July 2015 TBRTwo books which don’t have much in common except that they’re by favourite authors of mine. And book 5 in my #20BooksOfSummer challenge – except that doesn’t look much like “To Kill a Mockingbird”, I hear you cry … find out why the swapsie (I hope I’m allowed to do a swapsie) after the reviews!

Robertson Davies – “Leaven of Malice”

(25 September 2014)

The second part of the Salterton Trilogy but can also be read as a standalone. This novel takes us into the worlds of small-town legal relationships and newspapers, as someone plays a naughty trick on two young citizens, stirring things up with a small ad. Professor Vambrace is up in arms and threatens a lawsuit, even though his daughter, Pearl, shrinks from the idea. Gloster Ridley, the paper’s editor, has to deal with the professional “character” on his staff as well as running the paper and batting away the lawyers, all the time guarding a secret that he doesn’t realise everyone else knows.

Meanwhile, the locuses of power are in people’s homes and beds, not in the traditional hierarchy. Ladies’ luncheons are hotbeds of icy comments and double meanings, while Dutchy and Norman Yarrow, a professional entertainer and a psychologist, think they have command over people’s actions and minds, while instead just forcing their fellow city-dwellers into highly resented silly party games.

Although perhaps not as marvellous as “Tempest Tost”, the shrewd and often very funny observation of small city life is all there, beautifully observed, and there are characters to make you squirm, terrible parental figures to make you shout at your book and lovely characters to care about.

This book will suit … people who like novels about small towns, fans of quiet wit and observation with the odd bit of slapstick thrown in for good measure.

Debbie Macomber – “Summer Wedding Belles”

(July 2015 – part of the Liz and Linda Debbie Macomber Collection being stored at my house)

20BooksofSummer logoTwo novellas in one volume, both more than ‘just’ romances, as they inhabit attractive and realistic worlds and communities while sticking to the tropes of their genre, thus cleverly gaining a wide audience.

In “Marriage Wanted”, a wedding planner meets a divorce attorney and so sparks are contractually obliged to fly, although I was a bit bothered by some of the terminology used around the heroine, Savannah’s, leg injury which we don’t really see in the UK any more. A touching tale of a marriage of convenience turning to affection and some nice details about Savannah’s shops (anyone else REALLY like books about running shops?).

“Lone Star Lovin'” has its backdrop drawn in more satisfactorily, with Sherry joining best friend Norah in Texas, but keeping to a small town rather than the big city, where she soon meets the requisite rugged cowboy … plus his 12 year old daughter. Her teens and smaller children are well drawn, and so are her portrayals of small-town characters and female friendship.

This book was number 5 in my #20BooksOfSummer challenge (replacing “To Kill a Mockingbird” for reasons explained underneath).

This book will suit … people who like their romance more community orientated or their town tales romantic.

Why I’m not reading “Go Set a Watchman”

OK, I’ve thought long and hard over this – but I’m not going to write a long piece.

I was all set to re-read “To Kill a Mockingbird” then read the ‘new’ Harper Lee, “Go Set a Watchman”. But I’ve read some pieces and reviews as the book’s come out and been serialised, and I’ve realised that I just don’t want to.

I don’t like the lack of clarity around the author’s intentions (and normally I claim not to care what the author thinks or says particularly, but the gossip and the possibilities have been unpleasant).

And I don’t want to have a hero diminished (I’m reading that Atticus Finch is not the man he became in TKAM) and a book I have loved for years without re-reading it diminished, too.

There is the thought that as an editor, I would enjoy seeing what was in the original book that became TKAM, but do you know what? No.

So, I’ve put TKAM to one side, not ordered or pestered a friend for GSAW, and that’s how it’s going to stay.