Author Meme

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I was tagged by

1. Who’s your all-time favorite author, and why?

Iris Murdoch – she has everything – humour, raciness, romance (of sorts), cleverness, something to think about and LOTS of books to read!

2. Who was your first favorite author, and why? Do you still consider him or her among your favorites?

I loved pony books by Jill Ferguson and the Pullein-Thompsons, all the Noel Streatfeilds and other classic writers – and I still do!

3. Who’s the most recent addition to your list of favorite authors, and why?

Debbie Macomber is a biggie – gentle reads but with impeccable writing, humour and touching portrayals of friendship.  Jennifer Chiaverini is another. I’m also liking some cosy mysteries, but only quilting/sewing ones!

4. If someone asked you who your favorite authors were right now, which authors would first pop out of your mouth? Are there any you’d add on a moment of further reflection?

Iris Murdoch, Larry McMurtry, Bill Bryson, Michael Holroyd.  Erm… reflecting… Anne Tyler, anyone published by Persephone…

5. Tagged:

Anyone reading this who would like a go!


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Bought 25 Mar 2008 – PDSA Charity shop

I was under the impression that this was a memoir, but it was marked as fiction on the back and appears to be a reworking of some aspects of her life into the guise of short stories. The stories were competent but felt a little over-worked and sterile, the same characters worked over again and again – powerful but small men, women with smeary makeup… I usually love her work but this was a bit disappointing.

Heaven-Ali – let me know if you want to read this, otherwise I’ll let it fly free!

IRINA PANTAEVA – Siberian Dreams

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Acquired via BookCrossing 19 Mar 2008 – from the Red Cross donation bags

An interesting memoir by a woman who grew up in Siberia and dared to try for a career in the fashion industry. She goes through various harrowing events and struggles and eventually achieves her dreams. I enjoyed this although one bit that annoyed was the slight harping on about esoteric experiences, which really didn’t have a place in what amounts to a tale of hard work by an immensely practical and resourceful woman.


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Acquired via BookCrossing 19 Mar 2008 – Red Cross donations bags

Did Not Finish.

This seemed just my thing – an older Asian woman interviews two school-age girls about being Pakistani Muslims, with a backdrop of racial tension inside and outside school. Real Bali Rai type territory.

Unfortunately, it’s a product of its time. Published in 1991, when people probably did need telling what a salwar kameez was, the lively story and voice of the 2 girls is muffled behind quite a clumsy edifice, both structurally (transcripts of interview tapes) and culturally (it seems buried in a world of gender and culture studies).

It proves how far we’ve come, that now different peoples’ stories can be told without a structure to prove their worth, or a touch of editorial worthiness. But it left me unsatisfied and a bit bored, and so I took the decision to close the book at p. 82.

JILL SWALLOW – Days Before Dibley

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Acquired March 2008* – from the donation bags from the Red Cross to BookCrossing

Picked this out of the donation bags but registered it straight away. This is a fascinating look at one woman’s ministry within the church BEFORE the ordination of women – so she becomes a deaconess then gradually moves towards full ordination as the rules allow her to. Honest, funny and heartfelt, while obviously a Christian book, she does not push the parallels on the reader, but merely makes observations. The epilogue is cheering, and all in all an interesting and warm read.

Any takers?

* argh – can’t get into the BC site at the moment!

ALISON HOUTTE & MELISSA HOUTTE – Alligators, Old Mink & New Money

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Bought 06 Mar 2008 – Bookends

Subtitled “One Woman’s Adventures in Vintage Clothing” this is an interesting, if light, memoir of a life adoring pre-loved outfits. We go from her early years raiding thrift stores, to the exploits of a shop-owner. Not sure where Melissa fits in, as it’s all about Alison… Anyway, an interesting enough read but will be BookCrossed as not a candidate for re-reading.

RUPERT SMITH – The Museum: Behind the Scenes at the British Museum

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26 Mar 2008 – Bookends

An example of a great Bookends buy, at £3.50 rather than £16.99, this would have in fact been an excellent buy at full price. An affectionate and full portrait of the BM and its workers, we get history, current information, fascinating insights into the world behind the scenes, and then page-long features on various staff, from the director through people responsible for moving objects, to research assistants etc. A real treat.

DAVID McKIE – Great British Bus Journeys

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06 Mar 2008 – Bookends

Subtitled “Travels Through Unfamous Places”, this could have been a book full of sparkling gems of description and experience, amusing anecdotes etc etc. Unfortunately, it was rather leaden, the author a little reactionary, and too inclined to lean on a conceit (eg where the Queen might like to live) through a chapter that could have stood more on its own. There was a lot of information, and I will keep the book in case I am near any of these places but the book, while more promising to me than maybe to most, was a little underwhelming.


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Borrowed from Bridget March 2008

Follow-up to Basil Street Blues, this deals with matters arising from that history of the author’s family, including dialogue with friends and strangers who contacted him after publication. As requested, there is more personal information about Holroyd, some redressing of inaccuracies in his earlier work, and more information searched out about the characters in that book, and some others.

I do like the way Holroyd, both in his biographies and, more explicitly, here, shows the actual WORK of the biographer, from the inside out. Fascinating reading.

JENNA BAILEY – Can Any Mother Help Me?

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04 Feb 2008 – Amazon

The well-researched and written history of the Cooperative Correspondance Club, a magazine hand-written by a group of women in the mid- to late-20th century. Grouped around themes – marriage, children, difficult times etc, this tells the stories of the women themselves, includes lots of extracts and some delightful photos. Of necessity quite poignant towards the end, but told without sentimentality.

Pleasingly, the archive upon which the book was based was donated to the Mass Observation project in the 1990s, and much of the research was done from there. Hooray for MassObs!

A lovely book.

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