Robert Arthur – “The Secret of Terror Castle”
(22 November 2012)
I know I read all of these as a child/teenager so they all count. And this is the very first of the Three Investigators series, in which Bob, Pete and Jupiter Jones reassuringly prove all seemingly paranormal and scary phenomena to be the work of human agents. This is the first Alfred Hitchcock book and sets the background and the procedures for all of the others (again, reassuring). They inveigle their way into meeting Hitchcock and investigate a “haunted” castle he wants to use in a film. Dramatic and well-written, with twists and turns and humour. Good, escapist reading with all peril carefully explained away.
Georgette Heyer – “The Nonesuch”
(2011 – omnibus from BookCrossing)
Not many people’s favourite, but I really enjoyed this Heyer set entirely in Yorkshire. The famous Nonesuch has inherited a stately home that’s been owned by a miser uncle, and causes flurries in the neighbourhood when he moves in to renovate it. He has two very different cousins under his wing, and all three make their mark on local society in their different ways. We have a deliciously naughty minx, Tiffany, who, however, turns out not to be the heroine of either the action or the emotional centre: that belongs to her sweet neighbour, Patience, and her companion, Miss Trent, respectively. Misunderstandings ensue, characters are redeemed and get their just deserts, and the background and period detail are of course impeccable. I really like this one and its unusual setting.
Again, I read all of the Heyers as a teen, so I don’t have a review to compare it with, but did remember something of the main characters from that pale green hardback of so many years ago.
Adam Nicolson – “Sea Room”
(19 June 2002)
What an absolute treat of a re-read! Nicolson inherited the three tiny Scottish Shiant Isles in his 20s, but it was only as he prepared to pass them on to his own son that he decided to have their geology, wildlife, history and archaeology researched by experts, and to record a year in his life with the islands. This was the result.
His writing is beautiful, of course – I would read anything he has written, as he is such an accomplished writer, and his descriptions of land, sea, people and wildlife are stunning, as are his evocations of past residents and their lives, both rich and harsh, and his own relationship with the islands he so obviously deeply loves. The sections on the bird life of the islands, puffins, gannets and the like, are astonishingly lovely and hugely evocative. Humble and self-deprecating as ever, with an eye for a story against himself, respectful and with a lively interest: a marvellous book.
My review from my first read in July 2002 (how up to date was I then, and ooh, get me with my references to Icelandic verse! I was nearer my study of it then, although I did notice the language this time round, too!)
“Excellent, vivid and evocative account of the islands he owns, their geology, biology and history, all told in a plain but lyrical prose that echoes the language of the old skaldic and eddic verse. Full of emotion but plain spoken. Lovely.”
I’m about to start the last volume of Susan Cooper’s “Dark is Rising” sequence and a little way through “Persuasion”.
Are you taking part in the Month of Re-Reading? Do tell me all about it!