JESSICA MITFORD (ed. Peter Y. Sussman) – Decca : The Letters of Jessica Mitford

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25 Dec 2007 – from Matthew

A lovely big book of collected letters, starting with those of her childhood self and going right up to one sent after her death. Amusing, forthright, stoical and moving, they reflect her fascinating and glittering personality. The editing is excellent, with just enough information in the chapter introductions and footnotes to make sure we know what is going on in the background, but are not swamped with extraneous information – a difficult balance to achieve. Some lovely photographs too.

ALEXANDER McCALL SMITH – The Good Husband of Zebra Drive

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Acquired via BookCrossing 22 Mar 2008 – passed to me by Heaven-Ali

Oops – couldn’t resist picking this one out of the TBR early. It is the holidays, after all…

I did like this – easy to read and to get into. Poor Charlie! And I, like, got the hospital one – must have been on or in something I’ve seen, which is unusual!

A lovely read. Available now – will probably take it to a meet up or the Convention.

VICKY BHOGAL – Cooking Like Mummiji

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21 Jan 2008 – birthday present from Gill

A book designed to help South Asian girls remember how to cook stuff, and teach the rest of us that Indian restaurants do not serve Indian home cooking. A lovely looking book and lots of delicious looking recipes, some of which use surprising ingredients liked baked potatoes, baked beans and tomato ketchup! I’ll look at some to try and let you know how I do!

RACHEL MANIJA BROWN – All The Fishes Come Home To Roost

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26 Jan 2008- Bookends

Rachel, a successful 30-something production assistant living in LA, looks back on her time in an ashram in India, worshipping an incarnation of God who died before she got there, living among a group of damaged and frankly odd people, trying to fit in at a school where the teachers beat her and the kids threw stones at her…

Not so much a misery memoir as a clear-sighted look back at the madness of it all. She comes to terms with her mother’s actions, shows what she has learnt, and credits certain people with encouraging her writing career.

Engaging and different.

I won’t be re-reading, but will register and offer on a BookRay.

E. R. BRAITHWAITE – Paid Servant

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28 Jan 2008 – Kidney Research

By the author of To Sir With Love, this follows Braithwaite into his career in Welfare Services. Although he has no formal training, he is thrown in at the deep end and asked to sort out some of the long-term cases of children needing adopting, most of whom are mixed race. As usual, he is forthright, opinionated, angry and caring. There’s a very interesting thread on “Your People” through the book, which he finds ranges from the black community as a whole (black being used to denote non-white) to people who work for social services. A lovely, compassionate and passionate book. I hope some of the reactions he finds are now outdated (I don’t think I’m visibly shocked if I open the door to find someone of a different race from mine), but the feelings, care and passion he puts forward certainly are not.

ROBERT ARTHUR – The Three Investigators in The Fiery Eye

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Bought 17 Sep 2007 – charity shop

Another of the fab Alfred Hitchcock themed mystery stories, featuring Jupiter Jones and his two friends. I was feeling a bit cold-in-the-head-y yesterday and only had 7 novels in 27 TBRs, and they were all way down the pile, so I picked this out of the pony and French pile. Great fun, the story is well plotted and twisty enough, but not confusing. And you know they will save the day, but not HOW, right up to the last page!

KATE MORTON – The House at Riverton

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19 Jan 2008 – from Beckydore for my birthday

I’d expressed an interest in reading this because a few people I knew had done so and enjoyed it.

A competent and decently-written flashback novel, I think I would have enjoyed it more if I hadn’t read Remains of the Day and The Mitford Girls and seen Gosford Park. to be fair, the author cites these, and more, in her acknowlegements. She makes good use of the material, but I found some of it a little ham-fisted in places. I also guessed the twists and mysteries very early on, although perhaps one is supposed to and feel clever. Either that, or I’ve just read too many books!

Not for a re-read, so registering.

MARIAN KEYES – Anybody Out There

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Acquired via BookCrossing 21 Jan 2008 – trade with Drusillamac

I really enjoyed this latest installment in the saga of the Walsh family. Keyes is into a new stride here, confident and writing very well (esp in comparison with some of the earlier books). The book goes to new depths of experience and feeling, but manages to temper it with the hilarious exploits of the rest of the clan and friends. Mammy Walsh is just hysterical.

I am glad I read through the other Walsh sister books first, as they do all appear in this one after their own stories have been told, and it would have been a shame to know the end before reading the beginning.

I hope there’s one about Helen soon – and Mammy, of course!

BILL RICHARDSON – THe Bachelor Brothers’ Bed & Breakfast Pillow Book

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Acquired via BookCrossing 15 Mar 2008 – BookRing

A delightful follow up to the Bed & Breakfast and just as good as the first book. Lots more on the wonderful brothers, their mischevious parrot and comforting cat, their eccentric neighbours old and new, and the addition of Caedmon the odd-job man who lives in a thatched bus, is a master stroke.

Marvellous stuff!


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Acquired via BookCrossing 12 Mar 2008 – BookRing

Just the kind of book I like – a detailed depiction of the author’s life after she meets a Bedouin who lives in the rose city of Petra and decides to live with him. Honest and forthright, although she does say at the end that she concentrates on the positive aspects. I particularly like her clear-sighted descriptions of her younger self, before she learnt to be more thoughtful and respectful.

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