Tove Jansson – “Sun City”

(25 December 2011 – LibraryThing Virago Group Secret Santa gift)

Set in a hotel where one goes to retire in Florida, and examining the routine lives of the residents, including cattines, repressed emotions and one annoying old man, yes, it was very reminiscent of “Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont”. The young people, the cleaner and her boyfriend, who works at a tourist attraction in the town, seem as trapped as the older inhabitants, and are somewhat ironically waiting for God (too?), in Joe’s case the Jesus Army, and for Linda, the Virgin Mary in a more abstract form. An ageing celebrity is thrown into the mix and there are some very poignant and painful scenes as a result, and there is a rather odd trip at the end, in which all the cast can be seen to be exhibiting their underlying characteristics. Not a particularly comfortable read, and maybe suffered from the comparison with the superb “Mrs Palfrey”, but an interesting one, especially as M was in Florida himself at the time!

Georgette Heyer – “The Corinthian”

(11 August 2011 – BookCrossing)

The last in my first Heyer omnibus (I have another one lurking in the TBR: you can see it in the photo next to Tony Blair!) and another classic, with an adventure, a journey, a Corinthian (man of fashion) and a cross-dressing heroine, plucky but annoying to the hero. Many delicious confusions ensue!

Farahad Zama – “The Wedding Wallah”

(31 December 2011 – Amazon)

This series, while mainly inhabiting a somewhat cosy world of front porch marriage arranging, has never fought shy of the seedier, political or just generally more challenging aspects of Indian society, still loosely, but not always, centred around human relationships. In this installment, as well as the usual visitors to the porch, we have Naxalite kidnappings, ‘unlucky’ children, homosexuality, the need for widows to remarry and battles between agricultural workers and biotech corporations over land rights. But all of this is worked into the story, and it is never worthy or preachy, always a good read. I hope the author continues to write this series, as I am sure there is more to come.