VERE HODGSON – Few Eggs and No Oranges (Persephone)

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Bought 20 Sept 2004 – Persephone Bookshop

Yes, I bought it in 2004!!!! Regular readers/friends will be shocked that I have gone against my “read books in the order I acquired them apart from BookCrossing rings” policy but there is a reason I delayed it this long!

Back in 2004 I was still living in Central London. Security was getting tighter and tighter, the police had guns, and coming out of your house to go to work of a morning and finding a policeman with a gun outside your front door can be… unsettling. There were security helicopters figure-of-eighting between the City of London and Buckingham Palace all night long, and there was an air of tension which would (partly) lead to our leaving London and of course would culminate in the terrible events of 7/7.

In that context, reading a book about WWII and the Blitz, however much there was a local interest in it being about Birmingham and London, was just too much for me. I did start it (see, Ali!) but I couldn’t continue (and the bit I read up to wasn’t even that bad!)

Since then we have moved, feel safer, and I’ve read quite a few WWII books and diaries. I promised myself that I could pick it off the shelf once my post-Hay TBR was back down to manageable proportions. That has happened, and here I am, and I’ve read it, and I’m fine.

Similar in content necessarily to other WWII diaries, this is set in London and Birmingham, with a lot of detail about Birmingham that was both interesting and painful to read. Hodgson also seems obsessed with running to bomb sites and listing casualties – however, the introduction clarifies that she felt that she was recording this information for the sake of those not experiencing matters first hand (the diaries were sent to her Cousin in South Africa). Vivid and worthwhile – and I’m glad I’ve finally read it.

A very funny blog about the Edinburgh Book Festival

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I reviewed Imran Ahmed’s excellent memoir “Unimagined” a while ago, and he gave me some nice feedback on my review. Here’s a great blog entry he let me know about it – very funny!

LYTTON STRACHEY. MICHAEL HOLROYD (ed) – Lytton Strachey By Himself

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Bought 17 May 2008 – Sensible Bookshop, Hay-on-Wye

A collection of diaries and autobiographical essays from all through Strachey’s life, this is a companion piece to the (wonderful) Holroyd biography, consisting of material that he discovered while doing his research. It’s amazing to see how Strachey’s narration of his experience, whether travels or love affairs, hardly alters from youth to age. There’s some lovely cameos of other Bloomsbury types and Holroyd pulls the whole together with lightly written explanations and historical information.

A good addition to the collection.

CINDY WOODSMALL – When The Morning Comes

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Acquired via BookCrossing 26 Aug 08 – BookRing

Book 2 in the Sisters of the Quilt series, set within the Amish and Mennonite communities of North America, this follows both Hannah and her family and friends as they come to terms with what has happened within their family and community. Hannah makes some brave choices while her sister Sarah continues to act more and more oddly. With a terribly involving cliff-hanger at the end – hope I can get my hands on Book 3 (just about to be published!) soon!


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Bought 18 May 2008 – Castle Bookshop, Hay-on-Wye

I collect child-rearing books and this one looked amusing and dated, with a lovely 1970s family on the front. It was actually in the main more sensible and less amusing than it appeared; it included good ideas for toys and games to play with children and some interesting stuff on their development.


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Loan from AnglersRest

A lovely book which I galloped through – couldn’t help it. Though – have I read Susannah’s Garden? I’m not sure and my card index is – shock! – not up to date at the moment. Anyway, this follows more exploits of the friends and residents of Blossom St as we take a look at the life of Anne-Marie, owner of the bookshop, widowed a little while ago and struggling to cope. She and the other widows in her circle make up a game of “Twenty Wishes”, and all sorts of things, happy, funny and romantic, happen to them as they follow their dreams.


This will be on its way back to you on Saturday, Julie – thanks for the loan!

IRIS MURDOCH – Something Special

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Bought 18 May 2008 – Booth’s Bookshop, Hay-on-Wye

Something special indeed – a short story by Murdoch, previously unpublished except in an unfindable anthology, and in Japan. It’s an odd little story, written in the 1950s and set on one evening in an atmospheric Dublin. Apart from the lake, hidden garden and capricious woman, this does not have many Murdochian hallmarks, but it’s an entertaining and wistful, if overly short, read.

I might share this with the other IM a month girls when we get to the end of the project!!

TIM MOORE – Nul Points

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Bought 17 May 2008 – Sensible Bookshop, Hay-on-Wye

I’m coughing merrily away and tired after a riotous morning of putting washing on and off the airer, hoovering the landing and going to Sainsburys, and Matthew has come down with it now too and is curled up in bed with the cat, so MORE reading!

Moore is another writer, like Magrs, who never fails to please. Consulting the archive, I see that I first read him in 1999 (Frost On My Moustache), and I’ve had a good 9 years reading all his books. Like Danny Wallace and Dave Gorman, Moore likes a (slightly ridiculous) challenge; in this one he tracks down and tries to interview all the singers who received no points in the Eurovision Song Contest. He writes well as well as hilariously, and this continues a perfect run of decent, meaty and funny books that are not over too soon and have a poignancy and heart as well as a good dose of silliness.

JOHN NABER (ed.) – Awaken the Olympian Within

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Bought 10 Jul 2008 – Red Cross charity shop

I bought this for the Never Judge challenge (books with no picture on the cover) then discovered that it has a dedication and signature “Colin, Aim for the gold! John Naber” so decided to keep it. I’ve been reading it over the past 2 weeks, appropriately enough, and have enjoyed these stories of dedication and decency by US athletes from the 1970s and 80s (in the main). Most of them do inspirational public speaking, and it shows, but the stories are inspiring and not schmaltzy.

SARA NELSON – So Many Books, So Little Time

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Acquired via Bookcrossing 23 Aug 2008 – BookRay from Anglersrest

A very quick read, devoured in an evening. I did enjoy this summary of a year’s reading, but I did wonder how a self-confessed bookaholic and reviewer thought it would be a challenge to read a book per week for a year. I liked best the bits about how doing the challenge affected her reading choice and made her wobble at times – I found this the other way when I was trying to do a book diet and “only” read 2 books a week a couple of years ago*. Anyway she read some interesting books, and a few that I know, it was nice seeing Brady Udall’s “Edgar Mint” mentioned and her ruminations on reading, on reading books recommended by or, worse, written by, friends, were interesting. Not a book I loved, but nothing to dislike there.

Will send on to ElhamIsabel after a suitable period where it can cast off any germs I might have inadvertently donated to the BookRay!

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