Jenny Hartley – Reading Groups

(23 May 2004)

A re-read for my Iris Murdoch research of a very useful book about UK reading groups, with lots of demographic information that I can compare with my results, and even mention of Iris, too!

Hunter Davies – A Walk Around the Lakes

(16 August 2011)

Hunter Davies belongs to the group of writers whose books I will always pick up, regardless of the subject matter. But the appeal of this one was obviously also in the subject, as we had our first visit to the Lakes last year and loved it. Mixing the history of tourism and the Wordsworth set with his 1970s trip walking in the Lakes, this is affectionate, funny, intelligent and informative. I even enjoyed reading about Wordsworth (I liked the admission that yes, some of his poetry is BAD), although I enjoyed reading about the parts of the area we know ourselves, fell runners and Chris Bonington more. This could have done with a map of the whole area as well as the individual lake maps.

Elizabeth Taylor – Palladian

(03 Feb 2012)

Purchased and read for the LibraryThing Virago Group’s Taylor read – I think the only one of her books I didn’t already own. Taylor’s second novel, and her take on Janes Austen and Eyre. Orphaned Cassandra leaves what passes for the real world (school, then a quiet life with her father) for seclusion as a governess, all too ready to fall in love with the master of the house.

Spare, exacting writing mercilessly dissects the characters just as failed medical student Tom draws images of his dissected household, and Taylor does not even flinch from a somewhat shocking death part way through (which is foreshadowed by a sad pet bit that I was glad to be warned about in advance but that I managed OK).

Unsparing and uncompromising as it is, it is a good read, which must have influenced Barbara Comyns in her writing (do we know about this?). Not enjoyable, exactly, but intriguing and beautifully done.