had run out, you can find it on all varieties of Amazon, just search for Liz Dexter.)

State of the TBR – September 2017


Well the TBR is as large as ever but I have made progress on it since August – it’s shuffled up a lot but a few have joined at the end. I did pull out the Persephones for All Virago / All August and #20BooksofSummer but I’ve also read quite a lot in August – hooray (11 books, which is quite high for me these days)

I’m currently reading Gladys Huntingdon’s “Madame Solario” which is set in Cadenabbia on Lake Como, a place I have actually stayed. It’s very absorbing and gossipy, like being in a hotel and watching the other residents. This is Book 20 in my #20BooksOfSummer project – you can see my progress here and even though I am not actually taking it away with me to the Iris Murdoch Society Conference (too bulky – I’ve popped Alexei Sayle’s “Stalin Ate My Homework” in instead), I should get it finished by the September 4 deadline for the end of 20Books. I’m about to start (and have packed) Daniel Tammet’s “Every Word is a Bird we Teach to Sing”, which is about language – I’m reviewing it for Shiny New Books and very much looking forward to reading it.

Coming up next on the shelf are these lovelies. I have the NetGalley TBR down to 10 books now (and have won my 25 books reviewed badge, which you should be able to see on this blog; I think I have two books to go until I’m back at 80% reviewed, too) so should get to a few of these. I know Ali has the Angela Carter bio so we might read that together. These represent the end of Christmas and the beginning of my birthday books – so I’m finally reading books I acquired this year, which always seems like a bit of a triumph!

What does your September reading look like? How’s the old TBR?

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